|字體：小 中 大|
As the US adjusts to an increasingly non-religious population, thousands of churches are closing each year – probably accelerated by Covid
隨着美國適應越來越多的非宗教人口，每年都有成千上萬的教堂關閉——可能是因為 Covid 加速了這一進程
Sun 22 Jan 2023 09.00 GMT
Last modified on Mon 23 Jan 2023 13.53 GMT
Churches are closing at rapid numbers in the US, researchers say, as congregations dwindle across the country and a younger generation of Americans abandon Christianity altogether – even as faith continues to dominate American politics.
As the US adjusts to an increasingly non-religious population, thousands of churches are closing each year in the country – a figure that experts believe may have accelerated since the Covid-19 pandemic.
隨着美國適應越來越多的非宗教人口，該國每年都有成千上萬的教堂關閉——專家認為，自 Covid-19 大流行以來，這一數字可能已經加速。
Satanic Temple co-founder Lucien Greaves
Friend of Satan: how Lucien Greaves and his Satanic Temple are fighting the religious right
Read more 閱讀更多
The situation means some hard decisions for pastors, who have to decide when a dwindling congregation is no longer sustainable. But it has also created a boom market for those wanting to buy churches, with former houses of worship now finding new life.
About 4,500 Protestant churches closed in 2019, the last year data is available, with about 3,000 new churches opening, according to Lifeway Research. It was the first time the number of churches in the US hadn’t grown since the evangelical firm started studying the topic. With the pandemic speeding up a broader trend of Americans turning away from Christianity, researchers say the closures will only have accelerated.
根據 Lifeway Research 的數據，2019 年約有 4,500 座新教教堂關閉，去年的數據是可用的，約有 3,000 座新教堂開放。自福音派公司開始研究該主題以來，這是美國教堂數量首次沒有增長。隨着大流行加速了美國人遠離基督教的更廣泛趨勢，研究人員表示，關閉只會加速。
“The closures, even for a temporary period of time, impacted a lot of churches. People breaking that habit of attending church means a lot of churches had to work hard to get people back to attending again,” said Scott McConnell, executive director at Lifeway Research.
“關閉，即使是暫時的，也會影響很多教堂。人們打破去教堂的習慣意味着很多教堂必須努力工作才能讓人們再次參加教堂活動，”Lifeway Research 執行董事斯科特麥康奈爾說。
“In the last three years, all signs are pointing to a continued pace of closures probably similar to 2019 or possibly higher, as there’s been a really rapid rise in American individuals who say they’re not religious.”
“在過去三年中，所有跡象都表明關閉的速度可能與 2019 年相似，甚至可能更高，因為自稱沒有宗教信仰的美國人數量確實迅速增加。”
Protestant pastors reported that typical church attendance is only 85% of pre-pandemic levels, McConnell said, while research by the Survey Center on American Life and the University of Chicago found that in spring 2022 67% of Americans reported attending church at least once a year, compared with 75% before the pandemic.
麥康奈爾說，新教牧師報告說，典型的教堂出席率僅為大流行前水平的 85%，而美國生活調查中心和芝加哥大學的研究發現，在 2022 年春季，67% 的美國人報告至少每周去教堂一次年，而大流行前為 75%。
But while Covid-19 may have accelerated the decline, there is a broader, long-running trend of people moving away from religion. In 2017 Lifeway surveyed young adults aged between 18 and 22 who had attended church regularly, for at least a year during high school. The firm found that seven out of 10 had stopped attending church regularly.
但是，盡管 Covid-19 可能加速了衰退，但人們遠離宗教的趨勢更廣泛、更長期。 2017 年，Lifeway 調查了 18 至 22 歲的年輕人，他們在高中期間定期去教堂至少一年。該公司發現十分之七的人不再定期去教堂。
The younger generation just doesn’t feel like they’re being accepted in a church environment or some of their choices aren’t being accepted
Scott McConnell, Lifeway Research
Some of the reasons were “logistical”, McConnell said, as people moved away for college or started jobs which made it difficult to attend church.
“But some of the other answers are not so much logistics. One of the top answers was church members seem to be judgmental or hypocritical,” McConnell said.
“And so the younger generation just doesn’t feel like they’re being accepted in a church environment or some of their choices aren’t being accepted by those at church.”
About a quarter of the young adults who dropped out of church said they disagreed with their church’s stance on political and social issues, McConnell said.
A study by Pew Research found that the number of Americans who identified as Christian was 64% in 2020, with 30% of the US population being classed as “religiously unaffiliated”. About 6% of Americans identified with Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism.
皮尤研究中心的一項研究發現，到 2020 年，被認定為基督徒的美國人人數為 64%，其中 30% 的美國人口被歸類為“無宗教信仰”。大約 6% 的美國人信奉猶太教、伊斯蘭教、印度教和佛教。
“Since the 1990s, large numbers of Americans have left Christianity to join the growing ranks of US adults who describe their religious identity as atheist, agnostic or ‘nothing in particular’,” Pew wrote.
“自 1990 年代以來，大量美國人離開了基督教，加入了越來越多的美國成年人行列，他們將自己的宗教身份描述為無神論者、不可知論者或‘沒什么特別的’，”皮尤寫道。
“This accelerating trend is reshaping the US religious landscape.”
In 1972 92% of Americans said they were Christian, Pew reported, but by 2070 that number will drop to below 50% – and the number of “religiously unaffiliated” Americans – or ‘nones’ will probably outnumber those adhering to Christianity.
皮尤報告稱，1972 年，92% 的美國人表示自己是基督徒，但到 2070 年，這一數字將降至 50% 以下——“無宗教信仰”的美國人或“無宗教信仰者”的人數可能會超過信奉基督教的人數。
Stephen Bullivant, author of Nonverts: The Making of Ex-Christian America and professor of theology and the sociology of religion at St Mary’s University, said in the Christian world it had been a generational change.
斯蒂芬·布利萬特 (Stephen Bullivant) 是《非基督徒：前基督教美國的形成》(Nonverts: The Making of Ex-Christian America) 的作者，也是聖瑪麗大學神學和宗教社會學教授，他說，在基督教世界，這是一個世代相傳的變化。
While grandparents might have been regular churchgoers, their children would say they believe in God, but not go to church regularly. By the time millennials came round, they had little experience or relationship with churchgoing or religion.
In the Catholic church, in particular, the sexual abuse scandal may have driven away people who had only a tenuous connection to the faith.
“The other thing is the pandemic,” Bullivant said.
“A lot of people who were weakly attached, to suddenly have months of not going, they’re then thinking: ‘Well we don’t really need to go,’ or ‘We’ve found something else to do,’ or thinking: ‘It was hard enough dragging the kids along then, we really ought to start going again … next week.’”
Bullivant said most other countries saw a move away from religion earlier than the US, but the US had particular circumstances that slowed things down.
“Canada, Britain, France, Australia, New Zealand, the nones rise much earlier, the wake of the 1960s the baby boom generation, this kind of big, growing separation of kind of traditional Christian moral morality,” Bullivant said.
“加拿大、英國、法國、澳大利亞、新西蘭，無政府主義者崛起得更早，在 1960 年代嬰兒潮一代之后，這種傳統基督教道德觀念的巨大、不斷增長的分離，”布利萬特說。
“What happens in America that I think dampens down the rise of the nones is the cold war. Because in America, unlike in Britain, there’s a very explicit kind of ‘Christian America’ versus godless communism framing, and to be non-religious is to be un-American.
“I think that dampens it down until you get the millennial generation for whom the cold war is just a vague memory from their early childhood.”
When people leave, congregations dwindle. And when that gets to a critical point, churches close. That has led to a flood of churches available for sale, and a range of opportunities for the once holy buildings.
Brian Dolehide, managing director of AD Advisors, a real estate company that specializes in church sales, said the last 10 years had seen a spike in sales. Frequently churches become housing or care homes, while some of the churches are bought by other churches wanting to expand.
專門從事教堂銷售的房地產公司 AD Advisors 的董事總經理布賴恩·多爾海德 (Brian Dolehide) 表示，過去 10 年的銷售額激增。教堂經常變成住房或療養院，而一些教堂被其他想要擴建的教堂買下。
But selling a church isn’t like selling a house or a business. Frequently the sellers want a buyer who plans to use the church for a good cause: Dolehide said he had recently sold a church in El Paso which is now used as housing for recent immigrants, and a convent in Pittsburgh which will be used as affordable housing.
“The faith-based transaction is so different in so many ways from the for-profit transaction. We’re not looking to profit from our transactions, we’re looking for the best use that reflects the last 50 years or 100 years use if possible.”
“基於信仰的交易在很多方面都與營利性交易截然不同。我們不希望從我們的交易中獲利，我們正在尋找能夠反映過去 50 年或 100 年使用情況的最佳用途（如果可能的話）。”
The closures aren’t spread evenly through the country.
In Texas, John Muzyka of Church Realty, a company that specializes in church sales, said there were fewer churches for sale than at any point in the last 15 years. He believes that is partly down to Texas’s response to the pandemic, where the governor allowed churches to open in May 2020, even when the number of new Covid cases was extremely high.
在得克薩斯州，專門從事教堂銷售的公司 Church Realty 的約翰·穆玆卡 (John Muzyka) 表示，待售教堂的數量比過去 15 年來的任何時候都少。他認為，這在一定程度上要歸功於德克薩斯州對大流行病的反應，州長允許教堂在 2020 年 5 月開放，即使新的 Covid 病例數量非常多。
“I would say if a church stayed closed for more than a year, it was really hard to get those people to come back. When you were closed for three months, you were able to get over it,” Muzyka said.
That aside, closures are often due to a failure of churches to adapt.
“A church will go through a life cycle. At some point, maybe the congregation ages out, maybe they stop reaching young families.
“If the church ages and doesn’t reach young people, or the demographics change and they don’t figure out how to reach the new demographic, that church ends up closing.
“Yes, there’s financial pressures that will close a church, but oftentimes, it’s more that they didn’t figure out how to change when the community changed, or they didn’t have enough young people to continue the congregation for the next generation.”
US news 美國新聞
|( 不分類｜不分類 )|