With the shorthand “OMG” (oh, my God) becoming a huge cliche, it might be worth taking a look at how Americans are seeing the Almighty these days — that is if they are looking at all.
A recent Gallup poll indicates that just 31 percent of Americans worship publicly on a weekly basis, while 43 percent rarely go to a church, synagogue or mosque.
Growing up under the heavy hand of the School Sisters of Notre Dame, it was drummed into me that attending weekly Mass was not an option. It was a must to avoid eternal damnation, which was not a prospect filled with many positives. Hellfire was perpetual, and no parole would be offered.
And so I went to Mass and was even an altar boy, memorizing a variety of Latin prayers that basically said Jesus was a good guy and everybody should avoid offending him. Not a bad message, so I really had no beef — unless I was assigned to the 6:30 a.m. service. Was Jesus even up at that hour?
Today, only 24 percent of American Catholics attend weekly Mass, and so Lucifer must be very busy expanding accommodations. There are many reasons for this, but two stand out. First, Mass is often deadly dull. Sometimes the priest is from Botswana, and you can’t understand him. Other times, you can understand the padre, but 20 minutes on the Corinthians can be challenging, if you know what I mean. It would be great if priests, ministers, rabbis and imams would spice it up a little.
The second reason that churchgoing is in decline is that we are living in a narcissistic time when self-gratification has largely replaced the golden rule of treating others as you want to be treated.
Far be it for the public schools to teach this, but the USA was founded on basic Judeo-Christian principles. Don’t take my word for it. Take a trip to Washington, D.C., and tour the Supreme Court building. There you will see a sculpted copy of the Ten Commandments on the wall.
But why? Moses wasn’t an American. He didn’t cross the Red Sea into Delaware. The reason the commandments are on display is that the Founding Fathers based the American legal system on honesty and on the avoidance of doing harm to others — the basic tenets of the commandments.
But many secular Americans, including the ACLU, would dismantle the Supreme Court display if they could. We are now in the age of anti-religion, where pious folks are looked upon as odd. Religion is a bad thing to the secular-progressive. It’s too judgmental and stands in the way of unfettered abortion, gay marriage and other sacred causes of the S-P movement.
Faith-based organizations such as the Catholic Church should be fighting against secularism, but they rarely do. Instead, they are on the defensive, as scandals and apathy have devastated organized religion. The Gallup poll reflects that.
But for me, a sinner, it is worth an hour a week to think about things of a spiritual nature in order to try to improve my life. I even turn off my cellphone. In pursuit of a higher calling, it is just not needed.
Bill O’Reilly is host of the Fox News show “The O’Reilly Factor.” For more, see the Web site www.billoreilly.com.