• 91°

Nalini Joseph: Why are fewer men in local church pews?

By Nalini Joseph

A young Ugandan Catholic deacon by the name of Joseph shared a meal with my family here in Salisbury a few nights ago.

He has been in America for a few years now, spending time studying and training for the priesthood at Belmont Abbey and Sacred Heart Catholic Church. He shared one of his worries with us: church pews are occupied more and more by women rather than by men. Women and children often come to church without husbands and fathers.

This was news to me, so I decided to do some research on the subject. Here’s what I read in an online blog called “The New eMANgelization: Drawing Men to Jesus Christ and His Catholic church,”  “The ‘face’ of the Church is feminine; men are underrepresented in the pews (only 37% of regular mass attendees are men). Further, a Notre Dame study shows that 70-90% of catechesis, service, bible study activities are led by women, causing the authors to suggest that ‘young males…assume that serious religious studies are a women’s business,’ resulting in greater numbers of younger men being disengaged. Men are needed for healthy and growing parishes; research shows that congregations with greater portions of men are more likely to be growing. The church has a significant ‘Man Crisis’ and needs to face the reality of the crisis; unchecked, the loss of men will have a long-term catastrophic impact on the church.”

Surely, this is exclusive to the Catholic church, I thought to myself.

It’s common knowledge that the number of priests being ordained within the Catholic church has been dwindling for decades. It makes sense that men are shying away from a religious institution that has unfortunately linked religious males with the horrific worldwide abuse scandal of the last few decades. I decided to do some further digging to confirm my suspicions – to see whether the Protestant church has also been impacted by the apparent exodus of men from churches. I was dumbfounded to find article upon article about men leaving both Catholic and the Protestant churches alike.

I was talking with a male friend just today about his new “going to church” routine. Like so many of us, he has become accustomed to watching his YouTube channel church service on Sunday mornings in the comfort of his home. His church is now going to have to work a little extra hard to get him to come back into the sanctuary on a regular basis.

So, putting aside our change in spiritual practices due to the pandemic, why are we experiencing this shift in demographics within the church? Why are women and men apparently not equally interested in spiritual growth within the confines of a religious structure?

There are a multitude of possible and probable answers to this big question. What strikes me is that throughout history our God and spiritual deities have been men: Jesus, Buddha, Brahma, Shiva, Vishnu and Zeus to name just a few. Women were not permitted to go into the priesthood in the early (Catholic) church.  Men were “the wise men” – the religious astronomers who studied the stars.  They were religious scribes and advisers in the king’s court; they were the scientists and philosophers who also studied theology very deeply. Women have traditionally been mothers, volunteers and community service workers.

Fast forward a few hundred years and we now have a society that depends on women to be engaged on so many fronts, taking more and more responsibility for family, community and society at large. Since the middle of the 20th century, women have been active in the workforce. They are not only working mothers; they are volunteers, politicians, and in many cases the decision makers for the family’s overall health and financial well-being. Does it logically follow that the religious duties and spiritual health of the family naturally falls on the shoulders of the mother and/or wife as she occupies other leadership positions within and without the home? Are we re-defining roles within our households so that women are now responsible for their children’s participation in church, regardless of the father’s interest and presence in church?

Let’s talk more next week about this subject. Stay tuned for interviews from our religious leaders in our city of Salisbury!

Nalini Jones lives in Salisbury. Email her at nalinijones1@hotmail.com.

Comments

Crime

Blotter: June 21

Ask Us

Ask Us: What is status of ‘speed table’ on Charles Street in Spencer?

Local

East Rowan High graduate killed in motorcycle crash

Local

Political Notebook: Gov. Cooper vetoes Ford-backed bill allowing firearms at churches that are also schools

Crime

Blotter: June 20

News

Body of fourth tuber, age 7, found in North Carolina river

Nation/World

8 kids in youth van among the 13 lives lost to Claudette

Local

Hundreds turn out for annual Juneteenth celebration on newest federal holiday

Local

Between local champions and an upcoming state tournament, pickleball putting Salisbury on map

Business

Business leaders hope to draw big crowd for job fair at West End Plaza

News

Officers cleared in Mooresville shooting

Business

From firefighter to photographer, Brianna Mitschele is ready to capture more moments in downtown Salisbury

News

25 years later, runners reflect on Olympic torch’s trip through Rowan

News

Commissioners to consider designating Newberry Hall House as county historic landmark

Farm & Garden

51st annual Old Southeast Threshers’ Reunion set for July 1-5

Business

Biz Roundup: St. Luke’s Episcopal Church Foundation awards grants from Salisbury to Jerusalem

Lifestyle

Kristy Woodson Harvey: For Dad

News

South Salisbury Fire Department activates new weather siren

Lifestyle

Library Notes: Meet the ‘Dare Devil Dogs’ in Week 5

Faith

Q&A with Bishop Tim Smith

College

Wolfpack tops Stanford falls in College World Series opener

Lifestyle

‘Down by the Praise Pond’ shares local author’s faith in debut children’s book

Nation/World

Driver crashes into crowd at Pride parade in Florida; 1 dead

News

Search continues after 3 tubers die, 2 disappear at dam