Perhaps you’ve been wondering what religion will be like a hundred years from now, in Pottstown (in the U.S., in the world . . .). Here are some possibilities:
(a) While organized religion has continued its gradual decline, Unitarian Universalism, with its emphasis on social justice, its recognition of the climate crisis, and its realistic theology, has grown and has become the largest religious (some would say post-religious) group in the U.S., and perhaps in the world.
(b) In recognition of commonalities and in response to challenges, there have been some con-solidations: UUs have merged with Quakers, the liberal side of the United Church of Christ, the Ethical Culture Society, Reconstructionist Jews, liberal Muslims (or ex-Muslims), and westernized Buddhists to form the Universal Organization.
(c) The Roman Catholic Church has evolved in a liberal direction. Women have full equality. The bread and wine are no longer considered the actual body and blood of Jesus but are recognized as symbols. Abortions are okay. Popes (or Mopes) are elected to 10-year terms and are no longer considered infallible. Hell has been abolished, and upon death people are given the choice by St. Peter (or one of his assistants): eternity in heaven, fixed term in heaven, reincarnation (with memory wiped out), or extinction. Orthodox Catholics have merged with Roman Catholics. Episcopalians (and Church of England) and Lutherans have returned to the Catholic fold. The consolidated group has taken on the name the Universal Catholic Church.
(d) A few denominations – and independent congregations scattered across the country – are known for their racist, sexist, homophobic interpretation of Scripture.
(e) After a long period of decline, religious participation and affiliation among those under forty has begun to increase, reaching nearly 10% of those between the ages of 25 and 40. Most of the increase has been in Zoom churches and followers of the god Zooz.
(f) Around the year 2100 the earth received evidence of civilized life in a distant galaxy. Subsequently, a religion developed based on worship of the deity (or deities) and on the moral and theological values of that civilization. Needless to say, the creators and followers of that religion have no knowledge of that supposed civilization and have used their imagination to create the new faith.
(g) Religion is of interest only to historians and is remembered only by those over 50. Which, if any, of these seven paths seem the most likely or the most desirable to you? Do you have other (possibly better) ideas?