Here’s Another Way the Internet Hurts Churches

A lot of people go to church, not because they believe all the religious nonsense, but because they enjoy the community.

Why do they love the community? Because, among other things, it’s a great place to meet someone to date… and possibly marry.

And what happens when the Internet comes along with JDate and Match and OkCupid and all the other dating sites? You meet a mate online instead.

And what happens when you meet a mate online? All those people who went to church simply to find a spouse stop going to church.

That’s what Noah Millman suspects might be happening:

How many young people don’t go to church or synagogue because there’s no reason to go there to meet marital prospects? And once that dynamic starts, it inevitably accelerates, as the residual group who does show up is increasingly untenable romantically (because they are there for other reasons — or can’t find an “adequate” mate digitally).

I don’t know if I buy the second part to that, but the first part makes a lot of sense. One of the biggest benefits to being part of a church community was having access to lots of other single people with whom you shared at least one important thing in common. Now that there are (legitimate) alternative ways to meet people you might connect with, it’s another nail in religion’s coffin.

(Image via Shutterstock)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • ShoeUnited

    ChristianMingle.com While God’s omnipotent and omniscient he is also incapable of hooking you up with a like minded jesus-freak via volunteer service, churches, missions, picnics, etc.

    God loves you, but he doesn’t know how humans hook up. That’s why he’s with you in the bedroom. Spying.

    Shhh shhh. Go ahead, he’ll just be sitting in the corner. That light *flp flp* sound is the wind.

    • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

      Find God’s Match for You™, because it worked out so well for Adam.

      • MarkTemporis

        Now I want to use “God’s Match” as some sort of weird geological formation, like a tall, thin, red-capped volcano in the midst of a forest. Or maybe a type of tree that needs frequent moisture, and during a drought turns barren and red-topped and often sparks off forest fires.

        • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

          Proceed with caution. That trademark character came with the slogan from their website. But if you can find a way to incorporate some wordplay with godhead and the head of a match, I’ll gladly award bonus points.

          EDIT: A lichen called Pilophorus acicularis is also known as the Devil’s Matchstick.

      • Hat Stealer

        Especially given that God had to try, like, three times before eventually hooking up Adam with Eve. Those relationships with Lilith and Whatsername really didn’t work. Also, given that when God played matchmaker he ended up dooming the human race, I’m not so sure he should be given his own online dating service.

        • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

          “You don’t want to be known as the original sinner. It’s like a bad rap name.”

          • sane37

            That’s a great rap name.
            I’m getting into Xtian rap for the money asap!

    • Ben

      You really take a literal definition to what the Bible says and try to define God in a humanistic form. Strange.

      • ShoeUnited

        1) Humor.

        2) Not like those who believe don’t personify their deity so why can’t I? “Well God’s will…” “God doesn’t approve…” “Would you do [activity] with Jesus (watching)?” “God’s plan…” “God will smite…” “God loves…” “You are going to hell because God doesn’t approve of [activity].” “God answered…” “God spoke…”

        I’m not exactly breaking new ground here. There’s over 2000 years of precedent.

        • Ben

          You really don’t get it do you? I’m not going to bother trying to explain it to someone who can’t even grasp logic. Shunned.

          • ShoeUnited

            “Shunned.”
            https://www.youtube.com/v/RB8Jor8tPs

            And if I knew who you were maybe I’d give a damn.
            I get that you think a humanistic god and a literal interpretation of The Bible don’t mesh (even though they do). And I get that you don’t think No True Atheist (patent pending) would ever engage in pretend about the god for the sake of humor.

            I also get that xians believe in a trinity where Jesus is God as is God is God so actually that’s “humanistic form” right there. Maybe you just fail to grasp basic humor. Maybe I’m not failing at understanding; maybe you’re failing at explaining. People liking my original comment suggests I’m understood.

            • ShoeUnited
            • Ben

              “People liking my original comment suggests I’m understood.”

              No, you and those people just really aren’t funny lol. But then again, I wouldn’t expect much more from someone who is inferior to me.

              Also, the correct term is “Christian”, not xians. You’re welcome.

              • allein

                The X means “Christ.” You’re welcome.

              • C.L. Honeycutt

                “not xians…” Jesus but you are a dumb one.

              • sane37

                You do understand that the X represents christos, as in “Merry Xmas” (pronounced “Merry Christmas”).

                So Xtian would be Christian.

                Keeping learning Ben. Never stop.

          • allein

            I’m not even sure I understand what ShoeUnited is supposedly not getting…what is your point? (But then I guess that makes me someone who can’t even grasp logic so I suppose I shouldn’t expect an answer.)

            • Ben

              It’s not worth the time wasting an explanation on an inferior member of the species such as yourselves. You’re not in the majority like me so you don’t matter.

              • allein

                So why bother posting if you can’t explain your point? Seems like a waste of time for such a superior member of the species as yourself.

              • EvolutionKills

                Hahahahahahaha…

                Right. Nothing like trying to retreat to the ‘high ground’ after you’ve been shown to be an ignorant waste of space. Also a majority of people used to think the world was flat and at the center of the universe, but that didn’t make it so. Be careful in not thinking for yourself and just blindly following the herd, people who do that tend to not see the cliff until they’ve thrown themselves over the edge of it.

              • baal

                Ben, I’d consider you unkind and a sinner if I could stop laughing at your repeated insistence of your superiority.

              • sane37

                A majority of one.

                Kind of like those Army ads.

          • busterggi

            Oh noes! A person i have never met, probably never will meet is avoiding me – how will I handle that loss!?!?

          • C.L. Honeycutt

            Thanks for admitting that you have no argument. Excellent witnessing there too.

      • randomfactor

        So? People have been doing THAT since God mooned Moses.

        • AnarchyRules

          Watching you f-ags get so bent out of shape is funny

          • EvolutionKills

            Look out people, we got a big-boy over here using big-boy worlds on the internet! Hope his mom doesn’t catch what he’s doing and take away his cartoon watching privileges!

          • Matt D

            Watching you wimps play “bully” on the internet is more amusing….I mean, don’t you have a frigging life, you loser?

      • Sweetredtele

        Jesus isn’t defined as both god and human?

      • sane37

        What do you think believers do?

    • James B

      I’d like to see stats on how many people on Christianmingle.com are actually married.

      • ShoeUnited

        That’d be an interesting statistic if they’d ever feel confident enough to publish it. I’m sure once they conduct enough surveys and get numbers high enough to make themselves look good, they’ll say something. I’d also like to see the numbers from Match.com etc. show how many stay married to help unskew the numbers (relationships based on length etc. instead of marked as married on their profile).

        As it is, the quiet is deafening.

      • Taneli Huuskonen

        “A married Christian male is looking for a sister in Christ to accompany him for discreet Bible study and prayer during his frequent visits to Atlanta, GA.”

        Oh, that’s not what you meant? Never mind.

  • Rene Belloq 12 inch dick

    I go to the farmers market on sundays, and interact with people of all creeds and races, if I went to church on sundays I would be only with people of my same mentality, race, etc. that sense of community bullshit sucks, I believe churches are a big reasons why we haven’t broken the racial barrier.

    • Steve

      I’m in an interracial relationship but seriously, stop pushing your agendas onto people. Some people like to mix, some people don’t. Stop trying to force your race mixing on others. Some people desire to preserve their own culture and aspects.

      • alfaretta

        REALLY????

        Making a statement of one’s own preferences is hardly pushing an agenda.

        “Some people like to mix, some don’t.” I guess that’s why church time is called “the most segregated hour in the week” in the U.S.

        • Steve

          Maybe in the U.S., one of the most bigoted and racist countries in the world, but certainly not in Canada, where all the people at the churches I’ve gone to are white, black, Asian, Indian, Hindu, straight, gay etc.

          And there is no white bench or black bench. Everyone sits together, non-segregated.

          • ShoeUnited

            Being all over the US, there isn’t segregated benches. Just segregated churches. Not that they won’t welcome other cultures into their church. People are nice enough generally (I’ve been to a LOT of churches).

            It’s just that White Baptist and Black Baptist aren’t the same kind of thing (hint: Black Baptist services are more entertaining). Korean Presbyters will have most things primarily in Korean while the Catholic Latino church down the block will have things in Spanish.

            It’s not that there’s segregation so much within the churches, but by the type of churches. I’ve been to a Catholic service with an Indian priest and nobody turned their nose at him for color despite 99% of everyone in town being white. But I wouldn’t expect an Evangelical to enjoy services in a Unitarian church. Without having a mandatory language (or 2 like Canada), and having a separation of church and state; mass isn’t required to be in any one language. You in Canada have the advantage of knowing that mass will either be in English or French 99% of the time due to those languages being mandatory. Not so much in the US. So, the segregation comes not from the distrust of skin, but rather the differences in ethnic foundations and no universal language.

            Which actually comes to an advantage if you enjoy the architecture and wish to study how religions differ.

            • Helen

              You in Canada have the advantage of knowing that mass will either be in English or French 99% of the time due to those languages being mandatory.

              Uh, no. Completely and totally false, actually—you’ve misunderstood what it means for a country to have an official language. The fact that English and French are our official languages is an obligation that falls on government and, to a more limited extent, for-profit business. So laws and government publications must be available in both languages, services must be available in both languages. That does not, of course, prevent local and regional governments from offering services in additional languages where that would be convenient for a significant number of citizens. For example, the Toronto City Council regularly publishes in many languages in addition to English and French—Mandarin, Cantonese, Punjabi, etc. Businesses also have some obligations—the packaging of products sold in Canada must be labelled in English and French (except for some imports that are labelled in neither English nor French.)

              Of course, since Canada has a (for the most part) more complete (and less often infringed) separation of church and state than the U.S., the official languages of government and the public sphere have no connection with the languages used in religious services. I live in the Portuguese and Italian dominated neighbourhood of Corso Italia in Toronto, and of the four churches close to me, three have Italian and/or Portuguese services, and one is a Korean church with services in Korean. Many smaller Canadian cities and towns have more homogeneous white English or white French populations, so naturally their religious services are in English or French, but it has nothing at all to do with Canada’s official language policy.

              • ShoeUnited

                Having official languages just means that you’re more likely to share a common language. This allows documents and societal interaction to be met with a greater degree of understanding. That doesn’t mean that it’s the only languages spoken. I didn’t imply as such.

                But it’s nice to see after you getting so mad about the “segregation” in the US church system, you go and show that Canadian churches are just as segregated as US churches. Thanks for going out of your way to dispute your point and show the way US and CA churches are almost exactly the same. Congrats, you shot your foot off.

                • ShoeUnited

                  fucked up ignore it
                  Going to sleep

                • Helen

                  Having official languages just means that you’re more likely to share a common language.

                  Again, not true. It’s generally countries with one unquestioned dominant language that don’t have an official language. For example, in the U.S., the dominance of English for so long means there is no need for an official language, whereas in Canada, it’s the fact that we don’t have one language everyone was willing to agree on that has led to us even having an official language policy. Obviously that’s a generalization, because there are all kinds of historical factors that can lead a country to institute one or more official languages, but it is true far more often than it is not.

                  Again, language policies in general, and Canada’s language policies in particular, do not regulate or set up expectations about social interations. They regular official interations with government and other types of critical information, but are not relevant in the social sphere.

                  You’re right when you say that having an official language means people can expect that most in the country can speak that/those language(s), but your original comment that I was replying to said specifically that you could be sure that mass would be in English or French 99% of the time, and that is what I said was mistaken.

                  I think you’re confusing me with another commenter—I never made any claim that Canadian churches are more or less segregated than the U.S. I have absolutely no idea how segregated churches are in America. It was Steve who made the claim that churches in Canada are less segregated.

                  I’ve been to a number of different churches in Toronto, mostly because I have a lot of religious relatives who enjoy checking out different Christian denominations. In my experience, churches are the most diverse when they aren’t associated with a particular ethnic or racial group. So I’ve seen Anglican and Baptist churches that were relatively diverse, as were the Mormons. However, many churches are fairly homogeneous, either because they have services in a particular language, or because they are in a particular neighbourhood. Toronto is very multicultural taken as a whole, but people of different backrounds have a tendency to stick together for a generation or two (or more). I would actually say that, like I’ve heard of the U.S., church and other religious services are where you will see the least diversity, since they’re often seen as a way to preserve culture and tradition in a multicultural society.

          • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

            Churches in the US are not nearly as segregated as they used to be. I’m not sure that people who haven’t been in a long time know that. I’m not one to defend the Jesus people, but criticisms ought to be fair and current. There’s still a lot of cultural segregation in churches, but not nearly as much as there was when I was a kid.

          • busterggi

            Get a lot of Hindus, Muslims, Buddists, Jain, Wiccans, etc at your local Christian church do you?
            Somehow I doubt that.

            • Steve

              Stereotyping and racist much? So a Middle Eastern, Indian and Asian person can’t be a Christian? Fucking dumbass.

              • busterggi

                Maybe in the U.S., one of the most bigoted and racist countries in the world, but certainly not in Canada, where all the people at the churches I’ve gone to are white, black, Asian, Indian, Hindu, straight, gay etc.”
                You specifically said Hindus go to your Christian church, can’t you read your own posts, shithead?

              • sane37

                Missing the point, like a boss.

          • sane37

            Are there any Muslims or Buddhists at your church?

      • Oranje

        “aspects”

        Don’t do that. That poor word is going through enough with every freshman essay every written. “There are many aspects to…”

      • Rene Belloq 12 inch dick

        wow.

  • the moother

    Sorry to be brutally honest but wherever in the world I attend church (always on reconnaissance missions and out of pure curiosity) the congregation always seems to consist of 90% inbred rednecks.

    Better if said congregants are less likely to reproduce.

    • Steve

      Have you been to Canada? The churches where I live are a mix of white, black, Asian, Arab etc.

      • the moother

        I have not, sorry. My experiences have been limited to (most of) Europe and also Australia and New Zealand.

        How do these congregants compare to the mainstream? Are they odd and awkward and dress for the ’70s?

        • Steve

          I love Canada. So full of mixed cultures and heritages. None of this segregated, racist American BS.

          • EvolutionKills

            I don’t get it. You started a fight with a guy complaining about how he thinks American churches are a factor in America’s persistent racial barrier. Then you turn around and chastise ‘racist American BS’. It’s nonsensical to bemoan racism in America, while also attacking the opinion of somebody else complaining about how he thinks churches help propagate the race barrier.

            I fail to see the point of you fighting for both sides, besides just being a troll.

      • busterggi

        as i said above, get a lot of Hindus, Muslims, Buddists, Jain, Wiccans, etc at your local Christian church do you?
        Somehow I doubt that.

        • Steve

          as I said above, Indian does not equal Hindu and Middle Eastern doesn’t equal Muslim. Fucking dumbass.

          • busterggi

            “Maybe in the U.S., one of the most bigoted and racist countries in the world, but certainly not in Canada, where all the people at the churches I’ve gone to are white, black, Asian, Indian, Hindu, straight, gay etc.”

            Maybe you should read what you write – you specifically said Hindus go to your Christian church.

            Shithead, you can’t even read your own posts.

      • axelbeingcivil

        I honestly don’t get why people down-voted this. As a fellow Canadian, I can wholeheartedly say that churches around here are a pretty diverse mix. I did a news report once, interviewing local church groups, and the people I met were a really diverse mix.

  • cary_w

    Hmm…. Last few times I ever set foot in a church everyone was either well over 50 or families with little kids, hardly the place to meet a potential mate, unless you are part of the over 50 crowd.

  • Chakolate

    If the second part means that people looking for mates who *do* go to church find far fewer possibilities, and sometimes there are only older people there, then I buy it. It’d be like going on a romantic cruise and finding only retired seniors there.

    • ShoeUnited

      I’d argue it’d be more like going to a nursing home and expecting a romantic cruise, but I agree with the general sentiment.

  • http://www.atheistrev.com/ vjack

    Interesting, but I’m not sure I buy the idea that many go to church to find a mate. If that were true, it would suggest that once someone found a partner, they’d be less likely to attend church. I have not seen much evidence of this. In fact, it seems like many couples get more serious about church once they have children.


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