Atheism is on the rise. Catholics must do a better job at evangelizing [UPDATED]

50,000 people from 57 different countries and five continents were recently asked whether or not they consider themselves religious, nonreligious, or are a convinced atheist. Of those respondents living in America, only 60% identified themselves as religious, a 13 percent decrease over the past seven years. Equally troubling is that the number of self identified atheists in America rose from 1 percent to 5 percent over that same period.

Those figures, unfortunately, are in line with other studies on religion in America. According to the 2008 American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS), 15 percent of Americans have no religious identity at all, a figure that has doubled since 1990. That number, however, has risen to 20 percent, according to a Pew Research Center poll released this past week.

It seems fitting, then, that Pope Benedict has called for a year of faith. Catholics must be vigorous in spreading their faith – the one true faith – to others around the globe. And one man who is doing just that is Dr. Ralph Martin, the Director of Graduate Theology Programs in the New Evangelization at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit, Michigan.

His most recent book, “Will Many Be Saved?: What Vatican II Actually Teaches and Its Implications for the New Evangelization,” has been lauded by many church leaders. Francis Cardinal George calls it a “uniquely important book.” Timothy Cardinal Dolan refers to it as “a shot in the arm for bishops, priests, and laity as we respond to the Holy Father’s call.” And Donald Cardinal Wuerl writes that it “contributes significantly to a richer understanding of our faith.”

Dr. Martin’s efforts, as well as the emphasis the Church has placed on renewing our faith, should compel us to work even harder. At a time when secularism, atheism and agnosticism are on the rise, the world needs to hear the prophetic voice of the Catholic Church now more than ever.

I recently had the opportunity to attend one of Dr. Martin’s lectures on the new evangelization at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It’s worth watching.

h/t Aquinas College Catholic Studies program



  • Bill Dodds

    I encourage you to take a look at the novel “The World’s Funniest Atheist.” Our Sunday Visitor calls it “a great read.”

  • abadilla

    A troll says: ” major manipulation of the CV website” yet he keeps coming back for more. Why? It doesn’t make sense!

  • abadilla

    As a theology teacher I do notice the facination many students have with the concept of atheism but I frankly, don’t take it seriously. Are these students atheists because they have read a lot about our faith or other religious traditions and they are not convinced of the truths they find there? No, most of the kids are very smart but “intellectually” lazy. One of my students said one of my comments at CV was too long and told me he could not possibly read it. This is a young man who is on the treshhold of college where he will be asked to read entire books.
    In the book “Night” Elie W. tells us the horrors he went through in concentration camps. He is a survivor of the Holocaust. In the pages of the book which my students read with me in class, we find a fourteen year old boy who happed to be a devout Jew. He said his prayers and kept Jewish holy days but he began to question the existence of God because of the suffering he and his father were going through. I can see how someone would find God’s existence in those circumstances difficult indeed, bit I find that in the majority of cases, the problem isn’t suffering and not getting answers from God, but intellectual laziness, a refusal to read and informed oneself of the evidence for the existence of God. If a student is incapable or unable to read a simple essay, how is he or she supposed to read the five arguments for the existence of God in St. Thomas Aquinas’ classic, “The Summa”?

    • John son of John

      ye too many flaws it is hard for many atheists i’ve met and know to believe.
      i usually just think too much…

      • abadilla

        John, this is how I answer an atheist about our “flaws”. We are not perfect, our Head, Christ, is. The body of Christ is a mixture of holiness and sin, darkness and light, sin and virtue. Why? Precisely because we are human and therefore touched deeply by original sin. If you, meaning an atheist, has a problem with that, then by all means go to another religious body or denomination or sect and you will find exactly the same thing because they are also made up of human beings. If indeed you choose atheism, guess what? In the atheist community you will find all sorts of flaws because it is also composed of flawed human beings, that’s all.

        • John son of John

          i was talking bout theory or belief of atheism.
          yes, christ is in adoration chapel.
          I AM NOT AN ATHEIST.
          i have found God’s mercy.
          you probably have too.
          God Bless

          • abadilla

            “I AM NOT AN ATHEIST” When did I accuse you of being an atheist? I thought I said, “John, this is how I answer an atheist about our “flaws…” Are you planning to start twisting words like Rich does?

          • John son of John

            No, I don’t like to hurt anyone.

            Sorry me very bad at miscounting.

  • Human Ape

    “Catholics must be vigorous in spreading their faith – the one true faith – to others around the globe.”

    Every religion calls itself “the one true faith”.

    Two quotes about faith and religion:

    FAITH. No one word personifies the absolute worst and most wicked properties of religion better than that. Faith is mind-rot. It’s the poison that destroys critical thinking, undermines evidence, and leads people into lives dedicated to absurdity. It’s a parasite regarded as a virtue. — PZ Myers

    Religion is the antithesis of science, an anesthetic for the mind that disables critical thought and encourages the acceptance of inanity as fact, and wishful thinking as evidence. — PZ Myers

    • abadilla

      Oh yes, Myers, that faithful theologian who never has a kind word to say about religion, let alone the Catholic faith. Tell it to St. Anselm, St. Augustine of Hippo, St. Albert the Great, St. Thomas Aquinas, and St. Theresa of Ávila, just to name a few, and religion can be so evil, that Blessed Mother Teresa must have been doing the wrong thing when she used to pick up people from the streets who were about to die, and she did so because she saw in them the face of Christ.
      Yes, we do take reason and throw it in a trash can, but someone forgot to tell that one to Blessed John Paul II when he wrote “Fides et Ratio.”
      Yes, we are the one true faith because we were founded by the Lord Himself who said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” Not “a” way but “the” way. Perhaps we should apologize for being “unique,” yet we recognize glimpses of the truth in other great religions.

  • Human Ape

    “Atheism is on the rise. Catholics must do a better job at evangelizing”

    Or Catholics could grow up and throw out their death cult.

    • abadilla

      Evangelization is what we are called to do with Catholics first, because Catholic trolls prove here, day in and day out, how far they are from understanding their Catholic faith.
      Your words, “Or Catholics could grow up and throw out their death cult.” are insulting and demeaning and not at all conducive for any dialogue, therefore, at least with me, the dialogue has come to an end.
      The “Death cult” is composed of 1 billion Roman Catholics worldwide and this so called “cult” proclaims day in and day out the sacredness of all human life, so, your words are a reflection of complete ignorance regarding the Catholic faith.
      Go and spew your venom somewhere else.

  • Greg B.

    Here’s the thing: if you are going to proceed down this road, you must accept that the road is two-way. If you insist on evangelizing and expect those who do not identify as Catholic or as religious at all to listen to you with an open mind, you must also accept the reality that those whom you seek to convert to your worldview have an equal right to attempt to convert you to theirs. But we know how this goes. Catholics will insist that it is their right and obligation to tell others what it wrong with an atheistic or agnostic worldview but when those atheists and agnostics attempt to point out what’s wrong with the Catholic viewpoint and why it should be rejected, the “anti-Catholic” charges will begin to fly and anyone not willing to sit still for a one-way conversation will be accused of religious persecution.

    • Amen amen amen

      Amen to that!

    • Rich

      How about using our examples of leading true Christian lives filled with the love of God and caring for the poor, the widow the orphan. If I got to know Catholicism through CV, I would find it so lacking that I would run far away. Somehow I think the our Pope would be keeping pace with me, as even he would find this interpretation of Catholicism to be both void and scary. He would be sleeping in on Sunday mornings.

      • Joe M

        This issue has been studied. Conservatives give substantially more than liberals in terms of blood, money and time.

        Perhaps you should spend more time on liberal leaning web sites urging them to give more to charity?

        • Rich

          Christian Charity is not measured by pie charts, but by what God sees in the hearts. Remember Paul’s admonition about needing to act with love in all we do, or maybe about the poor widow who gave more even though she gave less. People do not come to Catholicism because of an economic argument, but because they see in all that is done, the love of God shows through. In Christ there is no Left or Right, but God must always be in the Center of our hearts.

          • Randall


          • Rich

            And the young man went away sad for he had many possessions.

      • Love or hate the poor

        Because the priest gets up and says to vote for the RICH guy for president who HATES the poor (like most republicans), and BLAMES them for our economic state when actually the poor have NO power…only the RICH have the power to bring down economies. People have been so brainwashed. Hitler got in with the Catholic vote in Germany. So…there you go.



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