The Religion Racket
by Norman H. Wells
Former Pastor, Central Baptist Church, Cincinnati
Now With The Lord
© 2005 James H. Dearmore/Gospelweb.net

The Late Dr. Norman H. Wells

[GospelWeb.net Globe]

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Chapter 11

Hollow Holidays

Most religions in the United States use Sunday, the first day of the week, as a day of worship. This is called the Lord's Day. What happens on this day is a real indicator of the place that religion holds in this country.

We can see the decline in that the majority of churches have just one service a week . . . and that is discontinued a lot of times in the summer months. The routine of churches in this country originally included a lot more services. There was always Sunday School and morning worship on Sunday mornings. There was a time of studying, preaching, praising, worshiping, etc. Everyone would return on Sunday nights for Evening Worship. This was a worship service which was characterized by a great emphasis on evangelism. Added to these was the Mid-Week Prayer Meeting . . . ordinarily on Wednesday. The church would assemble for a time of worship, praise and prayer. There was a time when most churches would assemble on Saturday nights in a kind of preparation for Sunday.

What has been mentioned were the "regular services" . . . held every week. In addition churches would have "Revival Meetings" of anywhere from one week to a month or more ... and folks came every night! Throughout the year there would be "Bible Conferences ... .. Training Courses," etc.

Religion meant something then ... what happened?

The first to go was probably the Saturday night meetings. Folks found other things they would rather do on Saturday nights ... things that were not quite so religious. Next casualty was the Mid-Week Prayer Meeting. As we became more self-sufficient we found we didn't need to pray as much ... besides, it took so much time. Sunday Evening Services lasted a little longer but finally fell by the wayside. After all, folks didn't want to be fanatic about their religion. . . and there were so many other things clamoring for attention. Along the way "Revival Meetings" went out of style and were dropped along with all similar services.

This leaves Sunday Morning services ... and they are just barely holding on. Already a lot of churches are closing down tight during the summer months. On any given Sunday morning there are more church members not attending church than are attending. How long?

Religious folks seem to find no inconsistency in using the Lord's Day as a day of play, visiting, loafing, etc. More and more it is just another work day. More and more businesses are open on Sunday. Less and less it is a Lord's Day. How long?

We have condensed our religion to an occasional one hour service on Sunday morning . . . and that still seems to, be too much. Some have it down to two a year ... Christmas and Easter! These are the two really big days on the religious calendar ... Christmas and Easter. There are other holidays but these two are by far the most important.

Christmas is supposed to be the celebration of the birth of Christ. This explanation is needed because it could hardly be recognized as such from the way it is observed. This celebration of the birthday of Christ didn't start until about three or four hundred years after his birth but it has come a long way since.

Christmas supposedly is a time of peace on earth and good will towards men. It is a time of expressing our love one toward another in gift giving. At Christmas we are supposed to be particularly aware of spiritual values and our minds and hearts are to be attuned to our Saviour in a wonderful time of closeness and fellowship.

That Christmas is not all it is supposed to be is very evident. Every year we hear the familiar cries about putting Christ back into Christmas. We are admonished not to forget the real meaning of Christmas. Every year the same petitions go forth but no one really pays much attention.

Actually, what is Christmas?

Christmas is large crowds of greedy shoppers, tired and short tempered, jamming the stores in a spending spree that grows bigger every year.

Christmas is sending Christmas cards. This is a very unique custom. About the only attention these cards really get is to be counted. You judge how well you are liked by how many cards you receive. In order to get cards you must send cards and this necessitates maintaining an ever increasing list of names and addresses of folks who are obligated to send you a card because you sent them one. This way you get a lot of cards and everyone will know you have a lot of friends with whom you are popular. If you receive more cards than you mail you are something really special.

Christmas is spending a fortune on Christmas trees and decorations that have no spiritual significance.

Christmas is kindling greed in a child's heart. A youngster who is already overindulged will sit down on a Christmas morning and rip through one package after another and always seems to have an expression on his face that says, "Is that all I got?"

Christmas is the birthday of Christ and Santa Claus gets all the attention. The question is, "Do you believe in Santa Claus?" not "Do you believe in Jesus Christ?"

Christmas is taking back all those gifts which were just what you needed and exchanging them.

Christmas is a time of office parties and other types of drunken orgies. It's a time when it is supposed to be all right to make love to your secretary and your neighbor's wife.

Christmas is reveling in the name of religion, where drunkenness is substituted for or devotion, and where there is more greed than God.

Christmas is doing for the needy once a year what we should be doing all year.

Christmas is using the money we have saved all year in a Christmas Club to buy everybody gifts they don't need and probably won't use.

In view of the covetousness, greed, drunkenness, reveling, and hypocrisies that bury Christmas maybe we need to change our slogan. Instead of trying to put Christ in Christmas maybe we should take Christ out of Christmas! Let it be what it is and quit disguising it as a religious holy day.

Then there is Easter. Each church probably has its largest attendance on Easter. It seems everyone goes to church on Easter.

Easter is the day when the resurrection of Christ is celebrated. The resurrection of Christ presents the prospects of victory over death. The symbol of this day is an Easter bunny bringing hen eggs!

Easter, as everybody knows, is the time to buy new clothes and strut to church in the Easter parade.

It doesn't seem to strike anyone as particularly odd that the wild, depraved, drunk orgy that takes place in New Orleans every year is associated with Easter.

How handicapped it would be to celebrate victory over death one hour a year ... yet this is what a great percentage of church goers are supposed to be content doing.

What we really are putting on display at Easter is not our new clothes but our old shams and hypocrisies.

It seems that real religion would insist that the tainted hands of greed, commercialism, and drunken reveling be taken off of what are supposed to be holy days.

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