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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/442

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

cities has assumed an intermediate position between that of the Continent and that of Great Britain. The religious customs characteristic of British Christianity have undoubtedly declined—they have yielded to the influence of Continental Christianity. If British Christianity is the norm by which we are to judge, then Christianity has declined in the United States. If, however, it is not the norm, then it might appear that an intermediate position, such as we have attained by the assimilation of the British and the Continental types, may be a real advance and gain, because of the appropriation of some of the best features of both methods and the rubbing off of some of the eccentricities and excrescences of both. A decline in the relative attendance upon the public worship, and especially upon the second service on Sunday, is exactly what we would anticipate under the circumstances. It is altogether probable that the decline is much less than we had the right to expect in view of the vast influence exerted upon us by Continental types of Christianity during the past half century. And it is altogether probable that the decline has not reached its normal goal. Especially is this the case when we take into consideration other influences which tend to diminish the attendance upon public worship.

1. In Great Britain, where the churches were established by law, the state and Church were so entwined that it was a badge of good citizenship to attend upon public worship. In antithesis with this, attendance of the nonconformists upon public worship was regarded as a standing by their principles and a test of fidelity and courage. These influences worked also in the United States during the colonial period; but during the present century this motive has lost its influence, and it is to be feared that politicians as such feel under no special obligation to attend church, especially in view of the attitude of many of the ministry as to political life and political questions.

2. In Great Britain it has been a badge of social propriety to attend public worship. Social influences still prevail greatly in the United States, in villages and small cities, and even to some extent in the churches in the great cities, where they are organized and conducted in social lines as social religious clubs. But this influence is much weaker than it used to be, and it is gradually passing away.

3. The pulpit was once the chief means of instruction and of intellectual and moral stimulation for the people. The preacher was the people's orator. The pulpit has in great measure lost its attractive power in this regard. The daily and weekly press have a greater influence in public instruction. The multiplication of cheap books also takes from the preacher a large share of his