Is it this>
WHERE have all the Jehovah’s Witnesses gone? They used to knock at our door every other weekend, then they stopped that and set up a stall in the carpark at the supermarket. A bit like a Bunnings sausage sizzle with religious pamphlets instead of snags.
Now they’ve stopped that too. They seem to have vanished.
So have the Mormons. It’s been a long time since a Witness or Mormon dinged my doorbell.
I miss our robust chats about theology. The existence or non-existence of God and, if he exists, whether he should have killed all the little Egyptian children at Passover. Stuff like that.
It seems strident Christianity is slowly fading away, which could be a good or bad thing depending on your feelings.
The most recent census is expected to show that “no religion” is the most commonly ticked box, beating Catholic and Anglican.
That’s quite something — to think that the majority of Australians have turned their backs on organised religion.
However, we do have Australian rules football, and that’s enough religion to be getting on with. Go the Saints. Go like hell.
But what does this rejection of religion mean for our culture? Some Christians would say it heralds a decline in moral values and that there is more crime and violence because we have lost our god-fearing ways.
But if we need the threats of a vengeful God to make us behave nicely to each other, we’re a pretty piss-weak mob.
I once had some religious callers who spoke to me about the troubled times we live in and how lawlessness and violence were increasing. I asked them if they had ever heard of the Vikings. Or the Roman Empire, which fed Christians to lions as light entertainment. Or how about Attila the Hun? He and his hordes knew a fair bit about inflicting violence.
I would sooner live in 21st century Australia with all its godlessness than in any of those evil times.
But there is a twinge in my heart that is nostalgic for religion. Just a twinge, a twinkle.
On a recent trip to Perth, I decided to visit a little chapel, St Swithuns, which I had passed many times as a boy but never entered. It is an old ironstone structure, like many in the Darling Range and I wanted to photograph its architectural grace.
There was a service in progress as I entered and a man in one of the rear pews passed me a Bible and I sat down. There were maybe 25 parishioners.
After communion, the priest, Reverend Ron, approached me for a chat, because I was an unfamiliar face. I asked if I could take some photographs and he said certainly. He gathered the congregation out the front and I took a couple of shots.
I then took the reverend inside and photographed him at the altar with the light streaming through a skylight behind a makeshift cross. Most charming of all was his Blundstones peeping out from under his vestments.
There was an atmosphere of goodwill and pleasantry in that humble chapel that I have seen in few other places. Those people had a fondness for each other that was heartwarming.
But religion? Nah!
If we can’t form a decent society with respect for our brothers and sisters without the Big Man in the Sky threatening us with eternal damnation, God help us.
I have yet to have my doorbell dinged by a Buddhist. I like Buddhists.
Baz Blakeney is a Herald Sun columnist.