We are living in a tremendous age, my brethren and sisters. It is a day of great progress, of change, of rapid advance. The very structure of our civilization, social, political, commercial, moral, and religious is greatly affected by that which persists before our eyes this day. There can be no question that a new era has dawned upon our planet. Means of travel, trade, association, and intercommunication between countries even comparatively unknown, is before us. But while in almost every field of science, every art is being developed while the mind is awakened to new thought, yet religious knowledge in the world is at a standstill. The creed of the fathers cast in the mold of other ages shows no progress to match the onward strides of man.
I am indebted to Brother Ezra Taft Benson for an article which he sent to me, which typifies in measure the failure of the powers of Christendom to attract their members to the churches in Europe. In Denmark, for example, less than one-half of one percent of the population retains any active church connection. Sweden is a little better. In one Swedish parish, says Russell Kirk, in a recent article in The National Review, a Swedish minister, after preaching for five years, found only his immediate friends and family attending regularly. The Church of England, though by law established, obtains the active participation of only five percent of the English population. The English dissenting churches are in a worse plight. Continuing this article, Russell Kirk has this to say:
“What we are seeing rather is the dropping away of most people into a state of apathy and disbelief, though not even the fervent disbelief of the village atheist. A vague feeling that Christianity does not profit a man in any material way, and a vaguer conviction that somehow religion is unscientific, seem to be the approximate causes of this phenomena. Probably there is less religious belief and less influence of churches upon the civil-social order and upon the person than in any other period in the history of Europe.”
Source: Alvin R. Dyer, “Accomplish the Work of the Lord,” Conference Report, October 1961, pp. 50-53. Alvin R. Dyer was an assistant to the Council of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1961. In 1967 he became a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and was also a member of the First Presidency from 1968 to 1970.
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The Moral Liberal recommends Ezra Taft Benson’s: The Constitution: A Heavenly Banner