supply and demand?
I like that Marx quote too. It seems the churches wouldn't retain power if the demand wasn't there. People's church attendence is suprisingly independent of the regularity with which their parents attended, which we can interpret as meaning that it's not just a matter of habit. The factors that maintain their power (diminishing, at least globally, though you wouldn't know it with our evangelical nuttiness in America)must be multifaceted, but my hunch is that it's got a lot to do with the demand for their services. I'm an agnostic, and have a hard time appreciating the value most of my fellow countrymen put on religious comfort and guidance. But, I have to say, sometimes I'm a little jealous. Believing in Santa was nice when I was a kid! But, it's a belief I couldn't possibly have today. Awe, wonder, inspiration, truth, beauty, kindness, etc....those are the foundations of my personal religion, if you could call it that. I assume the LitKickers, including you, bluepersuasion, are kindred "free thinkers"? I do go to a Unitarian-Universalist church--but that's for community, friendships, and shared "spiritual" introspection and social action. I'm also a 12-step person (recovering addict) and that's a spiritual fellowship too, and one much misunderstood as "religious". It's not by any normal definition of the word a religion. Most there speak of god, but it's a personal god. For me, god is truth, goodness, beauty. Understanding where those things come from, ultimately, is not required thankfully.