This year’s Nielsen Prayer Ratings, considered an important indicator of sociological trends, put numbers to anticipated demographic shifts, yet contained surprises too.
While “Please don’t let her be pregnant” prayers showed expected growth among males 18-25, the 2011 NPR garnered controversy and condemnation among traditional ‘big box’ religious outlets. The study shows a decided move towards secularism. Seen as even more troubling by religion providers is a market share gain for non-mainstream sects.
Said Rev. Calvin Klavan of Dallas mega-church Happy Abundant Life Tabernacle, “That NPR garbage? The data is skewed because these little oddball bunches shouldn’t have been included. Jehovah Witnesses gained 140,000 members? Big whoop. Here at HALT we always knew the JW’s would stumble across the internet eventually. It’s a more cost-effective marketing tool than peddling ‘Watchtower’ door-to-door.”
The charismatic Klavan, who kind of resembles George Clooney actually, waxed passionate on brand placement challenges in a media-dense marketplace. “Whole thing is stupid really. We mega-churches haven’t been advertising denomination for like six years. ‘Sell the sizzle not the steak’ we always say. Denomination doesn’t turn the product anymore. That guy Rick Warren for example? I heard he doesn’t even know what denomination he is.”
Vatican reaction was more philosophical. Speaking for the Holy See, Cardinal Luther Martin sounded a positive tone on the NPR results. “We’re not surprised fifteen percent of Americans now self-identify as non religious. But we’re not a pessimist ‘chalice is half empty’ organization. We’re more ‘chalice is half full’ and possibly ‘we can cut operating costs by making smaller chalices’ as well.”
Cardinal Martin explained the ‘long-range’ view favored by the Vatican. “Lately, we’ve had several bad decades. There’s the sex abuse, of course, and the cover up, and the cover up of the cover up too. Our main focus on Scientology didn’t gain any ground. I hate those F’ing Scientologists, they really piss me off.”
His Eminence believes Catholicism is well positioned for a sharp market rebound due to the imminent beatification of former Pope John Paul II. “And if that doesn’t work, we’re going to start offering brunch after Mass, for a nominal fee.”
Reached for comment, Jesus Christ again warned against putting your faith in the institutions of men. Whatever that’s supposed to mean.