My wife and I are a young couple in our 20s, and we’re considering a move to one of a handful of southern U.S. cities from the Denver area. I have heard, from time to time, that Catholics are such a small minority in the south (although I’m sure it is less so in the big cities), that it is a constant challenge to maintain Catholic identity. I doubt there’s much discrimination or anything, but I do imagine that it feels like you’re the oddball out in an overwhelmingly Protestant culture, right? There are two things I worry about:
1.) The whole megachurch culture isn’t terribly substantive, and I fear that if the country grows more secular, the evangelical culture will be the first to evaporate and leave a super-hedonistic secular culture in its wake. That assumes that, of course, the south will secularize, and it may not, but my worry is that a lot of the religion in the south is more cultural than an intense devotion and love for Christ. I know that there are tons of wonderful, devout Christians in the south–but I just wonder if a lot of it is the whole come-to-church-hungover kind of culture you sometimes hear about.
2.) I also worry about the influence of Protestantism on the overall mindset of the region. Usually I think that Protestant influence is way better than, say, MTV influence. But I know that southern evangelicalism can create a kind of dualism in thinking that leads people to kind of have a “fun life” and a “faith life” which are somehow separate. Any thoughts about that?
On the other hand, the south is a wonderfully conservative, church-going part of the country. People are kind, community-oriented, faith-filled, and family-loving. And I also know that Catholicism tends to be especially vibrant and growing in the region, too. That’s exciting to be around.
We’re coming from Denver, which is a tremendous archdiocese that really is a crown jewel of the American New Evangelization. Catholicism is a very exciting thing, here, and it makes me nervous to leave. On the other hand, I imagine that the overall culture of the south is probably easier and maybe better to raise a family in.
Any thoughts about all of this are greatly appreciated.