As lunch progressed, I continued to ask Pastor Bob about the hardest part of Protestant Marketing.
“Pastor Bob, why do you guys make such a concerted effort to reach lapsed Catholics.”
“That’s all there are. For a generation, maybe two, the Mainline Protestants have been disappearing. No children. More and more churches don’t even have a Sunday School because there are so few children. We used to get second and third generation Irish who’d left The Church. Then, we encouraged Italians to become Protestants. Now, we go after Hispanics who’ve turned from The Church.”
“How do you get them to leave The Catholic Church?”
“The truth is, most of them have already left. We don’t say so, but a big part of our Marketing Plan focuses on current and former adulterers. They get attracted to someone they can’t marry in The Catholic Church, some of them so uncontrollably that hey leave their spouse and children, and run off. They aren’t allowed to receive Catholic Communion. Usually, they are too conceited to admit they’ve done something wrong and blame The Church.”
“So, they join some Protestant denomination?”
“Hopefully, they’ll join mine! The fact is, lapsed Catholics make our best members! They treat me with the same respect they were raised to show their priests! Not like some of the others!”
“Really?”, I said. “The older Protestants aren’t as respectful?”
“Not like they should be. For instance, some of those who have a hard time paying their children’s college tuition resent paying for mine.”
That was new to me. “Pastor Bob, I didn’t know that.”
“Honestly, I can’t blame them. Their property taxes and medical expenses are always increasing. They get fewer raises and have ever fewer children. They are proportionately less happy about tithing. There’s grumbling: ‘Catholics have to support a priest, but they don’t have to pay to send his kids to college to compete with my kids for jobs.’ The growing hostility is hard to hide. Pretty soon, many of them join some low-cost mega-church with a marching band and table decorating contests. After a few years of that, they stop going anywhere.”
I realized that I was blessed to be Catholic in more ways than one.