Preachers are growing cool about the flames of hell. Few ever mention the subject from the pulpit says “USA Today,” which notes both Catholic and Protestant leaders want to focus more on hope and resurrection than damnation.
The trend can be seen in Catholic funeral masses where white priestly robes have replaced the former black ones and in a recent Church of England doctrine commission recommendation that hell be seen as “final and irrevocable choosing of that which is opposed to God,” instead of medieval fire and torment, the newspaper reports.
Some evangelicals still believe in hell as a literal place, it notes. But even here the subject is less commonly broached. E.V. Hill of Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles says that only a tiny minority of clergy in his community ever preach on the subject. “The popular conception is that God is too good to allow a hell,” he says.
But the shift comes at the same time as movies and video games in popular culture increasingly depict hell as it has been traditionally viewed, as a place of torment and suffering. A recent Gallup Poll found that although 73 percent of Americans believe in hell today, as compared with 54 percent in 1965, only 6 percent think they will end up there. Seventeen percent felt the same in the earlier study.