The Best of Andy Rooney

I like life so much that the great things in life are the hours of the day, the days of the week, the weeks of the month, and the months of the year. They're all good to me, but some days of the week are better than others. Saturday is my favorite day of the week. I think Saturday is most Americans' favorite day of the week. You can do what you want to do on Saturday.

Sunday is hard because many people can't figure out what to do with it. If you're a religious kid, Sunday school lurks in the background. When I was growing up, most people went to church, but I think church attendance is down now. A survey I read recently said that 35 percent of all Americans go to church on Sunday. I think attendance is down at least 10 percent from when I was growing up.

There are something like 335,000 Christian churches in the United States, but I don't think many of these houses of worship are more than one quarter full on the days there are services. On Sundays, I think many of the parishioners would like to get home in time for the start of the football game.

I think we have a great many more churches than we need. Churches should get together and work out ways to share their buildings. I can't believe, for example, that Presbyterians and Methodists couldn't come to some agreement about God and pray to him in the same space. They could use the empty churches for something else.

My mother and father were raised Presbyterians. They never said they were atheists but I don't remember them ever going to a Presbyterian church, either. I was mad at them for making me go even though they didn't attend. My mother always gave me 50 cents to put in what they called "the collection plate." It seemed like a lot of money at the time and I would rather have used it to buy ice cream cones for me and my sister at Graves drugstore near the church, but I never did.

My friends Alfie Gordon and Bobby Reidy were both Catholics. We called them "Catholics," not "Catholic," and they went to the church right at the corner.

My uncle, my Dad's brother, and his wife, were serious Baptists and didn't approve of the fact that my parents didn't make me and my sister go to church every Sunday. We attended once in a while.

Most of my friends, when I was growing up, went to church on Sunday because it was something their parents wanted them to do. You may not have liked to go, but you attended anyway.

My friend Al Hessberg, who was the great Yale football player, lived across the street from us. I remember that his parents were Jewish but I didn't know if he attended a synagogue or not. This never came up in conversation.

Houses of worship don't pay taxes. There are more than 6,000 churches in New York City alone and many occupy prime real estate. All of us from different religions essentially subsidize houses of worship, and I don't think that's right. The people who run any church should pay taxes on the property they occupy like everyone else. There's nothing sacrilegious about that.

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