Tag Archives: Christian Right

Change and Decay 3: The Religious Right

AlterNet / By CJ Werleman
Christian Right Has Major Role in Hastening Decline of Religion in America
Soon, there will be more atheists and agnostics than Christians.

March 22, 2014

Of those aged 18 to 35, three in 10 say they are not affiliated with any religion, while only half are “absolutely certain” a god exists. These are at or near the highest levels of religious disaffiliation recorded for any generation in the 25 years the Pew Research Center has been polling on these topics.

As encouraging as this data is for secular humanists, the actual numbers may be significantly higher, as columnist Tina Dupuy observes. “When it comes to self-reporting religious devotion Americans cannot be trusted. We under-estimate our calories, over-state our height, under-report our weight and when it comes to piety—we lie like a prayer rug.”

Every piece of social data suggests that those who favor faith and superstition over fact-based evidence will become the minority in this country by or before the end of this century. In fact, the number of Americans who do not believe in a deity doubled in the last decade of the previous century according to both the census of 2004 and the American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) of 2008, with religious non-belief in the U.S. rising from 8.2 percent in 1990 to 14.2 percent in 2001. In 2013, that number is now above 16 percent.

If current trends continue, the crossing point, whereby atheists, agnostics, and “nones” equals the number of Christians in this country, will be in the year 2062. If that gives you reason to celebrate, consider this: by the year 2130, the percentage of Americans who identify themselves as Christian will equal a little more than 1 percent. To put that into perspective, today roughly 1 percent of the population is Muslim.

The fastest growing religious faith in the United States is the group collectively labeled “Nones,” who spurn organized religion in favor of non-defined skepticism about faith. About two-thirds of Nones say they are former believers. This is hugely significant. The trend is very much that Americans raised in Christian households are shunning the religion of their parents for any number of reasons: the advancement of human understanding; greater access to information; the scandals of the Catholic Church; and the over-zealousness of the Christian Right.

Political scientists Robert Putman and David Campbell, the authors of American Grace, argue that the Christian Right’s politicization of faith in the 1990s turned younger, socially liberal Christians away from churches, even as conservatives became more zealous. “While the Republican base has become ever more committed to mixing religion and politics, the rest of the country has been moving in the opposite direction.”

Ironically, the rise of the Christian Right over the course of the past three decades may well end up being the catalyst for Christianity’s rapid decline. From the moment Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority helped elect Ronald Reagan in 1980, evangelical Christians, who account for roughly 30 percent of the U.S. population, identified their movement with the culture war and with political conservatism. Michael Spencer, a writer who describes himself as a post-evangelical reform Christian, says, “Evangelicals fell for the trap of believing in a cause more than a faith. Evangelicals will be seen increasingly as a threat to cultural progress. Public leaders will consider us bad for America, bad for education, bad for children, and bad for society.”

In light of the recent backlash against Republicans who supported the right-to-discriminate bills across 11 states, Spencer’s words seem prophetic. Republican lawmakers had expected evangelicals to mobilize in the aftermath of Arizona governor Jan Brewer’s veto of SB1062. Instead, legislatures in states like Mississippi, Kansas, and Oklahoma have largely backed down from attempts to protect “religious freedom” after a national outcry branded the proposed bills discriminatory.

Every denomination in the U.S. is losing both affiliation and church attendance. In some ways the country is a half-generation behind the declining rate of Christianity in other western countries like the U.K., Australia, Germany, Sweden, Norway, France, and the Netherlands. In those countries, what were once churches are now art galleries, cafes and pubs. In Germany more than 50 percent say they do not believe in any god, and this number is declining rapidly. In the U.K., church attendances have halved since the 1970s.

A recent study into thebeliefs of people living in 137 countries concludes that religious people will be a minority in many developed countries by 2041. Nigel Barber, an Irish bio-psychologist, based his book, Why Atheism Will Replace Religion, on the findings. His book also debunks the popular belief that religious groups will dominate atheistic ones because they collectively have more children. “Noisy as they can be, such groups are tiny minorities of the global population and they will become even more marginalized as global prosperity increases and standards of living improve,” writes Barber.

Anthropologists have often stated that religion evolved to help early man cope with anxiety and insecurity. Barber contends that supernatural belief is in decline everywhere for the fact that ordinary people enjoy a decent standard of living and are secure in their health and finances. “The market for formal religion is also being squeezed by modern substitutes such as sports and entertainment. Even Facebook is killing religion because it provides answers for peculiarly modern narcissistic anxieties for which religion has no answer,” observes Barber.

While some polls show roughly 9 in 10 Americans still maintain belief in a god or gods, the trend of religious young Americans is toward a mish-mash of varied religious beliefs. A 2010 USA Today survey revealed that 72 percent of the nation’s young people identify as “more spiritual than religious.”

With an increasingly majority of younger Americans accepting evolution as fact, Christianity for many under 35 is becoming a watered-down hybrid of eastern philosophy and biblical teachings. “The turn towards being ‘spiritual but not religious’ points at the decreasing observation of doctrine and strict rules and a broader relationship to sentiment and ‘Jesus and me’ on the one hand alongside the rise of yoga, Buddhism, Hinduism and a blend or smorgasbord of eastern practices with the idea of being loosely/broadly spiritual—yet not in any specific context or foundation of the Trinity, Seven Deadly Sins, Karma, Nirvana or any of the pillars or branches of belief,” writes Alan Miller, moderator of a “spiritual but not religious” event.

Young people are turning away from the church and from basic Christian beliefs. While a number of non-denominational mega-churches continue to thrive, their teachings are less dogma and more self-help. Eventually, Christianity-Lite will be replaced with Spirituality-Full Strength.

Certainly, pro-secular groups have been largely successful in removing Jesus from the public square, workplace and classroom.

All of which leaves only one self-evident conclusion: that despite the Christian Right’s well-funded and well-organized effort to transform America’s secular state into a tyrannical theocracy, Christianity will inevitably mirror the days of its origins i.e. something that is only whispered about in secretly guarded places. And that may happen sooner than you think.

CJ Werleman is the author of “Crucifying America,” and “God Hates You. Hate Him Back.” Follow him on Twitter: @cjwerleman

 

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The End? (from “Forward”)

Published Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Have We Reached the End of Traditional Religion?
Jews and Christians Alike Are Straying From Affiliation

By Jay Michaelson

Changing Church: ‘The Catholic Church seems to be doubling down on its most conservative teachings. You know something’s changing when Rush Limbaugh calls the pope a Communist,’ writes Jay Michaelson.

Maybe the Christian Right is right. For almost 40 years now, they’ve been warning us that we’ve entered the wilderness, that traditional religion is being eroded. Did 2013 prove them right?

Item One: the Rise of the Nones. This phenomenon — nearly 20% of Americans listing “none” as their religious affiliation — was first documented in 2012, but only in 2013 did it emerge as a demographic and political fact, impacting how we vote, how we live and what we think about political issues. Strikingly, there are more and more Nones the younger the demographic sample gets. Among 18- to 29-year-olds, 32% are Nones.

Item Two, or perhaps One-A, is the Pew Research Center’s survey of American Jews, which showed that 20% of American Jews (there’s that number again) consider themselves “Jews of no religion,” and that their non-religious Judaism is not a deep or sticky enough of an identity to be sustainable.

Third, even among non-Nones (Somes?), religious affiliation appears to be growing more polarized: There are now more fundamentalists, more liberal-to-atheists and fewer mainliners in between. Denominationally, this means fewer Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans, Conservative Jews and Reform Jews — and more evangelicals, Pentecostals, ultra-Orthodox and non-denominationals.

Mega-churches are spreading — it’ll be interesting to see whether charismatic forms of Judaism will mimic their success — and old-line churches are dwindling. It seems that the center cannot hold.

And then there’s the Pope. Under Benedict XVI, who resigned amid swirling rumors of sexual and financial scandals in the Vatican, the Catholic Church seemed to be entering a second Counter-Reformation, doubling down on its most conservative teachings and, by way of enormous “charitable” organizations, working to eviscerate legal protections for women and sexual minorities.

Now, Pope Francis tells us he won’t judge gay people, that the church is too obsessed with sexuality and that untrammeled capitalism is immoral.

You know something’s changing when Rush Limbaugh calls the pope a Communist.

Finally, even among those who still profess religious belief, the LGBT equality movement has caused a striking moderation in views. Staying with the Catholic Church for a moment, over 60% of church-going Catholics in America support same-sex marriage (compared to over 80% of Jews), which is above the national average. Even younger Evangelicals, galvanized around the Emerging Church movement, are beginning to say “live and let live” when it comes to gays, although they remain as staunchly anti-abortion as ever. Taboos are falling.

And at the same time, the influence of the so-called Christian Right is at a low point. Think about it: A few years ago, when we talked about conservative Republicans, we talked about the Christian Coalition and the Family Research Council. Now, we talk about the Tea Party. Yes, many Tea Partiers are just warmed-over Christian Rightists. But the rhetoric is different, the issues are different and the churchmen aren’t calling the shots.

Clearly, no one factor explains all of these disparate trends. We still don’t know why Americans are becoming more like Europeans when it comes to matters of (un-)belief: secular culture, science, the excesses of “bad religion,” interfaith marriages and so on. It may just be a matter of survey respondents feeling more comfortable saying “None.”

Nor do we really know what the future holds, for Jews or anyone else. We can speculate that the growth in secularism and the concomitant growth in fundamentalism are related — but which is the horse and which is the cart?

It does seem, though, that 2013 was a year in which traditional religious affiliation underwent significant change. Is this the dawning of a new, liberal age, in which America finally starts to look a little more like the rest of the Western world?

Don’t count on it. American religion is nothing if not resilient. It is malleable enough to change with the times, and if anyone ever does declare war on Christmas, they will lose. We remain a weirdly religious country.

There are signs of innovation and renewal, too — forms of religion which focus on the pastoral and the personal, rather than the dogmatic. And these values are timeless. No matter how shopworn and threadbare our religious language sometimes becomes, the mystery and tragedy of human experience still remains — and so religion endures. Remember, even that famous sermon about losing one’s religion begins, “Oh, life, it’s bigger — it’s bigger than you…”

Jay Michaelson is a contributing editor to the Forward.

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Teaching Jihad to Christian Children

O-blog-dee-o-blog-da Life goes on….
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PUBLISHER | Melanie Nathan
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.Teaching Jihad to Children in Christian Based Hate Book Disguised as Love

Melanie Nathan, May 26, 2013.

 

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When I read about this book, God Made Dad & Mom, depicting the story of Michael, an adopted boy, who takes a trip to the zoo to learn how God made people — with a mommy and a daddy, and waged prayer war on friend Jimmy who had two dads, the first thing that came to my mind was one of those videos of little kids being fed religious extremism at an early age, in preparation for Jihad.

Seriously that is what came to mind. I mean in this climate of hate crimes against gay people, a direct reaction to the declaration of war on gays by religious Christian extremists, (circa 1974 Jerry Falwell through Lively, Engle, Brown, Perkins et al 2013) I can only imagine the emerging mindset and frustration of a future 20 year old, who would have read such a book at age 6, and then wondered why the heck God had not answered his prayers, because gays are still in fact procreating and raising families.

My mind flustered with thoughts of Christian Jihad against gays starting with a sweet little book about hate disguised as love, with macho images alluding to the lie that manliness can only be found in heterosexuality, with only the latter acceptable in society.

According to a review in The National Memo :

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“After this failed fact-finding mission, Michael feels compelled to pray for the breakup of classmate Jimmy’s family, as his friend has been cursed with the immoral, unnatural situation of having two loving dads. “Dear Jesus,” implores little Mikey, “Please show Jimmy and his dads the truth about how you made them and how much you love them.”

Here the clearly confused author tells us that Jesus — not God — made people, which would be one neat trick, considering that Jesus was a person. That theological oopsie aside, the takeaway is that God’s/Jesus’ love, in right-wing nutso world, is not unconditional as per the Bible, but is instead contingent upon one’s private sex life being deemed acceptable by conservatives with whom one is unacquainted — and the government.

AFA president Tim Wildmon, who along with his similarly gay-obsessed partner in (hate) crime Bryan Fischer, has vowed to keep up the fight against what he calls “Big Gay,” has given the book his stamp of approval — seriously, it’s actually stamped on the front cover, they’re so darned proud of this dubious honor.”

No great surprise that the SPLC-designated hate group American Family Association has endorsed the book, and placed its seal of approval on indoctrinating the youth of the far Christian Right, Jihad style. No one else in their right mind would subject a child to such abusive license to judge. That seal and the designation “hate group” with it – should have Amazon reeling and removing the book from its catalogue. However thanks to Amazon we are now privy to the record amount of derogatory reviews of the book, as offended readers have not been silent:

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“I was having difficulty trying to light the bonfire one night… Then I remembered that a lady from church gave me this book to read to my daughter. What a life saver! This thing burnt for a good 5 minutes and got that fire going strong! Great cover! Great paper quality! Great alternative to fire logs!

And:

“Evil disguised as a childrens’ book May 23, 2013
By John H. Thiel -How do you brainwash little kids to hate gays and lesbians? Here is an example written by a pair of fundamentalist Christians. Lots of cute pictures and simple text conveying a message of hate. Sure to be popular with closet case homosexuals who hate themselves or for those screwed up parents who fear that their children might be gay.”

And:

1.0 out of 5 stars NO STARS! Cleverly disguised hate. God made EVERYONE in LOVE. May 22, 2013 By MAZZ – This is the worst example of a children’s book I have EVER seen. This book deliberately teaches hatefulness, self righteousness and is judgmental. Using religion as a tool to make other equally loving family dynamics inferior is Just shameful. Teach your child LOVE inclusiveness and Kindness to others.THAT IS WHAT JESUS WOULD DO.

The book while purporting to speak truth, lies also through its omissions. It steers children from the reality and the ideal that God loves all – that all are made in God’s image – gay (LGBTQI) and straight and that God has been so so clever that HE has been able to accommodate his gay families through extraordinary creative means, all a concomitant of the metamorphosis of creation.

I am a lesbian who has produced two magnificent children; one daughter through adoption, where biological parents played the role on the procreation end of it, but handed the baby to an overseas orphanage, and the second child through a sperm donor and insemination. Even that makes a little more sense than the guy who was born to a virgin – not that I want to judge. But I will say that no one is born to virgins any more in this day and age.

After all the world has evolved and the Bible must be interpreted as a living document, in context and in light of our modern existence. Same-sex couples exist and are making families of their own and no amount of praying by the likes of a handful of little Michaels is going to change that beautiful and loving paradigm. God is brilliant in extending procreation to same-sex parents. We have children who are born with hearts that beat to the drum of a universe evolved through, not only adoption, but also through insemination, sperm donorship and surrogacy; we will procreate, nothing will stop us and but for the religious zealots that attack our being, no one gets hurt. Surely if you believe there is a God one must believe that our means to create children is indeed God given? How can the life of any child not be God given?

Screen Shot 2013-05-26 at 6.02.14 PMSo I think I am going to remind the author that she is simply ‘farting against thunder’ in her inept attempt to derail the real work of God – which is to include all of God’s children in the scheme of procreation, whether straight, gay or lesbian. I am also going to indict her hate, where in effect she is suggesting that kids pray that another child’s family will go away “POOF” into thin air. How insidious and unloving to ask a kid to judge his friend’s family. I just cannot get over how disgusting that is – and then to drag God and Jesus into such hate is beyond me.

Of course we gay families tell our kids how they were made- we tell them the truth. In fact my daughter’s reality is her truth and it is as divine and as blessed as anyone else.

That all said, if you have the stomach, watch the holier than thou and qualifying as hate-monger given the myth and lies so perpetuated, author Amber Dee Parker, as she explains the story in the video below. To use the theme of judgment and reprimand to have Michael pray so little Jimmy can disavow his own dads is so obtuse and vulgar a tale that it is tantamount to me writing a book asking little children to pray for the demise of their parents who impinge upon the word of God by serving up a ham at the Christmas dinner table for the bible tells us so.

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