Monday, June 08, 2015

Nonreligious 'Nones' Are Driving LGBT Equality in America

I have often said that conservative Christians will be the ones who ultimately kill Christianity in America.  Their brand of hate and fear based dogma is growing increasingly repellant to more and more Americans, especially those under age 30 a third of whom have walked away from organized religion entirely.  As a story in The Advocate notes, one of the consequences of this growing disdain for religion is that the so-called "Nones" are helping to drive LGBT equality.   The take away?  That it is important to continue to spotlight the ugliness of the Christofascists not to mention their never ending hypocrisy and all too typically ties to racist organizations.  Scratch a "family values" organization and underneath you find former advocates of segregation.  Here are highlights from The Advocate:
This past week it emerged that Josh Duggar, the eldest son of the 19 Kids and Counting family, had molested at least five underage girls as a teenager, allegedly including two of his sisters. The revelation forced Duggar to leave his job with the Family Research Council, officially an antigay "hate group," where he vocally opposed laws protecting LGBT people.

The entire Duggar family has also been deeply enmeshed in antigay, right-wing politics. Notably, they have vocally supported religious conservatives like Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee, while matriarch Michelle Duggar last year recorded a robocall that accused transgender people of being child molesters.

The Duggars have held themselves up as a model of Christianity in America: wearing their religion on their sleeves, the family is politically active, deeply conservative, anti-LGBT, patriarchal, and anti-science.

"Real Christians" like the Duggars would like to think they're doing God's work. But if they're judged by the fruits of their tree, as the Bible teaches, they've actually driven Americans away from churches. And new research indicates that their entrenched, anti-LGBT positions are part of why Americans are abandoning the faith in record numbers — and not coming back.

When Pew Research Center released its latest religion in America survey results, it highlighted a trend that has been ongoing for years: people are leaving organized religion in droves. . . . . The number of people who identify with any religious denomination keeps shrinking.

There are now approximately 56 million religiously unaffiliated adults (those identifying as agnostic, atheist, or “nothing in particular”) in the U.S., according to Pew. In light of this group’s “none of the above” attitude toward existing organized religion, the group is sometimes referred to as the “Nones.”    The Nones are more numerous than either Catholics or mainline Protestants . . . .

[T]he Nones also tend to be one of the most solidly Democratic and pro-LGBT demographics as well. This isn’t coincidental; prior studies from the Public Religion Research Institute have shown that up to a third of Millennial Nones left traditional faith communities because of religious intolerance toward LGBT people.

Certainly, there are other factors at play. Generational replacement is failing to happen — for every person who has joined a religion after having been raised unaffiliated, there are more than four people who have become religious “Nones” after having been raised in some religion, revealed Pew.

Dr. Brittney Cooper, an Assistant Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies and Africana Studies at Rutgers University, summarizes the problem posed by conservative Christianity to Millennials like herself in a powerful essay alleging that right-wing religious fanatics have concocted a bigoted “white supremacist Jesus."
“I cannot stand in a church and worship on Sunday alongside those who on the very next Monday co-sign every kind of legislation that devalues the lives of Black people, women, and gay people,” writes Cooper. “I am a firm believer that our theology implicates our politics. If your politics are rooted in the contemporary anti-Black, misogynist, homophobic conservatism, then we are not serving the same God. Period.”
The Pew survey shows the American Catholic Church’s numbers are in almost as steep a decline as mainline Protestants. Reactions to the trends detailed in the survey vary greatly across church leaders and devout members.

Others point to a groundbreaking 2010 study by Putnam and Campbell, which argues there is a strong link between Millennial disenchantment with Christianity and the rise of evangelical conservatism in the 1980s and ‘90s. That study hypothesizes that Millennials have come of age in an environment where being Christian means being conservative (and Republican). More socially progressive Millennials — which is most of them — view the choice before them as an ultimatum of sorts: identifying with one’s political identity, or their religious identity. When it comes down to brass tacks, Millennials are apt to change the latter, given how little effort it takes to drop out of organized religion. In short, when there is a conflict between religious and political identity, the path of least resistance involves giving up the religious one.

The solution, from Putnam and Cambell’s perspective, would be to sever the link between religion and politics. But recent polling indicates that 57 percent of Republicans want to see Christianity as the official religion of the United States.

Relatedly, research shows that increased Internet access — especially when used to access progressive media sources like Right Wing Watch and ThinkProgress — helps tighten the spiral of religious de-identification by consistently pointing out the link between conservative religions and politics. 

Whether the rise of the Nones — and the concurrent decline of moderate religions — ultimately speeds up or slows down efforts to secure legal protections for LGBT people as a whole remains to be seen. What we do know is that is that the rise of the Nones and the increasing acceptance of LGBT people are strongly linked. 

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