Saturday, December 26, 2015

Christianity Is Dying in America

As the caption of this post notes and a number of surveys on religion have documented, Christianity is dying in America.  And a leading cause in the decline in religion, especially with the younger generations, is the "godly Christians" themselves  as they daily show Christianity - or at least their toxic version of it - to be principally about hate and division.  True, there are other causes, including scientific progress that undermines the myths set out in the Bible, yet the godly folk refuse to look in the mirror at themselves or changing demographics since it is far easier to blame gays, liberals and "secular humanist" who are alleged to be at war against Christianity.  A piece  The Daily Beast looks at Christianity's much deserved decline and the Christofascists' efforts to deflect blame on to others.   Here are highlights:
Among the Christian Right, and most Republican presidential candidates, it’s now an article of faith that the United States is persecuting Christians and Christian-owned businesses—that religion itself is under attack.   “We have seen a war on faith,” Ted Cruz has said to pick one example.

Why has this bizarre myth that Christianity is under assault in the most religious developed country on Earth been so successful? Because, in a way, it’s true. American Christianity is in decline—not because of a “war on faith” but because of a host of demographic and social trends. The gays and liberals are just scapegoats.

The idea that Christians are being persecuted resonates with millennia-old self-conceptions of Christian martyrdom. Even when the church controlled half the wealth in Europe, it styled itself as the flock of the poor and the marginalized. Whether true or not as a matter of fact, it is absolutely true as a matter of myth. 

[T]he percentage of the U.S. population that identifies as Christian has dropped from 78.4 percent in 2007 to 70.6 percent in 2014. Evangelical, Catholic, and mainline Protestant affiliations have all declined.  Meanwhile, 30 percent of Americans ages 18-29 list “none” as their religious affiliation (the figure for all ages is about 23 percent). Nearly 40 percent of Americans who have married since 2010 report that they are in “religiously mixed” marriages, which means that many individuals who profess Christianity are in families where not everyone does. . . . . The Pew report noted Americans are also changing religions more than in the past, and when they do so, they are more likely to move away from Christianity than toward it.

But no one likes a “constellation of reasons” to explain why the world they grew up in, and the values they cherish, seem to be slipping away. Enter the scapegoat: the war on religion, and the persecution of Christianity.

It’s much easier to explain changes by referring to a single, malevolent cause than by having to understand a dozen complex demographic trends. Plus, if Christianity is declining because it’s being attacked, then that decline could be reversed if the attack were successfully repelled. Unlike what is actually happening—a slow, seemingly irrevocable decline in American Christianity—the right’s argument that “religious liberty” is under assault mixes truth and fantasy to provide a simpler, and more palatable, explanation for believers.

Take, as an example, Christmas. The weird idea that there is a “War on Christmas” orchestrated by liberal elites—Starbucks cups in hand—is, on its face, ridiculous, even if it is widely held on the right.

Unfortunately, even if the war on religion is fictive, the “defense” against it is very real and very harmful. This year alone, 17 states introduced legislation to protect “religious freedom” by exempting not just churches and religious organizations (including bogus ones set up to evade the law) from civil rights laws, domestic violence laws, even the Hippocratic Oath, but also but private individuals and for-profit businesses.

Meanwhile, the “war on religion” narrative appears to be gaining ground.. . . . . 61 percent of white evangelicals believe that religious liberty is being threatened today. (Only 37 percent of non-white Christians believe this, suggesting that what’s really happening is an erosion of white Christian hegemony; the “browning of America” goes hand in hand with the de-Christianizing of America.) They believe they have lost the culture war, and even that LGBT people should now pity them.

Christianity is, in a sense, losing the war—but the fighters on the other side aren’t gay activists or ACLU liberals but faceless social forces of secularization, urbanization, and diversification.

[M]ythic thinking creates a personification of evil who is fighting the war on religious liberty, the war on Christmas, the war on Christianity. These malevolent evildoers are like a contemporary Satan: a fictive embodiment of all of the chaotic, complex forces that threaten the stability of religious order.
Fundamentalist Christianity - and fundamentalist Islam - is a pervasive cause of evil and hatred.  The world would be a far better place if both simply disappeared from the face of the Earth.  For parasitic professional Christians, sleazy televangelists, and religious institutions obsessed with power and control over others (and the flow of money that these bring) , the decline of Christianity is terrifying.  Their free ride and ability to prey on the gullible is in decline and the money flow that enables them to live a comfortable live peddling myths and lies is threatened.  Expect the hysteria to increase as the decline continues and hopefully accelerates.

No comments: