Friday, October 19, 2012

Why The Youthful Turn From Religion?

God and Politics
Illustration by Gluekit
Joshua Ets-Hokin / Getty Images
Russell Tate / Getty Images

This week's Newsweek presents an article by David Sessions on "The GOP's Secularism Problem" (Oct 15, 2012):
The latest sign came in a Pew study released last week that found that one in five American adults now claims no religion, and that 34 percent of those younger than 30 consider themselves irreligious.
What's the Republican Party got to do with this?
The GOP's own base may be partly to blame. The data echoes a landmark 2010 study, American Grace, by political scientists Robert Putnam and David Campbell, which linked the new chilliness toward organized religion to the rise of the religious right. Other recent studies bear out their hypothesis: in March, Pew found that a majority of the electorate, including nearly half of Republicans, is uncomfortable with the amount of religious talk in political campaigns.
Not all Republicans like religion in politics, then, and the shift is linked to the battle over homosexuality in the culture war:
The shift away from religion is especially pronounced among those younger than 30, who began abandoning churches in greater numbers at exactly the moment conservative Christians made gay marriage their signature issue.
As I implied in a couple of previous blog entries, whereas the older generation of evangelicals sees homosexuality as a moral issue, the younger generation sees it as a human rights issue. Even Christianity Today has begun to recognize the crisis, for in "The Love We Dare Not Ignore," a book review of Justin Lee's Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate (Jericho Books, 2012), Wesley Hill insists:
It's a profound mistake to neglect our gay brothers and sisters in the body of Christ.
Justin Lee is a gay evangelical, and as one might well have guessed, Wesley Hill himself has come out:
Full disclosure: I am a celibate gay Christian. Like Lee, I grew up Southern Baptist. Like him, I discovered during puberty that I was exclusively attracted to others of my own sex.
These two gay evangelical Christians differ over the issue of celibacy, but both argue that Christians need to change their attitude toward homosexuals, and note well, these two are those of the younger generation who don't turn to secularism!

The issue isn't just about homosexuality, of course, but the larger tendency on the political right to mix religion with politics in an attempt to force people to be "moral," As the Newsweek article notes concerning the increasing secularization of America, "Some evangelicals are openly worried about the trend," and it cites "the late Chuck Colson, a religious-right leader, [who] said [shortly] before his death":
"We made a big mistake in the '80s by politicizing the gospel . . . . Now people are realizing it was kind of a mistake."
I vividly recall the so-called "Moral Majority" of the early 1980s, some of whose more unrealistic members wanted the federal government to pass laws against adultery and use police to enforce such laws! Neither they nor the evangelical right got all that they wanted, but they did succeed in re-branding Evangelicalism, which had previously emphasized persuasion, into a force that promised coercion.

Iranian theocrats found that the mixing of coercive religion and politics turned people against Islam, and something similar may be happening with Christianity in the US for mixing religion and politics.

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At 4:42 AM, Blogger ilTassista Marino said...

majority of the electorate ... is uncomfortable with the amount of religious talk in political campaigns

Ha ha, that's great! In Italy, in the Catholic world, it runs like: "Why are our politicians ashamed of religion? Look, in the advanced and developed United States God is so often mentioned in political speeches!"

At 7:17 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Well, a lot of people, even Evangelicals who once supported the Moral Majority, are now showing discomfort with mixing religion and politics -- I even heard a sermon on the subject, and from a former supporter of the MM!

Jeffery Hodges

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At 3:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Last week I read that the growing number of Portuguese is tired of democracy and nostalgic for PM Salazar and his reign.


At 6:32 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Maybe democracy is a religion . . . for some.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 7:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, no. What I meant is Salazar's authoritarian, ultra-conservative, ultra-Catholic government that had ruled over Portugal for almost 30 years after WWII, and that is what the Portuguese are nostalgic for.


At 7:23 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I was tongue in cheek -- as though they were tired of the democratic religion.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 10:25 PM, Blogger John from Daejeon said...

I don't know if you've seen this NY Times video. I guess very 32 is not considered youthful or smart, but rather just plain stupid and criminal in European wife number 3's case.

Anyway, I'm still riled that most children are usually forced to endure 18 years, or more, in some far-fetched "religious" cult, it's just too bad that there isn't an opt-out button on all this brain-washing BS for kids. I know I'd love that year-plus (cumulative) of my life that I lost wasting my time and money in the biggest scam on the planet. Luckily, this isn't the dark ages (pre-on-demand media) any more, and kids can go all Wikipedia on their parents and easily debunk all this one god nonsense (a lot like the church did with all that poly gods/goddesses malarkey back in the day).

At least all I have to do is say the words Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart, or pull out photos from our trip to Heritage USA, around the extended-family gatherings and the subject of religion is quickly dropped by the elder numbskulls.

At 3:06 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I don't think that being a theist is inherently irrational, but I can't say that I'm satisfied with most of what calls itself religion.

Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart are good examples . . .

What I really can't understand is the seeming appeal of violent cults. Radical Islam clearly has undeniable appeal for many people, even for those non-Muslims who convert to it because of the violence.

I guess that's partly why I post so much on it -- an attempt to figure it out.

Jeffery Hodges

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