The watering down of religion (and politics)

Ann Althouse points to a new study that says a large number of people are mixing various religious beliefs to come up with what is essentially their own, tailor made, religion.

Entitled “Many Americans Mix Multiple Faiths,” the report points out that many Americans are now choosing to “blend Christianity with Eastern or New Age beliefs” and that “sizable minorities of all major U.S. religious groups” said that they have had supernatural experiences, like encountering ghosts.

For the first time in 47 years of polling, the number of Americans who said that they have had a religious or mystical experience, which the question defined as a “moment of sudden religious insight or awakening,” was greater than those who said that they had not.

Twenty percent of Protestants and 28 percent of Catholics said they believe in reincarnation, which flies in the face of Christianity’s rapture scenario. Furthermore, about the same percentages said they believe in astrology, yoga as a spiritual practice and the idea that there is “spiritual energy” pulsing from things like “mountains, trees or crystals.” Uh-oh. Someone’s God is going to be jealous.

Surprisingly, in some cases, those who identified themselves as Christian were more likely to believe these things than those who were unaffiliated. (It should be noted that unaffiliated is not the same as nonbeliever. Many are spiritual people who simply haven’t found the right church, synagogue, mosque, coven, Ouija board club, or whatever.)

Now, whether you are a religious individual or not is irrelevant.  However, the watering down of religious belief has a pretty direct impact on the political culture.  The majority of people vote and hold political beliefs that directly stem from their religious views, their idea of the world around them and how it works.  The conservative world view is largely tied to the Christian world view.  It’s not difficult to look around see a direct link between the weakening of the Christian church (defined, I would submit, as the body of evangelical Christians to also include the Catholic church) and the weakening of conservatism as a political movement.

Much of the disgust with the current Republican Party stems from a belief that when they did have power they did not hold true to their convictions.  I would submit that this stems from a much larger societal problem: people just don’t believe in truth anymore.  The study cited above points to this fact.  Regardless of what religious views you subscribe to, I’m hard pressed to think of any major religion that holds the belief that you can believe whatever you want to.  Christianity, in particular, teaches that you are either a Christian, or you’re in big trouble in the afterlife.  Christians are supposed to subscribe to a pretty specific view of the world around them, and there is little room for subjectivity.

The fact that so many are willing to call themselves Christians while either ignoring large portions of what traditional Christians believe or holding views entirely contrary to the tradition of their religion is proof that subjectivity is the order of the day.  There are no universal truths, there are only truths relative to individuals.  This is a pretty good summation of modern liberalism.  Truth is only as true as the person choosing to believe it.  It’s considered a very intellectual and compassionate position to take.

The problem is that it is pure nonsense.  There is truth, and there is good and evil.  There are good and bad policies.  It is only when we start to reverse this cultural shift that tells everyone that everything that they wish to do is ok, and that government exists to enable them to exercise their every whim, that we will truly begin to turn the big ship of government around.