No Christianity Isn't Dying But It Is Under Attack

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So The Daily Beast uses a homosexual activist who claims to be a Jewish rabbi but also teaches Buddhism to analyze why Christianity is dying. I mean what could possibly go wrong? In The Religious Right Is Right to Be Scared: Christianity Is Dying in America, C-list academic, Dr. Jay Michaelson, seeks to prove that claims that an attack on Christianity is underway are not only false but also the last gasp of a dying culture. He fails in both regards.

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,” [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ] has said to pick one example. “His policies and this administration’s animosity to religious liberty and, in fact, antagonism to Christians, has been one of the most troubling aspects of the Obama administration,” he said.

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.

Let’s take examine the three central claims this Michaelson character makes.

Is religion in decline?

Michaelson uses a Pew poll of religion as the basis for his article:

According to a Pew Research Report released earlier this year, the 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.

These changes are taking place for a constellation of reasons: greater secular education (college degrees), multiculturalism, shifting social mores, the secular space of consumer capitalism and celebrity culture, the sexual revolution (including feminism and LGBT equality), legal and constitutional changes (like the banning of prayer in public school, and the finding of a constitutional right to same-sex marriage), the breakdown of the nuclear family, the decline of certain forms of family and group identification, and the association of religion in general with nonsensical and outdated dogmas. 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.

Take careful note of these reasons because we will revisit them shortly.I think this is very much a glass-half-empty/glass-half-full kind of situation. There is no doubt that religion is under pressure. But, given those pressures and the difficulty of functioning in large parts of society as a professing Christian it is a testament to the strength of Christianity that the number hasn’t dropped more. When Dr. Francis Collins, an Evangelical Christian, was nominated to head the National Institutes of Health, he was actually opposed by many bio-medical researchers and research institutions on the grounds that it was impossible for a Christian to actually be a good scientist. The contempt shown for people of any faith, but particularly for Christians (because we don’t tend to behead our critics, though it might behoove us to reconsider that ancient policy), by douchenozzles like Neil DeGrasse Tyson, indicates a personal animosity that will influence hiring and promotion decisions.

Missing from the litany of reasons is the fact that since the 1950s many churches have tossed aside doctrines in favor of reconciling with modernity. The Episcopalians went from a male-only clergy to ordaining female clergy, elevating women to bishop, allowing non-celibate male and female homosexuals to be ordained, making them bishop and then watching them divorce. They’ve had a bishop publicly disavow the Virgin Birth of Christ and the Resurrection. In less than 30 years they have sh**-canned two thousand years of theology along with Divine Revelation. This is not to be hyper-critical of Episcopalians. The other Protestant Main Line denominations have covered the same ground much quicker. The manifest failure of the Catholic hierarchy to root out child abusers from among the clergy and the proliferation of what can only be described as homosexual covens at some seminaries not only harmed children but, more important than the individual tragedies associated with child abuse, drove Christians from the faith and deterred good men from seeking ordination into the priesthood.

Boomers, the cause of so much misery in this world, decided to not only not catechize their children but to not even provided religious instruction. The idea being the child should be left to choose their own faith as an adult.

Small wonder, then, that young people are identifying themselves as being without religious faith or that they are bouncing between faiths… often landing in Islam, as Europe shows us… in search something to believe in.

In fact, Michaelson’s own personal life and professional interest is a metaphor for the problem. Anytime you encounter a self-professed theologian whose theology is centered upon the crotch rather than salvation, you know you are dealing with a charlatan. Sexual ethics and sexual conduct are probably the least ambiguous of any subject and are consistent in both the Old and New Testaments and the doctrines of all Christian denominations up until, argubly, the Anglican Communion’s 1930 Lambeth Conference legitimized artificial birth control. Homosexual acts, as opposed to a same-sex sexual attraction, have been condemned by Jews and Christians alike since the founding of those religions. Not only is Michaelson not shunned by society — perhaps, in and of itself, being an argument against the existence of God — he is on the faculty at a divinity school.

Self-identified religious affiliation has declined. It this an irreversible trend? Or is this the Parable of the Sower of Seeds?

Past is not prologue

History does not run in straight lines. Back in 1992, Francis Fukuyama wrote a best selling book called The End of History and the Last Man. It was sort of the Bible for the Clinton Administration. The basic thesis was that the great debate over the dominant form of governance had been settled in favor of liberal, secular democracies and all that remained was reordering the pieces. Since that time we’ve seen a resurgent Russia under a very Tsarist Vladimir Putin. The momentary triumph of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. The spread of ISIS. We may see the collapse of some Western democracies under the pressure of Islamic mass migration disguised as a “refugee crisis.”

Often one hears the licentious left crow that once sexual freedom is achieved that it is baked into society and never changes. This is hokum and hogwash. Morality runs is a sine wave. Licentiousness begets a puritanical backlash which begets licentiousness. In what we would consider modern history we see the sexual free fire zone of Georgian England (I’m speaking her of behaviors and social mores not laws) became the more staid Regency and the moderately repressed Victorian Era. It gave way to the liberalized sexual environment of the twenties which became restrictive again through the 1950s until all the brakes were released in the 1960s.

The churches that are growing are those with an uncompromising doctrine and which offer their believers something more than the opportunity to engage in social work and fellowship. Denominations are reconsidering their stances on abortion and on contraception. They probably will not swing to the Catholic point of view — all’s the pity — but they are beginning to see that both contraception and divorce are the enemy of marital and family stability.

In my view, we are at a nadir of morality. The pendulum will swing back because the force of natural law is inexorable.

Religion is under attack

One of the reason I read dross like this article, other than to provide fodder for posts, is that it is with monotonous regularity that you find people who claim there is no war against religion, that it is all some sort of retrograde right-wing boogeyman, inevitably end up proving that there is not only a war on religion but that it is not being waged with sufficient vigor for their taste. Michaelson is no different.

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. Already, we’ve seen pediatricians turn children away because their parents are gay, and wife-abusers argue that it’s their religious duty to beat their spouses, and most notoriously that multimillion-dollar corporations like Hobby Lobby can have religious beliefs that permit them to refuse to provide health insurance to their employees on that basis.

In one paragraph we see Michaelson state very clearly that a) religious belief has no place in society when it conflicts with prevailing social zeitgeist, b) puts using religious principles to run business or structure your family life out of bounds, and c) asserts that the state should be able to determine real vs.”bogus” religions.

If we go back to a previous pullquote we find this:

These changes are taking place for a constellation of reasons: greater secular education (college degrees), multiculturalism, shifting social mores, the secular space of consumer capitalism and celebrity culture, the sexual revolution (including feminism and LGBT equality), legal and constitutional changes (like the banning of prayer in public school, and the finding of a constitutional right to same-sex marriage), the breakdown of the nuclear family, the decline of certain forms of family and group identification, and the association of religion in general with nonsensical and outdated dogmas. 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.

It doesn’t take much to see the heavy finger of government and the influence of the anti-religious elites in there. Who decided that historically religious institutions like Princeton, Yale, Harvard, and Duke would become secular. (And Puh-f***ing-lease, a college degree is not necessarily a “secular education” even when the degree is in mathematics, biology, astronomy,or anything else.) Who decided to advance the idea that homosexuality skankdom is an admirable lifestyle? What contributed to or caused the breakdown of the nuclear family? Who advanced these “legal and constitutional changes”? Did they just happen? And who can say that these things were not aimed directly at religion?

The fact that the federal and state governments have made even these minor allowances for the public expression of faith is taken by Michaelson to be evidence that there is no war underway to push religion from the public square into some ghetto… then bulldoze the ghetto. That model, by the way, has been used successfully by someone somewhere I think.

Religion isn’t dying but it is under attack

The one thing Obama’s overreach in his attack on religious belief has accomplished is to to energize many religious groups, some of whom had been somnolent or supine, to resist the activity of government to repress religion. Even the most liberal and compromised Catholic bishops have been awakened to the danger ObamaCare spells to religious freedom. The jihad homosexual rights terrorists have carried out against Christian (but not Muslim) businesses who opposed homosexual marriage has resulted in more laws to protect religious freedom.

And human nature itself says that this campaign to delegitimize religion will fail. Even the most primitive pagans are aware of the presence of something bigger than themselves in the universe, something that Saint Paul pointed out the the Athenians at their altar to the Unknown God. The conceit that man is the end-all-be-all is a new affectation that is doomed to fail. People are driven to have a purpose in life and while secular society can provide an infinite array of sensual pleasures it can never help you understand the purpose of your life.