Home/Rod Dreher/American Christianity Is, Alas, Political

American Christianity Is, Alas, Political

Influencer Jen Hatmaker is one of a vanishing breed: a progressive Christian (Lewis Howes podcast)

This is discouraging:

Follow the political scientist Ryan Burge (@ryanburge) on Twitter; he always has interesting data about religion in US political life.

This is really bad news, and not just spiritually — that is, for the souls of liberals, the eternal fate of which is incomparably more important than politics. It’s terrible politically because for the first time in US history, religion is becoming identified with one political party. This is very bad for the future of religious liberty. The Left will likely come to see “religious liberty” not as a fundamental American value, guaranteed by the Constitution, but as something conservatives use to exercise bigotry and privilege over liberals. Years ago, the pseudonymous Ivy League law professor Kingsfield told me that virtually nobody in elite law circles is a religious believer, and therefore lacks a natural understanding, inherent to believers, of why religion is important. Kingsfield said that the institutions that produce our federal judges are functionally atheistic — and this is going to have a profound impact on religious liberty jurisprudence down the road.

So too will the loss of religious believers in the voting population. Look at this other data from Prof. Burge:

There are more people in Gen Z who are atheist, agnostic, or None than there are Christians. The American coming into being is one in which God will be a stranger. What’s more, Gen Z is not only far more secular, it is also skews to the Left, especially on social issues, which is where political issues usually intersect with religious values. Mind you, religious liberals already side with political liberals on these issues, so the political effect of losing liberals to religion might be minimal. Nevertheless, the politicization of religion in America is a dangerous thing for religious liberty.

You are going to hear liberal commenters blame it on conservatives turning their churches into the Republican Party at prayer. I hate it when pastors do this, and yes, that must play a part in it, but the main driver is that liberals are simply leaving religion overall. There are plenty of liberal churches and temples that mix politics with religion; a Modern Orthodox Jewish friend told me recently that liberal Jewish families have been coming in greater numbers to his shul because they are sick and tired of progressive politics sermons at their Reformed synagogues. Liberals could be accommodated by liberal churches, but fewer and fewer of them believe. I expect we will hear many of them blame conservatives for driving them away from religion, despite the fact that liberal churches are everywhere. The fact that liberal churches are in steep decline gives lie to the self-serving belief that churches need to liberalize if they want to keep the young. Nevertheless, I anticipate that some liberals will loudly rationalize their loss of faith by projecting the guilt they feel onto those mean conservatives.


about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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