One can hardly hear one's self think for the din of liberal Christians gleefully announcing the decline and fall of "Christian America" and conservative Catholics and Evangelicals rushing to agree.
That America has been Slouching towards Gomorrah at various speeds since at least the early 1960's, as Robert Bork documents in his book, is hard to refute. So, what is the occasion for the latest iteration of that decade's "God is Dead" declaration?
"...in 2008, Christians comprised 76 percent of U.S. adults, compared to about 77 percent in 2001..."
We covered the obvious statistical insignificance, and obvious media "fog" trumpeting a mere one percent change in our recent "Foghorn Leghorn: Losing our religion? Not".
The foghorn device used by Newsweek's John Meacham and others to trumpet Christian America's end is the 1990 ARIS poll that showed 86% of U.S. adults identifying as Christians.
So, shouldn't the "decline and fall" have been declared in 2001, after a 9% drop during the 90s to 77% or is the magic number for "endings" now the 76% in this year's survey?
Of course, there is an agenda at work here, more evidence of which is revealed by Meacham's and many others' failure to cite the 2001 poll. How inconvenient that initial stories about the 24-page summary did mention it.
So, why didn't the Drive-Bys declare God dead in 2001 and why, in 2009, when the real story is how remarkable has been the stability of Christianity in America during the first decade of the new millennium?
Could it be because in 2000 we had just elected an Evangelical Christian as President who opposed abortion and named Jesus Christ as his savior? Could it be because in 2008 we elected a man that considers the question of when a baby has the right to life is above his pay grade and who covers up the name of Jesus when speaking at Georgetown University?
The sociologist Peter Berger once remarked that if India is the most religious country in the world and Sweden the least, then the United States is a nation of Indians ruled by Swedes. I recently addressed why we are so ruled here, but for now, let's review one of those elites.
Professing devout Roman Catholic, Washington Post columnist and liberal democrat, E.J. Dionne reveals the left's agenda and the soul of his and President Barack Obama's brand of Drive-By "social gospel" Christianity in a recent column declaring that:
"As a Christian, I find these figures neither alarming nor surprising."
We'll skip the usual media scoff that if something isn't surprising that its not news, and skip to the more revealing confession that this Christian is not "alarmed" at a 10% drop in the number of American Christians since 1990. It still isn't news, given that 9% of the drop occurred before 2001, and, sadly, it also isn't news that a liberal Christian treats declines in the number of adherents to his faith with same attitude that one would acknowledge those that switch from Coke to Sprite.
Ten percent more may not inherit eternal life. Ten percent more consume less caffeine. Ho hum.
More Dionne soul revelations:
For nearly a quarter-century, Christianity in the United States has been defined to a large degree by the voices and the ideas of a very conservative strain of evangelical Christianity that, over time, became highly politicized and closely allied with a single political party.
These conservative Christians had as much right as any other group to bring their core concerns to politics. But in doing so, they narrowed the Christian message. They sometimes became apologists for politicians whose behavior and attitudes could not easily be called Christian.
So, for liberal Dionne, the decline in the number of Bible Believers is just fine if it means a return to a time when conservative Christians stand mute in the face of unelected judges' re-writing the Constitution to legalize abortion, ban God from the public square and treat the utterance of his name as an obscenity in public schools.
But I thought Dionne was a Christian? Couldn't the decline in the number of Christians also mean a decline in his brand of Christianity? Obviously he doesn't think so, and that says a lot more about his faith than any foggy notion about who "politicized" religion.
And as to the notion of being apologists for unchristian behavior and attitudes, are we to judge such behavior less severely when committed by non-Christians or liberal Christians who have a harder time committing the sin of hypocrisy given their lack of standards? Yet, didn't Bill Clinton tote a Bible to church on Sunday, but I digress.
Religion is always corrupted when it gets too close to political power. It's possible to win a precinct caucus and lose your soul, to mistake political victory for salvation itself.
It is this approach to Christianity that is decidedly in decline, thank God, in part because conservative Christians themselves are rediscovering the Church's mission to the poor, the sick, the strangers and the outcasts. This augurs new life, not decay.
Dionne speaks of losing souls while chastising the religious right, in the same breath that is "not alarmed" at a 10% drop in Christian believers? Maybe his concern is for "souls" that favor "choice" over life rather than souls seeking life after death?
Then Dionne slanders the Christian Church when he suggests conservative Christians needed to "re-discover" the Church's mission to the poor, the sick, the strangers and the outcasts.
Get thee behind me Satan! Figuratively speaking only, as Dionne is sweet, yet ignorant man who means well. But, surely Dionne is not so ignorant of all the charitable work done by his own pro-life, anti-gay marriage church or that Southern Baptists trail only the Red Cross and Salvation Army in worldwide disaster relief.
Dionne advances a hideous 40-year old lie that conservatives don't care about the poor, when all he can point to is our opposition to expanding the welfare state. What he cannot point to is any effort by the GOP to render asunder what President Reagan called the "safety net for the truly needy."
Moreover, they can't refute the fact that conservative tax and regulation cut policies produced results in the 60s, and the 80s-2006 that raised standard of living of all Americans, especially the poor. Finally, Dionne can't deny that welfare reform worked, yet his President and party just killed President Clinton's greatest achievement (with Newt's prodding) in the non-stimulus bill.
No, Dionne, the mission to help the poor is why many of us Christians left the Democratic party for the GOP. We tired of liberals like you misquoting Jesus to justify class warfare that hurt the poor but made you feel better, Much as we tire of Obama's scoffing at Scripture to suggest that America's history can't withstand the scrutiny of the Sermon on the Mount.
More on that in a later column, but in the meantime why don't you consult the former slaves of the USSR and the liberations of WWII and see if maybe the U.S. military of a more Christian nation was the greatest peacemaker in recent history that Nobel failed to prize.
And while you celebrate American Christian decline, albeit ten years late, you might review the emergent church in America as well as Phillip Jenkins' "The Next Christendom" and ponder how these supposed politically obcessed evangelicals managed a "Go ye" mission that has the faith growing by leaps and bounds, especially in Latin America, from whence most of our population growth is coming over the next two decades.
"One man with courage makes a majority." - Andrew Jackson
Originally published @ Examiner.com, where all for verification links may be accessed.