Is Christianity and Secularism at a Crossroads?

Some more food (sic) for thought over the Holiday Season! Below are a few excerpts from a New York Times Op Ed well worth reading over the Christmas break.

The Pew Research people referenced by this Op Ed have some interesting data too. Start here..

Map of the world, showing percentage by countr...

Map of the world, showing percentage by country who believe religion is important (2002). Data by the Pew Research Center. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

nones-exec-1nones-exec-2

One Nation Under God?

By MOLLY WORTHEN
Published: December 22, 2012
THIS week millions of “Chreasters” — Americans who attend church only on Christmas and Easter — will crowd into pews to sing carols and renew their vague relationship with the Christian God. This year, there may be fewer Chreasters than ever. A growing number of “nones” live in our midst: those who say they have no religious affiliation at all…

Avoiding church does not excuse Americans from marking the birth of Jesus, however. Most of us have no choice but to stay home from work or school — and if you complain about this glaring exception to the separation between church and state, you must be a scrooge with no heart for tradition. Christmas has been a federal holiday for 142 years…

The Christian consensus that long governed our public square is disintegrating. American secularism is at a crossroads…

How accurate is this story of decline into godlessness? Is America, supposedly God’s last bastion in the Western world, rejecting faith and endangering religious liberty?…

The truth is that “nones” are nothing new. Religion has been a feature of human society since Neanderthal times, but so has religious indifference. Our illusions of the past as a golden age of faith tend to cloud our assessment of today’s religious landscape. We think of atheism and religious apathy as uniquely modern spiritual options, ideas that Voltaire and Hume devised in a coffee house one rainy afternoon sometime in the 18th century. Before the Enlightenment, legend has it, peasants hurried to church every week and princes bowed and scraped before priests…

It is safe to say that we frequently overestimate medieval piety. Ordinary people often skipped church and had a feeble grasp of basic Christian dogma. Many priests barely understood the Latin they chanted — and many parishes lacked any priest at all. Bishops complained about towns that used their cathedrals mainly as indoor markets or granaries. Lest Protestants blame this irreverence on Catholic corruption, the evidence suggests that it continued after Martin Luther nailed his theses to the Wittenberg church door. Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in 1840 that the absence of an established state church nurtured a society in which “Christian sects are infinitely diversified and perpetually modified; but Christianity itself is a fact so irresistibly established that no one undertakes either to attack or to defend it.”…but he underestimated the degree to which some Americans held Christianity at arm’s length: the “infidel” Abraham Lincoln declined to join a church, and his wife invited spiritualists to hold séances in the White House…

Nevertheless, America’s rates of church affiliation have long been higher than those of Europe.The good old days were not so good after all, even in God’s New Israel. Today’s spiritual independents are not unprecedented. What is new is their increasing visibility… Americans are drifting out of the grip of institutionalized religion, just as they are drifting from institutional authority in general…

Activists on both the left and the right tend to forget this irony of the First Amendment: it has been as much a weapon of religious oppression as a safeguard for liberty…

The Protestant bias of the American public sphere has mellowed over time, but it still depends on “Christian secularism”. Other traditions, such as Judaism and Islam and to some degree Catholicism, do not frame faith in such rationalist terms, or accept the same distinction between internal conviction and public argument. The very idea that it is possible to cordon off personal religious beliefs from a secular town square depends on Protestant assumptions about what counts as “religion,” even if we now mask these sectarian foundations with labels like “Judeo-Christian.”…

America’s Christian consensus is fragmenting. We are left groping for something far messier: an evolving, this-worldly, compromise.

MERRY CHRISTMAS or HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!

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About smudan

Coach to CEO's and Business Owners with an end game or transition in mind while simultaneously building the equity value of their enterprise and creating a better life/work balance.

One comment

  1. As the world progresses the US will continually get more and more corrupt. We continue to see the outcome of those not believing. They continue to worsen causing man to fall deeper into it’s sin and rebellion. Without a religion in peoples lives it causes man to become unruly and unjust and become very evil. We will continue to see this downturn until the end. God Bless America is not even followed any more. I pray for our country though have many doubts.

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