If you listen to the media, you would think America was more religious than ever. However, evangelical Christians are a glaring example of how a noisy minority can appear to be a larger number of people than they actually are. And they used that noise to grab political power by hijacking the GOP.
But as conservative evangelicals in the United States have tightened their grip on the Republican Party, Americans as a whole are becoming less religious. In 1980, 89% of Americans Identified as a Christian. In 2020, that number was 68%. And what is even worse for organized religion is that the transition to secularism is generational. Young people don’t buy what the church sells. Which begs the question, what does religion sell?
According to its propaganda, the Church says it offers refuge in a harsh and uncertain world. It explains where we come from and where we are going. It guarantees entry to paradise (if you tick the right boxes). It provides moral guidance. He brings comfort to people when they are hurt or in mourning. And it’s a community where like-minded people can socialize. My mother went to church every Sunday of her life. But I have no proof that she believed in God – she never spoke about the subject. She also never used God as a reason to promote bigotry and prejudice. And ironically, I think an older woman provides a clue as to why young Americans no longer feel drawn to church. Because, while she has embraced the charity and compassion of mainstream mainstream Protestantism, the Church today is best known for its arbitrary moral absolutism and prejudices.
Ever since the Moral Majority backed Ronald Reagan, a non-practicing divorcee, against Jimmy Carter, a staunch evangelical Christian, conservative Christianity has not only been a political force, but America’s greatest promoter of hatred, bigotry, and anger in the public sphere. And American youth don’t like it. Voting models provide evidence for this argument. Millennials voted overwhelmingly for the Democrats, who are the party supporting the rights of disadvantaged groups in America – that is, those who do not fit the white, male, heteronormative mold. Or, in other words, they stand up for people whose civil rights would be taken away from them if religious fanatics got what they wanted. And these are issues that resonate with young adults who are more likely to support the LGBTQ + community, immigrants, a social safety net, and a woman’s right to choose.
In all fairness, it’s not just the young. Many older Americans also hold the same positions. Support for same-sex marriage, which stood at 27% in 1996 when Gallup request the issue, has now reached 70%. Even the majority of Republicans support him. You won’t find it used much as a political question anymore. But the damage done to evangelicals by their campaign against same-sex marriage – which exposed them as hateful and even anti-Christian – persists.
Going hand in hand with political power is the root of all evil, lack of money. The Church is big business. And wherever there is money, there are liars, thieves, cheaters, crooks and cynical opportunists. I don’t know if religion has a higher percentage of scammers than other areas of financial buccaneering, but one thing the church has to do with it are the hypocrites. When Bernie Madoff put his hand in your pocket, he didn’t tell you how you should be living your life. or list who was a sinner destined for hell. But religious sellers of snake oil spray their theft with moral mandates that they themselves often ignore.
Think televangelist Jim Bakker, founder of the PTL club. In 1979, the FCC investigation him for fraud. In 1985, a confidential IRS report found that Bakker and his wife Tammy Faye had used $ 1.3 million in charitable donations to benefit them from 1980 to 1983. But no action was taken by an administration. Reagan who turned a blind eye to the financial sins of his bases.
In 1987, news surfaced that Bakker had had sex with 21-year-old secretary Jessica Hahn. He said it was consensual. She said she was drugged and raped. He paid her $ 279,000 in secret money. Bakker may have survived the sex, but the bribe has upset the moralists. So he had to give up.
In 1989, he was convicted of 24 counts of fraud and was sentenced to 45 years in prison. An appeals court reduced it to eight years. And he ended up serving five.
Currently, he sells food and other supplies to doomsday preparers. And his latest scam promotes colloidal silver as a cure for COVID. Prosecuted once more, he had to return fraudulent claims.
He is not the only one among degenerate religious. Jimmy Swaggart’s prostitutes drove him to defrock. The famous homophobe, Ted Haggard, was broken for buying sex and crystal meth from a prostitute. Tony Alamo was sentenced to 175 years in prison for sexual abuse, transporting underage girls across state borders for sexual purposes, pedophilia, marriage to an eight-year-old girl, and child rape. The defense of Alamo: he was trapped by the Vatican.
And there are the reprobates who are not ministers but who promote a Christian lifestyle. People like Josh Duggar (child pornography), Jerry Falwell Jr. (threesome and lying) and David Vitter (prostitution).
You get the point and that’s enough for this log. Let’s leave the Catholic Church and child rape for another day.
I predict that by 2032 the number of unbelievers in the United States may well reach 40%. Republicans could slow the trend by supporting more immigration from Central and South America, as Hispanics are more religious than Gringos. Would a Bible-beating right-wing racist ever choose to support large amounts of brown immigration? I suspect that just like the scorpion stung the frog, the religious fanatic would rather drown than do the decent thing.