The End of Christianity in America

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Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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29 Responses

  1. Avatar Mark Thompson
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    says:

    “but I do harbor some concerns over the outpacing of Christianity by Islam in the West. Europe as a model is not a pretty picture, especially Northern Europe and parts of France, Germany and the UK. I’m not sure if the United States would suffer the same sort of cultural shocks as our European friends or not, but I hope we never have to find out. ”

    This is one area where I think conservative dogma about immigration and Islamism are directly at odds. Islam is the world’s largest religion, yet in the US, and really all of the Americas, it makes up only a tiny fraction of the population.

    Unskilled immigrants coming from the Americas are almost exclusively Christian. Immigrants coming from the rest of the world, not so much.

    By maintaining an immigration policy that is particularly restrictive of unskilled immigration, you virtually guarantee that an ever-higher percentage of immigrants will be outside the Judeo-Christian tradition that is allegedly the foundation of American culture.

    So, short of banning all immigration, the best way to minimize the growth of Islam as a percentage of the population is to encourage more, rather than less, unskilled immigration from the Americas. Yet conservative dogma on immigration specifically seeks to restrict unskilled immigration from the Americas.

    DISCLAIMER: None of this is to be taken as a normative statement about Islam one way or another. Instead, it is merely an attempt to point out the conflict faced by conservatives who both seek to restrict immigration and view Islam as a significant threat to the American way of life.Report

  2. Avatar E.D. Kain
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    says:

    I agree, Mark. I think it’s odd that conservatives in general oppose the largely Catholic immigration from south of the border. And as I’ve said before, I find the fact that importing low-skilled labor is so much more taboo than exporting good jobs…Report

  3. Avatar James
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    says:

    The best text I’ve come across on how it happened here in Britain is C.G. Brown’s The Death of Christian Britain. See here & here:

    http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=IwpPFtId7ugC&pg=PA227&lpg=PA227&dq=c.g.+brown+the+death+of+christian+britain&source=bl&ots=Ik9HN63fWW&sig=IKYgGScILi95KH-VdTTzE-7dIks&hl=en&ei=FEa3SafUJOTSjAe66fWhCQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=3&ct=result

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Christian-Britain-Christianity-Society-Modern/dp/0415241847

    Following both the Linguistically Turned approach to history and a more quantative set of methods Brown fairly decisively demonstrates that conventional secularisation theory (which attributes secularisation to industrialisation) is incorrect, indeed some forms of religion were assisted by urbanisation and the rise of a proletariat.

    Instead he claims that Britain saw a steady decline throughout the 1900s, with a slight rise followed by a sudden collapse in the 1960s, from which we never “recovered”. He attributes this to the death of the conception of women as pious.

    Idk if America will go through the same, but I can hope.Report

  4. Avatar Bob
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    says:

    I’ll be praying for Spencer’s vision to come true. Strange are the ways of the Lord.Report

  5. Avatar Clinton
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    says:

    I think the decline in participation is a perception of the pursuit of influence and power (mostly power) that has dogged not only the evangelicals most recently but also the Catholic and mainline churches. Once the groups saw how they could influence society – admittedly often for good such as slavery, civil rights, the peace movements of the sixties although W.S. Coffin may have regretted what happened post-Vietnam – it seems power was more important than individual spirituality. There may not be as many athiests or agnostics out there as there are those who reject the institutional dogmas and political paraphernalia but lack a coherent way of coming together for the hard work advocated by Merton, a’Kempis, Meister Eckhart, the Buddha and many others. Lock-step unity will be rejected in modern, educated society. Perhaps it is time to seriously review Teilhard de Chardin, the modern Cathoclic theologians who have been silenced, as well as the non-Christian advocates of individual contemplation.Report

  6. Avatar Bob
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    says:

    Monotheism, Jews, Christians, Islam seems to demand power. Afterall, monotheism gives the believer truth.Report

  7. Avatar iwillnotbow
    Ignored
    says:

    I guess some people consider 7 in 10 people professing to be Christian is a small majority. If it were a vote it would be called a massive landslide victory. A 75%+ majority could amend the US constitution. Mabe you should check out these stats at net-burst.net/hot/decline.htm.Report

  8. Avatar StephenTree
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    says:

    All who interpret without the Spirit are already caught in a net leading to desolation. These that love bible interpretation without Spirit will find everything they have LEARNED to be a stumbling block to knowing the Spirit.

    The Spirit spoke THROUGH Jesus saying” I am the way” the person Jesus did not speak on his own behalf. The smallest of points overlooked by those seeking a king will render all their interpretations MEANINGLESS!!!

    The Spirit Speaks NOW saying “Let Go of the Veil of interpretation Given You by those that never KNEW ME, for they never knew the “true intentions of the heart” which is only known by the Spirit.
    The hurricanes, Tsunami, Meltdown, Stockmarket and hundreds of other things were predicted stephentree.com/melt1/Report

  9. Avatar StephenTree
    Ignored
    says:

    All who interpret without the Spirit are already caught in a net leading to desolation. These that love bible interpretation without Spirit will find everything they have LEARNED to be a stumbling block to knowing the Spirit.

    The Spirit spoke THROUGH Jesus saying” I am the way” the person Jesus did not speak on his own behalf. The smallest of points overlooked by those seeking a king will render all their interpretations MEANINGLESS!!!

    The Spirit Speaks NOW saying “Let Go of the Veil of interpretation Given You by those that never KNEW ME, for they never knew the “true intentions of the heart” which is only known by the Spirit.
    The hurricanes, Tsunami, Meltdown, Stockmarket and hundreds of other things were predicted stephentree.com melt1Report

  10. Avatar BlaiseP
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    says:

    The Evangelicals are doing well enough: they’re reproducing. LDS is doing quite well on that count as well, and by conversion. If Islam is gaining ground, it is doing so by large family sizes, not by conversion. Catholicism and the Evangelicals are making surprising headway in China and Africa by conversion.

    Europe’s not reproducing. Its magnificent churches became either state institutions or museums and tourist joints.

    Tell y’all another little story, tangentially to the Big Wedding. I went to London as an 11 year old boy. My parents dragged me around the City for a good long while, as tourists will, the Tower of London, Houses of Parliament, etc. It was a hot August day. We entered Westminster Abbey late in the afternoon. The Evensong service was coming up and the tourists were asked to leave. A handful of actual parishioners were left: we sat with the choir for the Evensong service.

    In that sacred space, listening to the choir sing Ralph Vaughn Williams, I held my face in my hands and quietly wept. It was the loveliest thing I have ever heard. I have sung in and conducted choirs all my life, soldiered away at the variously wretched and magnificent pianos in the churches I have attended. Bertrand Russell said music is counting without numbers, but I would say music is worship by the numbers.

    If religion in the age of the atom bomb has failed to engage the hearts of the people, its decrepit gospel of Heaven could not compete with the New Heaven and New Earth of consumerism and its transitory delights. The Catholics wrecked their churches by turning their altar around, away from the Christ and to the people: they abandoned their great traditions in a misguided quest for relevance.

    The Protestants began a disgusting tryst with Politics, knowing it would come to no good. Now their children won’t support their churches. The most precipitous declines have been in the black churches my parents and grandparents knew. MLK said America is never more segregated than it is on Sunday morning. Our kids won’t tolerate my generation’s racially hobbled sentiments: they have evolved away from our stupidities.

    Moses comes down from Sinai to find his people worshipping a calf of gold: we worship that calf of gold still in our hearts. Each new generation must learn the lesson for itself: money is a fine servant but a terrible master. Things won’t make you happy. A better car won’t make your kids love you more. Simplicity is a virtue. It doesn’t matter how much you love, what matters is that you are loved. Simple, obvious stuff.

    Kindness is the light in the darkness that overcomes evil. Our greatest joys arise in helping others, leaving the world a better place than we found it. Religion used to teach these things. It could return to teaching them again. The need is now greater than ever. For within us all is a core of loneliness and anomie, in a world of cars filled with tired commuters and worn-out parents, there is a basic human need to fellowship among people of good will, to know we are not alone. The church/temple is the one human institution where people of all ages have a place, from the infant in the nursery to the elderly in their wheelchairs. It is where we celebrate our greatest moments: christenings, weddings, holidays and funerals.

    Ordinary medieval man is often portrayed as a wretched creature. We call them the Dark Ages. But for all their problems, the peasants would form themselves up, hand in hand, to dance around the perimeter of their churches on holy days. If we live longer than they did, we also work more hours and have less time with our families children. We could do worse than to reinvigorate the notion of church, if only to regain the sense of family and community so lacking in the world today.Report

    • Avatar Baron von Munchausen in reply to BlaiseP
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      says:

      BPascal, sometimes you write things that totally blow me away, and indeed, this blows me away–from first word to the last.

      As in, I LOVE it! It’s a fine piece of writing–I think you should seriously consider publishing a collection of your essays–this one is my favorite, by far, but there are moments, precious moments in several of your other opus’s—and to boot, you’re also a Vatican I Catholic–now that’s what I call amazing beyond words. I,too, will only attend Tridentine Latin masses. When they turned the altar away from God– “in view of Christ, the Redeemer who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature”, they turned the very soul of Catholicism away from it’s mystical Genesis–“At its core, Gnosticism formed a speculative interest in the relationship of the oneness of God to the ‘triplicity’ of his manifestations. It seems to have taken Neoplatonic metaphysics of substance and hypostases [“being”][86] as a departure point for interpreting the relationship of the “Father” to the “Son”[87] in its attempt to define a new theology.[88] This would point to the infamous theological controversies by Arius[89] against followers of the Greek Alexandrian school,[90] headed by Athanasius.[91]”

      And it always ends up with music. Always and forever. My burning bush moment was Mozart’s Dies Irae from his Requiem. This was not the later section written by Sussmayer. It’s power and beauty had smoke coming out of my ears and 12 year old brain! The last three piano sonatas of Beethoven were the fait accompli–I was forever changed–a mad zealot who wanted the world to see God and divine beauty. I’ve since learned zealotry loses friends. Much better to lose friends than the mad divinity of God’s musical utterances.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Baron von Munchausen
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        says:

        I’m a Protestant. Sola fide. The only Catholics I can abide anymore are the Jesuits, the only scientific minds within the Church. The rest of the clergy are test cases for the theory that the Devil wears a dog collar. The scandals surrounding the abuse of children show the clergy from lowest to highest to be the wickedest of reprobates, brimming to the nostrils with the sewage of secret sins, their only motivation is to hide their sins for repentance is beyond them. Not that I hold most Protestants in any higher regard: I’ve seen their evils from the inside. I guess you could say I’m sort of a trans-Protestant, guided by both science and faith, believing that only a God of Truth is worth believing in.Report

        • Avatar tom van dyke in reply to BlaiseP
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          says:

          Attacks on Catholicism. The Devil? How nice. From a “Protestant” who is a sect onto himself. Whatever. I suppose Islam is next. Or not. I do not know how management views these things.Report

        • Avatar Baron von Munchausen in reply to BlaiseP
          Ignored
          says:

          Blaise Pascal, many thanks for the reply. A couple of my very good high school friends surprisingly took that Jesuit fork in the road–their devilish sense of humor always has them comparing the SS to the Jesuits–except, even the SS had some heart. And inevitably, Drogheda gets into the picture–2000 Catholics slaughtered–and of course, De Medici butchering 75,000 French Protestants—and then Dragonades slaughtering over a half million Huguenots and on and on and on. They say, as an intelligence organization, they, the Jesuits, have NO equals and the restoration of Vatican domination would not end until all heretics were exterminated.

          My biggest mistake was going from choir boy to altar boy. Yes, I too have had my parochial school “experience” but at least have the good fortune to know the perpetrator will be in prison a long, long time. He was the voice and face of evil incarnate. Nothing was more frightening or had more control than the presence of this beast and unfortunately he had his eyes on me from day one. He seemed to get a particular thrill knowing his every word could paralyze me. Not forever, though. And opportunity knocked–if I do say so myself, a very hard swift kick to his shins had him doubling over in pain and I escaped and it was then decided I was a “problem” child that needed to be removed immediately.

          Hallelujah!Report

  11. Avatar Sifernos
    Ignored
    says:

    As a member of the generation soon to run this country, I think I would have but one thing to say. I and many others do not believe in christianity, not because we do not understand it, but rather because we understand enough of it to find it leaves the bitter taste of bile in our mouths. I look forward to the dissolution of the many churches and the forward momentum of humanity . I hope they all fall. Let us stand and move forward from these archaic beliefs already. I would hope we can learn and evolve and cease these anachronisms that haunt or minds halls once and for all.Report

  12. Avatar Robert Cheeks
    Ignored
    says:

    Sifernos, your words are the most progressive and honest, I think, that I’ve seen written here in a spell.
    I think you are the proto-typical example of the modern, disordered psyche.Report

  13. Avatar Baron von Munchausen
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    says:

    Blaise, can you be stumped?

    I’ll try–please identuify this artist–not that I need to write this, but
    NO CHEATING!Report

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