In a brilliant new feature article in The Atlantic, Jonathan Merritt profiles the decline of religious conservatism due to its obsessive focus on abortion, gay-bashing, and its immoral handling of the sex abuse scandals that have eroded its foundation, especially in the Catholic Church. The emerging new generation of progressive Christians are fed up with this conservatism and are taking back Christianity in the name of Jesus Christ himself. “Their political agenda is shaped by Jesus’ call to feed the hungry, make sure the thirsty have clean water, make sure all have access to healthcare, transform America into a welcoming place for immigrants, fix our inequitable penal system, and end abject poverty abroad and in the forgotten corners of our urban and rural communities.” Meritt opens his article with a look at how the conservatives emerged in the late 1970s:
“In June 1979, a coalition of conservative religious leaders led by a Jewish Howard Phillips, Catholic Paul Weyrich, and evangelical televangelist Jerry Falwell banded together to wage a political ‘holy war’ against the liberal establishment. They called their organization the ‘Moral Majority’ to signify the large number of social conservatives they believed were being ignored across American culture. Forming a political action committee, the organization registered 4 million voters in 1980 and purchased $10 million in radio and television ads questioning President Carter’s patriotism and Christianity. Its message struck a chord with a large swath of Americans, and their efforts are credited with helping to elect Ronald Reagan. More importantly, the birth of the coalition began of a period of political dominance for the religious conservatives that would span at least three decades. But according to a new survey by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) in partnership with the Brookings Institution, the religious balance of power is shifting in ways that could make the religious left the new ‘Moral Majority,’ figuratively speaking. If current trends persist, religious progressives will soon outnumber religious conservatives, a group that is shrinking with each successive generation, the data show.”
“What you clearly see in the data when you move from the oldest Americans to youngest Americans is a stability among religious moderates and decreased appeal in religious conservatism,” says PRRI CEO Robert Jones … Meanwhile, it’s difficult to interpret the erosion of conservatism among young religious whites as anything but bad news for the latter-day leaders of the religious right like Ralph Reed and Tony Perkins who rely heavily on that demographic. If the data are correct, these leaders’ dominant days may be ending sooner than expected.
You can read the full story by visiting TheAtlantic.com. And for more from the world of spirituality be sure to visit Spirituality on FEELguide. In my opinion, there is no voice more powerful and inspirational for the Christian left than Episcopalian Bishop John Shelby Spong. His words in the following interview are some of the most inspiring I have ever heard in my entire life.
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