Americans are declaring themselves unaffiliated with organized religion. This trend is especially so among the under-30s forty percent of whom claim no connection to a religion.
To understand why this opt-out of religion trend will grow just check this week’s headlines.
The same newspapers and TV shows that were reporting on how Trump (finally) admitted that he’d paid a porn star to keep quiet also offered accounts of the chaplain of the House of Representatives being fired, then re-hired.
Paul Ryan fired then backed down from his dismissal of the Rev. Patrick Conroy, a Jesuit priest, as the House’s chaplain. Ryan had said he asked the cleric to quit because he had provided inadequate “pastoral services.”
What had really happened is that Conroy was ousted because of an un-GOP-like prayer for justice for the poor he’d delivered during the debate over the GOP tax cut.
The House Republican leadership was more inclined to push out the chaplain for praying for the poor, than to impose accountability on a president who is a proven liar and trashes the rule of law for his own selfish purposes day after day, let alone tax the rich and help the poor.
As E.J. Dionne Jr. notes in the Washington Post: “This degree of partisan irresponsibility only aggravates the already powerful skepticism among the young about what it means to be religious.”
Ryan is living proof—as is evangelical super star Mike Pence—that there is a new kind of Roman Catholic and evangelical conservative leader that has long since abandoned anything that could be called a prophetic voice on behalf of those Jesus called “The least of these.”
Ryan’s religion is about power. The firing-then rehiring-of the chaplain is just another instance when the “gospel” of Ayn Rand’s greed has infiltrated and replaced the Christian ethics Republicans used to at least pay lip service to.
White nationalist evangelical Trumpism derives its power from channeling losers’ sense of being victims of everything from liberals to facts themselves, into hatred and a desire for revenge. The revenge is directed at liberals, at science, at higher education, at blacks, brown people, gay men and women, women in general but also at the poor.
Those who stick up for the poor in the face of the corporate greed propagated by the GOP (on an unimaginable scale these days judging by the billionaire’s tax cut, not to mention means testing for Medicaid recipients) find themselves ousted.
The Republican Party’s crucifixion of empathy was at the heart of the chaplain’s ouster. He actually upheld the gospel… and these days that makes Republicans in Trump’s America uncomfortable.
In their landmark 2010 book, “American Grace,” the scholars Robert Putnam and David Campbell found that the rise of the “nones” (those who profess no religious affiliation) was driven by the increasing association of organized religion with conservative politics and a lean toward the right in the culture wars.
As E.J. Dionne Jr. notes, “Revealingly, Putnam and Campbell found that millennials with tolerant and open views on homosexuality were more than twice as likely to be religious nones as their statistically similar peers with conservative or traditionalist views on homosexuality. Many young people came to regard religion, in Putnam and Campbell’s words, as ‘judgmental, homophobic, hypocritical and too political.’”
Then there’s America’s poster boy for white evangelical revenge fantasies not to mention hypocrisy: Franklin Graham.
Graham is one of Trump’s most faithful enablers.
In January, as the news that Trump paid porn star Stormy Daniels hush money was shaping, Graham urged the American people to believe Trump’s denials that there was no affair – and to do so for the good of the nation.
“He said he didn’t do it. So okay, let’s say he didn’t do it. But we just have to think of our country,” Graham told MSNBC.
“I found the president to be truthful with me,” Graham said, adding, “we just have to give the man the benefit of the doubt.”
“Now did he have an affair with this woman? I have no clue. But I believe at 70 years of age, the president is a much different person today than he was four years ago, five years ago, ten years ago or whatever.”
Trump, a proven serial liar, the man who has bragged on tape about sexual assault and about having affairs, deserves “the benefit of the doubt,” because Franklin Graham found him to be “truthful.”
Graham continued his defense of Trump’s lies.
“I think this thing with Stormy Daniels and so forth is nobody’s business.”
Graham actually said Trump’s sex life is “nobody’s business.” His paying off a porn star is “nobody’s business.” His affair just months after his youngest son was born is “nobody’s business.”
As David Badash notes in Alternet:
Franklin Graham of 2018 sounds very different from the Franklin Graham of 1998.
“Private conduct does have public consequences,” Graham wrote in a 1998 Wall Street Journal op-ed titled, “Clinton’s Sins Aren’t Private.”
“Just look at how many have already been pulled under by the wake of the president’s sin: Mr. Clinton’s wife and daughter, Ms. Lewinsky, her parents, White House staff members, friends and supporters, public officials and an unwitting American public,” Graham wrote.
Just how far have the white evangelical Trump supporters fallen in sticking with their man? Consider this: Last Thursday — the very day when Trump had to admit his lies on the Stormy Daniels payoff — Trump also held a White House commemoration of the National Day of Prayer.
“Prayer is the key that opens [to] us the treasures of God’s mercies and blessings,” Trump proclaimed, quoting Billy Graham.
Who in their right mind would have anything to do with these con-artists let alone with the word “prayer” once it comes out of Trump’s lying mouth?
What to do with the constant stream of lies and hypocrisy and hatred and revenge oozing out of this administration? How do we make our way back into love, beauty and creation? Discover my new book Letter to Lucy: A Manifesto of Creative Redemption—In the Age of Trump, Fascism and Lies, a multi-touch book about art, love and parenting, from the fall of the Byzantine Empire to the prophetic music of Green Day and everything in between. Read the first chapter for free on your kindle fire or iOS device. Available now on iBooks and Amazon.
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Dear Frank Schaeffer:
It it even slightly hypocritical to denounce these con artists while offering only a slightly more polished version of equally reactionary war-mongering politics?
Saw a wonderful image/graph with Franklin Graham quotes on it.
On Bill Clinton:
“Mr. Clinton’s….extramarital sexual behavior…now concern him and the rest of the world, not just his immediate family.
If he will lie to or mislead his wife and daughter…what will prevent him from doing the same thing to the public?”
On Donald Trump
“I think some of these things- that’s for him and his wife to deal with…
And I think the same with Stormy Daniels and so forth is nobody’s business.
How does one spell hypocrite? Franklin Graham and Co…
Thanks, Frank for speaking truth to power. Cheers.
Hello Frank, I hope young people will discover that there are many people and Christian denominations that don’t support Trump, his administration and his evangelicals. I am a Christian Quaker (Religious Society of Friends’), and we don’t agree with our present administration or their supporters. It would be so good if you would write this encouraging word to people. This toxic time in politics and religion isn’t the only timepiece. God surpasses all and his true will will be done no matter what the present circumstances.
I became a “None” in 1980
when many in the Christian community hitched their wagon to Ronald Reagan.
It just seemed like it was nothing more than a selfish
white people religion.
“the president is a much different person today than he was four years ago, five years ago, ten years ago or whatever.”
Franklin is a much mich different person than he was in 1998. His dad is gone and he can now run wild.
For our Evangelical friends, it seems no sin is forgivable for liberals and no sin unpardonable for conservatives as if this was sent direct from heaven
Dear Frank Schaeffer:
I notice that Joe Donnelly [D – Indiana] joined Joe Manchin [D-West Virginia] to give the former torture supervisor a seemingly unassailable margin in the Senate.
The ‘progressive’ credentials of your preferred political crime party have been slipping of late.
The Harper valley PTA….
“I wanna tell you all the story bout the Harper Valley widow wife
Who had a teenage daughter who attended Harper Valley Junior High
Well her daughter came home one afternoon and didn’t even stop to play
And she said mom I got a note here from the Harper Valley PTA
Well the note said Mrs Johnson you’re wearin’ your dresses way too high
It’s reported you’ve been drinkin’ and a runnin’ round with men and goin’ wild
And we don’t believe you oughta be a bringin’ up your little girl this way
And it was signed by the secretary Harper Valley PTA
Well it happened that the PTA was gonna meet that very afternoon
And they were sure surprised when Mrs Johnson wore her miniskirt into the room
And as she walked up to the blackboard I can still recall the words she had to say
She said I’d like to address this meeting of the Harper Valley PTA
Well there’s Bobby Taylor sittin’ there and seven times he asked me for a date
And Mrs Taylor sure seems to use a lotta ice whenever he’s away
And Mr Baker can you tell us why your secretary had to leave this town
And shouldn’t widow Jones be told to keep
Her window shades all pulled completely down
Well Mr Harper couldn’t be here cause he stayed too long at Kelly’s Bar again
And if you smell Shirley Thompson’s breath you’ll find she’s had a little nip of gin
And THEN you have the nerve to tell me you think that as a mother I’m not fit
Well this is just a little Peyton Place and you’re all Harper Valley hypocrites
No I wouldn’t put you on because it really did it happened just this way
The day my mama socket it to the Harper Valley PTA
The day my mama socket it to the Harper Valley PTA”
All politics is local as the war has come home…
It’s time to rehash ‘local’ nonsense again. I’m addressing your chosen fraud through the lens of Bristol, England.
Bristol is the UK’s second wealthiest city per capita, and one of the least equal. In 2011, the Labour Party Bristol City Council embraced ‘austerity.’ It claimed that Bristol would be one of the first cities to bring a new era of ‘people power’ to fix the problem. To lead the way, George Robin Paget Furguson was elected mayor on a ‘Bristol 1st’ ticket. He assumed all executive functions and had final say over staffing, council services, awarding contracts, and planning and housing policy. All ‘local.’ Our mayor.
At the time, British socialists warned that this was a cynical exercise that intended use local administration to tailor public expenses and assets to serve corporate and fiscal interests. Marxists said that cuts, outsourcing and privatization would follow. But were they right? The cheerleaders for ‘localism’ included Labour [obviously] and the Greens. All declared that ‘local control’ was the only way to save the city from budgetary restraints being imposed by the conservative government in London. Who got it right, Nine?
Here’s what happened.
In 2016, Marvin Rees [Labour] was elected mayor. Since then, Bristol’s annual budget has been cut a staggering 78%.
Public services are overwhelmed and on the brink of collapse. With the backing of trade unions, Bristol’s Labour and Green parties, a list of 112 vital services were targeted. This includes meals-on-wheels, dementia support, homelessness and youth and children’s services. The most vulnerable sections of society have suffered. Lives have been lost. Figures recently published by the Evening Post show that in the Lawrence Hill area, half of all children experience hunger.
What is the response of Council? The proposed ‘solution’ is to increase outsourcing and to ‘commission’ services to private providers through a bidding process. Now here’s the thing.
Bristol is a microcosm for what is happening across the country, in neighboring Wales, in Europe, and around the world.
Does that look like a ‘local’ political movement to you?
The attack on the working class is national, international and global. National governments follow the diktats of global capital. And the answer must be the same.
But know that it will be duly noted that you continued to swear by localism and to proclaim this as the way forward. All who have done so will be remembered for their role in creating the very catastrophe that unfolds in Bristol and worldwide.
I will just make one more comment about American policy and communications…
what of our postal service sure seems that regulation is needed in our internet communications as the internet should be like a road or a bridge between point A and point b….
What is a public utility that boosts communication among its people
a universal Postal service
if you want truth broadcast on the internet
Did you know I have a Hitler pal?
I talk to him as we are neibhbors as he is one town over…
He sent me this:
that is art built upon a wall