Is "Jesus Fever" Finally Breaking in America?

 


America's Old Testament Taliban, a.k.a. Christian evangelicals and fundamentalists, are finally losing ground. But they won't go without a fight.

Just 47% of the US population are members of a church, mosque or synagogue, according to a survey by Gallup, down from 70% two decades ago – in part a result of millennials turning away from religion but also, experts say, a reaction to the swirling mix of rightwing politics and Christianity pursued by the Republican party.

Gallup began asking Americans about their church membership in 1937 – and for decades the number was always above 70%. That began to change in 2000, and the number has steadily dropped ever since.

Some of the decline is attributable to changing generations, with about 66% of people born before 1946 are still members of a church, compared with just 36% of millennials.

Among other groups Gallup reported, the decline in church membership stands out among self-identified Democrats and independents. The number of Democratic church members dropped by 25% over the 20-year period, with independents decreasing by 18%. Republican church members declined too, but only by 12%.

David Campbell, professor and chair of the University of Notre Dame’s political science department and co-author of Secular Surge: A New Fault Line in American Politics, said a reason for the decline among those groups is political – an “allergic reaction to the religious right”.

Comments

  1. The Jesus fever in the USA broke a long time ago, for the majority. The trend you cite is long standing.
    Meanwhile, we forgot to tell the GOP ...
    and the Christianists power has grown in direct opposite proportion to its popularity in the general population.
    Now it will prevail because it has 'higher quality voters':

    " Dismissing ‘Low Quality Voters,’ Republican officials no longer support democracy — and they aren’t bothering to hide it"

    https://www.juancole.com/2021/04/dismissing-republican-officials.html

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  2. It was an odd marriage to begin with, really beginning in the '60's. A marriage of libertarian ideas of success and individualism taking root in what was essentially a collective community. People just wanted to hear that their success was due to their hard work which generated divine favour, and that the lack of success of others was due to their lack of work ethic and hence their reason for having no success.

    There was also the way alienation of neighbours from one another grew ever more wide, and the megachurches provided the community people needed, but only for a time. The schism between hard work and success really began in the late 90's, early 2000's, which was when millennials (such as myself) began entering the workforce.

    Hard work seemed to lead to nowhere except for those already predetermined to be going somewhere for many millennials. Everything that was personal in the workforce, from hiring to firing, began to become impersonal, and the process seemingly arbitrary, and even farcical. For many jobs, a process of hiring first resume in would likely produce the same results as the whole song and dance show 3rd party hiring companies do for employers to justify their services.

    In everything, there has been imbued the idea hard work is necessary, and this includes searching for work. However, being unemployed for any length of time after working hard to find work begins to wear down notions of success being inevitable if hard work guarantees it. And the only work available tends toward precariousness, and the mercurial attitude of employers toward employees does not lead to feelings of security.

    All there is resentment toward the old ideas of hard work and divine favour. There becomes the feeling, if not outright stated idea, that the old idea of meritocracy is really just a myth. It is no wonder religion has collapsed in the US. It washed away its own foundation much like waves upon the cliffs of homeowners in California. It seemed a coalition that would last 200 years but it has already instead begun its ignoble collapse.

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    Replies
    1. The HR parasites have turned the work search process into an industry that exploits uncompensated time provided by the searchers.

      Delete
    2. I write frequently on the God Factor, primarily in America but to a lesser extent in other countries our own included.

      Princeton prof, Kevin Kruse, like other observers traces today's evangelicals to the big tent Revivalists following the Great Depression. Kruse goes deep to show how the tent preachers were recruited by America's industrialists to provide a foil to FDR's New Deal. In exchange for denouncing Roosevelt they were rewarded with Sunday evening airtime on the radio waves and the wealth that flowed in from these mega-audiences. Kruse shows how a Red Scare in the postwar years drove Eisenhower and congressional leaders to make common cause with these rightwing preachers.

      Hedges writes of "American Fascists." Kevin Phillips traces the origins of what he calls the "American Theocracy." Andrew Bacevich writes of how his once beloved military bent a knee to radical Christianity.

      Originally, discredited industrialists in the wake of the Depression co-opted revivalist Christianity which then, by its ability to fill pews, voting booths and recruiting centers, co-opted the political caste and eventually the military establishment.

      Fortunately, scams like this bastardized radical religion rely on increasing extremism that's hard to keep going. There's a reason it's called America's Taliban. And while my generation have this nonsense fried into their minds, your generation, Troy, isn't so easily blinded.

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  3. Hypocrisy seems to mark public religiosity these days. Perhaps the real thing -- like the first Christians -- has gone underground.

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  4. The evangelicals are very motivated and organised; they should not be underestimated.
    They are also ingrained within the US establishment.
    During the Iraq war GW Bush created a large contingent of evangelical appointees to the Green Zone and other areas.
    He also started prayer meetings within the military.
    Whilst those appointees are likely not there anymore those that they chose to replace them , certainly are; it's just how politics are done!

    TB

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    Replies
    1. This integration, TB, goes back to the Great Depression when revivalist. 'prayer tent' preachers allied with industrialists to attempt to thwart FDR's New Deal. That got them from tent revivalism to the national radio waves. Post-war, Eisenhower made common cause with these groups in an effort to thwart the possible spread of Communism into America. Last to succumb, for a variety of reasons, was the military but it too got onside.

      In every case, evangelicals had something to offer that proved irresistible - the support of their flock. Their followers purchase, they vote, they enlist - and in large numbers. That they are a flock, a herd of sheep, is evident in how regularly they vote against their own interests. If you hold that shepherd's crook, you're someone to be reckoned with.

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