My latest column is now up on AlterNet, You Wouldn’t Believe How Fast Americans Are Losing Their Religion — But the Fundamentalists Have a Plan. In it, I report on the American religious-right activists who are exporting American-style culture wars to the developing world, even as the U.S. and Europe become less religious. The fundamentalists haven’t been able to strip women, LGBT people, and non-Christians of their rights at home, but they’re working hard to do so abroad. Read the excerpt below, then click through to see the rest:
Sometime last year, the US quietly passed a milestone demographers had long been predicting: for the first time in its history, this country is no longer majority Protestant. Fewer than 50 percent of Americans now identify as Protestant Christians of any denomination.
This change has come on surprisingly recently, and from a historical perspective, with breathtaking speed. As recently as 1993, almost two-thirds of Americans identified as Protestants, a number that had remained stable for the several preceding decades. But sometime in the 1990s, the ground started to shift, and it’s been sliding ever since. Whether it’s the “mainline” Protestant denominations like Methodists, Episcopalians, Lutherans or Presbyterians, or the independent evangelical, charismatic and fundamentalist sects, the decline is happening across the board. The rise of so-called megachurches, like Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church in California or Mark Driscoll’s Mars Hill in Seattle, represents not growth, but consolidation.
But the footsoldiers of fundamentalism haven’t been entirely idle these past few decades. As their power declines in America and Europe, they’re increasingly moving abroad, to developing countries not as far along the secularization curve, where they often find a more receptive audience…