The End of Christian America

The End of Christian America is the cover story of this week’s Newsweek, by editor Jon Meacham. The article is bit long, but I highly recommend reading it. It’s an excellent assessment of the state of Christianity in 21st century America – Meacham tells us where we are and how we got here. I think his analysis is dead-on, and his predictions look both accurate and promising.

The facts: “To the surprise of liberals who fear the advent of an evangelical theocracy and to the dismay of religious conservatives who long to see their faith more fully expressed in public life, Christians are now making up a declining percentage of the American population.”

This is as it should be. Meacham quotes Thomas Jefferson, who believed the First Amendment was “meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and the Mahometan, the Hindoo and infidel of every denomination.” And he also quotes Roger Williams: “I commend that man, whether Jew, or Turk, or Papist, or whoever, that steers no otherwise than his conscience dares.”

But Meacham thinks this will be good for Christianity – and I agree. He says “The preponderance of lessons from the Gospels and from the rest of the New Testament suggests that earthly power is transitory and corrupting, and that the followers of Jesus should be more attentive to matters spiritual than political.”

I think that will also be good for Pagans, UUs, and other religious liberals. If the fundamentalist boogeyman isn’t so threatening, we’ll be much less likely to be defensive. Instead of spending our time and energy telling ourselves and everyone else how bad they are, we can concentrate on how good we are – or rather, on being as good as we can be.
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