Holy Week Miscellany, 3/25/24

Holy Week Miscellany, 3/25/24 March 25, 2024


Only 8% of white evangelicals approve of Christian Nationalism; what’s good about American evangelicalism; and the divorce rate is down and the marriage rate is up.

Only 8% of White Evangelicals Approve of Christian Nationalism

For all of the alarm stoked up about evangelicals seeking to take over the country with their ideology of Christian Nationalism, it turns out that hardly any evangelicals approve of that ideology.

According to a Pew Research study of religion’s role in American life, only 8% of white evangelicals have a “favorable” view of Christian Nationalism.

When asked whether the Bible should have at least some influence on U.S. laws, 86% of white evangelicals agreed, as did 49% of Americans as a whole. But only 27% of white evangelicals thought Christianity should be declared the official religion of the United States, with 70% saying that it should not.

The study also found that Americans as a whole are not as opposed to religious influence as they are often are portrayed by both sides.  While 80% of Americans believe that religious influence is declining, nearly half, 49%,  believe that this is a bad thing.  Only 13% believe that the loss of religious influence is a good thing.

What’s Good about American Evangelicalism

Amidst all of the criticism of conservative Christianity, The Atlantic, no less, has published an article by John Fea entitled  What I Wish More People Knew About American Evangelicalism.  The deck sums up its thesis:  “For all the bad that’s come out of this movement, there are still countless stories of personal transformation leading people to live better lives.”

He tells about growing up with a distant and border-line abusive father, who suddenly “got saved” and changed.  He started listening to Jim Dobson’s Focus on the Family radio show and actually became a good father and husband.

Fea cites all the critical books and then says,

But the story of American evangelicalism isn’t all negative, neither in my dad’s era nor in ours. For all the bad that’s come out of this movement, there are still countless stories of personal transformation leading people to become better parents, better spouses, and better members of their communities. Seeing the good in evangelicalism is essential to understanding its appeal to millions of Americans.

Then he gives some of those stories.

The Divorce Rate Is Down & the Marriage Rate Is Up

The divorce rate has gone way down.  And the marriage rate has gone up.

So says CNN, reporting on new data from the Centers for Disease Control.

In 2000, the divorce rate was 4 per 1,000.  In 2021 and 2022, the rate had dropped almost by half, to 2.3 and 2.4, respectively.

Not only that, the marriage rate has gone up.  For the first two decades of the century, the rate of new marriages was around 7 or 8 per thousand people.  Then in 2020, the year of the COVID shutdowns, the rate dropped to 5 per thousand.  In 2022, though, the rate climbed to 6.2.  This amounts to over 2 million marriages, the first time the country has passed that milestone since 2019.

All of this suggests a recovery from the marital disruption of the pandemic.  More than that, some experts cited by CNN think that the trauma of the shutdowns caused couples to pull together more, contributing to fewer divorces.  Citing family therapist Marissa Nelson, CNN reporter

Being in lockdown together gave many couples a unique hurdle to overcome, one that made them get intentional about how they approached important things like finances, compromise and autonomy. . . .

Being stuck in a home together during lockdown forced a lot of couples to face problems in their relationship head-on, Nelson said. That might have caused additional strife, or it could have helped them lay better groundwork for a stable future, she added.

Experts are also noticing a difference in the way many people are approaching the task of finding someone to marry:

“In my practice over the last decade, I’ve noticed a gradual shift from the ‘romantic marriage’ to the ‘companionate marriage,’ meaning that people are increasingly choosing spouses at the outset who are more like best friends than passion-partners,” [marriage therapist Ian] Kerner said via email.

Doing so may lead to problems with attraction, but it also means those people are choosing partners based on qualities likely to promote long-term stability and satisfaction. . . .,

“At its bare minimum, the concept of commitment implies the experience of being bonded with another. At its very best, it means being bonded with someone who is a consistent safe and secure home base that will be there for you in the face of any adversities,” said Dr. Monica O’Neal, a Boston psychologist



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