Christian zealotry is on the rise in the US – along with paranoia

Christian zealotry is on the rise in the US – along with paranoia June 17, 2019
Artwork by By Aaron Sacco.Wikimedia CC.

KATHERINE Stewart, above, is an American author and social commentator who focuses much of her attention on religious affairs. She wrote a particularly interesting piece in The New York Times at the end of 2018 about Trump and evangelicals who believe he is a King Cyrus-like figure appointed by the Almighty to return the US to its ‘Christian values’.

She concluded her article with these words:

I have attended dozens of Christian nationalist conferences and events over the past two years. And while I have heard plenty of comments casting doubt on the more questionable aspects of Mr. Trump’s character, the gist of the proceedings almost always comes down to the belief that he is a miracle sent straight from heaven to bring the nation back to the Lord. I have also learned that resistance to Mr. Trump is tantamount to resistance to God.

This isn’t the religious right we thought we knew. The Christian nationalist movement today is authoritarian, paranoid and patriarchal at its core. They aren’t fighting a culture war. They’re making a direct attack on democracy itself.

They want it all. And in Mr. Trump, they have found a man who does not merely serve their cause, but also satisfies their craving for a certain kind of political leadership.

Trump and godly Vice President Pence surrounded by religious bootlickers at the National Day of Prayer, 2017

The operative word in her piece is “paranoid”, and today I learned from The American Thinker just how deep that paranoia runs. Under the headline “Christianity is under siege in America”, Jeff Lukens wrote:

In this great country, it’s not a crime to be a Christian — at least not yet.  But the Left is working on it.  Free expression of religion is not just shunned.  It is ridiculed and mocked.  Anti-Christian bigotry is the only form of acceptable intolerance remaining in this country — to be encouraged and incited by our ‘tolerant’ liberal friends in academia, the media, and entertainment.  

Christian principles were foundational to the American Republic.  Yet what matters to the Left is silencing the Christian influence of this nation.  The battle to destroy Christianity is really the battle to destroy America.  The intolerant Left is replacing the structure of an orderly and benevolent norm with falsehoods, distortions, intimidation, and violence.  Unfortunately, traditional American Christians have been on the losing end of the culture war for a long time.  

Building up a head of steam, Lukens then asserts:

A vigorous new secularism in recent years … has propelled ridicule of Christianity into the mainstream of acceptable behavior.  It has become part of the larger pop culture.  Today, Bible-bashing and Christian-mocking are a favorite pastime on television, in movies, and on social media, complete with ugly insults and death wishes.

Christian beliefs in the sanctity of life, free will, and the flawed nature of humanity are the principal bulwarks against a descent into barbarism that progressivism promises. To the degree that Christians speak up for biblical virtue and sexual purity, and to the degree they preach the Gospel as the one true way to God, they are scorned and ridiculed.  

But it is beyond ridicule when their observance of biblical sexuality or their opposition to the reclassification of marriage gets them labeled as contemptible extremists and bigots who are not worth the air they breathe.  Much of the rhetoric on the Left is hateful and over the top and should be condemned.

There is more of this baloney – lots more:

The attack on the free exercise of religion now moves beyond prayer at football games and commencement ceremonies to legal battles over wedding cakes.  Bible-believing people are frequently likened to ISIS, charged with wanting to create a Taliban-type theocracy of haters.

Many Christians are concerned with what they perceive to be the increasing secularization of popular culture today.  They express concern that Christianity will one day become hated and persecuted in America as it is in much of the world.  That day may not be far off.

And yet:

Overall, Christians in America are handling this cultural onslaught of mockery and ridicule surprisingly well.  New research published by scholars at Harvard University and Indiana University Bloomington reveals that the percentage of Americans who attend church more than once a week, pray daily, and accept the Bible as meaningful to their lives has remained constant for the last 50 years or so.

So WTF are you whining about?

However, there has been a growing gulf between faithful Christians and the so-called ‘social Christians’. Mainline churches with a theologically liberal and watered down gospel message are losing congregants.  Churches who unabashedly teach the Bible with seriousness, with calls for discipleship and intimacy with God, are growing.  Americans are moving away from lukewarm and toward substantive Christianity, and this trend shows no sign of changing.

The hostility against believers is reaching a watershed, and things could get even uglier in the time ahead.  The faithful believe that God is in control, and that is a great comfort for them.  The great irony is that liberals tell them to ‘coexist’ when liberals are completely incapable of doing just that.

If leftists don’t like Christians, that is just too bad.  They’ll have to learn to be more tolerant.

See, Stewart was spot on when she said these Jesus-crazed shrimps “want it all.”

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  • larry parker

    Christian beliefs in the sanctity of life, free will…..

    The faithful believe that God is in control,

    Which one is it? Free will or god is in control. It can’t be both.

  • “Bible-believing people are frequently likened to ISIS, charged with wanting to create a Taliban-type theocracy of haters.”

    While I don’t think that Christianity will be threatened in this country for the next couple-of-hunrdred years, I’ll admit to having had thoughts similar to one quoted. Events in several states in the last few months have shown that we actually do have something to fear. So, yes, that bit of what he says has some truth to it, even if the comparison is a bit hyperbolic.

    But the rest of what he says is ridiculous. Nobody want to stop them from practicing there religion so long as it doesn’t harm anyone. Even those who consider themselves anti-theists don’t want to throw away religious liberty.

  • MystiqueLady

    It’s the paranoia that scares me the most. Too much stress on the fear/paranoia, and people will snap — out of fear. I have worked with animals for a long time, and I can tell you that a fearful animal is the hardest to work with. Even animals in pain are less difficult to work with. The fearful animal will scratch/bite/kick first, and will keep it up until the perceived threat is removed.

  • Amused To Death

    He has irony-blinders the size of surfboards.

  • MystiqueLady

    “Wanting to create a Taliban-type theocracy of haters.” Hyperbolic? Really? Have you been watching Missouri (who wants to include the names of ATHEIST plaintiffs in “anti-religion” lawsuits), Alabama and it’s attempts to pass strict anti-abortion laws, Texas and the pamphlet that is required to be handed to all women seeking an abortion that is full of out-and-out lies, and any other state that wants to be able to enforce their religious test that requires all elected politicians to profess a belief in God (no matter how unconstitutional these laws are). And this just scratches the tip.

  • Category 6

    Let’s not forget those calling for the deaths of LGBT+ people…

    *heavy sigh*

  • MystiqueLady

    That’s why I ended my statement with an ellipses. 🙁 Too many examples to log into one spot.

  • Michael Neville

    What Lukens is really whining about (and yes, he’s whining) is that Christianity is losing its dominance in the US. It’s the loss of power that frightens him and the evangelicals who cluster around Trump.

  • Just reading her statements one can almost smell the White Nationalism.

  • John Pieret

    Mainline churches with a theologically liberal and watered down gospel message are losing congregants. Churches who unabashedly teach the Bible with seriousness, with calls for discipleship and intimacy with God, are growing.

    Really? Who is growing? Not the Southern Baptists, who are in a state of panic about their baptism numbers. Where are the churches that are adding significant numbers of new Christians? In point of fact, conservative Christianity has been shrinking significantly and just slipped behind the “Nones” as a percentage of the religious views of Americans.

  • Michael Neville

    The megachurches are growing but primarily by cannibalizing smaller, less affluent churches. All Christian churches are shrinking in membership, particularly with young people. Many millennials aren’t interested in the culture wars and bigotry evangelicals are promoting and others don’t feel the need for religion in their lives.

  • Sastra

    I wonder if the Unabashed Churches being counted here are very small, intense, and relatively new ones, with services held in community hall basements or living rooms. Start out with 5 people, 10 people represents a 100% growth in membership. They can hardly keep up with the folding chairs.

  • Sastra

    There’s a lot of fear- mongering in that essay, but my take away impression is that the Christians being addressed here really, really, really hate to be ridiculed.

    Good to know.

  • DoctorDJ

    That essay, and the accompanying comments, are scary in their ignorance and fear.

  • DogGone

    They are on the way out and they know it.

  • John Pieret

    The megachurches are growing but primarily by cannibalizing smaller, less affluent churches

    Squeezing the balloon …

  • both are on the rise as a result of the religion dying.

  • that is not growth that is consolidation, which is what any organization does to stave off collapse.

  • Zetopan

    It is exceedingly common for Christians to vaguely reference all sects when bragging about their (grossly inflated) numbers, but their specific sect is always composed of the only *true* Christians. They have far less than 1 part in 47,000* chances of being correct since Christianity is based on ancient fables and absurdities.

    *There are over 47,000 different Christian sects and that number is increasing at a rate of more than 2 per day.

  • frostysnowman

    When one is used to a place of privilege, equality feels like oppression.

  • Gosh, it couldn’t possibly be that a whole lot of people are tired of having Christian “values” forced upon them? Or that we’re tired of hearing how evil and sinful and awful we are for existing? It’s almost like people don’t like religious authoritarianism…

  • Not to mention that if “God is in control” then everything that is currently happening is God’s desire. So why are they resisting it?

  • Jim Jones

    The percentage of Americans who attend church more than once a week, pray daily, and accept the Bible as meaningful to their lives has remained constant for the last 50 years or so.

    I don’t believe it. Less than 20% of Americans do that now. It wasn’t always thus.

  • mordred

    Yeah, I’d like to see the numbers here too.

    On the other hand, I think it likely that the number of the hardcore believers (attending church *more* than once a week, praying daily, etc.) have always been just a relatively small percentage of those calling themselves Christians and it’s mostly the less observant who, in a more secular society, leave the churches.

  • Broga

    1. The Freethinker and the National Secular Society have fought a lone battle, against the odds, and never wavered. And that still continues.

    2. Any attempt for these USA unhinged Christians to get a foothold in the UK must be quashed as soon as it is visible. And the signs are there that the attempt is being made.

    3. We can’t expect any help from the UK government. They folded pretty damn quick when Trump decided he wanted special treatment. Paid for by UK taxes.

    4. There is much that is encouraging from the USA. More so, in many instances, than in the UK.

    5. I recommend “A brief history of how we F#cked it all up” by Tom Philips. On Kindle for a limited time at 90p.

  • Broga

    Way to go. They have been regarded seriously for far too long.

  • Broga

    No, I can’t explain that.

  • Broga

    He is an invention and not a very good one.

  • Pennybird

    This is the part they don’t understand. No one is attacking them for their beliefs, but if they’re being attacked at all it is for their actions against us.

  • johnsoncatman

    Redid the post to add the zero-length joiner to a couple of words because of the filter.

  • johnsoncatman

    The projection is strong in Lukens. These christians would very much love to make it a crime to not be a christian. They keep trying to turn the country upside-down by forcing everyone to live by their beliefs. There may be mocking and ridicule by some people, but it is mostly rejection of the tenets of their religion.

    Christian beliefs in the sanctity of life, free will, and the flawed nature of humanity are the principal bulwarks against a descent into barbarism that progressivism promises. To the degree that Christians speak up for biblical virtue and se‌xual purity, and to the degree they preach the Gospel as the one true way to G‌od, they are scorned and ridiculed.

    “Sanctity of life” = forced birther; “free will” = THEIR free will to force you to do what they say; “descent into barbarism” = treating people with dignity and equality; “biblical virtue and se‌xual purity” = advocating for killing LBGTQ and forcing women into submissive roles; “preach the Gospel” = more forcing their beliefs onto others.

    Much of the rhetoric on the Left is hateful and over the top and should be condemned.

    Hmmmm. I don’t hear “the Left” calling for the death of christians, but christians love to call for the death of others. They just refuse to acknowledge that “religious freedom” applies just as much to my rejection of religion as to their embracing it.

  • Ann Kah

    I know perfectly well that there are Christians who are deeply embarrassed by Trump. But he was their choice, and they continue to find far-fetched excuses for him. The alternative is tacitly admitting they were wrong …and nobody wants to do that.

  • David Hughett

    So true!

  • Wisdom, Justice, Love

    I don’t believe in Santa Claus. I think belief in Santa Claus creates problems in life and people would be much better without it.

    Therefore…

    I want to personally harm people that do believe in Santa. /s

    Christian victimhood. “Attacks” on my personal belief are personal attacks against my human body.

  • Wisdom, Justice, Love

    I just mentioned it above. Me and my beliefs are inseparable.

    AFAIC
    If one wants to spend their time ppraying to god, jesus, the Easter bunny, the power rangers, Dora, etc., what do I care. Your time, not mine. And so the narrative is:
    Those that wish for religion to remain private are infringing upon those that wish for every public policy and discourse to be religiously influenced. As long as it’s the “right” brand of christianity religion.

  • TommYYman

    The Catholic parishes who celebrate the pre-Vatican mass (aka Latin Mass) are growing. These parishes are very traditional and do not have modernist priests. Lot of young people, large families. I believe this is the future of the Catholic Church.

  • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

    Xtianity used to be able to force compliance with social pressure.

    That’s gone now, and Lukens is whining in suppressed &#8203fatwa envy.

    Also, if ‘god is in charge’, then why are Lukens & Co. fighting so hard for *secular* power to enforce their hateful superstition?

    Idle thoughts on a rainy day.

  • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

    Schrödinger’s Xtians: Simultaneously the majority and in control of all levers of power AND a maligned and oppressed minority (depending on which would be more convenient for them)

  • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

    Only thing they hate worse is being IGNORED…and that’s happening more and more now, too…ignored or vigorously opposed by citizens with equal voting power and MORE social power.

  • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

    I don’t believe you.

    Reputable citations or it’ll be obvious you’re just whistling past the graveyard.

  • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

    And the megachurches would be regarded by Lukens & Co. as *lukewarm*, almost certainly.

  • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

    Ignoring and disdaining them is considered as an attack, because they believe they have the RIGHT to control us.

  • Yeah. Well, I did say “a bit.” We don’t have blasphemy laws — yet. But maybe the slippery slope here isn’t a fallacy. They really would create blasphemy laws if they thought they could get away with it, and their blasphemy laws would only apply to their gods (you know, all three, the father, son, and holyghost).

    You’re right. We accuse them of that, and it really seems that that’s their intent.

  • I remember as a kid in the 60s how few cars there were on the road on Sunday mornings when we were on our way to church. There are more now, not because more people are going to church, but because back then nothing was open on Sunday!

  • Elisha in II Kings 6, “those who are with us are greater than those who are with them.” (Back then, only the god had invisible forces.)

    Today’s Christian: “those who are with us are about equal to those who are with them, but those who are with us just sit on their thumbs and the demons are busy!”

  • TommYYman
  • When speaking of evangelizing, everyone they meet is an alien sinner, even if they’re a simply a different kind of Baptist, and Christians in other denominations are definitely non-Christians in need of the Gospel. When speaking of worldwide oppression, any Christian of any denomination counts. When speaking of the founding of the United States, even Deists and Unitarians count as Christians. So it all depends upon the context and which definition is most useful to the point they’re trying to score at the time.

  • Mike Panic

    I am intolerant because I stand up to the hatred shown by religion. They want me to tolerate their hatred so they can destroy tolerance. NO WAY

  • Mike Panic

    This article states the cathlic church i losing 6 people for each new one.https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2019/06/to-save-the-church-dismantle-the-priesthood/588073/

  • Mike Panic

    They are a laughable bunch. Ritualized superstition is quite funny to watch. Midnight mass from the vatican is one example.

  • Mike Panic

    Try this again. I sure as lake of fire don’t like religion’s evil ways.

  • Wisdom, Justice, Love

    You’re obviously confused.
    This all-powerful, all-KNOWING god is testing them. Even though he is all-knowing, he isn’t sure his followers “truly” love him, thus the constant tests. And even though they “passed” the last test, that eas well over a week ago; how does the all-knowing god know things haven’t changed…
    /s

    God can challenge his “loyal” sycophants, at will. Don’t you DARE question god, his motives or anything about him.

  • Mike Panic

    I will not post my comment as I am tired of having everything censored by a site that jokingly/sarcastically calls itself freethought.

  • Mike Panic

    I cannot figure out how to make my post pass the censorship here. Sorry.

  • Mike Panic
  • Mike Panic

    Tired of the censorship. i will not post here to avoid giving the censors more ammunition. Naming this site freethought is a sarcastic joke. Now I cannot even refer to myself and others as gay. Yes, gay is censored

  • Mike Panic

    Many tales of cathlic school. None will be posted here. Nearly everything I post goes into moderation.

  • DogGone

    I love it! (The Atlantic is great. Have you read the article re denistry–cringe!)

  • Mike Panic

    No, I haven’t. I have a morbid fear of dentistry. .

  • DogGone

    Not without reason.

  • persephone

    It’s not even ridicule. Just disagreeing with them is considered persecution. If you’re not one of their lockstep followers, then you’re a tool of Satan put here to destroy them.

  • Sophotroph

    Dude it is a weird wordlist ban that happened everywhere on Patheos, and is still being cleaned up.

    The blog authors have nothing to do with it and are generally trying to fix it.

    How did you not get the memo by now?

  • Robert Conner

    Irony deficiency.

  • Robert Conner

    Ridiculing dimwits for believing and saying stupid shit is “persecution.”

  • Pollos Hermanos ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

    Kind of like a body of water drying up.

    Towards the end, all you have left is super saturated toxic sludge.

  • phatkhat

    Not to defend JC, but political enemies have been executed since politics began. I don’t think he was – IF he even existed – a criminal, unless you consider political or religious dissidents criminal. I don’t.

    And yes, the creed many protestants recite as well states he descended into hell until he rose from the dead.

  • phatkhat

    And they are either in the Southern hemisphere, especially Africa, or they are mostly immigrant.

  • phatkhat

    I once attended evening mass at Notre Dame de Paris. It was actually quite beautiful, and the music was breathtaking. At the end, this huge church filled with people from everywhere turned to each other and hugged. My takeaway was that there is a sense of continuity in ritual. It’s come down through the ages and here you are, a speck in time, participating. Not really a religious feeling, but a connection to humanity, past, present and future.

  • Mike Panic

    So? Millions of others come away with a sense of hate directed at them from every enocunter. For them this this feeling is quite real.

  • towercam

    Religion is mind poison.
    Religion is divisive and it boosts intolerance.

    Apparently no true christians have ever gathered together to pray for world peace or the end of famine.
    The bible says that what is prayed for by 2 or more believers will be done. More biblical lies.

    The bible condones slavery, genocide, human sacrifice, genital mutilation of infants and the outright abuse of women and children. Not a good book to live by.

  • Jim X

    Christianity and Trump are a perfect match: both rely on lies and self righteousness to survive.

  • phatkhat

    So different people experience things differently. I certainly didn’t get any hate vibes there, though I’m sure I would in a more fundamentalist church.

  • Mike Panic

    I started feeling hatge in grade school. cathlic grade school. Life has taught me I was right.

  • Sophotroph

    Please pretend I’m talking to you very slowly:

    A HUGE, nonsensical banlist has been imposed on basically the whole website. It appears to have been some sort of mistake. It’s being ironed out.

    There’s no cause to be offended unless we can determine that it wasn’t a bug.

  • se habla espol

    Just copy the magic incantation ‍ and paste it between some pair of letters in each significant word. Which words are significant, though, is a mater of guesswork, since the belie‍fnet/path‍eos critters keep changing he word list, and the bloggers have to fix it each time.

  • Mike Panic

    Give this a try. Nothing personal. Fu‍ck it It works!

  • Mike Panic
  • Lawrence

    I posted this article from Patheos: Freethinker on my Facebook account. I introduced it with a few words of my own. Facebook informed me that both my comments and a the article cited was banned under their Community Standards. I see no reason for either to banned. Is these something “hateful” here that I missed?

    My introductory commentary follows:

    “Christianism” is a novel reinterpretation of the Christian message. Christianists don’t simply seek to convert, if they cannot win you over they want to beat you into a pulp and dominate your life. They believe that their freedom of religion rests on the right to take your freedom away. Their “God” has picked them to run His world, and you better damn well submit or they will teach you the meaning of Hell.
    To Christianists, Donald Trump is no mere politico du jure, Trump is the contemporary version of Cyrus the Great, who although sinful, is appointed by God to serve a Messianic role, and thus must be OBEYED!

  • Barry Duke

    That’s weird. I posted the piece on the FT’s Facebook page without a problem. Mind you, I made no comment when I did so.

  • Robert Conner

    I propose we stop subsidizing religions through tax breaks. That way they can just die quietly like defunct chain restaurants.