A huge survey of people in the U.S. released last week reveals some slightly counter-intuitive data about our religiosity. For all the noise from the religious right, apparently more and more of us are moving away from old allegiances. Here's a representative summary:
This Christian (I mean myself) says "Praise be!" Too much tawdry drivel is peddled in the public arena as Christianity: a prosperity gospel that celebrates wealth; "moral" stances that amount to primitive prejudices; ignorance that seeks to suppress science. I'm glad to see the appeal of that stuff waning in the general decline of religiosity.
Alexis de Toqueville, the observant 19th Century French tourist who so presciently described the early United States, observed
The contemporary religious right has sought, and sometimes won, far more direct control over our daily lives. What Toqueville saw seems a better relationship. Whatever belief or non-belief we adopt forms our consciences; our consciences, we hope, are the foundation from which we derive our political opinions and policy prescriptions.
That seems such an obvious way of describing democracy in a religiously pluralist society as to be hardly worth stating. It was elementary civics when I was growing up. It’s a measure of how far we've fallen away from the peculiar history of this country under pressure from aggressive aspiring theocrats that the statement is even worth repeating.