Quantcast
Connect with us

White Christians are in retreat — and they’re getting more isolated and less tolerant

Published

on

Last year, the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) put out a new report on religion in America that measured a truly remarkable shift: For the first time, almost certainly in the country’s history, people who identify as white Christians are a minority of Americans. Four out of every five Americans were self-described white Christians in 1976, but now that group only constitutes 43 percent of the U.S. population.

There are a lot of reasons for this shift, study author Robert P. Jones, who heads PRRI and is the author of “The End of White Christian America,” explained to Salon in an interview. To a large extent, Jones said, it’s the trend of “young, white people leaving Christian churches that is driving up the number of religiously unaffiliated Americans.”

This reflects, he added, “a culture clash between particularly conservative white churches and denominations and younger Americans” over issues like science, particularly climate change and evolution, and especially the rights of LGBT people.

It’s a battle that goes a long way towards explaining the “Nashville statement,” released last month by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. While the statement includes some language criticizing straight people who fail to practice “chastity outside of marriage,” by and large it is meant as an attack on LGBT Americans, suggesting, for instance, that no good Christians can “approve of homosexual immorality or transgenderism.”

“The younger generation, Americans under the age of 30 — more than eight in 10 of them support same-sex marriage,” Jones said, adding that the issue has become “a litmus test issue for many millennials in the country.”

“It’s not just that conservative white Christians have lost this argument with a broader liberal culture,” he noted. “It’s that they’ve lost it with their own kids and grandchildren.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Statistics seem to bear this out. A slim majority of young white evangelicals now support same-sex marriage, while older generations of white evangelicals overwhelmingly oppose it. That difference doesn’t even take into account the huge numbers of young people who were raised in evangelical denominations and then left their churches, often because they disapprove of religious homophobia.

These trends lead Jones to believe that the Nashville statement was not really aimed at the larger American culture. Rather, it was an attempt by older, more conservative evangelicals to “reassert a view that has certainly lost its footing” with their own children and grandchildren. This is why, he speculated, the language is less “fire and brimstone” in nature than similar documents in the past.

recent Washington Post op-ed by Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, also suggests that the Nashville statement is an effort to sell the younger generation on accepting homophobia by soft-pedaling the hate.

“In releasing the Nashville Statement, we, in fact, are acting out of love and concern for people who are increasingly confused about what God has clarified in Holy Scripture,” Mohler wrote. (“Confused” is conservative Christian-speak for gay, bisexual or transgender — identities that the Nashville statement directly denies exist.)

ADVERTISEMENT

Mohler went on to insist that the document was simply an effort to clarify and build on a view that marriage is “a covenantal, sexual, procreative, lifelong union of one man and one woman” and that “[c]hastity outside of marriage and fidelity within marriage are affirmed.”

This “love the sinner, hate the sin” spin was a hard sell before, and in the age of Donald Trump, it’s downright laughable. Not only did white evangelicals vote for Trump, but they voted for him in even greater numbers than they had for any other Republican before him — giving Trump even more support than they gave George W. Bush, who is one of their own. The more churchy the white evangelical, the more likely he or she is to support Trump. Many of the signatories of the Nashville statement (though not Mohler) also publicly lent their support to Trump. Signatory James Dobson even justified his choice by saying that Trump “appears to be tender to things of the Spirit,” which can only be described as a ludicrous claim, whether one is religious or not.

Trump committed adultery during his first two marriages and during his current marriage, has bragged on tape about apparently assaulting women. When asked about forgiveness during a Christian-oriented campaign event designed to make him look like a believer, Trump made clear that he had never asked God for forgiveness for these or any other sins and seemed confused about why he would have needed to.

The white evangelical support for Trump, coupled with the continued denunciation of LGBT people, makes it clear this is not and never was about morality, sexual or otherwise. Instead, “morality” is a fig leaf for the true agenda of the Christian right, which is asserting a strict social hierarchy based on gender.

ADVERTISEMENT

The same-sex marriage question is a stand-in issue, Jones argued, for “a whole worldview” that is “a kind of patriarchal view of the family, with the father head of the household and the mother staying home.”

“I think that’s why this fight is as visceral as it is,” he added.

Trump may be an unrepentant sinner, but he is a supporter of this patriarchal worldview, where straight men are in charge, women are quiet and submissive and people who fall outside these old-school heterosexual norms are marginalized. Voting for him was an obvious attempt by white evangelicals to impose this worldview on others, including (and perhaps especially) their own children, who are starting to ask hard questions about a moral order based on hierarchy and rigid gender roles instead of one built on empathy and kindness.

Report typos and corrections to [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Republican lawmakers ask judge to destroy smoking gun documents proving GOP’s white supremacy

Published

on

Republicans on Monday sought a court order to block damning documents from being used against them in a lawsuit.

"North Carolina Republican lawmakers on Monday asked a court to make sure the files of the now-deceased GOP strategist Tom Hofeller are destroyed, or at least kept secret, instead of being used in a high-profile gerrymandering lawsuit," the Raleigh News & Observer reported.

"The filing comes after the groups behind the lawsuit, including Common Cause, accused Republican lawmakers of making false statements in court in a previous gerrymandering case, when the state’s 2011 maps were ruled unconstitutional," the newspaper noted. "That blockbuster accusation made national headlines and was, it said, based on Hofeller’s files which had been secret until recently."

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Trump angrily demands newspaper reveal unnamed sources behind bombshell report on his Russia policy

Published

on

President Donald Trump on Monday evening again lashed out at The New York Times for reporting on his Russia policy.

"The story in The New York Times about the U.S. escalating attacks on Russia’s power grid is fake news, and the failing New York Times knows it," Trump argued in a tweet sent after 10 p.m.

"They should immediately release their sources which, if they exist at all, which I doubt, are phony," he continued.

"Times must be held fully accountable," he demanded.

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1140804748423118848

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Trump seethes and calls Fox ‘fake news’ after seeing a story that made him mad

Published

on

Trouble appears to be brewing between President Donald Trump and the cable news station he loves: Fox News.

In a tweet Monday night, the president lashed out at the network over its polling and called it “fake news’ — an epithet he usually reserves for mainstream outlets:

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1140768516288782336?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

Media Matters for America Senior Fellow Matthew Gertz, who has previously noted that Trump appears to record news segments and watch them a few hours later, suggested that the president appeared to be reacting to an earlier segment from Special Report with Bret Baier. The segment showed that, even according to Fox News’ polling, Trump trails every single leading candidate in the Democratic field in head-to-head matchups.

Continue Reading
 
 

Copyright © 2019 Raw Story Media, Inc. PO Box 21050, Washington, D.C. 20009 | Masthead | Privacy Policy | For corrections or concerns, please email [email protected]

I need your help.

Investigating Trump's henchmen is a full time job, and I'm trying to bring in new team members to do more exclusive reports. We have more stories coming you'll love. Join me and help restore the power of hard-hitting progressive journalism.

TAKE A LOOK
close-link

Investigating Trump is a full-time job, and I want to add new team members to do more exclusive reports. We have stories coming you'll love. Join me and go ad-free, while restoring the power of hard-hitting progressive journalism.

TAKE A LOOK
close-link