Because of the recent spate of articles saying that Christianity is dying a reply was in the offing and these are my thoughts on the subject.
The much rumored death of Christianity at the hands of a secular society are not only incorrect but misplaced as the fatal blow that killed Christianity in the United States was struck by Southern Evangelicals, aided and abetted by the Republican Party’s endless flirtation with racism.
Combined with the silence of main stream Christianity in the US, Southern style evangelical religion came to power under the guidance of the Republican Party. Unfortunately for US Christians, the hideous hatred of southern-fried religion wiped out any meaning in the terms family values and morality. After witnessing the glaring hatred of Southern evangelicals, the new generation found that not only did that group do a disservice to Christianity, but decided that religion did not have much to do with creating a fair and equal society.
Although the gnashing of teeth regarding the death of Christianity is real, its much reported death is not. Christianity in the United States is only doing what it has in other countries with industrial and scientific growth--discarding that they no longer need. Even with religion falling off in industrialized countries, it is hardly dead. Religion now holds the place that this country wanted to ensure--no connection to government or legal entities.
Religion is still strong in some areas, but truth is that it is fading even in the most loyal stalwarts, including the ultra-religious South. If there must be a scapegoat in the relegation of religion to the background, all the fingers point at Southern Evangelicals with their anti-human, anti-progress and anti-religion stances. Instead of allowing religion it own prerogative, Southern Evangelicals insisted on shoving it down Americans throats and understandably a backlash eventually developed.
Fueling the backlash were the blatant public miscues of those claiming a better way in faith. During the past ten years, the escapades and perversions of the Religious Right and their Republican benefactors have colored the news with divorce, adultery, pedophilia, rape, murder and more. It seems the mote in their eye was far larger than any imagined.
For the Republican Party, this is the end result of its continued balancing act with racism that started with Nixon’s infamous “Southern Strategy” that sought to attract angry white voters displeased with the Civil Rights Movement and integration. It was no mistake that the “Great Communicator,” Ronald Reagan, traded on racism by kicking off his presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi with a message of state rights--code language for white supremacy. Philadelphia, MS was the sight of one of the most hideous murders of the Civil Rights era where even the town sheriff and a minister were involved in the deaths of two Jewish and one black Freedom Rider.
It didn’t stop there as George H. W. Bush introduced the troublesome “Willie Horton” video hoping to play on white fears in the South. His son, George W., kicked off his presidential campaign at Bob Jones University, a school known for its ban on interracial dating. None of the states where the kickoffs started were important as far as electoral votes. The racial politics of the GOP eventually connected with Southern religion and the term “family values” was born, but few knew of the vitriol and hatred that came with it.
A new generation that eschews the politics of George W. Bush and Bill Clinton now heads for the seats of power and the old way is on its way out, but the bitterness caused by racist politics still exists as does the nasty taste in the mouth caused by Southern Evangelical Christianity.
Though the death of Christianity is greatly exaggerated, if the Christian Right continues its prominence in the Republican Party, they will do what millions of atheists, agnostics and non-believers could never do--kill Christianity.