The moral corruption apparent in the largest segment of American Protestantism began in the ’80s when Jerry Falwell Sr.’s Moral Majority and Ralph Reed’s Christian Coalition started to cozy up to politicians with a conservative social and economic agenda. It’s precisely at that moment when pollsters began to record a retreat from religion by an important segment of the population. Religion disguised as partisan politics may energize evangelical voters, but with respect to faith it has backfired. Yet it goes on.
The article attempts to pin the impending collapse of faith in America on the Religious Right, but I disagree. Yes, the Religious Right has utterly beclowned itself by throwing support behind Trump and in either this life or the next God will thoroughly punish the Robert Jeffresses of the world, but the pattern of politicization and discrediting that the Religious Right has undergone exactly mirrors what happened to the Religious Left in the 70s.
The discrediting of the Religious Right did not happen with Trump but with the 2003 invasion of Iraq, kissing Trump’s ass is just the final degradation. I wonder if members of the Religious Left ever sat around wondering how they went from marching against nuclear war to helping Democrats invent euphemisms for abortion? Did they ever stop and wonder if Hell really existed after all?
I suspect that both movements were themselves an attempts to deal with the fact that American culture was becoming more inimical to the faith. It wasn’t obvious but they surely sensed the changes brewing. The Religious Left reacted by trying to prove they were still relevant, the Religious Right by trying to turn back the historical tide.
Since the Pilgrims, American Protestantism has always confused America with the Church, and saw America’s moral perfection as a vehicle for the actions of Providence. They are always being disappointed by reality.