"The president of Tea Party Nation, Judson Phillips, thinks tyranny is here, and that businesses are now slaves to "the great liberal march," thanks to Arizona governor Jan Brewer's veto of SB 1062. He believes that liberals and the "homosexual lobby" are pushing Orwellian concepts of "tolerance."
That's the typical fear-mongering we're getting more, and more, from the religious right. In mid-2013, 77% of Americans felt that religion was losing its influence in the U.S. The last time the number was that high was during Vietnam. And 20% of Americans are not religious at all, which is way up from 8% in 1990. It's possible that the religious right is getting more worried that they're losing their influence, so they're trying to tighten down by attempting to gain more control over the government." Read more.
I suspect that these statistics show the effects of the damage being done to religion in general because of their promotion of a hateful perversion of Christianity that drives thinking people away. What is not so obvious is the connection of the public's negative response to the erosion of our society's values.
In other words, the very effect the Christian right fears is being caused by their own extreme and misguided ideology. In the void created by the absence of religion, our young people are learning their values from popular culture.
Now I know that values should be taught at home. But there is no replacement for a faith community that supports the lessons learned in the home. When those faith communities begin to disintegrate, the support systems lapse and the impressionable young child looks to his or her peers to learn what's right and what's wrong.
Please don't misinterpret what I'm saying here. By faith community, I'm not promoting the replacement of hard science with religious dogma and superstition. I'm saying that as religion has less and less influence on our society, a void appears. That void is the absence of a coherent moral framework.
When I say faith community, I'm not necessarily limiting it to a religious orthodoxy. And I'm also not promoting or denying belief God or any other supernatural deity. I'm saying that even a community based in faith in a religious orthodoxy, moderated by critical thinking can provide an ethical structure far superior to a pop culture saturated with vacuous starlets, glorified violence and promises of personal fulfillment through wearing the latest designer labels.
"Nature abhors a vacuum" and anything will do to fill it. So when I read comments from the right like, "let's put God back in our schools" I understand their concerns. I don't agree with their solutions, but certainly share a fear that the current values in our society taken to their natural conclusion maximize the damage to our children's futures.
The hysteria coming from people like the Tea Party Nation president, mentioned above, simply drives more people away and further erodes the validity of any religious belief system at a time when our children are more and more at risk every day.
It's easy to poke fun at what you might see as dark age reasoning in postmodern times, but it is an error to assume that nothing is lost when religion loses its influence in a society. It would be far better to deconstruct the current misinterpretations to find the universal human truths contained therein. And by doing so recognized that all religions are human-made systems for codifying human morals necessary for the species to survive and flourish.
Then if you want to believe and belong, you do so not at the risk of harming others. If you don't, you can rest assured that those who do are not harming you.
Robert De Filippis