Is This Really the End of the Evangelical Movement?
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For decades the evangelical movement has been a powerful force in our politics and culture. And it seems poised to continue to wield influence over American life, as a new spate of rising stars fill the ranks vacated by aging and dead leaders.
But in a recent article published on AlterNet from the Christian Science Monitor, Michael Spencer, a "post-evangelical reformation Christian" argues that evangelicalism -- both as a political movement and an ideology -- is done for.
By blowing all of their political capital on efforts to obstruct the acceptance of gays and reverse reproductive rights, political evangelicals have made themselves irrelevant in our current cultural landscape. By blowing all of their actual capital on youth pastors, publishing and other media, the movement has reared a generation of young evangelicals with no real ties to the evangelical religious tradition and belief system.
So is evangelicalism really over?
AlterNet readers had a lot to say about the article.
pelican beak has his doubts about the collapse of evangelicalism, pointing out that religious movements accustom themselves to their era:
The values of American Xtianity have all the abiding permanence of a day lily. They're always morphing and changing to best fit the changing times.
Gazooks also agrees that evangelicalism is hardly on its way out:
Between the inbreeding of evangelicals with the armed, political right and the steeped, prophetic expectations of apocalypse to strike down the godless Sodomites, these should indeed remain interesting times.
Have no expectation of a substantial residue of believers fading lamblike into deserved obscurity. Christlike pacifism knows no place in the end-time visions of St. John, and the select will prepare the way for the rule o'God.
Annarisse is also unconvinced by the author’s dire predictions about the future of evangelicalism:
Why does he believe this will happen, and why the short timeline? Twenty years is one generation only, and while it will see the end of the current leadership of the movement (most of whom are over 60 and therefore likely to die or at least retire in that time span), I'd like to know why he thinks the bottom will fall out of the middle of the movement.
I think there's an exodus coming, specifically of young professional families, probably in favor of more liberal Protestant and UU-type churches, at least as much as toward the Catholic and Orthodox communions. That may be just wishful thinking, though, because that's my demographic and it's what I've done. So where's the evidence?
lcuzan does not think that more liberal denominations are the answer, writing that it is indeed time to throw out all religion:
I for one say good bloody riddance. I wait in giddy anticipation for the day this and all other forms of bronze-age religious dogma that infantilize the human mind gets a stake driven into it.
It's about time a secular humanity rise above this superstitious rubbish and start dealing with the litany of problems this world faces.
Believe it or not, there is a light at the end of this long, dark tunnel of nonsense. One day, in the not-so-distant future (if we last that long), societies will look back at religion, whatever its perverted stripe, shake its collective head, smile and file it alongside witch burning, ghosts, alien abductions, crystal healing, alchemy, seances, possessions ... pick your absurdity!
edgar_michel also argues that most churches go against what religion should be about:
True religion isn't born of the belief in an all powerful god, which plays to despotism, but rather a love of the earth and all its incredible and diverse life. True morality comes from respect of all life and especially the planet we live on. We don't need an artificial religion to instill moral values in us; we just need to revere the planet that brought us forth and all the life that supports us. That is true religion, and ethical and moral behavior will issue from that alone.