Religious extremists in America are finally facing up to the inevitability that their traditional stranglehold on political and cultural authority over the people is beginning to wane. Their desperation is showing.
This trend is evident, for example, in the current controversy over gay rights characterized by Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who played the martyr card by going to jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gays, and the religious extremist politicians who rushed to her defense claiming that her rights were the ones which were violated.
The overwhelming response of the public to that charade was that her religious rights were not violated. She deserves no sympathy. In fact it was she who was violating the rights of others by imposing her religious beliefs on them. She was bound by the U.S. Supreme Court, the law of the land, and her oath of office to do her job.
In light of this development, I think I can safely predict that the 2016 GOP presidential nomination will not go to Mike Huckabee or any of the other religious extremists in the race.
Had this incident occurred 20 years ago, however, the public response would have been completely opposite. That’s because twenty years ago most people in America still thought that fellow Christians imposing their religious beliefs upon others was perfectly fine.
Not anymore. Today, public confidence in organized religion and the cultural authority it professes has reached a new all time low of just 42%. The decline became manifest in the 1980’s and the biggest drop off occurred in the early 2000s, when news of the Catholic Church’s widespread child rape and cover up broke.
“The church and organized religion is losing its footing as a pillar of moral leadership in the nation’s culture,” according to a recent Gallup poll and report. It once was one of the most reliable points of public confidence, but now has fallen below the military, small business and the police. Congress, the media and the medical industry are among the institutions with lower rankings.
“In the ’80s the church and organized religion were the No. 1,” said Lydia Saad, the author of the report. While almost all institutions lost public confidence, “the picture for religion is particularly bleak.” A growing number of Americans – 23% – say they do not identify with any religion at all.
So there is spiritual desperation in places like Nashville. To wit: political opponents of a Nashville mayoral candidate are going on the offensive by insinuating that she is secretly an atheist and they have (gasp!) witnessed her omit the phrase “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance.
“It is important that you know what I have witnessed before you vote…Right after being sworn in, it was pointed out to me that during the Pledge of Allegiance Megan Barry skips the words, ‘under God,'” proclaims a campaign ad for David Fox, her rival. “I never in four years heard her say the words, ‘under God,’ when we would recite the pledge,” claims Fox supporter, Councilman Michael Craddock.
Another ad for Fox breathlessly declares: “They’re opposing the National Day of Prayer, opposing prayer before high school football games, fighting with Christian faith-based organizations that he called, and I quote, ‘part of the Jesus Industrial Complex.’ Can you believe that?”
But a Barry supporter and fellow Metro Councilman who sits next to her in the council chamber responds: “I am embarrassed to tell you that we’re in an environment where I have to say this out loud, but yes, Megan Barry says the entire Pledge of Allegiance, including the word ‘God' … I’m perhaps the only person who could hear her every single time for four years.”
Pathetic, isn’t it? We have grownups arguing over whether someone running for office is leaving out the word “God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. They’re afraid an atheist might get elected Mayor.
It’s spiritual desperation in Nashville.