For many Americans, politics has become a quasi-religion — especially as participation in actual, organized religion has plummeted.
The U.S. has long been known for our “civil religion,” which has been described as “a shared, nonsectarian faith, centered on the flag, the nation’s founding documents, and God.” However, the number of Americans who believe in God has fallen to its lowest point since Gallup began asking the question in 1944. So, a simple explanation for our crisis is that Americans are replacing God with politics, but the truth is more complex.
Gallup’s survey found that 81% of Americans said they believed in God. However, only 47% belong to a church, synagogue, or mosque, down from 70% in 1999. What’s more accurate to say is that many Americans have separated God from religion and then replaced their religion with politics.
Darwin’s theories have taught millions of Americans that the Bible cannot be trusted outside its religious sphere. With rising materialism and secularism, and our attention on earth rather than heaven while scientific progress has made earth more like heaven. Seems like medical science has lessened our fear of death as we are living healthier lives while most who do die do so in antiseptic hospital conditions removed from the rest of us.
The result is that most Americans no longer turn to religion to meet our most basic needs.
But if religion cannot improve society, what can? What speaks to every dimension of our secular world? In a democratic republic, the answer is politics. And engaging in politics with a fervor once reserved for religion is therefore necessary, at least in the minds of those who do so. As David French shows in his latest Dispatch article, millions of Americans (80% in a recent survey) are convinced that their political opponents will destroy America. Millions (72% in another poll) also believe that their side is losing. And millions on both sides of the political divide believe they must therefore do whatever it takes to save the nation. How’s it working for you?
Is it any wonder that animosity and violence against political leaders is becoming an epidemic?
Politics cannot heal our nation, but living in light of eternity can. The polls say there are approximately 210 million Christians in America. If each of us prepares to meet our loving God with “all” our heart, soul, mind and strength, we will love our neighbors as ourselves. We will then engage our many problems not with political animosity but by “speaking the truth in love.” Nothing else seems to work, so why not go back to the basics that worked? How about letting the Prince of Peace speak his healing word through you in the days to come after this election?
God Bless America.
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