It has always been my hope that the absurd levels of religious nonsense in the United States would lead to a backlash. Rather than being influenced by the ever-present influence of religion on politics (e.g., George Bush stating that God told him to attack Iraq), some of this religious extremism should have a counter-effect. Highlights within the last decade include absurd initiatives against stem cell research, gays, and abstinence-only programs. Fortunately, there are some numbers that show the actual effects.
An AlterNet post provides details in Young People Rejecting Christianity, Have Perception of Religion as Homophobic. From the article:
A study released last week by the Barna Group, a reputable Evangelical research and polling firm, found that under-30s — both Christian and non-Christian — are strikingly more critical of Christianity than their peers were just a decade ago. According to the summary report, Barna pollster David Kinnaman found that the opinions of non-Christians, in particular, had slid like a rock in that time frame. Ten years ago, “the vast majority” of non-Christians had generally favorable views of Christianity. Now, that number stands at just 16%. When asked specifically about Evangelicals, the number are even worse: only 3% of non-Christian Millennials have positive associations with Evangelicals. Among the Boomers, it’s eight times higher.
The article also mentions that these views aren’t just from outsiders or critics:
And this wasn’t just ignorance talking. The people interviewed had an average of five Christian friends. Eighty percent of them had spent at least six months attending church themselves in the past; and half of them had considered becoming Christian, but rejected it. Familiarity with the faith, it appears, has bred quite a bit of contempt…
Also, Sara Robinson sums up some of the many reasons for this in All Over But the Shouting.
I often hear the argument that it’s not the religions that are “bad” – it’s the people that do negative things in the name of religion. Personally, I don’t buy it. I believe that there’s a fundamental issue with claiming that absolute truth comes from a book that condones so many immoral activities and condemns other activities that are now the basis of civilized society.
Overall, I’m glad to see that there’s a limit to how much double-talk and hypocrisy people are willing to put up with. I truly hope that this will result in a long (or even permanent) improvement in politics and society.