The new and improved defender of RPGs!

Saturday 6 May 2017

Classic Rant: Young Evangelicals and the Doom of the Religious Right

So over in the comments to my latest article, there was an interesting argument put to me, that I thought I should answer.  And since I think the Invincible Overlord will have my head if I wrote one more article on how much Christianity sucks on his right-wing political website, I figured I'd post this over here.

The argument made: "At present, surveys show that about 40% of the USA is young-earth creationist. About that same number believes that Jesus will return within their lifetimes. That's probably the single biggest voting bloc in the country, and it votes overwhelmingly for the GOP. I don't see any way that the GOP could walk away from those voters and survive.
Those numbers are lower among the young, so ditching the religious right would make the GOP more appealing to young voters. However, young voters are not an overwhelmingly Liberatrian bloc. Judging by Facebook, for example, Rand Paul (a well-known figure on the Libertarian fringe of the GOP) is roughly on par with Elizabeth Warren (a well-known figure on the Socialist fringe of the Democrats)."

My answer is:  As I pointed out in the first part of this series, the thing that's happening with young evangelicals in the U.S. isn't really that they're becoming less religious, but that they are abandoning (the political force known as) the Religious Right. There is a deep disillusionment among young evangelicals, who may very well be young-earth creationists and believers in an imminent eschaton, with the idea of involving politics with religion in the way Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Focus on the Family, the Catholic League, etc. have done.

What is happening is that young evangelicals are themselves splitting into two camps: on the one side you have what I call the "extreme drop outs for Jesus and the Coming Rapture", who believe in stepping away from the culture completely, and creating an alternate culture. They're the ones doing Homeschooling and the Quiverfull Movement and Purity Dances and Christian Courting (yes, they don't even let their kids date, or often even choose their own spouses), and this general retreat from anything to do with mainstream society. They looked at the last several decades, and how being actively involved in politics really went for U.S. Christianity, and decided that it hadn't worked.  In every area, things got worse from their point of view: more abortion, more drug legalization, gays get married, etc.  

They had started their war thinking they could create an america where Rap Music and "dungeons & dragons" were illegal, and ended up in an America where children are getting sex changes and full frontal nudity is available on cable 24/7; from their point of view, the Culture War has been a DISASTER. So from this, their conclusion was that things are probably "meant" to get worse (because, you know, the Rapture) and so what they should do as "Christians" is just drop out and wait for Jesus and live biblical lives apart from the modern Sodom that is the common culture. Those people are going to vote republican on election day, but they won't be going out to campaign; and if the Republican party became hard libertarian overnight they'd STILL vote Republican because at least the Republicans would leave them alone, while the Democrats will want to have social services steal their homeschooled children and force their teenage daughters to get pregnant and then have an abortion, or something.

The second camp are the "Emerging" Evangelicals, who looked at the whole situation and reached a different conclusion, but one no less troubling to the Political Theocrats. When they were teenagers they were all given "W.W.J.D." bracelets, and taught about loving Jesus and caring for people, and things like "love the sinner", and so on; all of these were campaigns pushed by the Religious Right. But the problem was, these crazy teens ACTUALLY BELIEVED THIS CRAP! Pat Robertson & co. never meant for these kids to actually start SERIOUSLY asking "what would Jesus do?", they were just making cheap political statements and using children as weapons like they always did; but here these damn Millennials with their naive idealism went and took it all seriously and -and I know, this is totally NUTS, right?-actually thought Christians should try to be like Jesus. Crazy, right??
But they really did. And when they got a little older they looked at their parents, and their parent's leaders, and the things they'd fought for, and while they didn't reject Jesus, they sure as heck rejected those leaders and those things their parents thought were so important. They couldn't understand, if you're supposed to ask what would Jesus do, why you'd spend all those years and millions of dollars in obsessing over fighting homosexuality, or pornography, or to force evolution in schools, or to fight to make big religious displays on city hall lawns or at high school football matches. Didn't Jesus say "go pray in a closet"? Jesus didn't spend his time stoning the prostitutes, he sat with them! He never actually said a single word about homosexuality.
And even if they don't necessarily disagree with all the fundamental moral issues that the Religious Right so cared about, they were still thinking that their parents' generation got their priorities totally messed up. They were so worried about Sin that they forgot about Love.
So while the parents of these evangelicals considered abortion and gay marriage to be the highest-priority issues for Christians in America, those two don't even fall on the radar for their kids, who consider poverty(!) to be the biggest priority.  Other high-end concerns include "inequality" and "the environment"!  These kids are still deeply christian, not doubting their faith at all, but completely disillusioned with the reactionary politics of the Religious Right. They're leaving the churches who push that brand of Sin-focused ideology in droves. They won't go out on campaign either, they're too busy volunteering at soup kitchens and aid missions.
So either way, with the new generation of Evangelicals, the Religious Right is DONE. Stick a pitchfork in it, its cooked.
And yes, young people are not all Libertarian, otherwise Colleges in America would look like bastions of intellectual freedom and not like a never-ending "1984"-cosplay. But I think that most Americans in general are fundamentally Libertarian on a PERSONAL level; they are Individualists. They believe in people having the right to do what they will, and dislike being told what to do by people who think they're better/more-educated/more-moral than them. There are of course people, young and old, who instead think they ARE those ones who 'know better', and they want to create a state where they get to impose their vision on the collective whether individuals in the collective like it or not. Those people, young or old, are the REAL ENEMY. And the American right-wing has been making fake-enemies out of people who it could have as allies for so long, that it threatens to cost the battle against that real enemy.


Currently Smoking: Moretti Rhodesian + Gawith's Squadron leader

(originally posted February 18, 2015)

No comments:

Post a Comment