I sat for some time staring at my election ballot wondering, “are these really my only choices for America’s next president?” Neither Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump share my Christian worldview; both are narcissists and both have serious flaws in their character that make them distasteful.
So how did we get here? How did we arrive at this place where the two major party nominees are so ethically flawed? The answer, in short, is that Clinton and Trump reflect the character and moral decay of America as a whole. As more and more people have rejected Christianity in favor of a secular worldview, the expectations of our leaders to be men and women of integrity (at least as that word is defined by biblical Christianity) has fallen to the wayside. Pew Research has tracked this rise in what they call the “nones”.
Religious “nones” – a shorthand we use to refer to people who self-identify as atheists or agnostics, as well as those who say their religion is “nothing in particular” – now make up roughly 23% of the U.S. adult population. This is a stark increase from 2007, the last time a similar Pew Research study was conducted, when 16% of Americans were “nones.” (During this same time period, Christians have fallen from 78% to 71%.)
Overall, religiously unaffiliated people are more concentrated among young adults than other age groups – 35% of Millennials (those born 1981-1996) are “nones.” In addition, the unaffiliated as a whole are getting even younger. The median age of unaffiliated adults is now 36, down from 38 in 2007 and significantly younger than the overall median age of U.S. adults in 2014 (46).
But even among the 71% who call themselves Christian, only a small percentage actually participate in the life of the Church and are guided by Her teachings. As reported by Toni Ridgeway on ChurchLeaders.com.
According to the Hartford Institute of Religion Research, more than 40 percent of people say they go to church every week, but statistics show that fewer than 20 percent actually attend. More than 4,000 churches close their doors every year. Between 2010 and 2012, half of all churches in the U.S. did not add any new members. Each year 2.7 million church members fall into inactivity.
In recent decades, this shift away from Christianity has increased so that for every new believer, four others shift towards atheism or agnosticism. The NY Times reports the rise in the “nones” as follows,
Over all, the religiously unaffiliated number 56 million and represent 23 percent of adults, up from 36 million and 16 percent in 2007, Pew estimates. Nearly half of the growth was from atheists and agnostics, whose tallies nearly doubled to 7 percent of adults. The remainder of the unaffiliated, those who describe themselves as having “no particular religion,” were less likely to say that religion was an important part of their lives than eight years ago.
The radical drift toward pluralization and secularization has led not just to apathy toward people who hold to a vibrant Christan faith, but a marked increase in animus toward anyone who trusts in Jesus as their moral authority. Anyone who holds to a biblical moral standard is perceived by the culture as judgemental and hypocritical. The balkanization of society means our leaders are no longer expected to follow any one particular moral standard of conduct because there is no “one” moral standard. Elizabeth Drescher reports on the impact for the kinds of leaders America can expect,
Some of the effects of the decentering of religion in general and Christianity in particular are easily recognizable. In the political arena, for instance, religious background is less and less important. Indeed, Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City has highlighted his spiritual-but-not-religious self-identification as a credential for working effectively with diverse religious groups as well as those not affiliated with institutional religions. Where being unreligious was once a political liability, in some political races being too religious can now be problematic. Similar shifts in the role of religion in culture have been playing out for decades in education, health care and popular media. But more subtle transitions are also under way, those associated with how religious idioms—symbols, rituals, artifacts, doctrines, holy figures, turns of phrase and, by no means least, sacred stories—circulate in the wider culture. It is here that what might be called the none-ing of the United States will likely have its most pervasive and enduring effects on ways of perceiving, interpreting and expressing our experiences of reality, which have for centuries been shaped extensively by Christian ideas and practices. The wellspring of Christian idioms is, of course, Scripture; and we can fairly wonder if and how the growing population of nones might continue to engage Scripture and how this might change Scripture itself.
Some see the decline in Christain influence as a good thing for America. One such person is Mary Elizabeth Williams, a self-described Roman Catholic who writes the following,
“The percentage of adults (ages 18 and older) who describe themselves as Christians has dropped by nearly eight percentage points in just seven years.” And as a practicing Catholic raising her children Catholic, I see this as cause for cheering.
So as I stare at my ballot and consider my vote for president, I realize that I am looking at two fundamentally flawed candidates; driven by the new religion of political ideology standing atop the corpse of Christian ethics. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump reflect the triumph of the new secular America. In the “new America” driven by the “nones”, Clinton and Trump are the shining examples of the new normal for our pluralistic society. Whoever wins this election, the moral agnosticism of the “nones” will be the guiding principle. The angry atheists have longed for the day when the Christian influence would decline, and election day 2016 reflects the future of our secular America.
There are meaningful warnings which history gives a threatened or perishing society. Such are, for instance, the decadence of art, or a lack of great statesmen. There are open and evident warnings, too. The center of your democracy and of your culture is left without electric power for a few hours only, and all of a sudden crowds of American citizens start looting and creating havoc. The smooth surface film must be very thin, then, the social system quite unstable and unhealthy.
Who should Christians vote for? I don’t know. We will each make our own decision based on what we see as the greatest priority for the United States of America. But know this, whoever wins the US Presidency in 2016, their nomination and election are the fruit of secularism, not Christianity.
LIke so many others living in on the West Coast, I woke this morning to the devastating news that the lives of 50 people were snuffed out in Orlando Florida by the evil actions of an Islamic inspired terrorist. A man who pledged allegiance to ISIS, took up arms, walked into a nightclub, and shot as many people as he could before the police could stop him.
Sadly, many will ignore the source of evil and will instead lay blame on the instrument of that evil. There is a philosophy, a worldview, a theology that drove this man to kill, yet some would rather focus on his methodology and weaponry.
As politicians turn evil onto opportunity to advance personal agenda (often in ignorance of the evil itself), there is a line from the Hobbit that has meaning.
“There is something at work beyond the evil of Smaug. Something far more powerful. We could remain blind to it but it will not be ignoring us, that I can promise you.” — Gandalf
We can pass laws to restrict guns, but there is something more powerful at work that inspires men and women to kill. The Orlando terrorist used a gun, but confessed his solidarity with the Boston Marathon terrorists who made bombs from pressure cookers. The Orlando terrorist used a gun, but aligned himself with a group who routinely turns people into human bombs with dynamite strapped to their bodies.
In honor of Black History Month, I wanted to feature some of the Christian men and women who had a major influence on American history.
In the early day of Reconstruction after the Civi War, the Radical Republicans tried to ensure civil rights were extended to the estimated 2.3 million freed slaves. Christian missionaries, teachers, and business owners all came to help rebuild and bring equality to the newly freed blacks.
When the Radical Republicans ruled, blacks were given unprecedented power and influence. One of those great men was a Christian pastor Hiram Revels, the first black member of the US Senate. Revels believed that his appointment to fill the empty MS seat would “be a weakening blow against color line prejudice.” The Democratic minority hoped that a black Senator would “seriously damage the Republican Party.” Following is a short biography of Revels.
Hiram Revels (R) MS Senator: February 23, 1870 – March 3, 1871
Revels, Hiram Rhoades (1822–1901). African-American Methodist minister, politician and educator. Born of free parentage in North Carolina, Revels went to Quaker institutions in Indiana and Ohio and to Knox College in Illinois. In 1845 he entered the ministry of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME), serving churches in the Midwest and border states. A local church dispute in St. Louis resulted in his shift to an African-American Presbyterian congregation in Baltimore in 1858. During the Civil War, he recruited for African-American regiments, served as a chaplain, helped set up Freedmen’s Bureau schools in Mississippi and rejoined the AME Church. In 1868 he changed his clerical status to the Methodist Episcopal Church (ME), which had returned South for missions among the freedpeople. During Reconstruction, Revels advanced from local political roles in Mississippi to the state Senate until he became the first of his race to serve in the U.S. Senate (January 1870 to March 1871). Elected president of Alcorn University, he spent the remainder of his career in education, as a contributor to the church press and as a pastor and presiding elder. A representative to the General Conference of the ME Church in 1876, he fought unsuccessfully against the policy to permit a color line in the denomination.
Daniel G. Reid et al., Dictionary of Christianity in America (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990).
Revels served and fought for the rights of blacks at a time of great civil unrest. The white and black people who came from the North to help ensure freedom for the black southerners were called “Carpetbaggers” by the white Democrats who wanted blacks to remain enslaved and oppressed. White Southerners who supported equality were labeled Scalawags by these same Democrats who sought to restore white supremacy. As noted in this PBS article,
Andrew Johnson (D) 17th US President: April 15, 1865 – March 4, 1869
After Lincoln’s assassination in April of 1865, President Andrew Johnson alienated Congress with his Reconstruction policy. He supported white supremacy in the South and favored pro-Union Southern political leaders who had aided the Confederacy once war had been declared.
Southerners, with Johnson’s support, attempted to restore slavery in substance if not in name. In 1866, Congress and President Johnson battled for control of Reconstruction. The Congress won. Northern voters gave a smashing victory — more than two-thirds of the seats in Congress — to the Radical Republicans in the 1866 congressional election, enabling Congress to control Reconstruction and override any vetoes that Johnson might impose. Congress passed the Reconstruction Acts of 1867 that divided the Confederate states (except for Tennessee, which had been re-admitted to the Union) into five military districts. Each state was required to accept the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution, which granted freedom and political rights of blacks.
Eventually, the white supremacists employed methods such as Redistricting to ensure Democrat power, terror groups like the Klu Klux Klan, Rifleman and Red Shirts used force to keep white Democrats in power and suppress both the black and white voices seeking equality. Eventually, Reconstruction ended, and the Jim Crow Era took shape.
1950 Segregated Water Fountain under Democratic Jim Crow Laws (1876-1965).
Most whites rallied around the Democratic Party as the party of white supremacy. Between 1868 and 1871, terrorist organizations, especially the Ku Klux Klan, murdered blacks and whites who tried to exercise their right to vote or receive an education. The Klan, working with Democrats in several states, used fraud and violence to help whites regain control of their state governments. By the early 1870s, most Southern states had been “redeemed” — as many white Southerners called it — from Republican rule. By the time the last federal troops had been withdrawn in 1877, Reconstruction was all but over and the Democratic Party controlled the destiny of the South.
Despite the setbacks of the Democratic-led Jim Crow era, the legacy of the great Christian leaders like Hiram Revels who partnered with whites who shared his ideals should inspire all of us today who seek to insure the God-given rights of all peoples.
Jesus, the undocumented worker, returned home to Mexico from living in America. His family said to him, “Jesus, why have you returned home from America?”
“it is difficult to understand” he said, “so let me tell you a story.
The kingdom of America may be compared to a Government who wished to settle accounts with a Mortgage Lender. When the Government had begun to settle accounts, one Mortgage Lender ,which owed 700 Billion dollars, was brought to account. But since the Mortgage Lender did not have the means to pay his bad debts, the Government simply printed up more money and gave it to the Mortgage Lender so he would not be ruined.
Later, that same Mortgage Lender, now bailed out from his 700 Billion in bad debts, went out and found a homeowner who owed hundreds of thousands of dollars. The Mortgage Lender seized the homeowner and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ So the homeowner fell to the ground and began to plead with the Mortgage Lender, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’ But the Mortgage Lender wanted his money and he took the homeowner’s property and forced him into bankruptcy.
So when his fellow homeowners saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their Government all that had happened.
Then summoning the Mortgage Lender, the Government said to him, ‘You wicked Mortgage Lender, I gave you 700 Billion to pay all your bad debt, should you not also have had mercy on the homeowners, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’
And the Mortgage Lender contributed many thousands of dollars into the coffers of the Government and contributed to the campaign funds of the many politicians and the Government was happy.
The homeowners were grieved, but still they elected the same leaders again and again…”
The news is ablaze with the rising firestorm of student protests across the country who, after seeing the success of students at the University of Missouri force the resignation of both the President and Chancellor, hope to share in that success by forcing “change” at their schools too. The latest news is reported by Fox in their article titled, “Chaos on campus: Students protest, call for heads to roll at schools around country.”
As many as 20 other campuses around the country were planning marches Thursday, including St. John’s, Syracuse and Columbia universities in New York, Harvard and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Disaffected students at Loyola University in Chicago and the University of Michigan were preparing a list of demands and threatening action, according to The Seattle Times. Black alumni at Georgia Tech were crafting a letter to that university’s president, urging a continued commitment to diversity.
A popular professor at Missouri said he resigned Wednesday after students lashed out at him for pledging to give a scheduled exam amid spiraling protests, but the university said Thursday it rejected his resignation. Students at Ithaca College in New York, Yale University and Vanderbilt University in Tennessee were calling to ax administrators over responses to perceived incidents of racism, and even more campuses were pledging solidarity with the burgeoning social justice movement.
As an outside observer, I can’t help but think these protests are a result of what these very same Universities have taught their students for decades. The two University of Missouri Professors inciting violence against Tim Tai and another reporter in this video provides is just one example of how the Universities have sowed the seed of violent protest. Listen as Professor Melissa Click called in “the muscle” to physically attack a reporter.
Despite having resigned from leadership, the former President of U of M should be proud of his success in teaching students to look for the Microaggressions that exposed his hidden racism.
Prof. Carol M. Swain should take joy in being called an insensitive racist by her students who demand she take sensitivity training. Sure, the charges are hurtful to her ego as she writes on her FB page.
Only an idiot would think a 61-year-old black woman who has spent much of her life in academia would benefit from sensitivity training.
…but, after the sting of the accusation goes away, I am sure Dr. Swain will take joy in knowing her students have been trained well and these attacks are really the fruit of her awesome teaching.
So while these student protests at our Universities may seem chaotic, they are really a success story of the quality education they provide. The fact that these same Presidents, Provosts, and Professors are losing their jobs, is just a hard reality of their ultimate success.
Congratulations Prof. Dale Brigham, your resignation proves you are a successful University President!
I am not a fan of what American politics has become. Both our politicians and our media lack integrity.
While there are some good people in politics, I am disgusted at the corruption in both the Republican & Democrat establishments.
The media has stopped reporting news, works to create it to fit their agenda and stifle voices of dissent. I don’t trust them to be honest.
The latest affirmation of how arrogant our media has become was demonstrated in last night’s so-called “debate” hosted by the extreme left “news” organization called CNBC. The CNBC moderators lacked professionalism, exuded arrogance, and revealed their obvious partisan disdain for the Republican candidates. After a series of foolish questions that failed to advance any meaningful debate, Sen. Ted Cruz responded with both truth and clarity.
CNBC knows this content is embarrassing and that is why they tried to block me from putting it on YouTube. I filed a dispute under Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Law which allows citizens to reproduce, distribute or exhibit portions of copyrighted motion pictures or televised programming under certain circumstances without authorization of the copyright holder, but CNBC refused my claim in their effort to silence my free speech.
I applaud Ted Cruz for his words. Watching the CNBC “moderators” ask these juvenile questions was embarrassing.
There are candidates on this stage I would never vote for, but if there are any worth my vote I need to know where they stand on key issues. But even to the ones I dislike, this is not how any candidate should be treated regardless of party affiliation. These debates are meant for people to watch and get informed about the positions of each candidate… not a vehicle for liberal reporters to attack.
We, the American people, should demand better.
I still plan to vote my conscience and make an informed decision in this next Presidential election in support of our Constitutional Republic, but I have little faith in the system as it exists today.