The Decline and Fall of Christian America

This morning I read an incredible article in the latest issue of Newsweek by John Meacham entitled The Decline and Fall of Christian America. Click Here to read the entire article. In it, he outlines the decreasing number of Americans who claim religious affiliation and namely Christianity. While, two thirds of Americans still claim to be "born again" (a number the cynic in me considers dubious), we have definitely been witness to an increasingly secular culture in the past decade. Christianity isn't disappearing but its political influence is. Meacham proposes that "the Christian God isn't dead. But he's less of a force in U.S. politics and culture than at any other time in recent memory." Now we know that God has as much influence on politics as he wants. Contrary to what a lot of Christians think, if God had wanted John McCain or Mike Huckabee to win, he would have made it so. He's ALL POWERFUL! (This also means if he wanted any or all countries to have Christian governments, they would). But what Meacham means is that the influence of those who follow God is less in politics than any other time. To me, this may not be such a bad thing.

I have always been very suspicious of those who focus their religious fervor toward legislating their beliefs. You see, I believe that its not our job to remove all temptation and to force people into obedience. True belief comes from a change of heart not a change of circumstances. I actually read about this last night in a completely unrelated booklet by Mark Driscol called Porn Again Christian about resisting the temptation of sexual sins. When speaking of whether or not to discontinue you Internet, cable TV, etc., he says,
the problem is in your heart and not in your Internet provider. Paul is clear in Colos­sians 2:20–23 that legalistic man-​made rules may sound helpful but in the end are worthless in restrain­ing sin because they only address outward behaviors while neglecting inward causes. It may be wise for some men to not have cable television or an unfiltered Internet provider, but unless their heart changes, they will simply rearrange the flesh and stop one sin to be­gin another, such as being proud of their morality once they have stopped looking at porno. Whatever you do, begin with your heart.

I believe the same thing applies to making religious principles into law. We've not addressed the real problem. The real problem is that we live among people who have no clue what a relationship with Jesus looks like and so they live in perpetual sin. Trying to go the political route is LAZY. People who do this and similar things are too afraid to have a real conversation about Jesus Christ with a person, so they try to force it on them through legislation. This is similar to people who hand you a tract and walk away. Where does the tract go? In the trash. Being a Christ-follower is about loving people enough to have face to face conversations about how Jesus changed your life, not about trying to "rebuild" a "Christian Nation" that in all honesty never existed in the first place.

My hope is that eventually all of this change in our political and cultural landscape will lead to Christians getting back to the basics. Love God, Love others. Jesus repeatedly refused to use the systems of this world to spread the Good News, but many believers devote their lives to it. If Christian means little Christ, what the heck are they thinking?

In all honesty, the "Christian Right Political Activists" make my job harder. They may have great intentions but they are turning more people off to the message of Jesus than the churches with their priorities straight can turn to Jesus. They are unknowingly stifling the efforts of those who wish to see those around them have a real relationship with Jesus Christ.

I believe that the less political Christianity becomes, the more people will turn to Jesus. Just look at what happened when religious dissenters left the oppressive European monarchies that forced religion on their people. Evangelical Christianity flourished where it was separated from the state. We will never be able to separate our Christian beliefs from our politics because true faith in Christ reaches into every aspect of our lives, but we should fight to keep it separate from state because state instituted religion is a two way street and if it becomes a one way street it goes the way of the government (See China). What do you think?