As Christianity Declines, We Must Confront The Threat Of Pagan America

In 2010, sociologist James Davison Hunter, famous for, among other things, popularizing the term “culture war” provocatively argued in To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World that conservative Christian attempts to restore Christian values on American society were misguided, if not harmful.

Such efforts to “redeem America,” argued Hunter, not only hadn’t worked but would never work, both because they represented an erroneous grasp of how cultures change, and because they distracted the faithful from their real task as Christians. Instead, Christians should pursue what Hunter termed “faithful presence,” by focusing on living authentically Christian lives in our families, communities, and spheres of influence, rather than programmatic political or cultural solutions.

Almost 15 years removed from Hunter’s book, things look quite a bit gloomier for Christianity in America. Over that period, the number of religiously unaffiliated adults has almost doubled to 28 percent; weekly church attendance rates have dropped from about 40 percent to 30 percent; and 80 percent of American adults believe religion’s influence on public life is declining. De-Christianizing trends are particularly salient among younger generations, who are less likely than older Americans to believe the government should protect religious liberty. Almost half of Gen Z-ers think the First Amendment should not protect hate speech (which, according to many Americans, includes religious criticism of LGBT identities and behaviors).

We inhabit an America less friendly to Christianity than was the case halfway through Obama’s first term as president. Various political, cultural, and demographic trends suggest that antipathy will only grow in the years to come. In Pagan America: The Decline of Christianity and the Dark Age to Come, Federalist Senior Editor John Daniel Davidson offers an even more pessimistic perspective: We’re already in a post-Christian society that is paganizing (or re-paganizing, to take the long historical view) in ways that will make life increasingly difficult and dangerous for American Christians.

Continue reading at The Federalist