WHY RELIGION IS LOSING
August 26, 2002
She was an ordinary woman who found herself center stage of a controversy large on the nation’s religious radar. The search for a clerical job drove her to apply with the State of California, in early March of 2001. Unexpectedly, the interviewing process involved a psychological assessment that included questions about her religious views. When pressed about her belief in God, heaven, hell and life after death, she was disqualified. The reason? “She appeared unstable,” wrote the examiner. The anguish of her rejection is duplicated hundreds of times every day in situations that never see the light of day. She and a growing number complain that their religious beliefs have caused doors to close, the loss of acquaintances, the denial of a promotion, or a cutting disdain hurled by a condemning, cross-eyed culture.
Especially in high circles, religion has come to denote mental imbalance. Even when a reporter asked then candidate George Bush, “Who was the most influential person you ever met,” Bush’s reply, “Jesus Christ,” led to ugly whispers that continue today. The intelligencia considered Attorney General, John Ashcroft, unqualified to be the nation’s top cop because he believed that “God existed in actuality.” The American political environment has grown ripe with condemnation of religious beliefs of any kind. They have gone so far as to connect unstable Islamics with American fundamentalists. The pope, who is a strong moralist, is laughed at in cartoon depictions of a drunken, mad man. TV sitcoms poke fun at Christians while Touched By An Angle, targeting America’s large Christian population, is viewed as entertainment for religious extremists. This in a country whose cornerstone used to hold religion as the highest of the inalienable rights. Religion, and those who live by its precepts have nearly lost the scrimmage between a new progressive enlightenment, where relativism and self-fulfillment is dominant and that old time religion that believes in a literal interpretation of scripture. But there are reasons for this reversal.
An empty, mostly counterfeit, spirituality masquerades as today’s religion. Instead of a vibrant quest to make contact with a real, ever-present Spirit, which the scripture only alludes to, today’s religion is content with reading accounts of God’s relationship with ancient others. They unknowingly imply that Peter’s relationship with God is impossible today. The fixation to ancient writings mirror a form of disbelief, as if God is dead when in reality He is involved in every aspect of life. The left has seen the powerlessness of the repetition of Bible verses, used as the basis for Christianity. Authentic spirituality radiates from inside individual hearts, not collective tongues or cathedrals. Our current condition lays bear a system busy with ever-larger church-building projects, “what’s best for my denomination” politics and perpetual conventioning. On Sunday mornings too many childless gatherings rock to a beat that rivals Madonna’s band. Confused about where to look for real answers, followers satisfy themselves with spiritual placebos and politicized sermons. Self-appointed shepherds don't recognize the truth, even when spoken from the mouths of their own, often troubled, children. But the most telling aspect of religion's failure to guard the flock isn't its ineffectiveness in the spiritual, social or political realms, but its symbiotic struggle with the Left.
I am certainly no defender of the confused, tyrannical Left. But who are the Left but often the sons and daughters, nieces, nephews, cousins, spouses and uncles of the Right. The pseudo religious would have us believe the Left landed in Washington, in space ships, from another planet. They did not. They grew up in the TV rooms; the churches, synagogues and under the feet of the religious right. Something went terribly wrong when we betrayed our sacred responsibility and trusted strangers — inept teachers (some of them) to develop our children's souls. Scapegoated into being the cause of the nation’s evils, the Left hates the hypocrisy the Right won't admit to. To believe our current problems are political, solved by another law or that more of the same Sunday morning emotion-fest is but more denial and will do only one sure thing, lead us further and faster in the wrong direction.
While most people do not see it the religious establishment’s worst showing was in the beginning of the effort to remove God from the pledges. The pledge battle came after the terrible Ten Commandment losses. It was a waste of time and energy to fight to post the Ten Commandments on the walls of public places. The real battle had already been lost. We'd failed to post the Ten Commandments in our homes and in our hearts. The spirit of the Ten Commandments is nowhere to be found in America.
If reports are accurate, fewer than 36% of today's primary and secondary students are able to read the Ten Commandments. Like its sister issue, school prayer, these struggles represent pitiful efforts to lock an empty barn door. Such issues are diversionary, as the Left well knows, in their attempts to nail to the walls of the public square what is no longer vibrant in our minds, our hearts or our homes, all the places that give life to the beautiful laws of God. While Christendom is busy fighting a ghost which has little to do with our problems, the Left is unopposed in the reshaping of our original intent, as a nation. Liberties are lost, foreigners invade every boarder, national policy is bought and sold, and a universal blindness stumbles over the real, unseen God while environmentalists have put nature in charge.
The centuries old substitutes of words, verses and chapters, platitudes, plaques, songs and stained glass windows will never suffice. No surface modifications will work, not even if every one of the nation’s 46 million students prayed before every class. The only change to come from symbolic, meaningless gestures will be worse, turning into much worse. A silent, persistent truth fills America's air space. It says, ‘absent a genuine connection to Him who gave rise to America, all is futile.’ In their own, sometimes violent language, our children have already said this in a dialect we pretend not to understand.
Our generation have been given to such deep lies that all our efforts now are aimed at restructuring all of life to fit our illusions and rid us of a guilt coming from a place we have declared doesn't exist. This prevents us from calling out to the God we need more every day. The thing that saves us is that He does actually exist and believes in us.
© 2002 Emanuel McLittle - All Rights Reserved
Emanuel McLittle has a Masters Degree and two decades of experience in Counseling Psychology. His keen insight, developed over 24 years, makes him qualified to deliver honest, unambiguous guidance. [email protected]