By Nathan Barton
James A Haught, in CounterPunch writes about the “long, slow death of religion” in America. “By now, it’s clear that religion is fading in America, as it has done in most advanced Western democracies. Dozens of surveys find identical evidence: Fewer American adults, especially those under 30, attend church — or even belong to a church. They tell interviewers their religion is ‘none.’ They ignore faith.”
Our esteemed publisher wrote: “I suspect that the death of organized religion isn’t quite as immediate as these folks would like to think – great as I think that would be. And, of course, no mention is made of the difference between the 501(c) sort of “religion,” and those who have private convictions and traditions about who and what they worship. I suspect they didn’t know about folks like you and me, and would not have bothered to ask in any case.”
I very much agree with her assessment, and add some more to reinforce it. I know nothing at all about Mr. Haught except this article, and the fact that he is the editor of West Virginia’s largest newspaper and a frequent contributor to websites such as “Secularweb” and “Infidels.org” and other anti-christian (and apparently anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim) publications. He has several books attacking “belief” and “religion.” Although he is on the edge of Flyover Country (the frontier between the Eastern Seaboard elites and the major part of the US), and in a “Red State,” he is clearly part of the mainstream media and Tranzi community.
Which means that, like so many revealed in the recent election, he does not know, much less understand, many of those people (like those in Pennsylvania – a “Trump” state) who cling to God, guns, and such other outmoded, politically-incorrect ideas. Like religion, and especially the “Christian Religion.” Apparently, as with most Mainstream Media, he writes propaganda and calls it news and commentary.
Consider the polls which he cites to claim his thesis (organized religion is dying). Like all surveys and polls, the responses are very much dictated by the way the questions are worded – results are usually pre-ordained, and no Calvinism involved! Dozens of surveys all slanted the same way result in the same “evidence.” Not only that, but when it comes to phone or internet and especially “door-to-door” and “man-in-the-street” surveys and polls, as with gun ownership, people are also much less willing to participate if they have any firm belief AND mistrust media and government, to boot. Yet he claims to believe what the respondents are saying. Surely he knows better.
Nor does he recognize the difference between “faith” and “spirituality” – probably because his language indicates that he does not understand, and indeed, despises both. Furthermore, he seems to equate “faith” and “religion” and as Mama Liberty points out, is unable or unwilling to talk to people with which he does not share his own faith (though he would deny such) in humanity, humanism, skepticism, and apparently atheism (or at least agnosticism). And he does not understand the history of the Fifty States, nor of Western Civilization.
Organized religion (as in The Roman Catholic Church denomination, the various Protestant denominations, the various Jewish factions, Muslim congregations and so forth) is very hard to define; it is more than just “churches” (buildings) and “congregations” (the people) and various creeds and books and organizations. And it is manifested (as it has always been) NOT by attendance at organized assemblies in buildings with signs over the doors as much as by (as the New Testament writer James brother of Jesus put it) “to visit the orphans and the widows in their distress, and keep oneself unstained by the world.”
And despite the efforts of media and government and many parts of society, THAT sort of “pure and undefiled religion” is GROWING in the United States – often in direct inverse relation to the increasing coarseness, crudity, and tyrannical behavior of the elites of society and government. Indeed, I suspect that the reason that many of the people who practice THIS kind of religion no longer go to those pretty buildings with the filigree and crosses or crescent moons or menorah, with the celebrants in robes or $1200 suits, because many of them have (correctly) decided that these are allies or minions of the powers-that-be. Or indeed, the powers-that-be themselves. Religion has always been ALMOST as afflicted by scam artists and parasites as government or the media.
Indeed, that is why I do agree with Mama Liberty’s assessment, even about “organized religion” and wishing it would go away. Readers may know that I am a dedicated follower of Christ Jesus, and that I even teach and preach and lead singing and write and publish Bible studies and more. But the “church” (poor term: properly, His assembly or called-out people) was not and is not “organized religion.” Certainly not the way the Roman Catholic Church or Latter-day Saints or even Judaism or Islam is “organized” with hierarchies (whether they call them “clergy” or not) and worldwide or national organizations and bylaws (yes, and that 501c3 registration she mentions). It consisted of (and continues to be) relatively small, voluntary groups of people who worship – AND work and sometimes even live together or in close proximity – with each other as they understand His teachings and will. And work and act in opposition to human government (whether benign or tyrannical, peaceful or warlike) and the organized religion which is usually the ally and support and even instigator of government and such institutions as the mainstream media, academia, and mega-business.
And as I know from correspondence, even with people in Europe, that sort of “true and undefiled religion” is not dying, nor is the religion of true followers of Christ Jesus, or for that matter of Moses or Buddha or Confucius. And ESPECIALLY not the followers of Mohammed. I am not saying that is necessarily a good thing – and exactly the opposite when we talk about followers of Mohammed, especially those who are Islamist and advocates of Shari’a and the world conquest by the Ummah. And that, too, is a factor which Haught seems to ignore.
And he could see that for himself, if he’d just go and look, and not claim to rely on polls and surveys and the inbred, incestuous reading of other liberals’ ravings. If he would go to the poorer parts of Charleston (his city), to the ghetto which almost certainly exists there, and the hills and hollows of West Virginia, he would see that religion, for good and bad, organized and unorganized, false or “true and undefiled,” is alive and well in those places, and will be long after he is, like Rover, dead all over.
Mama’s Note: Just to be clear, I am an agnostic. After more than 50 years of active church membership and participation, I came to the conclusion that I didn’t believe any of it – and never really had. The Creator fills the earth and the heavens, and that’s good enough for me.