A very good piece from the Associated Press takes up the marginalization of evangelicals.
For decades, they say, they have been steadily pushed to the sidelines of American life and have come under attack for their most deeply held beliefs, born of their reading of Scripture and their religious mandate to evangelize. The 1960s ban on prayer in public schools is still a fresh wound. Every legal challenge to a public Nativity scene or Ten Commandments display is another marginalization. They’ve been “steamrolled,” they say, and “misunderstood.”
No. Evangelicals have not been steamrolled; they’ve been forced off everybody else’s lawn. Misunderstood? Sorry, but not by a longshot; we understand evangelicals just fine, and have rejected the intellectual dishonesty, the compulsory degradations, the underhanded manipulations, and the whiny self-absorption.
Evangelicals can still be evangelicals; they just can’t demand that everybody else live according to their Bronze Age superstitions.
Perhaps the most telling story in the account is this:
Christians who have been only nominally tied to a conservative church are steadily dropping out altogether. When [Russell] Moore was growing up in Mississippi, any parent whose children weren’t baptized by age 12 or 13 would face widespread disapproval, he said. Those times have passed.
“People don’t have to be culturally identified with evangelical Christianity in order to be seen as good people, good neighbors or good Americans,” Moore said.
The churches cultivated that pressure, of course, the insane idea that people who don’t belong to their club are even more no damn good than everybody else. That is what has passed — and good riddance.
It’s worse than that, really. Since 9/11, the idea that faith is a virtue has been under attack, with growing recognition that unreasoning belief, belief without evidence, or belief in the face of contrary evidence, is a kind of character failure. If you can believe without evidence that Jesus died to save you from eternity as trash in a dumpster fire, then you can believe without evidence that dying in battle against infidels will result in immediate transit to Paradise and the solace of 72 restless virgins, and you can believe without evidence that cows are inhabited by gods even as your children starve to death.
Anything goes when you are guided by faith. Only the methods of science and engineering offer a defense against the lunacies of faith.