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Monday, August 29, 2016

Change or Die

The University of Vermont Women's Basketball team has cancelled their contest with North Carolina. Why? Well, because of HB2. What's that, you say? Of course, it's the North Carolina law that requires people to use the public restroom of the sex on their birth certificates. And that does not engender feeling "safe, respected, and valued." Never mind that it does not affect the "LGB" of LGBT despite all the popular hype to the contrary. Never mind that North Carolina allows so-called transgenders to change their birth certificate to match their "new gender". Never mind that it will have zero affect on the Vermont women's basketball team. It's a matter of principle. What principle? The principle that you must conform or die. The principle that you must embrace all of the talking points of this particular group or suffer the consequences. Oh, and suffer you will. So, you have principles, too? Well, fine. We'll just see if they stand up to the pain you'll endure for holding them.

It's not just North Carolina. We are, Salon Magazine tells us, now in "post-Christian America". That's right. Say goodbye to "Christian" America and hello to ... not. That old "Judeo-Christian ethic" that has driven the United States since before its inception is gone. We are now in the rise of the irreligious. (Note to those wondering. "Irreligious" can mean either indifferent or hostile to religion. I would suggest we're seeing more of the latter than the former.)

Matthew Sheffield, the author of the Salon piece, says, "While the process of secularization has been slower-moving in the U.S. compared to Europe, it is now proceeding rapidly." He warns that, since most of the "Nones" (as they're now being called) are Democrats, we're looking at the demise of the Republican party. (Why is it not a red flag to people who call themselves "Christian" and hang with the Democrats that "Democrat" is most closely tied with "irreligious"?) If the GOP is going to survive, they're going to have to dump their religious convictions.

But ... since most people without religious convictions are also Democrats, won't we be simply producing a Demopublican party? If we strip the Republican party of anything "Christian", what would be their distinctive? We're already seeing the outcome of stripping the nation of Christianity, and it isn't good. How would it work if we stripped politics of all Christian values? And (a question that has nagged at me for some time, to be honest) if we eliminate "Christian" from politics, how will we not end up with the original problem of "taxation without representation" (or anything else government-related without representation)?

American Christians, I don't think it can be denied that we are in the "last generation", that we're looking at an end of an era. There was "Christian America" and it is no more. I need to point out, however, that I don't say that in sadness. I say it with anticipation. Too long have we lived in a society where "Christian" is "fine" and "Aren't we all Christians?" We're looking at a time when "American" no longer means "Christian" in most people's eyes. And that's a good thing. We're looking at the end of easy-believeism. We're looking at a purging, a burning off of the dross. Around the turn of the century the polls said that some 75% of Americans were Christians, but that only 15% went to church and only 5% said their beliefs actually made a difference in how they lived. We're looking, then, at a scraping off of 95% of America to leave the few who actually believe. Oh, sure, it won't be easy. It won't be pleasant. It won't be comfortable. Still, I think it will be good. Good for America to see genuine Christianity instead of the milksop they're accustomed to. Good for Christians to figure out if they really believe or are numbered among those on the wide road. Today I hear people saying, "I don't know if I'm really a Christian." If this goes the way it looks like it's going, there will come a day when it won't be such a hard question for Christians living in a new, secularized, Christian-hostile world. It will cost you (Luke 14:26-35). That's not a bad thing.

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