Political loyalties have replaced religious belief!

Historian Jon Meacham: “To some extent what’s happening is as particularly mainline Protestantism begins to fade from the center of the country, to some extent political strife and political loyalties have replaced religious belief and religious practice.”

An example:

Ms Woodhead believes that relatively keen Anglicans—those who attend church at least once a month—are less committed to Brexit than people whose attachment to the church is looser

Obviously that is in the UK, but perhaps it’s a worldwide phenomenon.

Jon continues:

There is a natural human impulse to seek meaning and order and community. And that more often than not at the moment, people are seeking meaning order and community in political tribalism as opposed to traditional religious communities and affiliations.

Traditional religion is demonstrably on the way out. What is, if anything, going to replace it?

25 Replies to “Political loyalties have replaced religious belief!”

  1. OMagain
    Ignored
    says:

    I can’t believe WP let’s you publish without a title! It’d be nice if it evolved to Political loyalties have replaced religious belief or similar.

  2. Tom English Tom English
    Ignored
    says:

    In 2012, I wrote on Facebook, “Republicanity has trumped Christianity.” Those are literally the words I used. I was so distressed by what I saw happening to family and college friends (I earned my first two degrees at a Southern Baptist school) that I soon stopped using Facebook. But I had no idea that the situation was deteriorating so fast that trump would be spelled with a capital T in 2016. I’m only now getting over the shock.

    Here in the U.S., families are presently gathering to celebrate Thanksgiving Day. It’s a very difficult time for many of us. I’m about to head to the home of my brother, the Deacon John Mark. I actually am thankful for something, and that is his sons. They’re fine men, and sincere in their Christianity. I gather from polls that Generation X has its collective head on straighter than my generation (Generation Thefts, I call it) does. However, Generation X is also not politically active. Hopefully something will light a fire under them — perhaps another three or four disastrous burns in California will do the trick.

  3. Kantian Naturalist Kantian Naturalist
    Ignored
    says:

    I think there’s something to this. Just in my own personal experience, I have found that Conservative Jews with a strong emotional attachment to Judaism are sometimes more receptive to criticisms of Israel than many Reform Jews are, who have weaker emotional attachment to Jewish traditions and teaching and a correspondingly stronger attachment to Israel.

    But that’s just anecdote — I have no idea what the general patterns are.

    Also relevant: In 1992 James Davidson Hunter published Culture Wars . Hunter attracted a lot of attention for noticing a political re-alignment where traditional Catholics, Protestants, and Jews were finding common ground in opposition to secularism, and progressive Catholics, Protestants, and Jews were also finding common ground. So the traditional/progressive divide within religious traditions was becoming more salient than differences between religions.

  4. Flint
    Ignored
    says:

    My reading here is that religious beliefs are increasingly a function of political loyalties, rather than vice versa. I see the Devoutly Religious here in Alabama acting in fairly transactional terms — that is, they are willing to overlook or outright ignore the most flagrant violations of what they CLAIM to be the core tenets of their beliefs, in exchange for policies (or court decisions) having the target effect of constraining the behaviors of other people in ways they find more comfortable.

    In other words, religious faith is less inner-directed. The goal isn’t so much to make oneself more worthy of eternal reward, as to use the powers of the State to coerce the public generally to act in ways that would reflect this inner faith, without the faith itself being required.

    But I see this as just another of the many ramifications of an increasingly heterogeneous population. When everyone who matters economically, legally, politically, and administratively shares largely common values, language, and skin color, there is no particular perceived need to use the State to MAKE people share these things. They already do (except in the closet, in the back of the bus, or on the other side of the tracks, and who cares about them). When peoples’ daily lives make close contact unavoidable with those of a different faith, language, and color the discomfort level approaches intolerable.

    Traditional religious faith is increasingly bound to traditional habits, values, and lifestyles. As we all witness with creationists, religious convictions are indelible, forcing Believers into denial of what their faith cannot allow. These people (really, the Old Guard in values if not necessarily age) constitute a faction sufficiently large to represent a political base, for the time being. But by and large, the Old Guard is dying off and not being replaced. Soon enough (a generation or so) the incoming cohort will erode these traditions. Already the “no preference” religious category is fastest growing, and the devil’s bargain between the political conservatives and the religious faithful grows less relevant.

  5. Allan Miller
    Ignored
    says:

    Certainly it seems to me (as a Remainer) that Brexiters exhibit a kind of religious zeal (as is the way of such things, they probably think the same in reverse). There is no argument that can shake their conviction that, having kicked the table, the pieces will fall just so. It’s regularly lampooned – ‘sunlit uplands’, ‘unicorns’. The worst of them – the ideologues, frequently millionaires insulated against the consequences or people at the bottom with nothing much to lose – don’t really care either way, far Right and far Left each convinced they can build their own particular brand of Utopia from the wreckage, as we continue to battle over the steering wheel.

  6. Alan Fox Alan Fox
    Ignored
    says:

    Tom English: I’m only now getting over the shock.

    I’m still in denial!

  7. Alan Fox Alan Fox
    Ignored
    says:

    Tom English: Hopefully something will light a fire under them — perhaps another three or four disastrous burns in California will do the trick.

    One wonders how much more examples of disturbed, more energetic weather episodes we need before people in positions of responsibility start to act.

  8. Alan Fox Alan Fox
    Ignored
    says:

    Flint: I see the Devoutly Religious here in Alabama acting in fairly transactional terms — that is, they are willing to overlook or outright ignore the most flagrant violations of what they CLAIM to be the core tenets of their beliefs, in exchange for policies (or court decisions) having the target effect of constraining the behaviors of other people in ways they find more comfortable.

    That is the most shocking thing about the unholy alliance between Trump and the religious right – they made a deal.

  9. Alan Fox Alan Fox
    Ignored
    says:

    Allan Miller: The worst of them…

    We should start a list:
    Boris Johnson
    Nigel Farrage
    Aaron Banks
    Steve Bannon

    And the web of intrigue, Cambridge Analytica, Russian trolls, Julian Assange…

    ETA useful idiots:
    James Comey

  10. Allan Miller
    Ignored
    says:

    Alan Fox,

    It’s the footsoldiers as well. The tabloid press has done an excellent job of persuading the populace that the EU is positively evil, and nothing will shake that. It’s both the ‘4th Reich’ and the ‘EUSSR’, according to the particular bete noire one favours. I find myself arguing with people both to the Right and the Left that take much the same view, and feel no discomfort in aligning themselves, on this issue, with their polar opposites. Corbyn and McDonnell think they can renationalise the railways once we’re ‘free’; Rees-Mogg that we can implement some idealistic international free trade (forgetting that we are actually in a free trade agreement right now, thanks to the Single Market and Customs Union). And both of those notions (which require the consent of a significant fraction of the electorate to stand a chance) are worth three years of political paralysis, and massive uncertainty for business and individuals.

    It is a kind of collective madness. The greatest insanity of all is that our politicians on all sides feel we have no choice but to implement something vaguely Brexit-y due to an excess of just 700,000 in a poll of 34 million taken somewhat blind, on a simplistic binary question, 2 and a half years ago, when a substantial number of voters were voting on total fictions regarding what the EU is and what futures are available outside it.

    I could go on, and frequently do! 🙂

  11. Alan Fox Alan Fox
    Ignored
    says:

    Allan Miller: I could go on, and frequently do!

    Sorry, I set you off! 😉

  12. Acartia Acartia
    Ignored
    says:

    Tom English,
    Tom, it is too bad that you left FB. There are several memes circulating about thanksgiving. The day when we celebrate a time when American citizens welcomed and fed undocumented aliens.

  13. Tom English Tom English
    Ignored
    says:

    Flint:
    My reading here is that religious beliefs are increasingly a function of political loyalties, rather than vice versa. I see the Devoutly Religious here in Alabama acting in fairly transactional terms — that is, they are willing to overlook or outright ignore the most flagrant violations of what they CLAIM to be the core tenets of their beliefs, in exchange for policies (or court decisions) having the target effect of constraining the behaviors of other people in ways they find more comfortable.

    In other words, religious faith is less inner-directed. The goal isn’t so much to make oneself more worthy of eternal reward, as to use the powers of the State to coerce the public generally to act in ways that would reflect this inner faith, without the faith itself being required.

    But I see this as just another of the many ramifications of an increasingly heterogeneous population. When everyone who matters economically, legally, politically, and administratively shares largely common values, language, and skin color, there is no particular perceived need to use the State to MAKE people share these things. They already do (except in the closet, in the back of the bus, or on the other side of the tracks, and who cares about them). When peoples’ daily lives make close contact unavoidable with those of a different faith, language, and color the discomfort level approaches intolerable.

    Traditional religious faith is increasingly bound to traditional habits, values, and lifestyles. As we all witness with creationists, religious convictions are indelible, forcing Believers into denial of what their faith cannot allow. These people (really, the Old Guard in values if not necessarily age) constitute a faction sufficiently large to represent a political base, for the time being. But by and large, the Old Guard is dying off and not being replaced. Soon enough (a generation or so) the incoming cohort will erode these traditions. Already the “no preference” religious category is fastest growing, and the devil’s bargain between the political conservatives and the religious faithful grows less relevant.

    Wow, Flint! I’m with you on every single word. I’ve tried to articulate, at some point or another, everything you’ve said, except in the next-to-last paragraph. And there my response is: “Is that right? Hmm… Yeah. Absolutely.” You’ve put everything together so much better than I ever have.

  14. Joe Felsenstein Joe Felsenstein
    Ignored
    says:

    A lot of great discussion here, thanks, all.

    KN’s description of realignment within religious traditions rings true. I have been encouraged by the outrage and horror with which a great many Jewish folks in the US responded to the demonization of immigrants. There is also a growing split between a large part of the US Jewish community on the one hand, and on the other hand the Sheldon Adelsons and the AIPACs who align with, fund, and encourage the right wing of Israeli politics.

    I do not think that the overall rift is between “religious” and “secular” folks — many of the most sincere supporters of human rights think of themselves as acting on their faith.

  15. Flint
    Ignored
    says:

    Joe Felsenstein:
    I do not think that the overall rift is between “religious” and “secular” folks — many of the most sincere supporters of human rights think of themselves as acting on their faith.

    It’s amusingly common that people who claim to follow essentially similar religious teachings, use those selfsame teachings as rationalizations for taking opposite sides. Here in Alabama, those who strongly supported Roy Moore said they did so because of his unshakeable Christian faith, while those who opposed him did so because his behavior violated that faith. In this and many other issues (remember slavery?), both sides beat one other over the head with identical bibles.

    I tend to write it off as normal human confirmation bias. It seems clear to me that people decide what they prefer to believe (or were taught to believe as children), and look for some satisfying reason to justify it. For those raised religious, religion serves this purpose. For those not very religious, cherry-picking selective (and often distorted) evidence works just as well.

    Jeff Sessions sincerely believes that his bible requires children to be taken from their parents, and he extracts verses to back him up, carefully extracting them from their context as required. Sessions’ god is white — and just as unambiguous as Stephen Miller’s god. I watch the same nominal faith used to justify both sides of this issue as well, and the division is not along religious lines nearly so much as along political lines. The appeal to fear isn’t a religious appeal.

  16. J-Mac
    Ignored
    says:

    “Traditional religion is demonstrably on the way out. What is, if anything, going to replace it?

    Darwinism… what else? With so many mysteries involved Darwinism and it’s proponents should feel privileged to be considered as religion and not fairy-tale…
    Once it becomes a state religion it will have to be enforced, so there will be a lot of “collateral damage”… but for the so-called greater good…

  17. Allan Miller
    Ignored
    says:

    J-Mac,

    Goodness! Tell us, O wise one, how do we avoid this dystopian future?

  18. Mung Mung
    Ignored
    says:

    Allan Miller: Tell us, O wise one, how do we avoid this dystopian future?

    Buy Gold. And Guns. And a decent bumper sticker.

  19. Allan Miller
    Ignored
    says:

    Mung: Buy Gold. And Guns. And a decent bumper sticker.

    Ah, the Korresh Gambit. Went well.

  20. Flint
    Ignored
    says:

    J-Mac:
    “Traditional religion is demonstrably on the way out. What is, if anything, going to replace it?

    Darwinism… what else? With so many mysteries involved Darwinism and it’s proponents should feel privileged to be considered as religion and not fairy-tale…
    Once it becomes a state religion it will have to be enforced, so there will be a lot of “collateral damage”… but for the so-called greater good…

    The “mysteries” are only such in the minds of those whose indoctrination prohibits them from basic comprehension. And other than those benighted few, science is neither a religion nor a fairy-tale. And science isn’t a state religion, it’s an analysis of observation and test. The collateral damage is usually called education.

    But I guess you now have a role model for cramming as many lies, false assumptions, and artificial realities into so few characters. While at the same time taking advantage of the fruits of a fairy tale to announce all this to the world. Maybe it will work — are you running for office?

  21. walto walto
    Ignored
    says:

    What hasn’t changed is that people want to be loved. They need a strong group that has their back. Today, that’s more likely to be a political group than a church, I guess.

    https://jamesclear.com/why-facts-dont-change-minds?fbclid=IwAR2JvK-9IKknZT5NiDq4W1SIDPz3IcRqe82ey1JnEgE4lsMNabhvSD_Tgyg

  22. walto walto
    Ignored
    says:

    Alan Fox: Tom English: Hopefully something will light a fire under them — perhaps another three or four disastrous burns in California will do the trick.

    One wonders how much more examples of disturbed, more energetic weather episodes we need before people in positions of responsibility start to act.

    https://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/a25305465/climate-change-report-human-species-suicide/

  23. Alan Fox Alan Fox
    Ignored
    says:

    walto,

    Depressing! 🙁 Here’s the FOURTH NATIONAL CLIMATE ASSESSMENT itself. How can anyone still talk of “fake news”?

  24. walto walto
    Ignored
    says:

    🙁

  25. Alan Fox Alan Fox
    Ignored
    says:

    Flint: But I guess you now have a role model for cramming as many lies, false assumptions, and artificial realities into so few characters. While at the same time taking advantage of the fruits of a fairy tale to announce all this to the world. Maybe it will work — are you running for office?

    Could he do worse? 😛

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