22 February 2021

February tidbits

Here are links to three articles that have come to my attention in recent weeks. All have to do with religion's influence on public life.

The American Exception: How faith shapes economic and social policy, by Benjamin M. Friedman, in the January/February 2021 issue of Harvard Magazine. Excerpt:

Because it is true that economics emerged from the Enlightenment, and because the conventional image of the Enlightenment downplays the importance attached to religion in favor of humanistic thinking, the commonplace assumption is that economics in turn likewise stands apart from religious ideas. This is not true, nor has it been, ever since the inception of economics as a modern intellectual discipline. Taking account of the influence of religious thinking is essential to a full understanding of one of the great areas of modern human thought.

If evangelical Christians are called to live in truth, why do so many believe political conspiracies?, by Peggy Wehmeyer, in The Dallas Morning News. Excerpt:

People I know and care about still hold a shocking but unshakable belief that a deep state, involving the Supreme Court, federal judges, election officials and mainstream media, stole the White House from Donald Trump. But evangelical Christians are people who are called to live as though the truth is true, no matter the cost. I share my friends’ conservative moral values as well as their disdain for some of the progressive policies of the Democratic Party. But my fear of where President Joe Biden might take us doesn’t tempt me to swallow a web of conspiracy theories whole.

How the Civil Rights Movement Converted Liberal White Protestants to Secularism, by Daniel K. Williams, at Anxious Bench. Excerpt:

After the 1960s, mainline Protestant denominations experienced a decades-long continuous decline in membership. While the causes of the decline are complex, most analyses have pointed to one central factor: the failure of mainline Protestant churches to retain their children, first with the Baby Boomers, and then with Gen-Xers and millennials.  And while a few of these youth left mainline Protestantism for conservative evangelical or Catholic churches, most became nonreligious. Yet in many cases – especially if they pursued graduate education – they retained the progressive political commitments that some of their pastors had acquired in the civil rights movement. But now that they had the moral commitment that came from the civil rights movement, they no longer saw the need for organized religion – especially organized religion that was not quite as fervent in its social justice commitments.


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