America is becoming less Christian because young people are less religious. That’s not blessed news for conservatives.
While the effect on evangelicals is new, the general pattern isn’t. The Catholic church, the largest single religious denomination in America, was the first to feel the pinch. Church leaders and Catholic apologists have been fretting for years over the problem of aging and shrinking congregations, declining attendance at Mass and fewer people signing up to become priests or nuns – although their proposals for how to solve the problem all consist of tinkering around the edges, or insisting that they need to try harder to convince people to believe as they do.
But even if this secularizing trend continues, it’s likely that there’s a hard core of believers who will persist no matter what: no one is forecasting the total extinction of the religious right in politics.
Still, for progressives, the eroding power of the churches is a most welcome development: the religions right can no longer claim to be the sole source of morality and virtue, nor can they expect to assert their will in political matters and be obeyed without question. Instead, they’ll have to muster evidence and make their case in the marketplace of ideas like everyone else.
h/t: Atheist Uprising
h/t: The Huffington Post
There’s an interesting video making the viral rounds. Bill Maher on his excellent show, Real Time, had on author Sam Harris, actor Ben Affleck, writer Nicholas Kristof, and political operative Michael Steele as guests. The discussion, debate is a better term, was about Islamophobia.
Maher and Harris argued that criticizing Islam is necessary and is not bigotry or discrimination. As is the tendency when accusations of racism and intolerance are flying, the debate got a bit heated.
Affleck said that Harris’s “argument is, ‘You know, black people, they shoot each other'” and “gross and racist.” Kristof said that Maher’s criticism of Islam has “a tinge of how white racists talk about African-Americans and define blacks.”
It is a bit frustrating to watch because the two sides are talking past each other. Maher and Harris are clearly correct. Affleck, Kristal and Steele are making valid points, but not against the arguments Maher and Harris raised.
My recent collision with Ben Affleck on Bill Maher’s show, Real Time, has provoked an extraordinary amount of controversy. It seems a postmortem is in order.
For those who haven’t seen the show, most of what I write here won’t make sense unless you watch my segment:
So what happened there?
I admit that I was a little thrown by Affleck’s animosity. I don’t know where it came from, because we hadn’t met before I joined the panel. And it was clear from our conversation after the show that he is totally unfamiliar with my work. I suspect that among his handlers there is a fan of Glenn Greenwald who prepared him for his appearance by simply telling him that I am a racist and a warmonger.
Whatever the reason, if you watch the full video of our exchange (which actually begins before the above clip), you will see that Affleck was gunning for me from the start. What many viewers probably don’t realize is that the mid-show interview is supposed be a protected five-to-seven-minute conversation between Maher and the new guest—and all the panelists know this. To ignore this structure and encroach on this space is a little rude; to jump in with criticism, as Affleck did, is pretty hostile. He tried to land his first blow a mere 90 seconds after I took my seat, before the topic of Islam even came up.