Political cults and the decline of faith


In a recent article, Andrew Sullivan argues that the decline of what he calls “tame Christianity,” involving a separation of the spiritual and the political, has led to the current authoritarianism we’re seeing on the left and on the right.

Of course, what the hardcore Catholic Sullivan can’t bring himself to admit is that, when he talks about the traditional Christianity that built up American liberalism, his “tame Christianity” is really Protestant Christianity. And it’s certainly true that American Protestantism seems to be on its last legs. Is the fall of American Protestantism causing a collapse of the spiritual into the political? Are we becoming more Catholic?

Well, the evidence is in on the right. The Evangelical movement’s almost wholesale embrace of a churlish immoral con-artist makes it pretty clear that important portions of conservatism have utterly abandoned reason, fairness, objectivity, and basic human decency. There’s little hope for recovery from these sectors, and people of good faith must at this point merely hope for their speedy demise as a political force.

Things also look bad on the left, but I think at this point liberals have no other place to turn. The conservative movement has gone mad.


The left is embracing Socialism more and more and it’s the conservatives who’ve “gone mad?” Just how ignorant must one BE these days to be a liberal? Socialists killed 140,000,000 of their OWN CITIZENS in the 20th Century and ALL socialist societies have failed miserably and it’s CONSERVATIVES who’ve gone mad?


…The hell does that mean?

? Is that what Catholicism is to you?


:rofl: Better check your cards again. Christianity (whether real or nominal is open to debate) may be on the decline, but far from universally. Contrary to your argument, it is Catholicism that is on the decline; evangelical protestent denominations are bucking the trend generally speaking. Your TDS-based scorning not withstanding.


The Church (Catholic) has seen better days, that’s for sure. However, the Church has also had its share of scandals, dark days, and people leaving the Church in droves in her history. And, I suppose that is the same in non-Catholic faiths as well. I think it is so blaringly clear in the Catholic Church because she is the largest congregation of believers around the world and there are many Catholic-haters in this world. She is the most vocal about social issues such as abortion, euthanasia, stem cell research, etc. Lots of people–including some marginal Catholics–want the Church to change its stand on these issues, but she never will. Despite all the bad things going on in the Catholic Church right now (not to mention Pope Frank’s contribution of almost daily scandalous bleatings), I will remain faithful to the end. We must remember one thing: it is God’s Church, not ours. He alone will decide what to do, if anything. My personal feeling is that this horrible scandal may thin the herd (which may be a good thing–for if someone is ready to bolt at the ripple of trouble, maybe they need to go anyway) but in the end, will triumph in holiness and Faith. It could take awhile, though! :sleeping:


I see the growth of Evangelical churches as undermining, not supporting, traditional American Protestantism.


Oh? The mega-church I worship at didn’t get the message. We cause a traffic jam every Sunday morning.

Good point.

Ah ha! That’s it!
Worshiping the Lord God is not a political act. This is the Lord God who created us and by whom all things consist and who has a plan for our lives.

But yes, it makes sense that those who know and worship God would tend to be more politically right than left, because the left tries to replace God with all-powerful, corrupt government. (Though Jesus never actually endorsed any particular form of government over another.)

(Let it be noted that I actually gave @Alaska_Slim a like.)


Many modernists have replaced God with their shrinks. Psychology has become the intelligentsia’s new religion. I watch a lot of documentaries on a number of subjects such as WWII, The Holocaust, crime, and history. It seems that the new thing about many of these shows is to include the babblings of psychologists. I usually mute them because it irritates me. Who are these people? I especially dislike this one female psychologist, Laura Popadopolus (or something like that) who is very cute and petite and has a squeaky, perky, and irritating little voice like a kindergarten teacher. I wish I could just put her in the corner.


Evangelicals are traditional American protestantism, if not so much protestantism in general.




And I’d still like to know what the heck the comparison to Catholicism is supposed to be here.


Watch Jordan Peterson’s interview with Patrick Coffin and tell me you don’t like him.

Or watch Bishop Robert Barron talk about him (11 minutes, so alot shorter):


I never said that I believe ALL psychologists are wackos, I just said MOST are. And I know this because I used to work in the Behavioral Sciences department of a South Florida University. I worked for the Director of Clinical Training in the doctoral programs who was also the assistant chair of the department. He was a jerk, BTW. A very arrogant, full-of-himself Aussie who bragged that he didn’t have to pay U.S. taxes because he was an Aussie. He was a cheat and a creep, although most of the women in the department swooned over him. I puked over him. My point really is that most of the professors and students were wacko. There were only 2 professors who seemed to genuinely care about their fellow earthly citizens. The rest of them especially students, were racing around in a fever madness trying to finish their dissertations on the most ludacris topics one could think up. The professors, including my boss, spent their time sache-ing their way around manuscripts for publication in the APA for recognition and $$$. I’ve been to a few psychologists myself mostly for grief counseling and depression. I’ve found a few who were really good because they weren’t trying to destroy my morals or religious faith. Also, I know Bishop Barron quite well. I admire him for his orthodoxy and intelligence. I don’t agree with everything he espouses, but I do agree with a lot of it.


I got one of my undergrad degrees in Sociology because my “counselor” recommended it as my major after I told her I was working as a cop at the time when I needed to declare a major. I strongly regret it, now, of course. With only one exception, EVERY sociology professor/instructor I had was a moron who’d obviously never lived in the real world. My abnormal psychology professor was literally FIRED at the end of the semester I took her class because she was such an idiot even the administration knew it. When I decided to go for my Master’s, that same “counselor” wanted me to sign up for a BS degree called “MA(T)” which stood for Master of Arts (Teaching) because by then I was also teaching criminal justice classes at a local Junior College–what would today be called “Community College.” I declined his advice. My business law prof was decent as was ONE of my sociology professors. He, in fact, had been named a Texas “Piper Professor” because he was so popular. He was well-grounded in reality and we stayed friends for several years after I graduated.


Literally? I mean over (as in on) him?..

I’ve seen a psychologist and two psychiatrists in decades gone by. I didn’t have much interration with the one psychiartrist, I didn’t think a whole lot of the other, and the psychologist was a 24-karat quack. I’m sure there are good people in the field, but the problem of the sciences of the human mind is that the human mind is being studied by a human mind, with all the inobjectivity implied. The result is a lot of junk science.

The best help I got was from counselors, not psychologists or psychiatrists.


Where Protestantism has traditionally been founded on a distinction between the “two kingdoms,” the political and the spiritual, Catholicism sees them as part of the same pyramid of power. Hence, the “collapse of the spiritual into the political,” which I see as a more Catholic urge: the mixing of church and political authority. That isn’t to say Protestants have never given into this temptation. But merely that Protestantism, but not Catholicism, has theoretical tools for resisting it.


It’s more than that, Anglicanism; the Prime Minister literally nominates the Bishops. That’s the country from which our own cultural perception on religion derives. It’s why individual States had their own official religions, with outright tax subsidies.

But I also have to fault what you’re doing here, because you know as well as I do that the people you’re speaking of are reactionaries.

They didn’t start asserting religion in a vacuum, but as an answer to an opposing cultural force trying to sanitize religion from the public square.

Which of course is nonsensical, given where American cultural precepts derive from. It’s merely thinly veiled posturing to empower themselves.


There’s good work on this by the political theorist Don Lutz. One good read is The Origins of American Constitutionalism, which goes into a lot of detail about how radical Protestantism informed colonial constitutions: a series of natural experiments which in turn led to the U.S. Constitution. It’s a serious mistake to trace American thinking on religion to England, when a considerable amount of the American colonies were founded by radical Protestants who sought to leave England precisely because they found the Anglican church to be too Catholic. However, it’s also true that a great many of the colonists were more traditional; particularly in Pennsylvania and the South.


And yet, Religion for nearly 60-70 years after the revolution were institutionalized.

It may not be the same faith, but modes of behavior were adopted nonetheless.