The Christian Right could be irrelevant by 2024

We know now that the core of Trump’s voter base is the white evangelical demographic, and we know the issues with it: the main underlying drive of fear, the us-vs.-them mentality, the easy brainwashing due to being conditioned from childhood to mindlessly obey authority and believe lies, the anti-intellectualism, the false worldview generated from the pulpit and from the right-wing noise machine, the sexism, racism and many other bigotries, the authoritarianism, the “prosperity gospel” worship of wealth and the wealthy, the opposition to equality, freedom and democracy. They’re even talking about Trump being a God-sent king, so perhaps we have to add embrace of criminality, treason and sexual predation.

But it appears the numbers of white evangelicals are dwindling enough that they might become irrelevant as a political force as soon as 2024, and direct opposition to their toxic worldview is being led by an increasingly strong and vocal movement of their own disaffected youth: the Exvangelicals.

Nina Burleigh, Newsweek , Dec. 13, 2018:

The numbers are stark: Twenty years ago, just 46 percent of white evangelical Protestants were older than 50; now, 62 percent are above 50. The median age of white evangelicals is 55. Only 10 percent of Americans under 30 identify as white evangelicals. The exodus of youth is so swift that demographers now predict that evangelicals will likely cease being a major political force in presidential elections by 2024.

One of these demographers is Robert Jones, who heads up the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) and published a book in 2017 entitled The End of White Christian America . Jones, Burleigh writes,

…has tracked what he calls a “stair-steps downward trajectory of white Christian presence in the electorate.” In 1992, when Bill Clinton was elected, 73 percent of the electorate was white and Christian. By 2012, that number was 53 percent. “If current trends hold steady, 2024 will be a watershed year—the first American election in which white Christian voters do not constitute a majority of voters.”

See the Dem side of the new House of Representatives? That’s the long-term future of American politics.

While the older cohort of the Christian Right is aging and dying out, the younger is abandoning it due to being fed up with hypocrisy and bigotry. Burleigh, as well as providing an overview of Christian Right history, presents the stories of three young men who are now leaders in the Exvangelical movement: Blake Chastain, whose podcast “Exvangelical” gave the movement its name, felt his church’s support of the Iraq War conflicted with biblical teachings. Jason Desautels left his after his preacher mis-blamed the Oklahoma City bombing on Muslims and didn’t apologize when the truth came out. Alex Camire left his church after his mother was demonized by his pastor for her alcoholism and his horizons were broadened by a secular education; his pastor’s endorsement of Trump sealed the deal, exemplifying Burleigh’s point that the Trump phenomenon, while it did not start the Exvangelical exodus, certainly hastened it.

Consider this as a two-birds-with-one-stone best-case scenario: Trump ultimately destroys both the GOP and the Christian Right’s already-weakening political clout.

Another Exvangelical leader, Christopher Stroop, calls 2018 “the Year of the Exvangelical” and identifies five key crucial events/factors of last year in a Dec. 26 article in Rewire.News.

Stroop concurs with Burleigh that Trump’s election was a “flashpoint and catalyst” for the unification and activation of the Exvangelical movement, many of whose members, he notes, are survivors of religious trauma (link provided by Stroop). “Because the exvangelical community consists of those who repudiate evangelicalism for its pervasive authoritarianism, we also tend to affirm that which most white evangelicals—a literally uniquely conservative, uniquely pro-Trump, and nativist demographic—stand against… feminism, intersectionality, racial justice, and LGBTQ rights.”

A thought of my own about the timing of the exvangelical phenomenon: part of the evangelical strategy for raising docile, pliable members is—as with any cult—isolation from the outside world and its information. Religious home-schooling, Christian camps and Christian colleges provide a cradle-to-adulthood indoctrination pathway. However, it is simply not possible to isolate young people as they could 20 or 30 years ago. The whole world is accessible through a little device everyone under 30 constantly has in their hands. It’s no accident that Exvangelicals first connected online.

Robert Jones sees white Christian Americans as working their way through Kübler-Ross’s five stages of grief over the loss of their supremacy (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance).

“We are past denial. People see the writing on the wall in terms of demographic change. And that is also why we see immigration taking over and becoming the flagship issue. That and a wall symbolize the resistance to this demographic change.”

See why the impossible wall is so important to Trump anyway? For all it started as a mnemonic, it is a potent symbol.

“I think we are somewhere between anger and bargaining. And in many ways, this shotgun marriage between Trump and white evangelicals happened under some duress and is a desperate bargain that you make at the end of life.”

And of course a raging, destructive, sociopathic chaos agent given the enormous powers of a US President is the perfect vehicle for thwarted-authoritarian anger.

Jones’s notion of Trump as a crazy desperate Hail Mary effort to maintain white/Christian/male/hetero supremacy in the face of unstoppable demographic forces—even at the price of selling America out to foreign enemies, destroying democracy and perhaps the nation itself—is the most plausible explanation of the Trump phenomenon I’ve ever encountered.

That Hail Mary will never work, however. So long as the Exvangelicals and other supporters of democracy, equality, freedom and realism who form the true moral majority of Americans don’t let it.

The Wall is shorthand for stopping illegal immigration.
The opposite idea is to have Open Borders.

Who here is in favor of Open Borders? If you are in favor of them, then of course the idea of a Wall is something you will reject.

If you are against Open Borders, but also against a Wall, then you must explain how you intend to have a Closed (to illegal immigration) Border.

So … for Open Borders? If not, how will illegal immigration be stopped?

Here’s how I am both anti-wall and opposed to open borders. A large portion of undocumented immigrants are people simply overstaying their visas. The majority of undocumented immigrants are also no longer from Mexico. Given those facts, it seems a gigantic border wall is both a costly and ineffective solution.

I do acknowledge that the graph on immigrants being Mexican vs. other may be misleading. While the majority is no longer Mexican, that doesn’t necessarily mean others from South America didn’t use the mexico-U.S. crossing. So, that point is a bit weaker than the overstaying visa argument.

Edit: 2nd graph didn’t load correctly. Blue line is “overstayed visa” and grey line is “crossed mexico border.”

The peak/decline of mexico border crossing starts in the year ~2000

Yes, the ‘not from Mexico’ (as oppose to El Salvador etc) is a lawyers’ argument, as you acknowledge.
If your argument against a wall is technical/economic, then I have no argument with you – not because I necessarily think you’re right, but because the argument would just be a technica/economic one which I don’t have enough information to sustain. Presumably, you would be for a Wall if you thought it was effective and needed to prevent mass illegal immigration to the US. [I say “illegal” here but the legality argument is a proxy for another sort of argument that most people, including on the Right, a reluctant to invoke.]

So can we agree on the need for some more effective method of preventing people from overstaying their visas?

Here’s the real, ugly, turn-our-eyes-away argument that is the real one between Left and Right – actually, it’s two arguments.

  1. America has ‘worked’ pretty well because it has been peopled, in its majority, by immigrants from cultures where the rule of law is respected. Fifty million (original, not recent) Swedes, Swiss, English, Germans, even Italians and Spaniards and Greeks, would have a very different impact on America than fifty million people from Nigeria, Kenya, El Salvadore and Mexico. (I’m perfectly aware that the respect for the rule of law in the first group, taken country by country, is not without alloy. We’re all aware of what happened to the Germans, but that was probably a historical anomaly. Greeks don’t believe in paying taxes, but that probably changes when they get here. Italians from the South of Italy came in sufficient numbers in the early 20th Century to bring their culture – which gives the Mafia legitimacy – with them, and although that has eroded, it’s still with us.)

In fact, legal mass immigration from Roman Catholic countries, back when the Church exercised very strong (socially conservative) influence among its adherents, was a concern of some liberals – see Paul Blanshard’s American Freedom and Catholic Power. [Wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Freedom_and_Catholic_Power] (Incidentally, I’m surprised no progressives – or at least none of whom I am aware – have invoked this original example of ‘cancel culture’ to justify their own current attacks on free speech. Don’t these people know any American history except slavery and lynching?)

So, the reality is, mass immigration from countries – Mexico being the most glaring example – where violent cartels are the real government, is feared among normal Americans because of the belief that the immigrants from these countries – especially those, from the lower classes, who come illegally – will bring their culture and attitude towards law with them.

How rational is this fear? Frankly, I don’t know. Hispanics seem to assimilate pretty well over time, but this could be tested by genuine mass immigration, especially of the unskilled, and the country they’re immigrating too may not be the opportunity-rich one that it was in the past.

One problem is that the original immigrants know how lucky they are to live in a country with the rule of law, and have been basically law-abiding. (You might be interested to know that this fact – among others related to America’s multi-tribal character – is a matter of debate within the rightwing camp, as for instance here: https://www.unz.com/runz/the-right-way-for-republicans-to-handle-ethnicity-in-politics/ … This site, Unz.com, hosts a wide spectrum of political opinions, most of them on the Right, and some of them very ugly. But it’s the best place to go for frank debates about ‘race’ and immigration.)

Goody-goody airheads assume all will be well. But you have to look at reality: the middle-class Latin American leftwing terrorists fleeing Rightwing death-squad terror in the 1970s and 80s have assimilated pretty well in Sweden. The new Somalis are quite another story.

So I’m not inclined to roll the dice on things like the ethnic mix of a country – bonehead Leftists chant ‘diversity is strength’ and bonehead Rightists think Jesus looks after America in some special way – but I look at tribal diversity everywhere else in the world, and I am not so sanguine about changing the balance in the US. When ‘diversity’ means significant numbers of two different groups, the outcome is usually periodic massacres.

What was true in the past – when we had a whole continent to exploit, and dominated the world – will not be true in the future. As we get pushed off the Number One place by China, both militarily and economically, and especially if the dollar gets replaced as the world’s reserve currency, and double-especially if free trade plus advances in what used to be called ‘automation’ continue to destroy the American working class of all colors – we’re going to face enormous problems, and ethnic diversity will exacerbate them, not help.

  1. There’s a second argument which no one wants to talk about: people like to live among ‘their own’ and ethnic/tribal identity mainly defines what your ‘own’ is. So if 400 million Chinese – more intelligent than non-Chinese (except for the Jews), more law-abiding, hard-working – wanted to immigrate to America, most non-Chinese Americans, of all colors, would not want this to happen. (Probably Chinese-Americans wouldn’t either, for other reasons.)

This is just brutal reality. It’s not necessarily fixed in stone. It obviously (to me) has genetic roots, but those impulses can be overriden by the right environment – look at American Jews, over half of whom ‘outmarry’ now.

We can hope – I do – that if mankind is able to avoid destroying itself, that over the coming generations, perhaps even as early as the next century – and especially if the advances in genetics fulfill their promise so that all of our descendants have high IQs, good self-control, etc – that globalized economies will slowly and organically create a truly globalized humanity, where national boundaries are like state boundaries now in the US.

Everyone will interbreed, tribal identities will fade away (as narrow tribal identities did in the creation of modern European nations, although often the ‘fading’ was helped along by various coercive measures), we’ll all be well-educated and have a common language in Mandarin, and can then we go out and colonize the Solar System.

But at the moment, anyone who just casually proposes mixing the human tribes because, after all, ‘diversity is strength’, is an idiot.

Watch it @Gene. Opposing open borders will get you kicked out of the Social Democrat Party, or least get you put on probation.

Of course your tepid analysis of the problem might just be a smoke screen. Perhaps you really are an open borders advocate. Perhaps you posted this to deceive those who don’t follow the news into thinking that your party and your dim witted, dishonest president really do care about border security. They don’t.

Biden is a far bigger nightmare than I imaged he would be. After two weeks in office, he has made Obama look like a conservative. He is Bernie Sanders’ and AOC’s puppet.

I don’t think there is any reason to think @Gene is being dishonest here. There are many sensible Democrats who understand that truly Open Borders would bring swift disaster to the US. On the other hand, they are a bit squeamish – for the reasons you point out, it’s heresy within the Progressive Community – about embracing serious measures to get a Closed Border.

So they hope that a sort-of-Open, sort-of-Closed, let’s-not-look-too-close, maybe-it’ll-turn-out-all-right border … one that is crossable if you’re determined enough, or pay enough money to the coyotes, but not one that sees tens of thousands of people coming in every day … will work.

We have to try to reach these people and convince them, first of all – leaving aside the technical means of getting there – that (1) we do need to control immigration, which they won’t argue with in theory, and (2) large numbers of low- and un-skilled immigrants at this point in time is not a good idea, and (3) – hardest of all – that you shouldn’t play roulette with the ethnic balance of a country.

Note that since many conservatives have just adopted the Libertarian view of economics – no government interference in the economy, including the labor market – they’ll have a hard time making the case that the government should artificially, by limiting the supply of cheap labor, intervene in this way, (as well as forbidding an importer from buying where he pleases), while it shouldn’t intervene with respect to establishing a minimum wage.

Inconsistency doesn’t bother most people but it’s a handicap in political argument.

Note also that radical Leftists do want Open Borders, because anything else is racist. In their view, fifty million Somalis coming to America would be just the same – in fact better, because racism – than fifty million Scotsmen.

Liberal (non-Radical) Leftists secretly agree with us on this, but try to defend their position with technical arguments about actual numbers. After all, neither Scotsmen nor Somalis are coming in those numbers so they don’t have to think about the question of whether all cultures are equal.

We need to master the numbers question, and also force our liberal friends to face some realities re the different tribes of humanity. (And what’s annoying, a bit, is that the really serious radical Leftists – those who have literally fought their way to state power, wouldn’t dream, for one second, of opening their own borders. China will remain Chinese, Vietnam, Vietnamese – it’s not even a question for them.)

The Daily Kos. No wonder the opening post was drivel.

@Doug1943, if there are any sensible Democrats, who are power, I have yet to see any of them. Biden’s executive order forbids the deportation of those convicted of even the most violent felonies.

As for your comment about the Chinese and Vietnamese preserving their national identity, they don’t hate their country’s history and culture the way the left hates it here. They want a “year zero” like Pol Pot forced on his population in Cambodia. They have no idea what the consequences will be. They just want it.

Yes, it’s not the ones in power I’m talking about. We’re a fifty-fifty nation at the moment. Of the 75 million of so who voted Democratic, not ALL of them are raving Amerikkka-hating Leftists. We need to be alert to contradictions in that camp, and look for opportunities to make alliances.

For example, there is a small, but dwindling camp of academic liberals, who actually believe in free speech and academic freedom. They don’t like racial segregation, either,or the falsification of history. We ought to find ways to work with them to defend the values we have in common with them.

Mass illegal immigration used to be opposed by all the trade unions and many Democrats. And thoughtful leaders of the Black community know that they don’t need any more competition for low- and unskilled jobs.

There are ambitious Black and Hispanic parents who don’t want to condemn their children to the dire government-monopoly teacher-union schools now offered to them. We need to champion School Choice and real education as opposed to feel-good indoctrination and teachers who are taught that mathematics is racist.

And more than a few Black leaders know that the last thing the inner-city needs is ineffective police.

Amazon, part of the ‘woke’ corporate ruling class, is fighting against the unionization of their workforce. We should champion it. Hit the enemy where it hurts, in his pocketbook.

And of course you are right about national culture and history in China (and Vietnam, and Japan). Young Chinese are taught to be proud of their nation and its history, and in truth they have a lot to be proud of. The Chinese are deeply family-centered, have a strong work ethic, and tend to defer to authority – perhaps a bit too much, but their own history has shown they are quite capable of rebellion when necessary.

They’re really ideal conservatives, when you think about it. It took the Russians 70 years to realize what a stupid idea socialism is, whereas the Chinese were ready to throw it out the window after just 25 years and would have probably done so earlier if only Mao had had the good grace to die a couple of years after taking power.

If only they’d adopt the Latin alphabet-based ‘romanization’ of their language as standard, instead of having thousands of distinct characters, as I believe the Communist Party originally wanted to do.

Our children and grandchildren will all have to learn Mandarin, but it could be so much easier.

@Gene, since you are against walls, how do you propose to prevent people from crossing unguarded portions of the border? You can’t have guards on every mile of an 1,800 mile border.

What is wrong with walls? Very rich Democrats, like Nancy Pelosi, use them to keep people out of their houses. Your Congressional leaders want to build a wall around the capital. What happened to the concept of “the people’s house?” The government isn’t accessible now with people in your party talking about harassing the people who didn’t vote for Biden. Don’t you see any hypocrisy in their positions?

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I don’t think @Gene is against walls in principle. He just doesn’t think that the current proposed one is cost-effective, given that there is, he thinks, not that much of a problem that it would solve in the first place.

The Original Post, about the decline of religion in America, is of course partisan. Fewer people are adhering to organized religion, and the poster hopes that this trend will benefit the Left.

It’s true of course that the serious Left is hostile to organized religion. They shoot priests when they are in power, and, as in Portland, burn Bibles where they are not [Here’s American Pravda’s twist:https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/11/us/politics/russia-disinformation-election-meddling.html ]. (As the communist poet Bertolt Brecht noted, where they start out burning books, they will end up burning people.) [Not directly relevant, but conservative authors whose books have not yet been excluded from Amazon or removed from the shelves of university libraries, need to read this poem by Brecht: https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/the-burning-of-the-books/]

This is a worldwide trend. Although it used to be believed that the spread of education, and in particular the increase in prestige of science, would undermine religion, what actually appears to be donig it is the growth of security. Here’s an interesting take on that:

If this is true, we may see a revival of religion, if people’s sense of security starts to go down, as I believe it will.

In any case, young Lefties may be scornful of religion, but I promise you, they have the exact same mindset as primitive religious fundamentalists, when you appear to challenge their comforting, emotionally-centered, factual beliefs that run counter to reality.

Occasionally, my bad side gets the upper hand, and I go on certain Lefty anti-religious websites and ask an innocent question like, “What is the evidence that the Proud Boys are White Supremacists?” or “Is someone who, while walking down a dark street, hears footsteps behind, him, turns around, and is relieved to see that people behind him are white … is this person a White Supremacist?”

Whoa! It’s like hitting a hornet’s nest! Great fun.

Few people, Right or Left, want to engage in rational thinking about their cherished core political committments, which often results in personal intellectual discomfort. That’s just the way people are.

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Dude. You remind me of a left wing version of me. Absolutely everything you post is so inflammatory and accusatory. It’s like you want everyone who isn’t a rainbow colored hair vegan to feel bad.

Damn those Christians for not practicing female genital mutilation, and not practicing slavery anymore and not having multiple wives. I hope all of them abandon their religion for something better like Islam. I’m tired of pastors stealing money from old people; I want an imam who will train the congregation to blow themselves up.

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If this is a reply to Mr Blue, you should know that this is far above his usual standard, which is usually teenager 'Nya, Nya!" level, and he should be commended for its quality – assuming he wrote it. In any case, it’s something every rational political person, religious or otherwise, needs to think about.

Dostoevsky asserted that “Without God, everything is permissible.” And using this same logic, many rationalists have said that, of course, they don’t believe in an invisible man in the sky, but they don’t want the masses to stop believing in one, because it makes them behave.

I think the logic is iron-clad, but the reality may be otherwise. As far as I can see, secular people – people who don’t believe in an afterlife where they will be punished if they didn’t pay enough to the priests or molested little boys – aren’t any worse in their personal behavior than religious people who do believe in an afterlife where they will be held accountable. Social pressures seem to be enough to make most people behave … of course not all people.

And as anti-religious people are always quick to point out, while the desire to steal things and rape women is enough to make those who can do so with impunity, do so – it takes an over-riding ideology, religion or politics or nationalism – to motivate people to really up their efforts at mass slaughter and even risk, or give, their own lives in order to kill the Wrongthinkers.

And of course, if you go on secularist, anti-Christian websites, as I do from time to time, it’s laugh-out-loud funny to see them earnestly discussing what the real danger in the world is: Christianity! I always want to say, “Uhhh… excuse me … you’re in the right ball park with Abrahamic religions, but you’re off by one. …unless you’re talking ancient history.” (Not that the Hindus – in India – or the Buddhists – in Sri Lanka – aren’t capable of mass slaughter as well.)

How many of you here believe in magic sky daddies?

Tempering or checking Christianity doesn’t mean the end of religion. We know this, because we still experience one of the main sociological events religions produce; moral panics. Even within the side said to be “secular”.

Within Anglo-Saxon informed culture, the form it takes is a legacy left to us by the Puritans.

Looking at history, I just can’t see this point being sustained.

Crime was worse in the period of 1910s and 1920s compared to now among both the population at large, and immigrants. The looting, the organized crime racket, the outright murder rate; there’s no comparison.

Further, along with the Mafiosos, and the Irish gangs, were literal anarchists who set off bombs on Wall Street, in factories, and assassinated a President (McKinley).

As I’ve said before, the first War on Terror America experienced was in 1910.

Immigration has always been this way. As we experienced then, people make excuses for their own forbearers, claiming that they “weren’t as bad as this riffraf coming in now”.

So the dichotomy you want to establish doesn’t seem to me to be functionally there. It’s just people not remembering, really, what the last great of waves of immigration were like, and assuming it went over without much fuss.

FTR; that’s not to say I’m anti-immigration. Far from it, and I don’t see the wall as a solution. That’s chasing symptoms, not rectifying the problem.

To which you can ask “Did the Cubans?”

Many seem to forget that immigrants are not automatons, they can both recognize problems, and resist policies they know created the situations in their home countries.

A country of origin being Communist or communist lite shouldn’t be the bar we use to establish that understanding. Plenty of Argentinians understand why Argentinia is screwed up. Same to El Salvadorians, who btw, love Trump. Had a co-worker from there who couldn’t stop calling him " My President".

you consider that a positive thing?

He was sent back after getting caught at an airport with an expired visa. Do you consider that a positive thing?

So now you’re coddling law breakers?