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Sat May 22, 2021, 04:25 PM

Republican support and the role of declining church attendance

I had originally put the following in as a reply to someone else, but someone replied to my reply suggesting this would make a good original thread so here goes

Context - I'm trying to get a deeper understanding of the thought process within the Republican base. Granted that's a complex topic, but I'm trying to tease out of the tangles some insights that may help in developing improved engagement and communications strategies aimed at getting moderate Republicans to rethink if they want to continue to support a party that continues it's rightward march. In order to do that I'm trying to understand the thought process of the more moderate Republican voters and the context in which they live in.

One strand I've been looking into is a theory that is somewhat off the beaten track: The theory that the problem lies in the decline in Christianity and how different churches have responded to that.

Likely many DUers are aware that Christianity in the USA has been in decline for many years. The so called high-church (the well established traditional Christian denominations with highly structured liturgy) have seen significant decline in attendance since the 1980's. In response they have softened their doctrine in an attempt to make things more palatable to a broader audience (e.g. become more amenable to liberal social thinking - ordaining women, acceptance of gay marriage, etc). Presumably the hope was that that would stop the decline. It has not and attendance levels have continually dropped for the past 20 years.

The other main form of Christian church in the US is the evangelicals. They typically have less structure and only informal leadership at the national level. These churches are the ones that grew as the baby boomers entered their adult life in the 1970's on-wards. In the face of declining Christian numbers, the evangelicals have done the opposite of the high-church. Instead of softening their doctrine they have hardened things by clinging to the more 'traditional' values. No wedding cakes for you gay couples is a classic example.

It appears that the hardening may have worked - In the past 20 years the evangelicals have managed to keep their attendance numbers roughly stable. In part that has been done by attracting traditionalists away from high-church and into the evangelical church.

The problem is that the hardening sees the evangelicals decoupling from where mainstream society is moving. That growing gap has opened the door for the "longing for the past" syndrome that is the underpinning of the MAGA movement.

Recognizing 'the hardening' as a business opportunity the likes of Murdoch and Sinclair have been more than happy to feed it and sustain it. From there the GOP then see it as a voting block they can dominate. Foreign nations looking for influence are then more than happy to fund the GOP in the hope of gaining advantage should a republican president be elected.

Those external parties are then creating a bubble around the evangelical church. Every one watches the same news, listens to the same radio and socializes with each other. Those inside the bubble become increasingly cut off from the outside. From there craziness becomes more acceptable - As long as you hate the liberals you are a part of the team and even if you are a bit crazy at least you are not an 'outsider' (i.e. a liberal). From there we are nearly in cult territory or perhaps already in there.

To burst a bubble my feeling is that the bubble needs to be deeply understood and I'm making my own humble (and maybe misguided) little effort to do that Any thoughts on the role declining church attendance may be having on US society?

The thoughts of a rambling Hippo - The Hippo

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Arrow 32 replies Author Time Post
Reply Republican support and the role of declining church attendance (Original post)
Hippo_The_Pointer May 2021 OP
Demsrule86 May 2021 #1
Hippo_The_Pointer May 2021 #2
Demsrule86 May 2021 #8
Hippo_The_Pointer May 2021 #13
Skittles May 2021 #16
Hippo_The_Pointer May 2021 #19
Demsrule86 May 2021 #25
abqtommy May 2021 #3
Hippo_The_Pointer May 2021 #5
Skittles May 2021 #17
Demsrule86 May 2021 #26
Skittles May 2021 #29
multigraincracker May 2021 #4
Hippo_The_Pointer May 2021 #6
Karadeniz May 2021 #7
Hippo_The_Pointer May 2021 #10
Demsrule86 May 2021 #27
Karadeniz May 2021 #30
Karadeniz May 2021 #31
doc03 May 2021 #9
Hippo_The_Pointer May 2021 #11
doc03 May 2021 #12
Skittles May 2021 #18
doc03 May 2021 #22
Tree Lady May 2021 #20
doc03 May 2021 #21
Tree Lady May 2021 #24
Maraya1969 May 2021 #14
Hippo_The_Pointer May 2021 #15
Demsrule86 May 2021 #28
GulfCoast66 May 2021 #23
IbogaProject May 2021 #32

Response to Hippo_The_Pointer (Original post)

Sat May 22, 2021, 04:35 PM

1. Evangelical church attendance is declining as well...and civil rights are human rights...any church

not recognizing this is not Christian no matter what they call themselves in any case. And thrice divorced Trump...accused of raping a 13 year old in fact made it worse for churches according to the article.

"...2017, Robert P. Jones, the head of the Public Religion Research Institute and author of "White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity," spoke with Salon about how the decline in religion is concentrated largely among young people. There's "a culture clash between particularly conservative white churches and denominations and younger Americans," he explained, noting that young people were particularly critical of anti-science and homophobic rhetoric from religious leaders.

"[C]onservative white Christians have lost this argument with a broader liberal culture," he explained, including "their own kids and grandchildren."

It's a story with a moral so blunt that it could very well be a biblical fable: Christian leaders, driven by their hunger for power and cultural dominance, become so grasping and hypocritical that it backfires and they lose their cultural relevance. Not that there's any cause to pity them, since they did this to themselves. The growing skepticism of organized religion in the U.S. is a trend to celebrate. While more needs to be done to replace the sense of community that churches can often give people, it's undeniable that this decline is tied up with objectively good trends: increasing liberalism, hostility to bigotry, and support for science in the U.S. Americans are becoming better people, however slowly, and the decline in organized religious affiliation appears to be a big part of that."

https://www.salon.com/2021/04/02/church-membership-is-in-a-freefall-and-the-christian-right-has-only-themselves-to-blame/

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Response to Demsrule86 (Reply #1)

Sat May 22, 2021, 04:42 PM

2. A schism

Hi Demsrule86 - Your comment about "not Christian no matter what they call themselves" links into a part of my ponderings. I am beginning to view some Evangelical churches as a new 'schism' (i.e. they have wondered so far from the teachings of Jesus that they can no longer be thought of as Christians). There has been much talk of the hypocrisy in some of today's church and that hypocrisy could be viewed as the visible evidence that a schism has taken place. History is replete with religious schisms (often those schism only become apparent after extended periods of time) and if the current reality were viewed as a new schism I see ways of using that emerging reality to help draw moderates away from the far right and back to the more moderate views - Just a thought - Thanks

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Response to Hippo_The_Pointer (Reply #2)

Sat May 22, 2021, 05:08 PM

8. I am a Christian...(I try to behave but have a potty mouth!)

But I digress...this simply means I follow Christ and believe in his teachings. It doesn't mean I am perfect...everyone sins. But I believe in Love your neighbor as yourself, feed the poor and the hungry, be merciful to those in prison and welcome the stranger. Some Evangelicals have mistake politics for faith...and they are no longer Christian. They mostly quote the Old Testament or lean on Paul...who was not an apostle. Look at their fruits...bit fruits. " By their fruits, they shall be known."

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Response to Demsrule86 (Reply #8)

Sat May 22, 2021, 05:37 PM

13. In agreement

Seems like we are in agreement Your comment "Some Evangelicals have mistake politics for faith...and they are no longer Christian" matches my feelings for things. In my mind I'm pondering the question: How best to communicate that some churches are no longer Christian churches and encourage people to make better church choices?

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Response to Demsrule86 (Reply #8)

Sat May 22, 2021, 08:02 PM

16. believe it or not, you can believe all of those things without religion

Last edited Sat May 22, 2021, 08:54 PM - Edit history (1)

ya know???

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Response to Skittles (Reply #16)

Sat May 22, 2021, 08:24 PM

19. I agree

Hi Skittles - I agree - My interest is in understanding the tRump base rather than promoting the idea of religion to anyone - Thansk

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Response to Skittles (Reply #16)

Sun May 23, 2021, 05:48 PM

25. Of course you can. I happen to believe in Christ...and my church does much good too.

I don't care what others believe...that is their choice. And I respect all choices. I have to say I dislike the Trump worshipping churches. But, this is America people can believe as they choose.

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Response to Hippo_The_Pointer (Original post)

Sat May 22, 2021, 04:43 PM

3. I don't think you're wrong. At all. My feeling is that religion is indeed part of the problem. But

then part of religion is part of the solution too.

I think that due to basic human nature we'd still be having the same problem even without religion. For instance, if social media can be used to influence the people who already lean toward fascism then social media can also be used to influence people who lean towards being anti-fa.

Whatever makes us think is good so thank you.

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Response to abqtommy (Reply #3)

Sat May 22, 2021, 04:50 PM

5. Puching back against the hate preachers

Hi Abqtommy - I agree that religion is part of the solution! In fact I think religion is a major part of the solution. To do that I've been gently pointing out to acquaintances how far to the right some Evangelical preachers have gone and pointing out the inherent hypocrisy that comes with that. That doesn't mean I'm encouraging people to leave Christianity. Instead I'm encouraging people to make better choices about what churches to attend. The challenge of course is getting inside the bubble to get people to reconsider if their current preacher has shifted from the loving message of Jesus and has become a hate preacher.

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Response to Hippo_The_Pointer (Reply #5)

Sat May 22, 2021, 08:04 PM

17. how about just do unto others WITHOUT religion

why is religion needed to behave like a decent human being?

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Response to Skittles (Reply #17)

Sun May 23, 2021, 05:50 PM

26. No one said religion was needed for behaving like a decent human being...but under the

right circumstances, it helps bring out the best in people.

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Response to Demsrule86 (Reply #26)

Sun May 23, 2021, 06:42 PM

29. lol

yeah....ok

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Response to Hippo_The_Pointer (Original post)

Sat May 22, 2021, 04:49 PM

4. UU Fellowships are growing.

Very liberal with many Atheist, college profs and old hippies. They say “Our Karma ran over your dogma”. I met the love of my life there.

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Response to multigraincracker (Reply #4)

Sat May 22, 2021, 04:56 PM

6. Better choices

Hi multigraincracker - Indeed some areas are growing and some churches continue to do the true "good works". That's a good thing and points to the battle that needs to be fought - The battle against the rise of the hate preachers. As you can easily find these days, some preachers have twisted the loving message of the New Testament into a hateful message. In doing so they are taking parishioners into the deep dark side of right wing politics. The more people that can be pulled out of that sinking hole and redirected into making better church choices the better for all...

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Response to Hippo_The_Pointer (Original post)

Sat May 22, 2021, 05:03 PM

7. It's time to call out Christians as misguided. As Walter Bauer's respected research showed, there

Really never was a beginning time when orthodoxy reigned supreme and "heresy" was a later deformed development. They always coexisted. In some places, "heresy" beliefs were the only ones.

This is explained in the Synoptics as there being messages hidden in the parables for those with special eyes and ears. Paul compares the two levels of understanding as children vs. adults, and he feeds them what is appropriate to what they can digest, baby food vs. meat. He also refers to his religion as one of the Mysteries, whose existence was known to everyone, but whose rituals and meanings were secret.

Jesus as a historical figure has no proof among qualified historians who follow strict procedures. On the other hand... despite the many DU'ers who believe otherwise... much research has been done on the nonphysical powers of Mind and Mind's survival after death. Ditto reincarnation.

If Christianity would teach its hidden truths and the evidence for it, people might be more apt to be interested in pursuing it. Also, Christians would know they have to be nice and deny fear-mongering.

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Response to Karadeniz (Reply #7)

Sat May 22, 2021, 05:12 PM

10. The new schism

Hi Karadeniz - The historicity of Jesus is a fascinating subject Whether or not Jesus psychically existed or not, one thing is hard to deny - Christianity was triggered (i.e. there was a schism in the Jewish community around 2,000 years ago that eventually lead to a new religion). How that happened is a fun debate, but a debate with perhaps only unprovable answers. What we can tell with more certainty however is where we are now and I am beginning to wonder if we could call what we are now seeing on the right wing as a new schism? A chiristo-right schism that is leading to a new interpretation of the events or stories listed in the New Testament? Just my musings

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Response to Karadeniz (Reply #7)

Sun May 23, 2021, 05:52 PM

27. I personally find your post offensive. It is not yours nor anyone else's duty to call out anyone.

People can believe as they choose.

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Response to Demsrule86 (Reply #27)

Sun May 23, 2021, 07:43 PM

30. The feeling is mutual! Religion and its history should be understood. I do not apologize for

Advocating for knowledge as opposed to blind faith.

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Response to Demsrule86 (Reply #27)


Response to Hippo_The_Pointer (Original post)

Sat May 22, 2021, 05:11 PM

9. Was looking at one of those Yahoo click bait

things yesterday. Top 20 wealthiest so called minusters.
I got through about 10 most of them I never heard of.
All of them are worth 10 million or more. But they thru in Am Sharpton with a mesally 2 million. My deceased mother used to send Joel Olstin money every month for
Bullshit prayer cloths and holy water. And they don't have to pay any tax that's a disgrace. I see this show every morning called Campmeeting he wants $58 a month and claims the Lord will reward you for it.

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Response to doc03 (Reply #9)

Sat May 22, 2021, 05:17 PM

11. Making better choices

Hi Doc03 - Part of what I'm working on is a campaign aimed at encouraging people to make better choices about the churches they participate in. To me the "Prophets for Profits" type preachers would not be good choices! Paying for jets, massive homes and an entourage of lackies is not something I remember reading about in the bible. The challenge is in how to convince people to make better church choices.

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Response to Hippo_The_Pointer (Reply #11)

Sat May 22, 2021, 05:21 PM

12. You know I respected Reverend Ike he said

"The best thing I can do for the poor is not be one of them" at least he told the truth. He had ten or so Rolls
Royces.

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Response to doc03 (Reply #9)

Sat May 22, 2021, 08:06 PM

18. mesally 2 million?

alrighty then

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Response to Skittles (Reply #18)

Sat May 22, 2021, 11:08 PM

22. It just seemed funny they chose to put Al Sharpten on the list when everyone else was worth tens

of millions.

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Response to doc03 (Reply #9)

Sat May 22, 2021, 08:43 PM

20. My mom used to send Joel money too

It was for a prayer group to pray for her. When I moved her few years ago in 90's and took control of her funds I stopped all of those fake charities.

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Response to Tree Lady (Reply #20)

Sat May 22, 2021, 11:03 PM

21. My Mom only got SS she lived in a rent subsidized apartment. I took care of balancing her checking

I told her over and over she was just getting robbed. She would send that SOB money then I would have to give her money to pay her bills. Those SOBs should be in prison for preying on old people that believe their bullshit.

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Response to doc03 (Reply #21)

Sun May 23, 2021, 04:15 PM

24. Feel same way I showed her articles

Of him not helping people during storms etc so she was ok when I stopped.

There were others she really believed also though.

Preying on elder folks like that should be federal crime.

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Response to Hippo_The_Pointer (Original post)

Sat May 22, 2021, 05:58 PM

14. Evangelicals believe that they are going to Heaven and everyone is going to Hell

so they consider themselves "The chosen" I've seen bumper stickers saying, "Not perfect but forgiven" or something like that.

The idea is once you say the prayer that you ask for forgiveness and profess Jesus is you savior then you have a permanent seat in heaven and nothing that you do afterward can change that. Most try to work to become "better Christians but the whole "Do good so you can get into heaven" thing like in the Catholic church is gone.

I have heard born again Christians say things like they are going to heaven so other things like being a good Christian don't matter. When you consider who the father of all this is, Martin Luther, it explains a lot. He was a horrible anti-Semite with a bunch of obsessive problems who had an abusive father who never accepted him and he never felt he was forgiven enough at confession. So this concept of "Just believe" was something that fit right into his pathology.

They also separate themselves and feel superior. "The believers" as they call themselves. Even when my nephew was having a problem with speech as a child I remember my SIL saying they wanted to find a Christian speech therapist. And now my other nephew is a Christian therapist. They all get home schooled and the parents make sure they go to Christian colleges and marry other Christians. So all these "Chosen ones" continue to create new 'Chosen ones"

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Response to Maraya1969 (Reply #14)

Sat May 22, 2021, 06:14 PM

15. Inside the bubble

Hi Marata1969 - The home schooling trend among the Evangelical community is another example of how the bubble is protected. Home school isolates and further protects against outside ideas. However despite the bubble some people do chose to leave. I've been watching videos all week of people who left cults and churches. It is interesting to see that despite having lived inside a bubble, some people wake up to the external reality and leave their bubble behind. It is interesting to hear their experiences and rational. Perhaps, some of the lessons from those videos may point the way towards getting people to leave the Republican party and the bubble that it represents.

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Response to Maraya1969 (Reply #14)

Sun May 23, 2021, 05:54 PM

28. But that is not true...you have to truly be repentant...and the Evangelicals often aren't.

They misread and abuse the Gospel.

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Response to Hippo_The_Pointer (Original post)

Sun May 23, 2021, 12:29 AM

23. I've know this for 30 years. It's what drove me from a moderate Republican to a liberal democrat.

I grew up evangelical. The Moral Majority joined the Republican Party with Reagan. Back then it was really about integration of African Americans. And even as an 18 year old republican I was uncomfortable with the mix even though I was still leaving the Baptist realm.

And slowly we saw their influence on that party grow until today they are indistinguishable. Why?

Because no matter what they do society keeps changing. And they really want to stop it but don’t realize there is no stopping it. Some of their sons and daughters will come out as gay, their daughters will not be virgins when they marry and the husband won’t care and many stop going to church. So rather than realizing times are changing they double down on the attempt to return America to a homogeneous society where their beliefs are the norm. Not the exception. To the point they are willing to abandon democracy. Because their belief in god trumps democracy.

My family is the perfect example. My sister and I both grew up going to church 3 times a week. Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night. But my dad insisted we both get a good education. Dad died 30 years ago. But while we have a good relationship with our mother I know she despairs about our souls. While we both ‘white lie’ to our mother about our faith, neither of us are real Christians as Mother understands them. My sister is what I call a spiritual person who believes whatever. I have a science education so I define myself as a deist in the Jefferson model. Neither of us go to church short of a wedding or funeral.

And Mother? I’ve watched a Democratic voter turn into a voter who votes for the most conservative candidate she can get. Not because she gives a shit about economic policies or welfare. But she desperately wants someone who will make America more like it was when she was a kid.

That sums up the Republican Party today. They stand for nothing but social regression.






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Response to Hippo_The_Pointer (Original post)

Tue May 25, 2021, 01:32 AM

32. Confusing as there are two movements using the Fellowship label

this is the origin of the independent fellowship movement https://www.gotquestions.org/Fellowship-Bible-Church.html

And there are Fellowship Evangelical, which were southern baptist rebranding in the 1960s.

The second group has been holding somewhat even. The first group is the denomination growing in size, while poaching away some of the mainstream church losses.

I wouldn't be surprised if both are courting Republican talking points as similar fantasy pie in the sky type of story.

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