Recent polling shows fewer Americans are putting their faith in religion’s influence to help solve America’s social problems.

Earlier in our nation’s history, religious leaders and institutions were prominent and instrumental in confronting important cultural and civic issues like slavery and segregation. Today, people have less faith in the ability and impact of religion and its believers to challenge contemporary social problems.

An article in Quartz by Neha Thirani Bagri communicates this pessimism by saying,

[T]he share of Americans who think that churches, synagogues, and other houses of worship contribute to solving crucial social problems is declining rapidly, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center.

In August 2008, 75% of Americans said religious institutions and leaders contributed somewhat to solving societal problems. That percentage had fallen to 65% by July 2012 and declined to 58% in the most recent survey.

Roughly 4 in 10 Americans now say religious leaders and institutions do not significantly contribute to solving social problems.

Bagri suggests that one possible reason for the lack of faith in religion’s capability and contribution toward rectifying social problems is the changing demographics of those who identify as religious. Because more and more people are rejecting traditional religious affiliation, it’s no surprise that increasing numbers don’t view religion or religious institutions as playing any meaningful role in helping cure the afflictions of American society.

Even though religion is no longer the cultural force it once was, Bagri notes that the declining clout of religion hasn’t reduced the appeal of social activism. More and more activists outright reject religious influence, desiring to create their own identity and moral authority for themselves and their cause.

Bagri says,

[M]odern activism in many cases no longer needs, or even desires, the imprimatur of churches.

I think there are a few issues here at play.

First, the poll’s use of the phrase “social issues” should be understood as social justice. “Solving” these social issues means people must surrender to the cultural and political demands for “rights,” “equality,” and “justice” for special identity-focused groups. Lastly, the poll identifies “churches and synagogues” as losing influence among social justice advocates and focusing on the social dissatisfaction of Christians unwilling to bend to the spirit of the times.

Social Problems

The poll insinuates that religion, religious institutions, and religious clergy – Christians – aren’t contributing to, fighting for, and capitulating their beliefs in favor of trendy definitions of social justice in ways numerous Americans would like.

On the other hand, since the numbers of Christians who self-identify as social justice advocates appear to be swelling, the poll could also suggest that Americans want more Christians to stand in solidarity with social justice activists to “solve” social issues. This stance might prove why the church has no tangible effect or presence when trying to solve cultural problems. Christian advocates of social justice consistently subordinate their spiritual faith to their political ideology; the consequence is that Christian identity, Christian expression, and the pursuit of biblical justice are subdued, if not erased. Furthermore, well-meaning Christians who aren’t self-identified social justice advocates but who desire to achieve biblical justice based on secular social justice trends are just as guilty of nullifying a recognizable Christian influence on social issues.

I think that’s the focal point.

The cultural influence of the progressive ideological morality – pathological narcissism – challenges traditional norms, such that more Americans want Christians to compromise their religious beliefs to allow this new morality to become the standard. The sexual revolution endorsed same-sex marriages and families of same-sex couples. Also, the emotionalism of sexual identity formation, so-called racial “justice,” the condemnation of racial privilege, and the distorted forms of economic “justice” all violate conventional notions of commonsense, fairness, equality under the law, and biblical principles. Christians represent the last fortified resistance to fully implementing this contemptible value system. As a result, it’s no surprise that many Americans try to persuade and coerce Christians into conformity while conferring superficial moral authority and superiority for their social causes due to the so-called deficiency of Christian participation.

In this light, it’s one reason modern-day activism, like Black Lives Matter, lacks the efficacy and stature of its cultural and political precursors. It lacks a clear plan, certain respectability of its intentions, and the church’s moral persuasion and religious credibility that the civil rights activists of the 1960s possessed.

Bravo to the courageous Christian holdouts who’ve refused to compromise their faith to endorse attitudes, trendy ideas, and behaviors that contradict their religious and theological convictions.



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