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Has the decline of Christianity led to extremist political cults in America?
As churches and other religious communities in the United States find themselves with declining membership and attendance, some have argued that a new religion, the political cult, has taken their place.
Exchange - Arguments - Commentators - Argument - Influence
In a recent exchange of arguments, three social commentators tackled the argument of whether the declining influence of Christianity in western culture has fueled the rise of political extremism.
Andrew Sullivan, author and columnist with New York Magazine, had a piece published Dec. 7 titled “America’s New Religions” that argued politics was filling the “need for meaning” found with growing secularization.
Everyone - Religion - Fact - Religion - Sullivan
“Everyone has a religion. It is, in fact, impossible not to have a religion if you are a human being,” wrote Sullivan, who defined “religion” as “a way of life that gives meaning, a meaning that cannot really be defended without recourse to some transcendent value, undying ‘Truth’ or God (or gods).”
“The need for meaning hasn’t gone away, but without Christianity, this yearning looks to politics for satisfaction. And religious impulses, once anchored in and tamed by Christianity, find expression in various political cults.”
Sullivan - Cults - Crude - Experience - Examples
Sullivan went on to describe political cults as “new and crude,” saying that they lack refinement and experience, with examples being found on both ends of the spectrum.
“We have the cult of Trump on the right, a demigod who, among his worshippers, can do no wrong. And we have the cult of social justice on the left, a religion whose followers show the same zeal as any born-again Evangelical,” continued Sullivan.
Void - Christianity - Wisdom - Culture - Restraint
“They are filling the void that Christianity once owned, without any of the wisdom and culture and restraint that Christianity once provided.”
Sullivan warned that these cults, both left and right “threaten liberal democracy” due to their rejection of compromise, doubt, reason, and the “primacy of the individual.”
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