In God We Trusted: America is Losing Interest in Religion

In Comment, Non-fiction on March 23, 2013 at 2:37 am

Written by Alex Ashley

“Dear Sir: You are about to submit your annual report to Congress respecting the affairs of the national finances.  One fact touching our currency has hitherto been seriously overlooked.  I mean the recognition of the Almighty God in some form on our coins…”

Dated November 13, 1861, the foregoing words began a letter from Rev. M.R. Watkinson, Minister of the Gospel in Ridleyville, Pennsylvania, to Secretary of the Treasury, Salmon P. Chase.  The eventual end result was an Act of Congress in 1864 that approved the use of what has become four very famous words, on the face of United States currency.

“In God We Trust.”

But the world of “In God We Trust” was a very different world from ours.  Then, religion—namely Christianity—was a welcome guest in the homes of our nation.  “In God We Trust”: They weren’t just four words on a 2-cent coin; they actually reflected the views and ideals of America’s common man.  But these days, religion has become less and less a cozy, warm blanket of faith, morals and integrity with which to enwrap ourselves.  Rather, in the minds of many it is quite the opposite: something like a cancerous, malignant tumor on the collective brains of humanity, that beckons extraction.

In a 2012 Gallup survey, for example, 72% of Americans observed that “religion as a whole was losing its influence on American life…” And you can bet that a considerable chunk of that 72% is dancing on what they hope to be religion’s grave.  But why the loss of loyalty and confidence in religion?

“Hypocrisy,” many claim.

“Fear of accountability,” others assert.

Then, too, the rap sheet of institutionalized religion is long and incriminating enough to make even the Pope say “Wow, eso es malo!”

More than likely, it is because organized religion, historically, is the single worst representative of its own core principles in the entire world:

“Love thy neighbor” becomes the Westboro Baptist Church.

“What would Jesus do?” becomes an international, Catholic, sex scandal.

“God is my Co-Pilot” becomes Jimmy Swaggart.

No one has proven more effective at making a mockery of the entire concept of religion than “religious” people.

And then there is the issue of accountability, a concept that leaves a bad taste in most mouths.

“One of the cornerstones of the biblical concept of community is that of mutual accountability,” says George Barna, director of a 2010 survey by the Barna Group that dealt with accountability in Christian churches.  “But Americans these days cherish privacy and freedom to the extent that the very idea of being held accountable by others—even those with their best interests in mind, or who have a legal or spiritual authority to do so—is considered inappropriate, antiquated and rigid. With a large majority of Christian churches proclaiming that people should know, trust and obey all of the behavioral principles taught in the Bible, overlooking a principle as foundational as accountability breeds even more public confusion about scriptural authority and faith-based community, as well as personal behavioral responsibility.”

In other words, many people recoil at the idea of being held accountable for their actions from a spiritual or scriptural standpoint; they want the warm, fuzzy feeling of being “religious,” without the responsibility of living up to the standards perhaps found in their own religion.

As a result of that, many people find themselves at odds with the core beliefs and values of their own churches and religions, specifically in arenas of controversy such as homosexuality and gay marriage and abortion.

Rather than allowing spirituality to impact their decision-making, we see a reversal.  Whereas religion used to be the driving force of family values, of decisions and opinions—perhaps likened to the engine of a car that empowers it to travel down the road—it is rapidly becoming nothing more than a cultural hood ornament to keep people feeling good about themselves, convinced that the spiritual corner of their lives is taken care of.

Whatever the case, we see the waters of antitypical Babylon drying up, interest in religion waning, and the identity of America as a “Christian nation” slowly fading.  This is no longer the world of “In God We Trust,” but rather a world that is trying to tackle a surplus of opinions, beliefs and ideas.

A world that is slowly, surely, losing interest in religion.

  1. Blew me away with this one Alex! Take a bow.

  2. Very insightful article to which I hardily agree. Thank you for being willing to take a stand for the “truth”. The majority of people do not have the integrity to do so.

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