Religion in America

Ross Douthat makes a fine point about religion, specifically Christianity, in America:

If Christianity in America meant the Christianity of Benedict XVI – or even the Christianity of C.S. Lewis, for that matter – I bet that about 15 percent of the country would be practicing believers. But you don’t get Benedict or even Lewis from most pulpits; you get socially-conservative Emersonianism in Red America and socially-liberal Emersonianism in Blue America. This wouldn’t fly in the European cultural context, but maybe there’s a form of organized religion that would – its theology just hasn’t been invented yet.

Previously he points out that in general, American theology is becoming more and more deistic in its leanings, despite its emphasis on elements of the culture wars. While politically conservative pastors rail against abortion, they promote a theology of materialism that does not question the fruits of liberal economic system. At the same time, there is a shift among many evangelicals to leave the culture wars and embrace so-called liberal causes such as the environment or poverty. (It should be noted this shift is accompanied by a bellief that these things should be handled, at least in part, by the federal government. One must look harder to see an emphasis on personal responses to these issues.) As Ross points out, Pope Benedict or C.S. Lewis (or even Francis Schaeffer) preach a totalitarian system of theology–absolutely no area of life should go without inspection, and, more often than not, this means that we should be questioning all elements of our American culture.