Sunday, March 27, 2005

faith in America

Atrios asks why the Faith in America roundtable on Meet the Press has no women. A good question. We might also ask why, at a time when "religious faith" in the US may well be falling, there's no one on the panel representing the third largest "religious" group in our nation, no religion specified:
the greatest increase in absolute as well as in percentage terms has been among those adults who do not subscribe to any religious identification; their number has more than doubled from 14.3 million in 1990 to 29.4 million in 2001; their proportion has grown from just eight percent of the total in 1990 to over fourteen percent in 2001

I don't consider myself aggressively antitheistic. People believe what they need to believe. If you read media accounts of social trends, however, it would be hard to avoid the impression that we were living through a great religious revival, a time when "traditional values" were coming to define our country, a time when the values of the Right would come to define our nation. This survey doesn't bear that out. If anything, it suggests that during the same time that religion has come to dominate the public sphere, more and more Americans have found it wanting.

This isn't paradoxical. If the power of religious faith were truly growing in this country, religious leaders would have a harder time convincing the faithful that their way of life is under attack. If "traditional values" were truly ascendent, there would be no need for a Traditional Values Coalition.

The Meet the Press preview reads
From the moral issues surrounding the story of Terry Schiavo to religious diplomacy in the Middle East, faith permeates the people and the politics of the United States of America. Sunday's show will bring together prominent leaders from some of the nation's largest religions to discuss the complex and profound role of Faith in America

Given the actual trends, shouldn't a roundtable on faith ask why faith is losing ground? Isn't the real question why faith permeates the politics of our country at the same time that it's less relevant than ever to its people?

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