As is clear from data all around the world, religion is in decline. I have written about this before, initially with regard to anglophone countries generally1, and subsequently, on more recent data from Australia2, 3, and the United States4.
Christians know this is happening and they are terrified of where it is going, as it will eventually lead to their power and privilege being dissipated, when they end up being a very small minority. With such a disaster looming on their horizon they surely wondered what they could do to prevent this happening. So, what did they do? In the US, they threw their lot in with the Republican Party and with the most amoral man to ever occupy the position of President. The fact that Trump is narcissistic, a pathological liar, a womaniser, a racist, and a bigot, goes against much of what Jesus Christ is reputed to have said. The fact that people who say they are followers of Christ could ignore Trump’s appalling behaviour clearly demonstrates that they are mostly concerned with their power and privilege, and perhaps their tax-free status, more than they are about the welfare of their fellow Americans.
With the aid of the Republicans and the stacked Supreme Court, they have overturned Roe v Wade, even when the three justices appointed by Trump (Gorsuch, Kavanagh, Coney Barrett) stated that it was a precedent and gave no indication that they would overturn it5, 6. If they gain enough power, their other bigotries will be legislated to. Will Obergefell v Hodges, which ruled that there was a constitutional right to same sex marriage, be repealed as well?7 In addition to same sex marriage, Justice Clarence Thomas has argued that the Supreme Court “should reconsider” its past rulings codifying same-sex relationships and even access to contraception8. These religious nutters will not stop there. They want control so they can maintain their power and privilege and if that is given to them, nobody will ever take it away from them without a bloodbath.
On the bright side, as I state above, religion is declining in many countries including the US, and it is declining among the young faster than any other demographic. Those with no religion in the US now make up about 29% of the population and the most recent data that I have seen, indicates that the rate of no religion among the 18-29 yearn old demographic is almost twice that of the general population, which would put it up around 50%.
One of the extraordinary statistics to come out of the US midterm elections was from the University of Michigan. Michigan is what is called a swing state in that it tends to oscillate between electing Republicans and Democrats. The current governor of Michigan is Democrat Gretchen Whitmer. And it was expected that she would receive a second term in these midterm elections as she is generally perceived to be competent. Her challenger was Republican Tudor Dixon9. The voter turnout in Michigan for the midterm election saw a record-record 4.45 million people voting, and resulted in a Democratic trifecta in the Michigan House, Senate and Governorship for the first time in nearly 40 years9. The extraordinary statistic to which I refer above is that at the University of Michigan campus, where one presumes the overwhelming majority of voters are young students, the proportion who voted for Whitmer was 94%, with 6% voting for Republican Dixon10. This indicates that the younger, educated demographic are dumping the Republicans in huge numbers. Could it be in part because that younger demographic are less religious?
Another thing which is clear; that access to safe abortion was on the mind of many voters, especially women11. The overturning of Roe v Wade by the Supreme Court and the assorted Republican states who very soon thereafter made access to abortion illegal12, very clearly were doing so at the behest of the religious within the Republican Party. Their ethos seems to be that women’s bodily autonomy is to be strictly limited.
If the Republican Party wants to alienate itself from the voting public, annoying women and the young is the way to do it. Trump may be the obvious target of those Republicans who are upset at their poor showing in the midterm elections, but that is only part of the story. The lurch toward christofascism is equally to blame, and to continue with either that or Trump will lead to the continuing decline of the party.
*Christofascism: Evangelical, semi-theocratical movement of Americans who stand against abortion, sex education, homosexuality, science, anti-Zionism, gun control, the separation of church and state, and anything else vaguely progressive. The term was coined by liberation theologian Dorothee Sölle in 1970. In the mid-2000s, the Bush administration refined its broadly titled “War on Terror” campaign to the ‘Fight Against Islamofascism’. This transferred the stigma of the 9/11 attacks from terrorists and their tactics to their religion and their policies (e.g., a Muslim caliphate). Since politically-active evangelicals seem to wish to theocratise the US, the term ‘Christofascism’ seems appropriate13.