LDS attendance is down, and to a slightly lesser degree, so is religious observance with the population of the U.S. in general. Part of this, but certainly not all of it is the fact, other than consumerism, our country no longer has any cultural norms, no glue to hold it together, America is disintegrating.
America is disintegrating? Do you mean armed rebellions and attempted coups? In that case, yes.
Do you mean the incredibly slow but steady work towards living in a country where all (all!) are seen as deserving members of one of the greatest political experiments in self-governance? That desire is the true glue that will bind us in the end. This I believe.
Western Europe has pretty much given religion the heave-ho, and no one is arguing that those countries lack cultural norms or a cohesive culture. Some of the most admired countries in the world are in Western Europe.
Alexis de Toqueville wrote extensively about this in Democracy in America, a two-volume book that shows what a genius could do in the 1830s while the Mormons were off chasing nihilistic delusions. He thought the strength of the United States lay in its decision as an act of will to de-emphasize religion in order to build a united society. He lamented that Europe had proved unable to achieve that.
The tables have turned. Northern and parts of Central Europe have found a non-sectarian equilibrium that supports robust democracies while the most vile forms of religion have riven the US in ways that may prove insuperable. Lacking both history and decent education in history, most Americans have no idea what demons they have unleashed.
Yes. The so-called religious right in the U.S. wear religion like armor to protect themselves from heathens, pagens, and all the other non-believers they are surrounded by, afraid of straying off the straight-and-narrow path. Afraid of losing 'salvation'.
Bedrock belief systems, like Christianity, Mormonism, etc. take a long time to chip away, but the truth will emerge eventually.
I wouldn't say the religious right "wears religion like armor;" I'd say they wield religion like a sword.
The problem is that Toqueville saw the US at a time of confidence. The religious did not perceive others, religious or not, as an existential threat. The looming division was over slavery, not confession.
But the confessional threat was always present in the shadows. If you ignore all the warm and fluffy stuff in Jesus, you can fasten on the minor theme of "I come to bring a sword." And there is a certain logic to it, for if there is only one God and one truth it is mine and not yours. And if I am God's chosen, you'd better sign up or get out of the way.
The truth is today's American evangelical extremism is a result of religious weakness and not strength, as billy Graham and Jerry Falwell and their ilk no longer thought they could achieve their aims without state compulsion. Gone, therefore, is the "one nation under God" and "e pluribus unum" aspiration of the early 19th and early 20th centuries, supplanted by "replacement theory" and theocratic aspiration.
The United States resembles 1618 Germany and 1789 France a lot more than the America of Toqueville's and Smith's 1830s America. For the present, at least, the latter is ascendant.
America is much more mature than in Tocqueville's time, and adolescents are more difficult to deal with than toddlers, especially when they're in puberty.
I agree, evangelical extremism is a result of weakness, which results from doubt, uncertainty, fear.
As far as wielding religion like a sword, I think they wield it like a suppressed Glock 9mm. They can kill silently without hardly moving at all. But they're afraid to. They're restrained by their beliefs.
I don't think they were restrained when chanting "Jews will not replace us" in Charlottesville nor on January 6. And the new rules on abortion, gay rights, gun control, and other issues are killing people.
>> Part of this, but certainly not all of it is the fact, other than consumerism, our country no longer has any cultural norms, no glue to hold it together, America is disintegrating.
The U.S. can hold its own in pretty much any artistic or cultural endeavor -- art, architecture, music, dance, cuisine, fashion, books, movies, the theater, etc. We also have more lowbrow cultural norms such as uniquely American sports (i.e. NFL football, basketball, and baseball.)
I think the American spirit, at its best, could be described as innovative, entrepreneurial, exploratory, and adventurous.
We are generally speaking a prosperous society, but so are many others. Where people have money to spend, they will spend it (consumerism.)
Board members are not compelled to respond to any post, response, comment, or argument. The Mormon church attempts to compel, but this board does not. It could be that board members (i.e. YOU) simply had nothing to say about the comment. Such is life.
The original post was about the decline in church attendance.
We are certainly pushed to buy and consume as much as possible, and we do that quite well.
However, the glue that holds us together as Americans, are the freedoms guaranteed to us in writing: freedom to own property, of speech, of the press, freedom of religion, to keep and bear arms, and many more. We are taught this in school. We know this.
Whether or not America is disintegrating is a good subject for debate. Nothing lasts forever, but as long as the constitution is in tact, and our rights are guaranteed, we should be OK.
I'm free to join or leave any church I want to. I like that.