Thursday, February 27, 2014

Why the secularization of society doesn't bother me

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I feel like I very frequently hear religious friends and family lamenting the changing legislation in our country because they feel the US is a Christian nation.  I'm not really of the mind that the US was founded on religious principles.  As best I can tell from history, the US was founded on a lot of common principles and values of the day, with a strong emphasis on freedom.  And I tend to believe, based on the information I have about many of the founding fathers, that if they were alive today they would be quite progressive individuals and mostly agnostics.  I think we tend to overlook the default to Christian religion of the time period and not as much consider that some of these men were not as Christian as many would like to believe.  And that's fine with me, I certainly don't mind.

I also think it can be a bit silly to think certain founding fathers' would be upset by progressive legislation, because who could possibly have been more progressive than the founding fathers?  It's a story we're used to hearing, but when you think about how radical the whole independence process was, it's quite impressive.  Time has made us all lose our appreciation for it.

So no, I don't think of the US as a "Christian nation" and I can't say that I see this as a bad thing.  In fact, I sometimes feel that the secularization of American society is even good.

Because conservative Protestant Christian culture has historically been so pervasive in our society, the hallmark of Sundays in the US used to be (and still is in many places) women and men in their best clothes behaving politely and being social at church.  Just picture a nice Episcopal or Presbyterian church in the 1950s with ladies in pillbox hats and gloves.  Men in suits with slick hair.  In the last year or so I have come to believe that this makes me very uncomfortable.  Why?  Because these people are all too comfortable.  Church and Christianity are so normal in America that it causes most Christians to be totally complacent.  So many Americans self-identify as Christian and while I don't doubt that many of them do believe in God and Jesus, I think the majority have forgotten how radical what we believe is.

We're talking about a God coming to earth in the form of a baby, hanging out for 33 years and then being executed.  Then rising from the dead.  The dead.  A person coming back to life.  That's crazy.

I feel like living as a Christian in an increasingly secular society forces me to not be complacent.  I do have to actually think about what I believe and explain it and having just a touch of a feeling of being counter-cultural actually makes my faith stronger.  Don't get me wrong--I appreciate that I live in a country where I am not persecuted and I'm aware that Christianity being the dominant religion in America makes my life easier than I often realize.

But maybe secularization is the push we all need to be less complacent in our faith.  To stop thinking of going to church as a comfortable, routine, traditional way to spend a Sunday and rather an exercise in something radical.

1 comment:

  1. I love these thoughts and they totally echo what I've been thinking.


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