27 November 2011

America's Religious Right's Wrong Track

In the American political spectrum, evangelical religiosity is closely linked to right-winged political views.  This is not to say that those in the middle or left are less spiritual or religious than those on the right; it is to say that those who are on the right and religious tend to be vocal about their beliefs in the political arena.

A thought vector in America's religious right that explains this behavior is along these lines: "The Christian God made America great.  To continue keeping America great, it is the duty of Christians to ensure that the core of the nation remains strongly Christian.  As such, evangelism, constant religious dialog, and conversion of nonbelievers is a duty and a path to salvation."

During the Soviet years, when we had a bipolar world of the two superpowers, US and USSR, the US was the most religious industrial nation in the world.  Ronald Reagan referred to the Soviet Union as "the Evil Empire." The fall of the Iron Curtain was a signal - at least to some folks on the religious right - that God was on America's side and the atheistic Soviet Union had erred on the wrong side by disavowing the supernatural.

It is now a bit more than two decades after the dissolution of USSR.  Americans on the religious right should take note that their country no longer has the "most religious" status amongst the industrialized nations.  As it turns out, that spot has been relinquished to Russia, the heart, mind, and muscle of the erstwhile "Evil Empire."

The Cathedral of Christ the Savior is currently displaying a relic believed to be Virgin Mary's belt.  Russians from around the country are making a pilgrimage to this magnificent church to queue up in the cold weather for up to 24 hours to get a first-hand glimpse of this artifact, and to kiss the glass encasement in which it sits. 

This phenomenon has created some angst among the less-religious Russians.  There is a genuine surprise at the degree of latent religiosity that has become visible suddenly and many attempts to interpret what it really means.  A popular interpretation is that because Russia is on the wrong track and Russians have lost faith in their institutions, they are looking elsewhere for hope, inspiration, and perhaps a miracle.

It is curious that religiosity is seen as a sign of "losing faith" in national institutions in Russia while it is deemed as a necessary element of "keeping faith" in national institutions in America by the religious right.  Both views cannot be simultaneously right.  In any case, it can be concluded that America's religious right is on the wrong track either because it has lost it leadership or it has always been making the wrong assumptions about what made America strong.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Amir, splendid analysis!

    But I think you are wrong, thiking that "Russia was the heart, mind, and muscle of the erstwhile Soviet Union".
    Soviet rule was vehemently anti-russian. Russian national identity was suppressed, while regional nationalism (Ukrainian, Belurussian as well as others) was fanned up. Many of the soviet elite was using russian-like pseudonyms (Stalin, Molotov, Litvinov...) but that only camouflage.