Reflection 01/28

I was really intrigued by the paragraph McGuire wrote on religious extremism on page 184. She suggests that the changes in modern society has essentially bred this extreme stance. She mentions the “New Christian Right” and the role of sectarian religion in politics, and I realized that this may be true of our current political climate now more than it ever has been. McGuire explains how a religious group may feel forced into becoming increasingly sectarian in response to changes in society. As many in the United States move toward more progressive ideals, Conservative “right wing” politicians attempt to ensure the country stays “traditional”. I trace this back to chapter 3, where McGuire brings up the concept of “anomie”. Members of the Christian Right likely view the trend toward liberal attitudes on topics such as abortion and legalization of gay marriage as a crisis in the morality of the American populace. It seems that our current president was a perfect candidate for many members of the Christian Right, saying things like “I am the law and order candidate” during his campaign.

In chapter 2 of his book, Mark Chaves goes into more detail on the religious right’s influence on American politics. He suggests that the greatest reason behind the decline in those who identify as religious is due to this influence. He essentially states that this involvement in politics has turned many liberal/moderate members of the church away, and the increasingly progressive attitude of the American people has made them less likely to want to affiliate with religion. It might be fair to assume that this decline in religiosity further lends to the Christian Right’s feeling that the country is in a state of anomie, or lack of moral order. To combat this, they will either have to become more denominational, or they will have to become more sectarian. However, the more sectarian the religious right becomes, I suspect it may have the opposite effect and even more people will becomes less religious. Perhaps this is why our forefathers warned us about keeping religion separate from politics; so that this type of conflict could be avoided.