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vermontsavant
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03 May 2020, 3:43 pm

Karamazov wrote:
^ How big a role would you ascribe to the advent of televangelism in that?
That's when televangelism got big,was in the 80's and the rise of the Moral Majority in politics.But televangelism is what gave rise to the Moral Majority,now defunct with the death's of Jerry Falwell and Paul Weyrich,but they planted the seed that gave birth to the religious right.


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MaxE
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03 May 2020, 4:14 pm

The_Walrus wrote:
The US has a lot of little state-sanctioned religious rituals. Your national motto is “In God We Trust”, which appears on your currency. You have a pledge of allegiance which contains “one nation under God”. The Declaration of Independence makes explicit reference to a creator. And religion plays a much greater role in your politics and your society than in much of Northern Europe.

So I think what the OP was driving at is, despite the US being explicitly secular, in practice it seems to be a lot less secular than some countries with official religions.

I guess it began with how the US was colonized by different interests in Britain (which is BTW probably the main historical difference between the US and Canada which to my understanding was basically a garden-variety British colony). A number of these colonies were expressly established as theocracies the most notorious example being Massachusetts Bay which was populated by Puritans. Maryland by Catholics. Pennsylvania by the Society of Friends (which was much more conservative in practice than nowadays). This began a tradition for various oddball European sects to relocate to the US (perhaps most notably the Amish).

As a consequence, no church ever had a chance to become state-sanctioned.

Later on, the opening of the frontier (i.e. cleansing it of aboriginal peoples to make it safe for White people, same as in Australia) brought about a whole new culture of rugged self-sufficiency and those settlers turned to God when they needed moral strength. Later on that way of life came to be perceived as the purest expression of the American ideal.

More recently, two trends occurred around the beginning of the 80s:
a.) As the political influence of the Baby Boomers waned (due to their settling down to raise children) the more conservative preceding generations rose up and brought traditional religion back into the mainstream. This is the cultural climate that led to the growth of the Moral Majority etc.
b.) Politically the Republican Party, which had been greatly receded in influence after the Vietnam War, seized upon religion as a major plank in its platform, which was a wildly successful strategy that led to their now being the "leading party" in the US.


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Karamazov
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03 May 2020, 4:27 pm

@vermontsavant & MaxE:
Thanks, a synthesis of your respective posts is more or less the impression I’d got from here. But was aware of the possibility it might look different from up close.



kraftiekortie
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03 May 2020, 5:05 pm

Additionally, some of the children of the Baby Boomers rebelled against what they saw as their unsteady and inconsistent ethos, and became conservatives. Some of them adopted Christianity as a counterpoint to what they saw as the previous generation’s relative “loose morals,” and sometimes even against what they saw as their hypocrisy.



Last edited by kraftiekortie on 03 May 2020, 5:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Karamazov
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03 May 2020, 5:13 pm

^ That I didn’t know. Interesting.
I have been informed that the guy who formed the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt had a similar response to 1950s America when he was a student there, which seems bitterly ironic now.



naturalplastic
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05 May 2020, 5:29 am

Odd that the OP frames it as a contrast between atheism in one place vs another, rather than as religion in one place vs another.

Hardcore militant atheism might even be about the same in Europe and in America.

But religion is indeed stronger in the US than in any other industrialized nation. Sixty percent of Americans go to church regularly while only about six percent of Brits and West Europeans do so. Canadians and Aussies are similar to Brits in numbers.

The three theories I have heard to explain the difference are: The Two World Wars theory, and the state monopoly theory, and the dead man walking theory.

The two world wars theory posits that because of the ravages of the two world wars and the Holocaust and etc in Europe Europeans lost the faith. The US escaped being directly devastated by the world wars so the faith lives on here. Among the many problems with this theory is that Canada and Australia got through the two world wars just as unscathed as the US, but have become just as secular and non religious as western Europe and the UK, and also did not keep the faith.

One reporter narrating a documentary quipped that "in most European nations the state has a monopoly on religion, and as with most state monopolies the product gets run into the ground". Not much of an explanation by itself. But when the state embraces one sect then (as several have pointed out here in this thread) that particular sect become the default setting for all religion. So the choice gets broken down THAT sect, or nothing. In contrast the US, from the start of the colonial period onward, has always been both a big importer of religious sects, and a big creator of homegrown religions and sects. So no one sect dominates. So the US offers a big buffet where you can find something that's just right for you. Its not just this or nothing. Its a vast choice, that happens to also include "nothing" as a choice. So "nothing" gets picked less often.

There probably is something to that theory. And our constitutional separation of church and state paradoxically makes religion stronger and more popular.

Then there is the dead man walking theory. Which is that actually there is NO religion in the industrialized west ANY where anymore, including in the US. That religion is actually just as dead in America as it is in the rest of the industrialized world. What exists in the US instead of religion is a desperate parody of religion (ie televangelists, Creation museums, etc). Canada, the UK, Western European nations, have the empty set instead of religion. And the US has this desperate modern spoof of religion instead of religion. So its really the same thing.

And there is a grain of truth to that too IMHO. But its not the whole truth. Real religion exist and is popular in the US even though much high profile religion has indeed degenerated into self-parody in the US.

So on balance there isn't one really good explanation.



fluffysaurus
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05 May 2020, 8:32 am

naturalplastic wrote:
Odd that the OP frames it as a contrast between atheism in one place vs another, rather than as religion in one place vs another.

Hardcore militant atheism might even be about the same in Europe and in America.
Militant atheism? is this a thing? I've not come across it here but then the CofE is a quiet well behaved lot too. Hysteria is not looked on in kindly light here.
Quote:
But religion is indeed stronger in the US than in any other industrialized nation. Sixty percent of Americans go to church regularly while only about six percent of Brits and West Europeans do so. Canadians and Aussies are similar to Brits in numbers.
But we do believe in God (about 60%) so not atheists.
Quote:
The three theories I have heard to explain the difference are: The Two World Wars theory, and the state monopoly theory, and the dead man walking theory.

The two world wars theory posits that because of the ravages of the two world wars and the Holocaust and etc in Europe Europeans lost the faith. The US escaped being directly devastated by the world wars so the faith lives on here. Among the many problems with this theory is that Canada and Australia got through the two world wars just as unscathed as the US, but have become just as secular and non religious as western Europe and the UK, and also did not keep the faith.
Canada and Australia did not get through two world wars as unscathed as the US. Their soldiers died in the same rates as the UK. While mainland Europe did suffer with invasion and even higher death rates, I don't think this would make a good reason, usually adversity makes people more religious rather than less. The need perhaps to feel that there is order and reason when we feel everything is outside of our control.
Quote:
One reporter narrating a documentary quipped that "in most European nations the state has a monopoly on religion, and as with most state monopolies the product gets run into the ground". Not much of an explanation by itself. But when the state embraces one sect then (as several have pointed out here in this thread) that particular sect become the default setting for all religion. So the choice gets broken down THAT sect, or nothing. In contrast the US, from the start of the colonial period onward, has always been both a big importer of religious sects, and a big creator of homegrown religions and sects. So no one sect dominates. So the US offers a big buffet where you can find something that's just right for you. Its not just this or nothing. Its a vast choice, that happens to also include "nothing" as a choice. So "nothing" gets picked less often.

There probably is something to that theory. And our constitutional separation of church and state paradoxically makes religion stronger and more popular.
This might be it. New Testament Christianity seems littered with being the underdog. It's less convincing when you are clearly running things.
Quote:
Then there is the dead man walking theory. Which is that actually there is NO religion in the industrialized west ANY where anymore, including in the US. That religion is actually just as dead in America as it is in the rest of the industrialized world. What exists in the US instead of religion is a desperate parody of religion (ie televangelists, Creation museums, etc). Canada, the UK, Western European nations, have the empty set instead of religion. And the US has this desperate modern spoof of religion instead of religion. So its really the same thing.

And there is a grain of truth to that too IMHO. But its not the whole truth. Real religion exist and is popular in the US even though much high profile religion has indeed degenerated into self-parody in the US.

So on balance there isn't one really good explanation.



kraftiekortie
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06 May 2020, 7:08 pm

According to Pewresearch.org, 41% of professed CHRISTIANS attend church at least weekly in the United States.

I don’t know anybody who attends any religious service except during the “high holy days.”



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28 May 2020, 4:40 pm

The main difference is that in the U.S., religion has infiltrated politics, and politics has infiltrated religion.

There is no such intertwining in Europe. Catholicism used to be the state religion in Italy and Spain, and Orthodoxy was the state faith in Greece. On the other hand, religion was discouraged in the then-Eastern Bloc, with Albania banning it completely during the Hoxha regime.


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