Orcinus has analysis of the Barna survey, recently released, that shows that Americans under the age of 30,
both Christian and non-Christian -- are strikingly more critical of Christianity than their peers were just a decade ago.... Ten years ago, "the vast majority" of non-Christians had generally favorable views of Christianity. Now, that number stands at just 16%.
This conclusion is spot on:
It seems likely that this study will trigger the persecution reflex among the more reactionary and defensive factions of the religious right. They've always felt like an embattled minority; and this report just proves what they've always intuited, which is that they're living amid a dominant culture that's increasingly hostile to their beliefs. (Some groups seem poised to honestly examine their own role in fostering that hostility; however, the more radical a group is, the less likely they are to bother with this.)
[Directly from the principal author of the Barna study:]
"As we probed why young people had come to such conclusions, I was surprised how much their perceptions were rooted in specific stories and personal interactions with Christians and in churches. When they labeled Christians as judgmental this was not merely spiritual defensiveness. It was frequently the result of truly ‘unChristian’ experiences. We discovered that the descriptions that young people offered of Christianity were more thoughtful, nuanced, and experiential than expected."
Orcinus also notes:
Some of the young adults' disdain for Christianity is the result of another new wrinkle that was nowhere on the scene a decade ago. The study found that 91% of non-Christians in America -- joined by 80% of the their peers in the pews -- now believe that Christianity is "anti-homosexual." (Gee. I can't imagine where they got that idea.)
The "anti-homosexual" fixation of many Christian conservatives--certainly of the religious rightwing in general--rightly gets special focus in Orcinus' comments. Jesus Christ's apparent hatred of how Tab A can go into more than just Slot A (the only valid one, apparently, on the celestial instruction sheets) has become a paramount conviction for many fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals and their often surprisingly authoritarian leaders.
Systematically working against civil rights for American citizens who happen to be attracted to the same sex is a maniacally favorite cause of the religious right, deeply intoxicating to the religious right leader and--often--voter, like a drug. Science, a careful understanding of history, and reason--even mere charity of heart--go right out the window. Hating the "queers," pretending to oh-so-sorrowfully "care" about "healing" gay people, and going on about "their lifestyle" so much, all rest upon spoon-fed interpretations of Scripture mixed with pseudo-science, cherry-picked stats (often out-dated), the prejudicial findings of bogus studies (often out-dated), and no small measure of conspiracy theories. It is cultish behavior; it is the lifting up as redemptive and righteous the habit of being irresponsible as a thinker, citizen, and human being. It is classic scapegoating of a "deviant" minority--something ageless as a despicable human practice, and something self-proclaimed Christians have let themselves become today's practitioners of. They ought to be sickened by their rank and idiotic mental and rhetorical violence against fellow Americans and human beings.
My anecdotal data with the religious right is extensive relative to myriad issues, including politics, science, sexuality, economics, and others. When it comes to "the gays," most evangelical Christians are patronizing at best, unhinged at worst, and too often wallow gleefully in self-righteousness. A handful are just woefully mis-informed, but of course they don't realize it. In fact, on this issue, in my experience, they virtually all speak with a marked degree of unwarranted certainty. This may seem like name-calling on my part. This may be politically incorrect. But this is truth-telling, and the Barna study bears witness to the truth of what I'm writing, because it highlights how many young Americans--who have had many firsthand encounters with Christians and who came of age in the era of the religious right--when exposed to the radicalized and political version of the religious right's Christianity have come to reject it. They are shaking the dust off their feet against it, and seem inclined to move on to other things, such as feeding the poor, clothing the naked, and even caring for the planet's future. I wonder if they'll get away with it?
Probably not. What is more, the religious right isn't going away anytime soon. The movement will fight social change. It is the movement of the perpetual No. Somewhat ironically, it will adapt and adjust in an attempt to claim lost ground, and it will have successes, and those success will cost lives and inflict pain on many people. But maybe, just possibly, it will also encounter a slightly stronger skepticism at least about its claim of wanting to create a better America. It won't be a special movement; but just another political one, mostly backward-looking and strangely myth-based, which does not mean un-compelling--basically the same as countless religio-political movements within empires, republics, cultures, city-states, nations, and tribes throughout human history.