Trump Can’t Save American Christianity

Is there anything Donald Trump can do to alienate evangelicals and other conservative Christians who support him? By now, it’s hard to think of what that might be. These are people who would never let men with the morals and the mouths of Mr. Trump and Mr. Scaramucci date their own daughters. And yet, Team Trump has no more slavishly loyal constituency.

.. The truth is, Christianity is declining in the United States.

.. the United States is no longer a counterexample to the West’s secularization. America is on the same path of religious decline pioneered by Europe and Canada.

.. Mr. Smith finds that what he terms “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism” has displaced authentic Christianity as the true religion of American Christians.

.. In M.T.D., the highest goal of the religious life is being happy and feeling good about oneself. It’s the perfect religion for a self-centered, consumerist culture. But it is not Christianity.

.. “America has lived a long time off its thin Christian veneer,” Mr. Smith told me. “That is all finally being stripped away by the combination of mass consumer capitalism and liberal individualism.”

 .. But the standard “religious right” model, based on the idea that the American people are a morally sound majority led by decadent liberal elites, was inaccurate.

.. Conservative Christians helped elect Republican politicians, but that did not stop the slide toward secularism. True, the church gained some access to power, but it failed to effectively counter popular culture’s catechetical force.

.. Mr. Trump is not a solution to this cultural crisis, but rather a symptom of it.

.. Pope Benedict XVI himself once said that the spiritual crisis the West faces is worse than anything since the fifth-century fall of the Roman Empire. This is why St. Benedict of Nursia is so relevant to Christians today.

The Weakness of Reason: Moralistic Therapeutic Deism

I responded that it’s simply not possible to reason with people who don’t share a common source of authority. But it’s even worse than that. These days, it’s quite possible to find oneself drawn into arguments with people who will share your premises, but reject your conclusion for no reason other than they don’t wish to accept what follows from those premises.

.. People aren’t terribly interested in truth, because at worst it frightens them, and at best it makes them feel uncomfortable. Which is about the same thing.

.. If you missed All Things Considered on Friday afternoon because of your travels, then you missed a sterling example of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism-cum-emotivism in relation to the Pope’s new exhortation.

.. Is this something I really want to be a part of? Is this something that resonates with my understanding of what I believe Jesus Christ taught, of what I believe this church is about?