Category Archives: Immigration

2009: Replenishment vs. Replacement: Illegal Immigration and the Future of America / Larry Eastland, Meridian Magazine

From interacting with my Hispanic and Spanish Speaking acquaintances, both in my many visits to Charismatic protestant churches and withh Hispanic Catholics, I can vouch for the fact that their religious views, their unusually-moral lives and their sense of values, as well as their approach to civilization, closely match our own. I have felt for several years that speaking out against Hispanic immigration, legal or not, has been wrong for that reason. I’m glad that other LDS thinkers are starting to reach the same conclusion.

From a completely practical perspective, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a rapidly-growing membership among Spanish speaking Immigrants including Not-Yet-Legal immigrants in the U.S.. The Church will certainly grow faster in Central and South America by having that approach in the U.S. We have all noticed that the number of full-time missionaries departing for “Spanish Speaking Missions in the U.S.” has skyrocketed.

Elder Marlin K Jensen of the Seventy gave the official LDS position on Immigration as described in this article in the Deseret News: Have compassion for immigrants, lawmakers urged .

Stanley Kurtz talked about this phenomenon of demographic decline in 2005 in this post: Demographics and the Culture War: The implications of population decline / Stanley Kurtz, Hoover Institution .

Mark Steyn has some of the best descriptions of the demographic shrinking of natives in advanced cultures in Europe and around the world in his book “America Alone.”

Perhaps the most learned appeal to trying to maintain an “English Speaking, Protestant-oriented Culture” in the United States is Samuel Huntington’s “Who Are We? Challenges to America’s National Identity” (see some excerpts on my blog at this link). I agree with most of what Huntington writes, but I disagree completely with the fear that Hispanic Speaking Catholic-cultured Immigrants will not become part of the culture in the same way previous immigrants have. I believe they will. In spite of their numbers, and the large percentage of them who still speak Spanish, I think that they will follow tha pattern described beautifully in this current post by Larry Eastland:

For the sake of argument, let’s assume that the 11 to 20 million illegal immigrants swarming across America today will: (1) learn to speak English at least as well as Arnold Schwarzenegger, (2) stay off welfare and out of jail, (3) pay their taxes on time and in full, and (4) send children to school who will perform as well as Asian kids. In effect, let’s assume that they become better citizens than many other Americans.

Samuel Huntington may have reason to worry that they will not. But after working with them on Proposition 8 and visiting their charismatic , protestant Spanish-speaking churches, I am certain they will.

See the original of Larry Eastland’s Outstanding article on the Meridian Magazine website at this link.

Love and thanks,
Steve St.Clair

Replenishment vs. Replacement
Illegal Immigration and the Future of America
Larry L. Eastland, Ph.D.
Meridian Magazine
June 20, 2009

Larry L. Eastland, Ph.D., is Chairman of the Board of LEA Capitol Advisors, Inc, and former President and CEO of Parks! America, Inc. He was a Staff Assistant to President Gerald Ford.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume that the 11 to 20 million illegal immigrants swarming across America today will: (1) learn to speak English at least as well as Arnold Schwarzenegger, (2) stay off welfare and out of jail, (3) pay their taxes on time and in full, and (4) send children to school who will perform as well as Asian kids. In effect, let’s assume that they become better citizens than many other Americans.

Eventually, a bill will pass Congress in some form about illegal immigration. And when it does, the liberal coalition 1 will have hit the demographic jackpot. As for the conservative coalition 2, at the moment, they don’t understand the political peril to themselves and to all they believe in.

Let me explain.

When legislation to grant citizenship to 11 million 3 to 20 million 4 illegal 5 immigrants eventually passes, five out of six6 will be of voting age. Thus, the new law will minimally add some 8.5 million new voters, mostly Hispanic, to the rolls of various states, not counting the estimated 700,000 – 800,000 7 new illegal immigrants who cross the borders each year. Indeed, this may be the single most important factor in deciding the nation’s future.

This question is an integral component of a larger population trend at work in America and, incidentally, in the rest of the Western world. Stated in general terms, we are in the middle of a war between two ways of bringing new people into the American family and its work force: replenishment vs. replacement.

As a technical term, replenishment is the means of supplying more of what has been used up. For example, rain replenishes lake water that has evaporated. Likewise, family members who die are replenished by new family members.

Replacement occurs when one thing is succeeded by something quite different. For example, the horse-drawn carriage was replaced by the automobile, and gas lights were replaced by electric lights. In the current population debate, replacement means substituting immigrants for native Americans.

The illegal immigrant replacements are having more children than native-born Americans. The Center for Immigration Studies reported that they estimate that the fertility of illegal aliens in 2002 was 3.06 children on average, or about half again as high as the fertility rate for natives . . . accounting for nearly one out of every 10 births in the United States. 8

Many regard the rapid growth of the immigrant population as ominous. However, a closer look reveals an encouraging fact: the dominant new immigrant groups in America — as opposed to the new immigrants in Europe — generally share the core religious and social values of Western culture.

The Pew Hispanic Center estimates that:

Mexicans make up by far the largest group of undocumented migrants at 5.9 million or 57 percent of the total . . . . In addition, another 2.5 million undocumented migrants or about 24 percent of the total are from other Latin American countries. 9

Thus, 87 percent of the illegal immigrants are most likely to be Christian and have the same Western cultural values held by the existing population of European ancestry. These values include: a fierce commitment to family, a strong work ethic, and church membership (whether Roman Catholic or, more recently, evangelical.)

So, for America, the issue is not growth vs. no growth, but what kind of growth and with what consequences. The question is which will influence the future culture more: replenishment or replacement – more children in American families, or more immigrant families moving into communities.

The political and social stakes are very high, and the resolution of this dilemma will determine which political party can jump from a dependable 48 percent of the two-party vote to a stable 53 percent or more. Neither party has been able to crack the ceiling in recent years, although the Democrats appear to be slightly ahead of Republicans (.5111 to .4889 respectively). But, even when the tide rises for one party, it seldom gets above 53 percent of the total.

So, let’s take a look at the replenishment vs. replacement dilemma we face.

First, replenishment.

For advocates of this viewpoint, replenishment is about maintaining a spiritual society, one dedicated to families, traditional social and religious values, and a continuity of generations.

Replenishment requires long-term commitment, sacrifice, time, resources and personal attention. Parent-teacher conferences instead of wine and cheese parties. Saturdays at little league games instead of a golf foursome. Weeknight attention to homework rather than after-work dinners for two at five-star restaurants.

Conversely, replacement.

Usually, replacement is based purely on pragmatic economic considerations. It is discussed impersonally, when you speak in terms of jobs to be filled — gardeners, fruit pickers, waiters. It is about numbers rather than people with names, families, and values. When you need someone to perform tasks, you import new backs to haul bags of mulch, new hands to pick oranges or carry trays. Your relationship with them is strictly business – dollars paid for hours worked.

The price of replacement is cheaper, too. The costs can be passed on to others through taxes and social welfare – in effect, spread out among all American taxpayers — while replenishment requires that large traditional families take care of each other and pay their own way.

Further, replacement has little spiritual content. Its gods are government and secular organizations: welfare, Medicaid, food stamps, public housing, public schools, advocacy groups, and ethnic alliances. The natural tendency of immigrants is to first cloister among people of similar language and heritage; and illegal immigration exacerbates that tendency, since any contact with the mainstream culture carries with it the risk of discovery and deportation. Thus, illegal status tends to produce even greater cultural isolation, which in turn results in gangs, crime, and hostility to mainstream America.

There also is a socialization process that accompanies legal immigration that is absent in illegal immigration: learning the basics of American civics, voluntarily accepting to live by the rules, and committing to totally forsake citizenship in their country of origin. What do they learn by illegally entering this country, defying our laws, and getting away with it? Isn’t that the prevailing ethic of the country they left? Is it not important to socialize immigrants into our legal culture, not just the social culture?

So which do Americans prefer: replenishment or replacement? Replenishment – and by a healthy majority. Luntz, Maslansky Strategic Research — in a recent study which I commissioned — posed the following question to a representative sample of Americans: “ Economists say that the only way to sustain economic growth in the long-term is to have a growing population. There are two ways we can grow the population in America. Which way do you favor? (Rotate): We can encourage families to have more children or we can encourage more immigration into the country. ”

By 40 percent to 26 percent, 10 Americans favor growth through replenishment over replacement. That’s 60 percent more. However, just as the “devil is in the details,” so is the richness in the data. (See Table I.) 11

· Fifty percent more Americans in the so-called “Red States” than in the “Blue States”
12 favor replenishment over replacement (44:30).

· A majority of those who voted for President Bush in 2004 favor replenishment, while only one-third of John Kerry voters do (53:36).

· Conservatives are three times as likely to favor replenishment as liberals (59:20).

· And, when combining Bush voters with conservatives, and Kerry voters with liberals, Bush conservatives were nearly four times as likely to favor replenishment as Kerry liberals (43:12).

But, the question is deeply embedded in other cultural characteristics as well. For example, active church goers (once a week or more), 13 were 50 percent more likely to support replenishment (46:29) than those who rarely or never attend church – whatever their denomination.

Without a doubt the political winners of the replenishment race are Republicans 14 and conservatives. 15They not only preach it, they live it. For every liberal household there are 2.3 children; for every conservative household there are 2.61 children. In Blue States its 2.4 children per household; for Red States its 2.78 children per household. 16

So what does all this mean? Here are a few implications of the conflict between those who favor replenishment and those who favor replacement.

Liberals and Democrats are losing the replenishment race – in large part because of their own views toward abortion and large families. 17If they want to replenish their dwindling base, they will have to start having larger families, something many currently refuse to do.

While Republicans and conservatives are winning the replenishment battle, they are in danger of losing the replacement war, what with our porous borders attracting literally millions of illegals.

To put it another way, when this issue came before Congress a few years ago, the Democrats and liberals “got it,” and Republicans didn’t. Liberals and Democrats had the luxury — and good sense — simply to allow the Republicans to self-destruct on this issue. During its majority rule, its policy disarray over illegal immigration made Republicans look intolerant and incompetent; an image custom-made for the Democrats. The 2006 election overturned the Republican Congress, and in 2008 . . . well, it was a tidal wave.

The stage is now set for the Democrats to give themselves the gift of 11-20 million replacements — a gift that will keep on giving. Their strategy after citizenship is granted is to do what they always do anyway: pass a series of entitlements, special protections, and pro-minority benefits – and they will become for generations the party that welcomed the new citizens and their hoards of children and showered them with presents.

If the religious and conservative leadership failed to grasp the true meaning of the issue, Americans as a whole understand. In the Luntz Survey, an overwhelming majority agreed on one thing: replacement currently is a big winner for the liberal Democrat political coalition. The question asked was: “ And which political party do you think will benefit more if citizenship is granted eventually to illegal immigrants? ” By an overwhelming margin of nearly four to one, virtually every demographic group recognized that the big vote-generating winner will be the Democrats.

So, Republicans beware and Democrats rejoice. Despite our nation’s solid commitment to replenishment over replacement, replacement stands poised to become the official policy of the United States; and the consequences of this sea change are obvious to predict: a new era of Democratic domination similar to what happened following Roosevelt’s election and the institution of the New Deal; the inevitable growth of welfare, entitlements, and Big Government; and, the intensification of divisive ethnic politics.

Could this trend be reversed by conservatives? Perhaps. These replenishers are people with religious and family values the conservatives ought to embrace – provided they can get back into the good graces of the millions upon millions who view them as intolerant of immigrants. Some time in the not-too-distant future, another Armageddon will be fought on Capitol Hill. Perhaps this time the conservative coalition can find a way to win the affection of these replacements, in the sure knowledge that they will immediately become the greatest replenishers of our families, communities, and work force.


1Generally, this refers to the liberal, secular, Democrat coalition. These labels, and the one that follows, must by necessity be rather open since none of the terms are exclusive.

2 Generally, this refers to the conservative, religious, Republican coalition.

3 Jeffrey S. Passel, Senior Research Associate, Pew Hispanic Center, “ Estimates of the Size and Characteristics of the Undocumented Population,” p. 2. A Pew Research Center Project, March 21, 2005. “ As of March 2005, the undocumented population has reached nearly 11 million including more than 6 million Mexicans, assuming the same rate of growth as in recent years.” Pew Hispanic Center estimates based on March 2002, 2003, and 2004 Current Population Surveys (Passel 2005); includes an allowance for persons omitted from the CPS. Estimates for California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, and New Jersey use “direct” methods; other states based on “synthetic” methods.

That number was corroborated in a report on August 18, 2006 by the Office of Immigration Statistics in the Department of Homeland Security. In an article analyzing that report, SUZANNE GAMBOA, Associated Press Writer, stated that “About 11 million illegal immigrants were living in the U.S. at the start of this year [2006], the federal government said in a report Friday. That’s up from an estimated 8.5 million living in the country in January 2000, according to calculations by the Office of Immigration Statistics in the Department of Homeland Security.” Click here for the link.

4 Charles Hurt, “ Congress open to passing bill on immigration,” The Washington Times, December 4, 2006. Congress will approve an immigration bill that will grant citizenship rights to most of the 12 million to 20 million illegal aliens in the U.S. after Democrats take control next month, predict both sides on Capitol Hill. While Republicans have been largely splintered on the issue of immigration reform, Democrats have been fairly unified behind the principle that the illegals currently in the country should get citizenship rights without having to first leave the country.

5 The focus of this article is “illegal immigration” only, not legal immigration. I believe that legal immigration greatly enriches America.

6 Jeffrey S. Passel, p. 1. “ Although most undocumented migrants are young adults, there is also a sizeable childhood population. About one-sixth of the population—some 1.7 million people— is under 18 years of age.”

7 Jeffrey S. Passel, p. 2.

8 Steven A. Camarota, “Birth Rates Among Immigrants in America”, The Center for Immigration Studies, October 2005.

9 Jeffrey S. Passel, p. 2 .

10 34 percent were undecided or refused.

11 It is too soon to know the sustainability of the 2008 winning Obama coalition. The 2004 election is used here because it was a referendum on President George W. Bush’s entire first four years in office.

12 Purple States are those states that gave neither candidate 53 percent or more of the vote. The Purples States are: (1) Bush: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Mexico and Ohio. (2) Kerry: Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

13“How often do you attend organized religious services? (1) More than once a week; (2) Once a week; (3) About once a month; (4) A few times a year; (5) Rarely; (6) Never.

14 For a good review of why political parties are here defined by their voting behavior in the last presidential election, see: (1) the late Harvard University professor V.O. Key, Jr.’s seminal work Parties, Politics and Pressure Groups , Thomas Y. Crowell Company, (2) Party Politics in America by Frank J. Sorauf, or (3) any of dozens of subsequent books on the subject. While political parties can be defined in many ways (i.e., self-identification, the party in control of Congress, contributors to parties, and many more) the most useful for purposes of this article is to define parties as how people actually voted in the last Presidential election, because Presidential elections bring out the highest percentage of voters (as opposed to off-year elections) and forces people to make the choice between the two parties’ most visible standard bearers.

15 See Michael Barone’s article “The Return of Patriarchy”, February 28, 2006 in U.S. News and World Report that focuses on Phillip Longman’s article in Foreign Policy. “He is presenting an argument he also offered in his 2004 book The Empty Cradle: How Falling Birthrates Threaten World Prosperity and What to Do About It. Patriarchy, Longman argues in a long look at history, ‘is a cultural regime that serves to keep birthrates high among the affluent, while also maximizing parents’ investments in their children. No advanced civilization has yet learned to endure without it.’ Another way to put it: Conservatives have more babies than liberals, and so the next generation will tend to have more conservatives—more people prone to patriarchy—and fewer liberals. His numbers are stark: The 17.4 percent of baby boomer women who had only one child account for a mere 7.8 percent of children born in the next generation. By contrast, nearly a quarter of the children of baby boomers descend from the mere 11 percent of baby boomer women who had four or more children. These circumstances are leading to the emergence of a new society whose members will disproportionately be descended from parents who rejected the social tendencies that once made childlessness and small families the norm. These values include an adherence to traditional, patriarchal religion, and a strong identification with one’s own folk or nation.”

16 Question: “ How many children have you had? ”

17 See my article that describes the political consequences of abortion in America since Roe v. Wade , “The Empty Cradle Will Rock,” OpinionJournal,, The Wall Street Journal , June 28, 2004. Also published in The American Spectator . This 2007 survey asked the same question as the 2004 survey (cited above) with similar results. The question was: As far as you know, has anyone close to you had an abortion? Among all respondents, 24 percent responded “yes.” That includes 21 percent of conservatives and moderates and 31 percent of liberals (50 percent more among liberals); also, 22 percent of Bush voters and 28 percent of Kerry voters. Finally, 30 percent of Blue State respondents, 29 percent in Purple States, and17 Red States (71 percent more in Blue States than Red States); finally, 20 percent of active church goers, 25 percent of occasional attendees and 32 percent of non-church goers (60 percent more among non-church goers).

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2008: Who Are We? Challenges to America’s National Identity / Samuel P Huntington

The conclusions of Samuel Huntington about the place of religion and Christianity in American life, and the importance of preserving them, are largely in agreement with my thinking on the subject over the last ten years.

You can see his book published in 2008, Who Are We? The Challenges to American National Identity on at this link.

I have excerpted sections of Chapter 5, “Religion and Christianity”.

Dr. Huntington’s death is a great loss to scholarship and to American patriots everywhere.


Steve St.Clair
Who Are We? The Challenges to America’s National Identity
Samuel B. Huntington

Excerpts from Chapter 5 – Religion and Christianity

God, the Cross, and America
In June 2002, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco decided by a 2-to-1 vote that the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance were a violation of the separation of church and state. These words, the judges said, constituted “an endorsement of religion” and “a profession of religious belief … in monotheism.” Hence the 1954 act of Congress adding them to the Pledge was un­constitutional, and public school teachers, as state employees, could not recite them in class. The dissenting judge argued that the First Amend­ment simply required governmental neutrality toward religion and that the threat the two words posed to “our First Amendment freedoms is picayune at most.”

The court’s decision stimulated vigorous controversy on an issue cen­tral to America’s identity. Supporters of the decision argued that the United States is a secular country, that the First Amendment prohibited governmental rhetorical and material support for religion, and that peo­ple should be able to pledge allegiance to their country without implic­itly also affirming a belief in God. Critics pointed out that the phrase was perfectly consonant with the views of the framers of the Constitu­tion, that Lincoln had used these words in the Gettysburg Address, that the Supreme Court had long held that no one could be compelled to say the Pledge, and that President Eisenhower was correct when he described the words as simply “reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America’s heritage and future.”

The supporters of the court were an articulate but very small minor­ity. The critics were an outraged and overwhelming majority of all polit­ical persuasions. President Bush termed the decision “ridiculous.” The Democratic Senate majority leader, Tom Daschle, called it “nuts”; Gov­ernor George Pataki of New York said it was “junk justice.” The Senate passed a resolution, 99 to 0, urging that the decision be reversed, and members of the House of Representatives gathered on the steps of the Capitol to recite the Pledge and sing “God Bless America.” A Newsweek poll found that 87 percent of the public supported inclusion of the words while 9 percent opposed. Eighty-four percent also said they ap­proved of references to God in public settings, including schools and government buildings, so long as no “specific religion” was mentioned.’

The court’s decision sharply posed the issue of whether America is a secular or religious nation. The support for “under God” reflected the extent to which Americans are one of the most religious people in the world, particularly compared to the peoples of other highly industrial­ized democracies. Americans nonetheless tolerate and respect the rights of atheists and nonbelievers. Dr. Michael Newdow, however, according to the New York Times, planned “to ferret out all insidious uses of reli­gion in daily life.” “Why should I be made to feel like an outsider?” he asked. The court agreed that the words “under God” sent “a message to unbelievers that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community.”‘ Dr. Newdow and the court majority got it right: atheists are “outsiders” in the American community. As unbelievers they do not have to recite the Pledge or to engage in any religiously tainted practice of which they disapprove. They also, however, do not have the right to impose their atheism on all those Americans whose beliefs now and his­torically have defined America as a religious nation.

Is America also a Christian nation? The statistics say yes; 80 percent to 85 percent of Americans regularly identify themselves as Christians. Yet there is a difference between government support for religion in general, which occurs in many ways, and government support exclu­sively or especially for any particular religion, including Christianity.

This issue came to the fore in 1999 in Boise, Idaho, in a challenge to a sixty-foot cross that had stood for forty-three years on publicly owned land. In this and other cases involving tall crosses (forty-three and 103 feet high) on public land in San Diego and San Francisco, backers of the cross attempted to preserve it by transferring ownership of the land to private groups, thus implicitly recognizing problems involved in the blatant government display of the symbol of only one religion. As Brian Cronin, the challenger of the Boise cross, argued, “For Buddhists, Jews, Muslims and other non-Christians in Boise, the cross only drives home the point that they are strangers in a strange land.”‘ Like Dr. Newdow and the Ninth Circuit judges, Mr. Cronin was on target. America is a predominantly Christian nation with a secular government. Non-Christians may legitimately see themselves as strangers because they or their ancestors moved to this “strange land” founded and peopled by Christians, even as Christians become strangers by moving to Israel, In­dia, Thailand, or Morocco.

A Religious People
Americans have been extremely religious and overwhelmingly Christian throughout their history. The seventeenth-century settlers, as we have seen, founded their communities in America in large part for religious reasons. Eighteenth-century Americans and their leaders saw their Rev­olution in religious and largely biblical terms. In America, “the Bible played a role in shaping the culture for which there was no European parallel. . . . American Protestants were united behind the principle of Scriptura sola.” The Revolution reflected their “covenant with God” and was a war between “God’s elect” and the British “Antichrist.” Jefferson, Paine, and other Deists or nonbelievers felt it necessary to invoke reli­gion to justify the Revolution.’ The Continental Congress declared days of fasting to implore the forgiveness and help of God and days of thanksgiving for what He had done to promote their cause. Well into the nineteenth century, Sunday church services were held in the cham­bers of the Supreme Court as well as the House of Representatives. The Declaration of Independence appealed to “Nature’s God,” the “Cre­ator,” “the Supreme Judge of the World,” and “divine Providence” for approval, legitimacy, and protection.

The Constitution includes no such references. Its text is strictly secu­lar. Yet its framers firmly believed that the republican government they were creating could only last if it was deeply rooted in morality and reli­gion. “A Republic can only be supported by pure religion or austere morals,” John Adams said. The Bible offers “the only system that ever did or ever will preserve a republic in the world.” “Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.” Washington agreed: “Rea­son and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principles.” The happiness of the peo­ple, good order, and civil government, the Massachusetts constitution of 1780 declared, “essentially depend on piety, religion, and morality.” Fifty years after the Constitution was adopted, Tocqueville reported that all Americans held religion “to be indispensable to the maintenance of republican institutions. This opinion is not peculiar to a class of citi­zens or to a party, but it belongs to the whole nation and to every rank of society.”‘

The words “separation of church and state” do not appear in the Constitution, and, as Sidney Mead has pointed out, Madison spoke not of “church” and “state,” European concepts with little relevance to America, but of “sects” and “Civil authority,” and the “line” not the “wall” between them.’ Religion and society were coterminous. The pro­hibition of an established national religion and the gradual disestablish­ment of state religions promoted the growth of religion in society. “As the state’s authority in religion faded,” Jon Butler notes, “denomina­tional authority expanded,” leading to “the single most important insti­tutional development of post-revolutionary Christianity: the shift of religious authority away from the state and toward the ‘voluntary’ insti­tutional bodies. Out of this shift came an extraordinary expansion of denominational institutions, new means to reach great numbers of in­dividuals and groups, and a new confidence to shape society and its values.”‘

Some people cite the absence of religious language in the Constitution and the provisions of the First Amendment as evidence that Amer­ica is fundamentally a secular country. Nothing could be further from the truth. At the end of the eighteenth century, religious establishments existed throughout European countries and in several American states. State control of the church was a key element of state power, and the es­tablished church, in turn, provided legitimacy to the state. The framers of the American Constitution prohibited an established national church in order to limit the power of government and to protect and strengthen religion. The “separation of church and state” is the corollary to the identity of religion and society. Its purpose, as William McLoughlin has said, was not to establish freedom from religion but to establish freedom for religion. It was spectacularly successful. In the absence of a state reli­gion, Americans were not only free to believe as they wished but also free to create whatever religious communities and organizations they wished. As a result, Americans have been unique among, peoples in the diversity of sects, denominations, and religious movements to which they have given birth, almost all embodying some form of Protestant­ism. When substantial numbers of Catholic immigrants arrived, it was eventually possible to accept Catholicism as one more denomination within the broad framework of Christianity. The proportion of the pop­ulation who were “religious adherents,” that is church members, in­creased fairly steadily through most of American history.’

European observers repeatedly commented on the high levels of reli­gious commitment of Americans compared to that of their own peoples. As usual, Tocqueville said it most eloquently: “On my arrival in the United States the religious aspect of the country was the first thing that struck my attention, and the longer I stayed there, the more I perceived the great political consequences resulting from this new state of things.” In France religion and liberty opposed each other. The Americans, in contrast, “have succeeded … combining admirably . the spirit of reli­gion and the spirit of liberty.” Religion in America “must be regarded as the first of their political institutions.” Tocqueville’s Swiss-German con­temporary Philip Schaff similarly noted the centrality of religion in America and approvingly quoted a Jewish observer: “The United States is by far the most religious and Christian country in the world; and that, just because religion is there most free.” The number and variety of churches, religious schools, missionary activities, “Bible and Tract Soci­eties,” and revivals, along with the high levels of church attendance, all were “expressions of the general Christian character of the people, in which the Americans are already in advance of most of the old Christian nations of Europe.”‘

A half century after Tocqueville and Schaff, James Bryce came to sim­ilar conclusions. The Americans are “a religious people”; religion “in­fluences conduct … probably more than it does in any other modern country, and far more than it did in the so-called ages of faith.” And again, “the influence of Christianity seems to be … greater and more widespread in the United States than in any part of western Continental Europe, and I think greater than in England.” A half century after Bryce, the eminent Swedish observer Gunnar Myrdal judged that “America probably is still the most religious country in the Western world.” And a half century after him, the English historian Paul Johnson described America as “a God-fearing country, with all it implies.” Amer­ica’s religious commitment “is a primary source—the primary source, I think—of American exceptionalism.” He went on to quote Lincoln on how God shapes events and how Lincoln hoped God was supporting the Union cause and then commented: “It is impossible to imagine Lincoln’s European contemporaries, Napoleon III, Bismarck, Marx, or Disraeli, thinking in these terms. Lincoln did so in the certainty that most of his fellow Americans could and did think along similar lines.”

Overwhelming majorities of Americans affirm religious beliefs. When asked in 1999 whether they believed in God or a universal spirit, or neither, 86 percent of those polled said they believed in God, 8 per­cent in a universal spirit, and 5 percent in neither. When asked in 2003 simply whether they believed in God or not, 92 percent said yes. In a se­ries of 2002-2003 polls, 57 percent to 65 percent of Americans said reli­gion was very important in their life, 23 percent to 27 percent said fairly important, and 12 percent to 18 percent said not very important. Sev­enty-two percent to 74 percent said they believed in life after death, while 17 percent said they did not. In 1996, 39 percent of Americans said they believed the Bible is the actual word of God and should be taken literally; 46 percent said they believed the Bible is the word of God but not everything in it should be taken literally word for word; 13 percent said it is not the word of God.”

Large proportions of Americans also appear to be active in the prac­tice of their religion. In 2002-2003, 63 percent to 66 percent of Ameri­cans claimed membership in a church or synagogue. Thirty-eight percent to 44 percent said they had attended church or synagogue in the last seven days. Twenty-nine percent to 37 percent said they went to church at least once a week, 8 percent to 14 percent almost every week, 11 percent to 18 percent about once a month, 24 percent to 30 percent seldom or a few times a year, and 13 percent to 18 percent never. In 2002-03, 58 percent to 60 percent of Americans said they prayed one or more times a day, 20 percent to 23 percent once or more a week, 8 per­cent to 11 percent less than once a week, and 9 percent to 11 percent never. Given human nature, these claims of religious practice were un­doubtedly overstated, but even discounting for this, the level of religious activity was still high; and the extent to which Americans believe the right response is to affirm their religiosity is itself evidence of the cen­trality of religious norms in American society. More than twice as many Americans belong to religious organizations as to any other type of or­ganization; Americans direct 42.4 percent of their charitable giving to religious organizations, three times as much as to any other category; and reportedly in any one week more Americans go to church than go to sporting events.”

Reflecting on the depth of American religiosity, the Swedish theolo­gian Krister Stendhal remarked that “Even the atheists in America speak in a religious key.” That may be the case, but only 10 percent or less of Americans espouse atheism, and most Americans do not approve of it. In 1992, 68 percent of Americans said that a belief in God is very important or extremely important for a true American, with blacks and Hispanics holding this view more strongly than whites. Americans view atheists more unfavorably than most other minorities. A 1973 poll asked: “Should a socialist or an atheist be allowed to teach in a college or university?” The community leaders surveyed approved of both teach­ing. The American public as a whole agreed that socialists could teach (52 percent yes, 39 percent no), but decisively rejected the idea of athe­ists on college or university faculties (38 percent yes, 57 percent no). Since the 1930s, the willingness of Americans to vote for presidential candidates from minorities has increased dramatically, with over 90 per­cent of those polled in 1999 saying they would vote for a black, a Jew, or a woman for president, while 59 percent were willing to vote for a ho­mosexual. Only 49 percent, however, were willing to vote for an atheist for president.” In 2001, 66 percent of Americans viewed atheists unfa­vorably, while 35 percent viewed Muslims this way. Similarly, 69 percent of all Americans said they would be bothered by or could not accept the marriage of a member of their family to an atheist, compared with 45 percent of white Americans who said the same about a family member marrying a black person. Americans seem to agree with the Founding Fathers that their republican government requires a religious base, and hence they find it difficult to accept the explicit rejection of God and re­ligion.

These high levels of religiosity would be less significant if they were the norm for other countries. Americans rank, however, among the most religious people in the world and differ dramatically in their high level of religiosity from the people of other economically developed countries. This religiosity is conclusively revealed in three cross-national surveys. First, in general, the level of religious commitment of countries varies inversely with their level of economic development: people in poor countries are highly religious, those in rich countries are not. America is a glaring exception, as can be seen by Figure 5.1, which compares economic development with the proportion of people saying their religious beliefs are very important to them for fifteen countries at varied levels of economic development. The regression line would lead one to expect that 5 percent of Americans would think religion very im­portant; in fact in this poll, 51 percent do, slightly less than in the previ­ously cited polls.”

Second, an International Social Survey Program survey in 1991 asked people in seventeen countries seven questions concerning their belief in God, life after death, heaven, and other religious concepts. Reporting the results, George Bishop ranked the countries according to the per­ centage of their population that affirmed these religious beliefs.” The average country rankings are set forth in Table 5.1. The United States was far ahead in its overall level of religiosity, ranking first on four ques­tions, second on one, and third on two, for an average ranking of 1.7. It was followed by Northern Ireland (2.4), where religion is obviously of crucial importance to both Protestants and Catholics, and then by four Catholic countries. After them came New Zealand, Israel, five Western European countries, and four former communist countries, with Fast Germany last, the least religious on six of the seven questions. Accord­ing to this poll, Americans are more deeply religious than even the people of countries like Ireland and Poland, where religion has been the core of national identity differentiating them from their traditional British, German, and Russian antagonists.

Third, the 1990-1993 World Values Survey asked nine questions concerning religiosity in forty-one countries.” The average responses for individual countries are displayed in Figure 5.2.* Overall these data show the United States to be one of the most religious countries in the world. Apart from the Poles and the Irish, Americans are much more re­ligious than the people of European countries. Most striking is the high religiosity of America in comparison to other Protestant countries. The top fifteen countries in religiosity include Nigeria, India, and Turkey (the only African and predominantly Hindu and Muslim countries in the sample), eight predominantly Catholic countries, one Orthodox country (Romania), sharply divided Northern Ireland, and two predom­inantly Protestant countries, the United States in fifth place and Canada in fifteenth place. Except for Iceland, all the other predominantly Prot­estant countries fall well into the lower half of the countries surveyed in terms of their religiosity. America is thus by a large margin the most re­ligious Protestant country. The legacy of its Reformation origins was alive and well at the end of the twentieth century.

Protestant America and Catholicism
For more than two hundred years Americans defined their identity in opposition to Catholicism. The Catholic other was first fought and excluded and then opposed and discriminated against. Eventually, however, American Catholicism assimilated many of the features of its Protestant environment and was, in turn, assimilated into the American mainstream. These processes changed America from a Protestant coun­try into a Christian country with Protestant values.

The initial anti-Catholicism of Americans derived both from their Reformation struggles against Catholicism and from the English view of Catholicism as a major threat during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Britain defined itself largely by the Protestant culture that differentiated it from the French and Spanish. Fears of papist conspira­cies and of alleged Catholic sympathies or hidden Catholicism of Stuart monarchs were recurring themes in seventeenth-century England. In the eighteenth century, anti-Catholicism was reinforced by the repeated wars with France. The British were determined to maintain their parity as a Protestant people. In 1609 Parliament “denied naturalization to all non-Protestants.” In 1673 the Test Act excluded Catholics from public office, a ban that remained in effect for the armed services and judiciary until 1793 and for Parliament until 1828. Persecution by continental Catholic regimes led many Protestants to become refugees in Britain in the eighteenth century. In 1740 Parliament limited naturalization in the home country and colonies to Protestants with exemptions for Jews and Quakers but not Catholics.17

British attitudes and actions were replicated in its American colonies. Americans, particularly dissenting Protestants, saw the papacy and Catholicism as the Antichrist. The wars of Britain with France and Spain led the colonists to view the Catholics in their midst as potential traitors. Colonial governments allowed naturalization of Jews but not Catholics, and by 1700, aside from Maryland, “restrictions on Catholic worship were nearly universal in the colonies, remaining relatively light only in Rhode Island and Pennsylvania.” ‘8 Their anti-Catholicism also helped to turn the colonists against the mother country. In 1774 Par­liament passed an act decreeing toleration for the Catholic Church in Quebec. The American reaction was intensely critical. Alexander Hamilton denounced it as “popery”; others used more colorful lan­guage. In one of its first actions the Continental Congress vigorously protested against this law, which Americans ranked with the tax on tea as a threat to their civil and religious liberty.19

As the Revolution began, Americans denounced George III for his “popery,” and he responded in kind by describing the rebellion as a “Presbyterian war.” For Americans “popist” became a label like “com­munist” in the twentieth century, often applied to antagonists with little regard for its accuracy. Political considerations, however, soon led to the moderation of anti-Catholic attitudes. Jefferson made only oblique ref­erence to the Quebec Act in the Declaration, since the Americans now hoped to persuade Canadian Catholics to join them in the struggle against the Crown. The alliance with France in 1778 produced a major change in elite, if not popular, opinion, and, despite some intense oppo­sition, the prohibition on religious qualifications for federal office was incorporated into the Constitution. This was followed by the gradual elimination of such restrictions from state constitutions, although well into the nineteenth century, the North Carolina constitution barred from office anyone who denied “the truths of the Protestant religion.””

The anti-Catholic colonial laws severely restricted Catholic organi­zations and activities and reduced the attractions of America to potential Catholic migrants. The small numbers of Catholics led to high rates of intermarriage, and the proportion of Catholics in the American popula­tion may have declined during the eighteenth century. In 1789, about one percent of Americans were Catholic, while one tenth of one percent were Jewish. America was the prototypical Protestant country and was seen as such by both Americans and Europeans. The prevailing attitude was well expressed by Philip Schaff, who, after coming to America in the mid-1840s, concluded that the Protestant sects “have given the country its spirit and character. Its past course and present condition are unques­tionably due mainly to the influence of Protestant principles.”

After 1815 accelerating immigration from Ireland and Germany began to moderate America’s exclusively Protestant character. In the 1820s, 62,000 immigrants entered the United States from Ireland and Germany. In the 1840s almost 800,000 arrived from Ireland, and in the 1850s, 952,000 came from Germany and 914,000 from Ireland. Ninety percent of the Irish and a substantial portion of Germans were Catholic. This huge influx rekindled anti-Catholic fears and passions. Americans had defined themselves as an anti-Catholic people, and they were now being invaded by the enemy. This coincided with the Second Great Awakening, and as Perry Miller notes, “fear of Catholicism became a morbid obsession of the Revival.” :z This anti-Catholicism was often for­mulated in political rather than religious terms. The Catholic Church was seen as an autocratic, anti-democratic organization and Catholics as people accustomed to hierarchy and obedience who lacked the moral character required for citizens of a republic. Catholicism was a threat to American democracy as well as to American Protestantism.

Anti-Catholic actions and movements intensified in the 1830s and 1840s, including the burning of a convent in Charlestown, Massachu­setts, in 1834. The immigration explosion of the 1840s led to the forma­tion in 1850 of a secret organization, the Order of the Star-Spangled Banner, which became known as the Know-Nothing movement. In mid-1850s, the Know-Nothings elected six state governors, secured control of nine state legislatures, and had forty-three representatives in Congress. Millard Fillmore, the Know-Nothing presidential candidate in 1856, received 22 percent of the popular vote and eight electoral votes. The intensifying controversy over the extension of slavery, how- ever, displaced immigration as an issue, and the Know-Nothings faded away as a political force. The Civil War marked the end of explicit anti-Catholic political movements, and governmental restrictions on e rights of Catholics had virtually all disappeared by then. For decades, however, anti-Catholic social and political prejudices remained strong in many segments of American society, and in 1898 Americans were urged to go to war to liberate Cuba from “Pope-ridden Spain.””

The fading of overtly anti-Catholic attitudes and activities was paral­leled by and directly related to the Americanization of Catholicism. This was a complex and often convoluted process. At one level, it in­volved the creation of a vast, intricate network of Catholic institutions—churches, seminaries, convents, charities, associations, political clubs, and schools—which, in the short term, provided a community where new immigrants could feel at home and, in the longer term, provided institutional stepping-stones for their movement and, more impor­tantly, the movement of their children into the broader reaches of American society. At another level, it involved the adaptation of Cathol­icism to its American, that is, Protestant, environment, including changes in Catholic attitudes, practices, organization, and behavior—in effect, the transformation of a Roman Catholic Church into an Ameri­can Catholic Church.

The pros and cons of “Americanization” were intensely debated within the Catholic hierarchy throughout the nineteenth century. The leading American bishops generally, but not unanimously, made great efforts to reconcile Americanism and Catholicism and to legitimate the Catholic presence in American society in the eyes of Protestant Ameri­cans. The Americanists argued, in the words of Archbishop John Ire­land, that “There is no conflict between the Catholic Church and America … the principles of the Church are in thorough harmony with the interests of the Republic.” Their opponents saw Americanization as a path of corruption leading to the worst forms of modernism, indi­vidualism, materialism, and liberalism. These debates culminated in and came to an end with Pope Leo XVI’s papal letter, Testem Benevolentiae, in January 1899 to Cardinal Gibbons denouncing the false doctrine of “Americanism.” The letter was widely seen as a severe rebuke to Gib­bons, Archbishop Ireland, and other “Americanists,” but was also criti­cized for defining and attacking a set of beliefs no one had.

Some groups, German Catholics in particular, resisted Americaniza­tion, and strove to maintain their language, culture, and religion unchanged. Assimilation, however, could not be halted. In due course the “de-Romanization” of the Church occurred as Catholics increasingly thought of themselves less as Roman Catholics and more as American Catholics. By the mid-twentieth century, leaders such as Bishop Fulton J. Sheen and Cardinal Francis Spellman had become fervent American nationalists, and the Irish-American Catholic became the prototype of the patriotic American. Peter Steinfels describes one aspect of this shift:

In three consecutive years, 1943, 1944 and 1945, movies centering on Roman Catholicism—”Song of Bernadette,” “Going My Way,” “The Bells of St. Mary’s” and “The Keys of the Kingdom”—were nomi- nated for 34 Oscars and won 12. The Catholic priest, once a sinister figure in the American imagination, actually became a cinematic model of American manhood. From Spencer Tracy’s Father Flanagan in “Boys Town”; Bing Crosby’s crooning ex-baseball player, Father Chuck O’Malley; Karl Malden’s labor priest in “On the Waterfront”; and assorted roles by Pat O’Brien, there emerged the “superpadre”: virile, wise, good-humored, compassionate and, in emergencies, possessed of a remarkable knockout punch.”

And in 1960 John E Kennedy was elected president.

Catholics are proud of their American identity, the Americanization of their church, and its emergence as a central and influential institution of American society. For understandable reasons, however, they do not like people referring to the “Protestantization” of their religion. Yet in some degree that is precisely what Americanization involves. Given the Protestant origins of America, the overwhelming predominance of Protestantism for over two centuries, the central and pervasive role of Protestant values and assumptions in American culture and society, how could it be otherwise for this later arrival on the American scene? Nor is Protestantization unique to America. As Ronald Inglehart’s careful analysis of data from the World Values Survey shows, Catholics in societies that have historically been shaped by Protestantism—Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and the United States—typically have values more similar to those of their Protestant countrymen than to Catholics in other countries. “Catholics and Protestants within these societies do not show markedly different values: Dutch Catholics today are about as Calvinist as the members of the Dutch Reformed Church.””

In Europe, Protestantism was a revolt against a long-established and universally dominant Catholicism. In America, in contrast, Catholicism, as Schaff put it, came into a Protestant society “as one sect among the others,” “found an adopted home,” and was “everywhere surrounded by purely Protestant institutions.” Lord Baltimore’s early Catholic colony of Maryland “was founded expressly on the thoroughly anti-Roman, and essentially Protestant, principles of religious toleration.” In the early nineteenth century, as Will Herberg remarks, Catholics “estab­lished a pattern of church government very much along the lines of the ubiquitous Protestant model.” Known as “lay trusteeism,” this asserted the rights and powers of the laity at the congregational level. This movement was rejected by the first provincial council in Baltimore in 1829 and the authority of the bishops reasserted. It was, however, illus­trative of the pressures for the Church to adapt itself to the Protestant ways of America. By the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Dorothy Dohen reports, “Archbishop Ireland and Cardinal Gibbons, in their writings and speeches, urged on the faithful the acceptance of the Protestant ethic (insofar as they stressed, as virtues to be developed, the `American’ traits of sobriety, thrift and initiative).””

One striking dimension of Protestantization was the way in which and the extent to which Catholic prelates reconciled Catholic universal­ism with American nationalism. Echoing the tones, ideas, and words of evangelical Protestants, they argued divine legitimacy for America’s mission in the world. “We cannot but believe,” Archbishop Ireland said in 1905, “that a singular mission is assigned to America … the mission of bringing about a new social and political order.. . . The Church tri­umphing in America, Catholic truth will travel on the wings of Ameri­can influence, and encircle the universe.” In the mid-twentieth century, Bishop Sheen similarly spoke of America as a chosen nation, and Cardinal Spellman, as one scholar said, was “overt in identifying the judgments and action of the American nation with those of God. .. . Cardi­nal Spellman’s acceptance of the messianic mission of America has been complete.”” “American Catholics,” an observer from Africa noted in the 1990s, “are a nuisance for Rome just because they are … well, so Protestant.” In this respect Catholicism does not differ from Judaism or other religions. “American religion, whatever its formal sectarian desig­nation, is decidedly Protestant.”‘°

A Christian People
Along with their general religiosity, the Christianity of Americans has also impressed foreign observers. “There is no country in the world,” Tocqueville said, “where the Christian religion retains a greater influ­ence over the souls of men than in America…. Christianity, therefore, reigns without obstacle, by universal consent.” Christianity, Bryce simi­larly observed, is “the national religion” of Americans.” Americans have also affirmed their Christian identity. “We are a Christian people,” the Supreme Court declared in 1811. “We are a Christian people,” the Sen­ate Judiciary Committee said in 1853, “almost our entire population be­long to or sympathize with some one of the Christian denominations.” In the midst of the Civil War, Lincoln also described Americans as “a Christian people.” In 1892 the Supreme Court again declared that “This is a Christian nation.” In 1908, a House of Representatives com­mittee said that the United States is “a Christian nation” and that “the best and only reliance for the perpetuation of the republican institution is upon a Christian patriotism.” In 1917 Congress passed legislation declaring a day of prayer in support of the war effort and invoking America’s status as a Christian nation. In 1931 the Supreme Court reaf­firmed its earlier view: “We are a Christian people, according to one an­other the equal right of religious freedom, and acknowledging with reverence the duty of obedience to the will of God.”” Posing the ques­tion in 1873, “In what sense can this country then be called a Christian country?” Theodore Dwight Woolsey, former president of Yale, pro­vided an accurate answer. “In this sense certainly, that the vast majority of the people believe in Christianity and the Gospel, that Christian in­fluences are universal, that our civilization and intellectual culture are built on that foundation, and that the institutions are so adjusted as, in the opinion of almost all Christians, to furnish the best hope for spread­ing and carrying down to posterity our faith and our morality.””

While the balance between Protestants and Catholics shifted over the years, the proportion of Americans identifying themselves as Christian has remained relatively constant. In three surveys between 1989 and 1996, between 84 percent and 88 percent of Americans said they were Christians.” The proportion of Christians in America rivals or exceeds the proportion of Jews in Israel, of Muslims in Egypt, of Hindus in In­dia, and of Orthodox believers in Russia.

America’s Christian identity has, nonetheless, been questioned on two grounds. First, it is argued that America is losing that identity because non-Christian religions are expanding in numbers, and thus Americans are becoming a multireli­gious and not simply a multidenominational people. Second, it is argued that Americans are losing their religious identity and are becoming sec­ular, atheistic, materialistic, and indifferent to their religious heritage. Neither of these propositions comes close to the truth.

The argument that America is losing its Christian identity due to the spread of non-Christian religions was advanced by several scholars in the 1980s and 1990s. They pointed to the growing numbers of Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, and Buddhists in American society Adherents of these religions have become more numerous. Hindus in America increased from 70,000 in 1977 to 800,000 in 1997. Muslims amounted to at least 3.5 million in 1997, while Buddhists numbered somewhere between 750,000 and two million. From these developments, the proponents of de-Christianization argue, in the words of Professor Diana Eck, that “religious diversity” has “shattered the paradigm of America” as an overwhelmingly Christian country with a small Jewish minority.” An­other scholar suggested that public holidays should be adjusted to accommodate this increasing religious diversity and that, for a start, it would be desirable to “have one Christian holiday (say, Christmas), but replace Easter and Thanksgiving with a Muslim and Jewish holiday.” In some measure, however, the holiday trend was in the opposite direction. Hanukkah, “traditionally a minor Jewish holiday,” has, according to Professor Jeff Spinner, been elevated into the “Jewish Christmas” and displaced Purim as a holiday, so as “to fit in better with the dominant culture.” 36

The increases in the membership of some non-Christian religions have not, to put it mildly, had any significant effect on America’s Chris­tian identity. As a result of assimilation, low birth rates, and intermar­riage, the proportion of Jews dropped from 4 percent in the 1920s to 3 percent in the 1950s to slightly over 2 percent in 1997. If the absolute numbers claimed by their spokesmen are correct, by 1997 about 1.5 percent of Americans were Muslim, while Hindus and Buddhists were each less than one percent. The numbers of non-Christian, non-Jewish believers undoubtedly will continue to grow, but for years to come they will remain extremely small. Some increases in the membership in non- Christian religions come from conversions, but the largest share is from immigration and high birth rates. The immigrants of these religions, however, are far outnumbered by the huge numbers of immigrants from Latin America and the Philippines, almost all of whom are Catholic and have high birth rates. Latin American immigrants are also converting to evangelical Protestantism. In addition, Christians in Asia and the Middle East are more likely than non-Christians to migrate to America. As of 1990, a majority of Asian-Americans were Christian rather than Buddhist or Hindu. Among Korean-Americans, Christians outnumber Buddhists by at least ten to one. Roughly one third of Vietnamese im­migrants are Catholics. About two thirds of Arab-Americans have been Christian rather than Muslim, although the number of Muslims was growing rapidly before September 11.”

While a precise judgment is im­possible, at the start of the twenty-first century the United States was probably becoming more rather than less Christian in its religious com­position.

The increases in the small numbers of non-Christians in America un­avoidably raise questions concerning their status in a country with an overwhelmingly Christian people and a secular government. These include such practical issues as when Muslim women may wear Muslim headdress and Sikh men their beards and turbans. Americans have generally attempted to tolerate and accommodate the practices of non- Christian groups. America’s Christianity, Protestant values, and consti­tutional guarantees of freedom of religion mean that non-Christian groups should be and, in general, have been freely allowed to practice and promulgate their beliefs. Americans tend to have a certain catholic­ity toward religion: all deserve respect. In 1860 Anthony Trollope ob­served that in America, “Everybody is bound to have a religion, but it does not matter much what it is.” Almost a hundred years later Presi­dent Eisenhower expressed the same view: “Our government makes no sense unless it is founded on a deeply felt religious faith. And I don’t care what it is.”” Given this general tolerance of religious diversity, non-Christian faiths have little alternative but to recognize and accept America as a Christian society They are tiny minorities among a people overwhelmingly devoted to the Christian God and His Son. “Americans have always thought of themselves as a Christian nation,” Irving Kristol argues, “equally tolerant of all religions so long as they were congruent with traditional Judeo-Christian morality. But equal toleration never meant perfect equality of status in fact.” Christianity is not legally established, “but it is established informally, nevertheless.”” And, Kris­tol warns his fellow Jews, that is a fact they must accept. Americans are still a Christian people, as they have been throughout their history.

But are they believing and practicing Christians? Has not any earlier religiosity been diluted and even dissolved over time and supplanted by a culture that is pervasively secular and irreligious if not anti-religious? These terms describe segments of American intellectual, academic, and media elites As we have seen, they do not describe the bulk of the American people.° American religiosity could still be high by absolute measures and high relative to that of comparable societies, yet the secu­larization thesis would still be valid if the commitment of Americans to religion declined over time Little or no evidence exists of such a decline either historically or in the late twentieth century. The one significant shift that does appear to have occurred is a drop in the 1960s and 1970s in the religious commitment of Catholics. An overall fall-off in church attendance in the 1960s was due to a decline in the proportion of Catholics attending mass every Sunday. In 1952, 83 percent of Catholics said that religion was very important in their lives; in 1987, 54 percent of Catholics said this. This shift brought Catholic attitudes on religion more into congruence with those of Protestants.”

In general, few other changes occurred in the religious attitudes and behavior of Americans in the last half of the twentieth century. Ninety-six percent of Americans in 1944 and 98 percent in 1968 said they be­lieved in God, while 96 percent in 1995 said they believed in God or a universal spirit.* The proportion of Americans saying that religion was very important in their lives dropped from 70 percent in 1965 to 52 per­cent in 1978 and then increased to 61 percent to 65 percent in late 2002. The 1970s decline was, however, primarily among Catholics. In 1940, 37 percent of Americans said they had attended a church or synagogue in the past seven days; in 2002, 43 percent said they had. In 1940, 72 percent of Americans said they were members of a church or synagogue; in 2002, 66 percent said they were, with the decline again concen­trated among Catholics in the 1970s. In an exhaustive survey of the polling data, Andrew Greeley concludes, “Only three indicators show a decline—church attendance, financial contributions, and belief in the literal interpretation of the scripture. All three declines are limited to Catholics.” The causes of these Catholic declines probably include the impact of the Second Vatican Council and the unyielding position of the Church on birth control.”

Over the course of American history, fluctuations did occur in levels of American religious commitment and religious involvement. In some measure, these fluctuations were related to the Great Awakenings of the mid-eighteenth century, the early nineteenth century, and late nineteenth–early twentieth centuries. Little or no evidence exists, how­ever, of a downward trend in American religiosity. The multiplication of sects and especially the explosive growth of the Methodists and Baptists in the nineteenth century significantly expanded religious involvement. Between 1775 and 1845, an almost tenfold increase occurred in the American population, while at the same time the number of Christian ministers per capita tripled, from one per fifteen hundred inhabitants to one per five hundred inhabitants. A comparable increase occurred in the number of congregations, and according to another careful study of census and denominational membership data, the percentage of Americans who were formal members of a church increased from 17 percent in 1776 to 37 percent in 1860 and then rose steadily in the twentieth century to 62 percent in 1980.” At the start of the twenty-first century, Americans were no less committed and quite possibly were more committed to their Christian identity than at any time in their history.

Civil Religion
“In the United States,” Tocqueville said, “religion … is mingled with all the habits of the nation and all the feelings of patriotism, whence it de­rives a peculiar force.” The mingling of religion and patriotism is evi­dent in America’s civil religion. Writing in the 1960s, Robert Bellah defined civil religion, “at its best” as a “genuine apprehension of univer­sal and transcendent religious reality as seen in or, one could almost say, as revealed through the experience of the American people.” Civil reli­gion enables Americans to bring together their secular politics and their religious society, to many God and country, so as to give religious sanc­tity to their patriotism and nationalist legitimacy to their religious be­liefs, and thus to merge what could be conflicting loyalties into loyalty to a religiously endowed country.

America’s civil religion provides a religious blessing to what Ameri­cans feel they have in common. It is perfectly compatible with each American belonging to his or her own denomination, believing in a ,Christian or non-Christian god, or being Deist, as were several of the Founding Fathers. It is not compatible, however, with being atheist, for it is a religion, invoicing a transcendental Being apart from the terrestrial “Inman world.

The American civil religion encompasses four major elements.

First, central to it is the proposition that the American system of gov­ernment rests on a religious base. It presupposes a Supreme Being. The views of the framers of the Constitution that the republican government they were creating could survive only among a people imbued with reli­gion and morality have been endorsed and repeated by subsequent gen­erations of American leaders. Our institutions “presuppose a Supreme Being,” as Justice William 0. Douglas put it, and President Eisenhower similarly declared that “Recognition of the Supreme Being is the first, the most basic expression of Americanism. Without God there could be no American form of government, nor an American way of life.”‘” To deny God is to challenge the fundamental principle underlying Ameri­can society and government.

A second core element of the civil religion is the belief that Americans are God’s “chosen,” or, in Lincoln’s phrase, “almost chosen” people, that America is the “new Israel,” with a divinely sanctioned mission to do good in the world. The core of the civil religion, as Conrad Cherry has said, is “the sense of America’s special destiny under God.” 46 Two of the three Latin phrases the Founding Fathers chose for the republic they were creating sum up this sense of mission: Annuit Coeptis (God smiles on our undertakings), and Novus Ordo Seclorum (New order for the ages).*

A third element of America’s civil religion is the prevalence of reli­gious allusions and symbols in American public rhetoric, rituals, and ceremonies. Presidents have always taken their oath of office on a Bible and, with other officials, formally assume their offices when, at the con­clusion of their oaths, they utter the words, “So help me God.” Except. for Washington in his two-paragraph second inaugural remarks, all presidents have invoked God in their inaugural addresses and in most other major addresses as well. The speeches of some presidents, most’ notably Lincoln, are filled with religious resonance and biblical references. Eight words, and only eight words, appear on every pi of American currency, bills and coins: “United States of America” an “In God We Trust.” Americans pledge allegiance to “one Nation and God.” Major public ceremonies begin with an invocation by a clergyman from one denomination and end with a benediction by a clergyman of a different denomination. The military services have a substantial corps of chaplains, and the daily sessions of Congress open with prayer.

Fourth, national ceremonies and activities themselves take on a religious aura and perform religious functions. Historically, as Lloyd Warner argues, celebration of Memorial Day was “an American sacred ceremony.”” So also is the celebration of Thanksgiving, as well as pres­idential inaugurations and funerals. The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Gettysburg Address, Lin­coln’s second inaugural, Kennedy’s inaugural, Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech have all become sacred texts defining America’s identity.

The marriage of religion and politics in America’s civil religion is well caught in Peter Steinfels’s account of the inauguration of Bill Clinton in 1993:

“At its core was the solemn administration of an oath on the Bible, preceded and followed by prayers and accompanied by hymns as well as patriotic music… .The week was rich with religious gestures alongside moments when the religious overtones, though not explicit, were unmistakable. The inaugural week officially began with a nationwide ringing of church bells. At Howard University, Bill Clinton invoked the memory of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., echoing his lessons and quoting the verse from Scripture that would also close the Inaugural Address…. The President was surrounded throughout the day by an array of religious leaders.”

This was not the ceremony of a secular, much less atheistic, society or Ow. As the British scholar D. W. Brogan pointed out, in the past Olen children recited daily the “American’s Creed”* in schools, they performed a religious exercise as truly as if they began their day by say­ing, “I believe in God the Father Almighty” or “There is no God but God.” Civil religion converts Americans from religious people of many denominations into a nation with the soul of a church.

But, apart from its being American, what is that church? It is a church that has included Protestants, Catholics, Jews, other non-Christians, and even agnostics. It is, however, a church that is profoundly Christian in its origins, symbolism, spirit, accoutrements, and, most importantly, its basic assumptions about the nature of man, history, right and wrong. The Christian Bible, Christian references, biblical allusions and meta­phors, permeate expressions of the civil religion. “Behind the civil reli­gion at every point lie Biblical archetypes,” Bellah has said: “Exodus, Chosen People, Promised Land, New Jerusalem, Sacrificial Death and Rebirth.” Washington becomes Moses, Lincoln becomes Christ. “The deepest source of the symbols, beliefs and rituals of the [civil] religion,” Conrad Cherry agrees, “lies in the Old and New Testaments.” 5° Amer­ica’s civil religion is a nondenominational, national religion and, in its articulated form, not expressly a Christian religion. Yet it is thoroughly Christian in its origins, content, assumptions, and tone. The God in whom their currency says Americans trust is implicitly the Christian God.

Two words, nonetheless, do not appear in civil religion statements and ceremonies. They are “Jesus Christ.” While the American Creed is Protestantism without God, the American civil religion is Christianity without Christ.

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2008: The Rise of the Right: Europe’s Solution to Immigration: Austria has inhaled enough people – we are full / Handan Satiroglu

This important article explains the way that the previous uncontrolled immigration of Muslims to Europe has started the backlash that has resulted in the elections in most western European countries of much more rightist political parties. These are the groups the His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI is working with and through to try and increase the Catholic or generally-Christian activity in Europe.

See the original of this article on the blog of the Women’s International Perspective at this link.

Thanks much,

Steve St.Clair
The Rise of the Right: Europe’s Solution to Immigration
“Austria has inhaled enough people – we are full.”
by Handan T. Satiroglu- Turkey / Western Europe
January 7, 2009

• In Amsterdam (above) and across Europe, many countries struggle with immigration and a perceived threat to cultural identity.
• Not too far from the Baroque palaces and Gothic cathedrals that made the city of Vienna famous, a group of jubilant men and women are packed into a café. Glasses clink with each congratulatory toast. Jubilations like “long live populism,” and “Austria is the Freedom Party” fly randomly across the room. On that memorable September evening, I watched the celebration of the far-right triumph in Austria. It was the Austrian ‘extremist’ right’s best performance since World War II.
If the old face of the Far-Right in Europe resembled that of a combative fascist, these new ordinary faces put those images to rest. Gone are the days when support for the radical right came from neo-Nazi elements in European society; they now come from ordinary citizens, concerned not only about bleeding social welfare programs, but also from worries about the continued influx of immigration – a feeling that is likely to worsen as recession hangs over the continent.

“I voted for the Freedom Party to stop immigrants from burdening our social welfare system,” says Lukas, a grandfatherly figure and government employee. A former supporter of the Social Democrats, he gestures towards the rushing pedestrians outside the café, “Austria has inhaled enough people. We are full.”

Echoing similar sentiments, 35 year old Brigitte, a nurse practitioner who is proud to have led a major campaign in her neighborhood against the expansion of an Islamic center, claims, “the center already attracts hordes of people a day, and causes enough problems with congestion.” Poised and confident, she continues: “The people who use the Islamic center do not try to integrate into society, or even socialize with us. None of the other parties would hear our concerns…That’s why we voted for Heinz-Christian Strache.”

Not too far from the café, a mural reads: “Arab, go home.”
Such is the dynamic in today’s European race relations. A December Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project reports anti-immigrant, and especially anti-Muslim sentiments, to be growing steadily across the continent. Noting that the increase in Muslim prejudice has occurred over a period of decades, the report claims that nearly 52 percent of Spaniards expressed a negative opinion of Muslims – a view echoed by 50 percent of Germans, 46 percent of Poles, and 38 percent of French people. According to an April Georgetown University report, 67 percent of Dutch, and 80 percent of Danes agree with the statement, “the growing interaction between the Muslim world and the West is a menace to freedom.”

Bubbling for years, the resentment against foreigners has found expression in the success of the far-right, not only in Austria, but throughout Europe. A wake-up call to ruling socialist elitists, Europeans have propped up governments that are marching to the beat of the anti-immigrant drum. Only two of the 14 countries that were governed by the leftist or centrist political parties in Europe a decade ago remain so: Spain and Portugal.

• The Austrian Freedom Party longs for a return to the country’s glory days in 1938. Roughly translated, this poster reads: “Austria instead of Islam.” • Once a welcoming multicultural haven, Denmark’s voters have given the Danish People’s Party its fourth consecutive hike in voting share, making it the third largest party in Europe. In Switzerland where the foreign-born population hovers around 20 percent, the nationalist Swiss People’s Party regularly receives 29 percent of the vote; in France, Nicolas Sarkozy grabbed the presidency after mimicking the anti-immigrant rhetoric of the unforgiving nationalist Jean-Marie Le Pen. Netherlands, Sweden and Italy have all witnessed the rise of conservative discourse, while the second largest party in Norway runs on an anti-immigrant platform. And if there is anything that the Flemish and Walloons of Belgium can agree upon, it is the curtailment of the progressive Islamization of their society.

The term Islamization has gained much popularity in recent years, especially in the right-wing media. As European Muslims demand more mosques, state-funded Islamic schools, and even the implementation of Sharia (Islamic law) in their host countries, the term refers to the gradual process by which European society is becoming increasingly and visibly Muslim.

Unquestionably, an exploding Islamic population remains the driver behind changing voter patterns.

“It is everything. Or nearly everything,” says Abigail Esman, an American writer based in the Netherlands who specializes in writing on radical Islam and post 9/11 political tensions in the West. “The rising immigration and the conflicts between Muslims and non-Muslims have stirred voters to look to politicians who tend to take a less liberal view of social economic systems and in most cases, who take a hard line against immigration, particularly of Muslims.”

In just three short decades, Islam has moved from essentially being a nonfactor to a religion that challenges the European identity. Perhaps nothing illustrates this change more graphically than the omnipresent symbols of Islam sprinkled across European cities and towns: state-funded Islamic schools, halal butcher shops, Arabic signs in store fronts, ladies in burqas and headscarves, Turkish or Moroccan flags fluttering over residential buildings. Sharia courts have already been adopted in many cities in the UK after persistent demands by British Muslims.

Indeed, the sheer number of Muslim immigrants sheds some light on the newfound fear of the “bewildering Islamic cacophony,” as Johann Hari in a Dissent magazine article sardonically put it. By varying estimates, the European Union is now home to 15-20 million Muslims, with France hosting the largest number. Annually, half a million migrants flood the gates of Europe in search of work and an additional 400,000 seek asylum, many of whom are from the Middle East. Added to this mix, is the influx of between 120,000 to 500,000 undocumented immigrants.

High immigration from Muslim nations, combined with fertility advantages, means that ethnic Europeans might lose their demographic counterpoise: a fact that touches a raw nerve with many. For almost a generation now, Europe’s birthrates have dipped far below the replacement level. According to 2005 statistics collected by the European Union, for instance, 30 percent of German women are childless, with the number rising to 40 percent among more educated women. With a Muslim population that is expected to grow to 40-50 million by 2050, the populations of major European cities would be half non-native within two generations.

Seizing on these numbers, Bernard Lewis, a leading historian on Islam, argues that Europe would complete its transformation into “Eurabia” by the end of the 21st century. Italy’s flamboyant and controversial journalist Oriana Fallaci once lamented that their province was falling prey to ‘a colony of Islam’ – whereby a sense of surrender of fundamental European values such as freedom of expression and democracy were being felt.

• As the face of Europe continues to change, politics struggle to keep pace. Women in Salzburg, Austria. • The sense that Europe is under siege is further heightened by concerns over the welfare system being overtaxed by non-natives. American Bruce Bawer gave voice to these concerns in his book While Europe Slept, using statistics primarily from Nordic countries to highlight the issue of welfare dependency. In Denmark, for instance, he writes that immigrants from the Middle East “make up 5 percent of the population but receive 40 percent of welfare outlays” – among them public assistance, unemployment benefits, relief payments, child benefits, disability, cash support, and rent allowance. Statistics for other countries are comparable.

According to Bawer, about 15 percent of the Moroccan émigrés in Norway are on a disability plan when a quarter of them have actually returned to their own country. The Frisch Center for Socio-economic Research study, supported by the University of Oslo, also claims that as many as 50 percent of immigrants are “caught up in various forms of welfare benefits.” Further south in the Netherlands, rising unemployment rates have left 33 percent of the foreign-born population out of the labor market – and thus dependent on the welfare system, while unemployed Belgians and migrants have found themselves competing for the lower-end subsidized housing market. Pressure from national authorities to use objective criteria when placing individuals in government housing has meant that migrants, due in part to their larger families, lower wages and high unemployment rates, tend to qualify for housing before Belgians.

Unsurprisingly then, unemployment, insecurity and concerns about welfare burdens have been the vote-winning themes for the extreme right on the continent. But clearly this is not the full picture; to some extent an extreme right vote is also a vote against elitist sentiments long perceived to be out of touch with the concerns of everyday folks. It is a desperate call for nation-building, leadership, and identity preservation as an overcrowded, embedded and burdened continent struggles to absorb waves of newcomers.

“Multiculturalism has, in practice, been a dismal failure,” says Esman. Indeed, the integration of Europe’s new arrivals from non-Western cultures stands out as one of the greatest challenges facing European governments in contemporary times – a challenge that a growing body of citizens feel mainstream parties have not dealt with effectively. And insofar as left or centrist governments do not debate the limits and/or confines of multiculturalism, or take measures to fully integrate non-Western cultures into the ‘European identity’ to become fully at home in their host countries, we can expect individuals of all persuasions to flock to the far-right (whom they perceive as having “commonsensical” approaches to these issues.)

Though I don’t personally believe the far-right is a panacea to the continent’s woes, I do believe the time has come for a new kind of politics, not necessarily far-left or far-right, but politics that genuinely represent the interests and concerns of citizens; politics that make the diversity of Europe work. Until then, Europe can expect votes for the radical right to come from the right and the left, the young and the old, the marginalized and privileged, the integrated and the alienated, the urban and the suburban for years to come. It is a phenomenon leftist or centrist parties can no longer ignore.

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2005: Demographics and the Culture War: The implications of population decline / Stanley Kurtz, Hoover Institution

How can Republicans in their right mind think that Immigration in itself is any kind of problem, since the stories of population explosion have gone the way of the dodo-bird. This article convinced me that, since our civilization is declining in population and in need of people from other cultures, we are much better served as a culture and as a church by immigration from highly-Christianized areas such as Mexico, Central America, South America, Africa, the Philippines, Korea, and increasingly, China. They may save our secular civilization from itself, and without the inherently risky addition of Muslims to the population.
See the original of this outstanding article by Stanley Kurtz on the Hoover Institution website at this link.
Thanks very much,
Steve St.Clair
FEATURES:Demographics and the Culture War
The implications of population decline
By Stanley Kurtz

We moderns have gotten used to the slow, seemingly inexorable dissolution of traditional social forms, the family prominent among them. Yet the ever-decreasing size of the family may soon expose a fundamental contradiction in modernity itself. Fertility rates have been falling throughout the industrialized world for more than 30 years, with implications that are only just now coming into view. Growing population has driven the economy, sustained the welfare state, and shaped modern culture. A declining population could conceivably put the dynamic of modernization into doubt.
The question of the cultural and economic consequences of declining birthrates has been squarely placed on the table by four new books: The Empty Cradle: How Falling Birthrates Threaten World Prosperity and What to Do About It, by Phillip Longman; Fewer: How the New Demography of Depopulation Will Shape Our Future,by Ben Wattenberg; The Coming Generational Storm: What You Need to Know About America’s Economic Future, by Laurence J. Kotlikoff and Scott Burns; and Running On Empty: How the Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do About It, by Peter G. Peterson. Longman and Wattenberg concentrate on the across-the-board implications of demographic change. Kotlikoff and Burns, along with Peterson, limn the economic crisis that could come in the absence of swift and sweeping entitlement reform.
Taken together, these four books suggest that we are moving toward a period of substantial social change whose tantalizing ideological implications run the gamut from heightened cultural radicalism to the emergence of a new, more conservative cultural era.
New demographics
Drawing on these books, let us first get a sense of the new demography. The essential facts of demographic decline discussed in all four are not in doubt. Global fertility rates have fallen by half since 1972. For a modern nation to replace its population, experts explain, the average woman needs to have 2.1 children over the course of her lifetime. Not a single industrialized nation today has a fertility rate of 2.1, and most are well below replacement level.
In Ben Franklin’s day, by contrast, America averaged eight births per woman. American birth rates today are the highest in the industrialized world — yet even those are nonetheless just below the replacement level of 2.1. Moreover, that figure is relatively high only because of America’s substantial immigrant population. Fertility rates among native born American women are now far below what they were even in the 1930s, when the Great Depression forced a sharp reduction in family size.
Population decline is by no means restricted to the industrial world. Remarkably, the sharp rise in American fertility rates at the height of the baby boom — 3.8 children per woman — was substantially above Third World fertility rates today. From East Asia to the Middle East to Mexico, countries once fabled for their high fertility rates are now falling swiftly toward or below replacement levels. In 1970, a typical woman in the developing world bore six children. Today, that figure is about 2.7. In scale and rapidity, that sort of fertility decline is historically unprecedented. By 2002, fertility rates in 20 developing countries had fallen below replacement levels. 2002 also witnessed a dramatic reversal by demographic experts at the United Nations, who for the first time said that world population was ultimately headed down, not up. These decreases in human fertility cover nearly every region of the world, crossing all cultures, religions, and forms of government.
Declining birth rates mean that societies everywhere will soon be aging to an unprecedented degree. Increasing life expectancy is also contributing to the aging of the world’s population. In 1900, American life expectancy at birth was 47 years. Today it is 76. By 2050, one out of five Americans will be over age 65, making the U.S. population as a whole markedly older than Florida’s population today. Striking as that demographic graying may be, it pales before projections for countries like Italy and Japan. The United Nations estimates that by 2050, 42 percent of all people in Italy and Japan will be aged 60 or older.
Can societies that old sustain themselves? That is the question inviting speculation. With fertility falling swiftly in the developing nations, immigration will not be able to ameliorate certain implications of a rapidly aging West. Even in the short or medium term, the aging imbalance cannot be rectified except through a level of immigration far above what Western countries would find politically acceptable. Alarmed by the problems of immigration and assimilation, even famously tolerant Holland has begun to turn away immigrants en masse — and this before the recent murder of filmmaker Theo Van Gogh, which has subsequently forced the questions of immigration and demography to the center of the Dutch political stage.
In short, the West is beginning to experience significant demographic changes, with substantial cultural consequences. Historically, the aged have made up only a small portion of society, and the rearing of children has been the chief concern. Now children will become a small minority, and society’s central problem will be caring for the elderly. Yet even this assumes that societies consisting of elderly citizens at levels of 20, 30, even 40 or more percent can sustain themselves at all. That is not obvious.
Population decline is also set to ramify geometrically. As population falls, the pool of potential mothers in each succeeding generation shrinks. So even if, well into the process, there comes a generation of women with a higher fertility rate than their mothers’, the momentum of population decline could still be locked in. Population decline may also be cemented into place by economics. To support the ever-growing numbers of elderly, governments may raise taxes on younger workers. That would make children even less affordable than they are today, decreasing the size of future generations still further.
If worldwide fertility rates reach levels now common in the developing world (and that is where they seem headed), within a few centuries, the world’s population could shrink below the level of America’s today. Of course, it’s unlikely that mankind will simply cease to exist for failure to reproduce. But the critical point is that we cannot reverse that course unless something happens to substantially increase fertility rates. And whatever might raise fertility rates above replacement level will almost certainly require fundamental cultural change.
Why does modern social life translate into the lower birth rates that spark all those wider implications? Urbanization is one major factor. In a traditional agricultural society, children are put to work early. They also inherit family land, using its fruits to care for aging parents. In a modern urban economy, on the other hand, children represent a tremendous expense, and one increasingly unlikely to be returned to parents in the form of wealth or care. With the growth of a consumer economy, potential parents are increasingly presented with a zero-sum choice between children and more consumer goods and services for themselves.
Along with urbanization, the other important factor depressing world fertility is the movement of women into the workforce — and the technological changes that have made that movement possible. By the time many professional women have completed their educations, their prime childbearing years have passed. Thus, a woman’s educational level is the best predictor of how many children she will have. As Wattenberg shows, worldwide, the correlation between falling female illiteracy and falling female fertility is nearly exact. And as work increasingly becomes an option for women, having a child means not only heavy new expenses, but also the loss of income that a mother might otherwise have gained through work.
Technological change also stands behind the movement of women into the workforce. In a modern, knowledge-based economy, women suffer no physical disadvantage. The ability of women to work in turn depends upon the capacity of modern contraception, along with abortion, to control fertility efficiently. The sheer breadth and rapidity of world fertility decline implies that contraceptive technology has been a necessary condition of the change. Before fertility could be reliably controlled through medical technology, marriage and accompanying strictures against out-of-wedlock births were the key check on a society’s birth rate. Economic decline meant delayed marriage, and thus lower fertility. But contraceptive technology now makes it possible to efficiently control fertility within marriage. This turns motherhood into a choice. And what demographic decline truly shows is that when childbearing has become a matter of sheer choice, it has become less frequent.
The movement of population from tightly knit rural communities into cities, along with contraception, abortion, and the related entry of women into the workforce, explain many of the core cultural changes of the postmodern world. Secularism, individualism, and feminism are tied to a social system that discourages fertility. If a low-fertility world is unsustainable, then these cultural trends may be unsustainable as well. Alternatively, if these cultural trends cannot be modified or counterbalanced, human population appears on course to shrink ever more swiftly.
New economics?
Yet there are signs that the current balance of social forces is not sustainable and may well give way sooner rather than later. That, at any rate, is the view of Longman, Peterson, Kotlikoff and Burns. (Wattenberg is somewhat more sanguine about our ability to weather the coming challenge, although he does not directly address the more dystopic scenarios Peterson, Kotlikoff, and Burns float.) Broadly speaking, both the free market and the welfare state assume continual population growth. “Pay as you go” entitlements require ever-larger new generations to finance the retirement of previous generations. Longman argues that economic growth itself depends upon ever-increasing numbers of consumers and workers.
Population growth, he argues, drove the Industrial Revolution, and there has never been economic growth under conditions of population decline. Thus, for example, he ascribes Japan’s current economic troubles to its declining fertility. And though Longman doesn’t point to Germany, it us interesting to note that this particular low-fertility country is also struggling economically to the point of revisiting the famously shorter European work week — a phenomenon obviously related to the struggle to reduce the pensions promised to an aging population and premissed on more younger workers than actually came to exist.
Both Longman and Wattenberg raise the question of whether markets need population growth in order to thrive. As Wattenberg puts the point, it hardly makes sense to invest in a business whose pool of potential customers is shrinking. That much might be true, even if entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare were fully funded. But Social Security and Medicare are not fully funded. On the contrary, America’s massive unfunded entitlement programs have the potential to spark a serious social and economic crisis in the not too distant future. And the welfare state in the rest of the developed world is on even shakier economic ground.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the combined cost of Medicare and Medicaid alone will consume a larger share of the nation’s income in 2050 than the entire federal budget does today. By 2050, the combined cost of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and interest on the national debt will rise to 47 percent of gross domestic product — more than double the level of expected federal revenues at the time. Without reform, all federal spending would eventually go to seniors. Obviously, the system will correct before we reach that point. But how?
Already, senior citizens vote at very high rates — reacting sharply to any potential cuts in benefits. As the baby boomers retire, the political weight of senior citizens will be vastly greater than it already is. Proposed pension reforms brought down French and Italian governments in the 1990s. Even China has been forced by large-scale protests and riots to back off from attempts to reduce retirement benefits.
In the absence of serious reform, we may be in for an economic “hard landing.” Peterson, Kotlikoff, and Burns warn of a spiraling financial crisis that could even lead to worldwide depression. Former Federal Reserve Board chairman Paul Volcker sees a 75 percent chance of an economic crisis of some sort within the next five years.
What might such a “meltdown” look like? Peterson, Kotlikoff, and Burns spin out essentially the same scenario. The danger is that investors might at some point decide that the United States will never rein in its deficit. Once investors see America’s deficits as out of control, they will assume their dollar-based securities will be eroded by inflation, higher interest rates, and a serious decline in the stock market. Should a loss of confidence cause leading investors to pull their money out of U.S. securities, it could set off a run on the dollar. That would create the very inflation, interest rate increases, and market decline that investors feared in the first place. Such has already happened in Argentina, which Kotlikoff and Burns use as a paradigm in which loss of investor confidence brought down the economy in a kind of self-fulfilling prophesy. The danger is that the United States and the rest of the industrialized world may already have entered the sort of debt trap common among Third World nations. A rapidly aging Japan is even more vulnerable than America, say Kotlikoff and Burns. They add that, should investors looking at teetering modern welfare states and the long-term demographic crisis bring down any of the advanced economies, the contagion could spread to others.
Are we really headed for a worldwide economic meltdown that will leave tens of millions of aging seniors languishing in substandard nursing homes while the rest of us suffer from long years of overtaxation, rising crime, and political instability? Kotlikoff and Burns say the prospect is all too real, and Peterson implies as much.
Yet there are also critics of such disaster scenarios. They argue that growth rates in the new information-based economy will likely be somewhat higher than in the past. Higher rates of economic growth will bring in enough revenue to offset the rising costs of entitlements. Medical advances are keeping older workers healthy and productive. Raise the retirement age by a couple of years, say many, and the expanded workforce would boost government revenues enough to offset shrinkage in the number of younger workers.
Peterson, Kotlikoff, and Burns say these fixes won’t work. Despite increased life expectancy, older workers have generally been retiring earlier. It would be politically difficult to force them in the other direction. And according to Kotlikoff and Burns, delayed retirement produces negligible gains for the economy. When people work longer, they save less because they have fewer years of retirement to finance. The effects cancel out. Overall investment in the economy is reduced, as is the real wage base available for government taxation.
Kotlikoff and Burns also argue that the apparent productivity gains of the late nineties were illusory. Peterson argues that, even if productivity gains prove real, the benefit for the deficit will be canceled out by increases in discretionary spending.
The truth is, no one knows what future productivity will be. There’s a chance rates will turn higher on into the future, yet it seems imprudent to rely on luck with the stakes so high. And as Peterson, Kotlikoff, and Burns point out, so long as Social Security is indexed to wages, revenue gains from higher productivity will be canceled out by increased benefits. Even an ideal growth scenario cannot solve the entitlement crisis unless Social Security is indexed to prices rather than wages. It would seem that politically difficult reform and significant de facto benefit cuts are inevitable even on the most optimistic of reckonings. And the optimistic scenarios themselves seem strained.
What about the pessimistic scenarios? It would be foolish to predict with certainty an economic “hard landing,” much less world-wide depression. Still, the case that these are at least real possibilities seems strong. Even without a “meltdown,” long-term prospects for the economy and the welfare state in rapidly aging societies seem uncertain at best. How exactly will nations like Japan or Italy be able to function when more than 40 percent of their citizens are over 60?
Hard landing or not, and the political power of the elderly notwithstanding, there seems a very real chance that America’s entitlement programs will someday be substantially scaled back. But what sort of struggle between the old and the young will emerge in the meantime, and how will a massive and relatively impoverished older generation cope with the change?
The Coming Generational Storm and Running On Empty are important books. Whether or not the reader is ultimately persuaded by these premonitions of economic peril, it’s time the United States had a serious debate over entitlement reform. Nonetheless, there is also something problematic in the way that Peterson, Kotlikoff, and Burns place the lion’s share of blame for our problems on our political leadership. True, both parties deserve to be chastised for running from the entitlement crisis. Yet even if Peterson, Burns, and Kotlikoff are right about that, they put too much blame on politicians for what broader cultural and demographic forces have wrought. Peterson nods to demography as the background condition for the deficit dilemma yet barely explores the link. Kotlikoff and Burns have much more to say about the demographic details yet treat our changed fertility patterns as irreversible and therefore irrelevant to policy.
That is a questionable assumption. The growing expense of child-rearing, for example, plays a key role in holding birth rates down. Peterson, Kotlikoff, and Burns are quick to criticize the push for lower taxes, yet rising taxes arguably helped to deepen the population decline at the root of our economic dilemma. In 1955, at the height of the baby boom, a typical one-earner family paid 17.3 percent of its income in taxes. Today, a median family with one paycheck pays 37.6 percent of its income in taxes — 39 percent if it’s a two-earner couple. So the new demography has put us into an economic trap. High taxes depress birth rates, but low taxes expand demographically driven deficits still further.
Precisely because we are at an unprecedented demographic watershed, politicians have no model for taking these factors into account. Political leaders in an earlier era could take it for granted that ever-growing populations would keep the welfare state solvent and the economy humming. It’s not surprising that neither the public nor politicians have been able to adjust to the immense, unintended, and only gradually emerging social consequences of postmodern family life. With their eyes firmly fixed on the underlying demographic changes, Wattenberg and Longman are less disposed to browbeat politicians than are Peterson, Kotlikoff, and Burns.
A new conservatism?
On the matter of the new demography and its social consequences, the work of Ben Wattenberg holds a place of special honor. In 1987, 17 years before the publication of Fewer, Wattenberg wrote The Birth Dearth. That book was the first prominent public warning of a crisis of population decline. Yet many rejected its message. In an era when a “population explosion” was taken for granted, the message of The Birth Dearth flew squarely in the face of received wisdom. Subsequent events, however, have proved Wattenberg right.
Despite that vindication, Wattenberg’s own views have changed somewhat. Whereas The Birth Dearth advocated aggressive pro-natalist policies, today Wattenberg seems to have all but given up hope that fertility rates can be substantially increased. On the one hand, he thinks it unlikely that worldwide population can maintain a course of shrinkage without end. On the other hand, he sees no viable scenario by which this presumably unsustainable trend might be reversed.
In The Empty Cradle, Philip Longman takes a different view. Longman believes that runaway population decline may be halted, yet he understands that this can be accomplished only by way of fundamental cultural change. The emerging demographic crisis will call a wide range of postmodern ideologies into question. Longman writes as a secular liberal looking for ways to stabilize the population short of the traditionalist, religious renewal he fears the new demography will bring in its wake.
Given the roots of population decline in the core characteristics of postmodern life, Longman understands that the endless downward spiral cannot be reversed without a major social transformation. As he puts it, “If human population does not wither away in the future, it will be because of a mutation in human culture.” Longman draws parallels to the Victorian era and other periods when fears of population decline, cultural decadence, and fraying social safety nets intensified family solidarity and stigmatized abortion and birth control. Longman also notes that movements of the 1960s, such as feminism, environmentalism, and the sexual revolution, were buttressed by fears of a population explosion. Once it becomes evident that our real problem is the failure to reproduce, these movements and attitudes could weaken.
Longman’s greatest fear is a revival of fundamentalism, which he defines broadly as any movement that relies on ancient myth and legend, whether religious or not, “to oppose modern, liberal, and commercial values.” Religious traditionalists tend to have large families (relatively speaking). Secular modernists do not. Longman’s fear is that, over time, Western secular liberals will shrink as a portion of world population while, at home and abroad, traditionalists will flourish. To counter this, and to solve the larger demographic-economic crisis, Longman offers some very thoughtful proposals for encouraging Americans to have more children. Substantial tax relief for parents is the foundation of his plan.
Longman has thought this problem through very deeply. Yet, in some respects, his concerns seem odd and exaggerated. He lumps American evangelicals together with Nazis, racists, and Islamicists in the same supposed opposition to all things modern. This is more interesting as a specimen of liberal prejudice than as a balanced assessment of the relationship between Christianity and modernity. Moreover, the mere fact that religious conservatives have more children than secular liberals is no guarantee that those children will remain untouched by secular culture.
Still, Longman rightly sees that population decline cannot be reversed in the absence of major cultural change, and the prospects of a significant religious revival must not be dismissed. In a future shadowed by vastly disproportionate numbers of poor elderly citizens, and younger workers struggling with impossible tax burdens, the fundamental tenets of postmodern life might be called into question. Some will surely argue from a religious perspective that mankind, having discarded God’s injunctions to be fruitful and multiply, is suffering the consequences.
Yet we needn’t resort to disaster scenarios to see that our current demographic dilemma portends fundamental cultural change. Let us say that in the wake of the coming economic and demographic stresses, a serious secular, pronatalist program of the type proposed by Longman were to take hold and succeed. The result might not be “fundamentalism,” yet it would almost certainly involve greater cultural conservatism. Married parents tend to be more conservative, politically and culturally. Predictions of future dominance for the Democratic Party are based on the increasing demographic prominence of single women. Delayed marriage lowers fertility rates and moves the culture leftward. Reverse that trend by stimulating married parenthood, and the country grows more conservative — whether in a religious mode or not.
But can the cultural engines of postmodernity really be thrown into reverse? After all, people don’t decide to have children because they think it will help society. They act on their personal desires and interests. Will women stop wanting to be professionals? Is it conceivable that birth control might become significantly less available than it is today? It certainly seems unlikely that any free Western society would substantially restrict contraception, no matter how badly its population was dwindling.
Yet it is important to keep in mind that decisions about whether and when to have children may someday take place in a markedly different social environment. As mentioned, children are valued in traditional societies because of the care they provide in old age. In the developed world, by contrast, old age is substantially provisioned by personal savings and the welfare state. But what will happen if the economy and the welfare state shrink significantly? Quite possibly, people will once again begin to look to family for security in old age — and childbearing might commensurately appear more personally necessary.
If a massive cohort of elderly citizens find themselves in a chronic state of crisis, the lesson for the young will be clear. Wattenberg notes that pro-natalist policies have failed wherever they’ve been tried. Yet in conditions of serious economic stress and demographic imbalance, sweeping pro-natalist plans like those offered by Longman may in fact become workable. That would usher in a series of deeper cultural changes, most of them pointing society in a more conservative direction.
Then again, we may finesse the challenge of a rapidly aging society by some combination of increased productivity, entitlement reform, and delayed retirement. In that case, fertility will continue to fall, and world population will shrink at compounding speed. The end result could be crisis or change further down the road, or simply substantial and ongoing reductions in world population, with geostrategic consequences difficult to predict. One way or the other, it would seem that our social order is in motion.
New eugenics?
The emerging population implosion, then, may be taken in part as a challenge to Francis Fukuyama’s “end of history” thesis. As Fukuyama himself came to recognize in his 2002 book, Our Posthuman Future, the greatest challenge to the “end of history” idea is the prospect that biotechnology might work a fundamental change in human nature and society. In the form of modern contraception, it may already have done so. And contraception could be only the beginning.
Like others who warn of the dangers of biotechnology, Fukuyama is most concerned about the prospect that genetic engineering could undermine the principles of liberty and equality. If children are genetically engineered for greater health, strength, or intellectual capacity, erstwhile liberal society could be plunged into a brave new world of genetically-based class hierarchy.
That is a grave concern, yet there may still be others. The disruptive effects of biotechnology will play out in a depopulating world — perhaps a world shadowed by economic and cultural crisis. So the immediate challenge of biotechnology to human history is the prospect that the family might be replaced by a bioengineered breeding system. Artificial wombs, not the production of supermen, may soon be the foremost social challenge posed by advancing science. Certainly, there is a danger that genetic engineering may someday lead to class distinctions. But the pressure on the bioengineers of the future will be to generate population. If and when the prospect of building “better” human beings becomes real, it will play out in the context of a world under radical population pressure. That population crunch will likely shape the new genetics at every turn.
With talk of artificial wombs and the end of the family, we are a long way from the idea of a conservative religious revival. The truth is, the possibility of a population crisis simultaneously raises the prospect of conservative revival and eugenic nightmare. In his landmark book on Western family decline, Disturbing the Nest, sociologist David Popenoe traces out contrasting ideal-typical scenarios by which the Western family might be either strengthened or further eroded. Looking at these scenarios, it’s evident that a population crisis could trigger either one.
What could reverse the decline of the Western nuclear family? Anything that might counter the affluence, secularism, and individualism that led to family decline in the first place, says Popenoe. Economic decline could force people to depend on families instead of the state. A religious revival could restore traditional mores. And a revised calculation of rational interest in light of social chaos could call the benefits of extreme individualism into question. We’ve already seen that a demographic-economic crisis could invoke all three of these mechanisms.
But what about the reverse scenario, in which the nuclear family would entirely disappear? According to Popenoe, the end of the nuclear family would come through a further development of our growing tendency to separate pair-bonding from sex and procreation. Especially in Europe, marriage is morphing into parental cohabitation. And in societies where parents commonly cohabit, the practice of “living alone together” is emerging. There unmarried parents remain “together” yet live in separate households, only one of them with a child. And of course, intentional single motherhood by older unmarried women — Murphy Brown-style — is another dramatic repudiation of the nuclear family. The next logical step in all this would be for single mothers to turn their children over to some other individual or group for rearing. That would spell the definitive end of the nuclear family.
A prolonged economic crisis accompanied by widespread concern over depopulation would undoubtedly place feminism under pressure. Yet it’s unlikely that postmodern attitudes toward women, work and family could be swept aside — or even significantly modified — without a major cultural struggle. A eugenic regime would be the logical way to safeguard feminist goals in a depopulating world, and there is ample precedent for an alliance between eugenics and feminism.
After all, birth control pioneers like Margaret Sanger in the United States and Marie Stopes in England blended feminism and eugenics at the outset of the twentieth century. As birth control came into wide use, fertility sharply declined — particularly among the upper classes, which had access to the technology. Alarmed by the relative decline of the elites, Teddy Roosevelt urged upper-class women to have more children. Even progressives began to question their commitment to women’s rights. Margaret Sanger’s response was to promote a eugenic regime of forced sterilization and birth control among the unfit. Instead of urging “the intelligent” to have more children, Sanger advocated the suppression of births among “the insane and the blemished.”
The women’s movement of the 1960s forged still more links between feminism and eugenics. Shulamith Firestone’s 1970 classic, The Dialectic of Sex, argued that women would truly be free only when released from the burden of reproduction. Today, as scientists work to engineer embryos in the laboratory, while others devise technology to save premature babies at ever earlier stages of development, the possibility that a viable artificial womb will someday be created has emerged. While feminists are divided on the issue, many look forward to the prospect.
Thus, if faced with an ultimate choice between feminist hopes of workplace equality with men and society’s simultaneous need for more children, it is not hard to imagine that some on the cultural left would opt for technological outsourcing — surrogacy in various forms — as a way out. To some extent, this phenomenon has already begun: Consider the small but growing numbers of older, usually career women who choose and pay younger women to carry babies for them. As with Sanger and Firestone, eugenics may be seen by some as the “logical” alternative to pressure to restore the traditional family.
Christine Rosen, who has usefully thought through the prospects and implications of “ectogenesis,” suggests that objections to the human exploitation inherent in surrogacy could actually propel a shift toward artificial wombs. Of course, that would only complete the commodification of childbirth itself — weakening if not eliminating the parent-child bond. And if artificial wombs one day become “safer” than human gestation, insurers might begin to insist on our not giving birth the old-fashioned way.
Such dark possibilities demand serious intellectual attention. Neither principled objections to tampering with human nature nor instinctive horror at the thought of it suffice to meet the challenge of the new eugenics. Philosophy and instinct must be welded to a compelling social vision. The course and consequences of world population decline offer just such a vision. In the end, philosophical principles and reflexive horror are guardians of the social order, yet without a lively vision of the social order they are protecting, these guardians cannot properly do their work.
New choices
Even in the celebrated image of the conservative who stands athwart history yelling “Stop!” there is a subtle admission of modernization’s inevitability. Tocqueville saw history’s trend toward ever greater individualism as an irresistible force. The most we could do, he thought, was to balance individualism with modern forms of religious, family, and civic association. Today, even Tocqueville’s cherished counterweights to radical individualism are disappearing — particularly in the sphere of the family.
It is indeed tempting to believe that the fundamental social changes initiated in the 1960s have by now become irreversible. Widespread contraception, abortion, women in the workforce, marital decline, growing secularism and individualism — all seem here to stay.
Looked at from a longer view, however, the results are not really in. We haven’t yet seen the passing of even the great demographic wave of the “baby boom.” The latter half of the twentieth century may someday be seen not as ushering in the end of history, but as a transition out of modernity and into a new, prolonged, and culturally novel era of population shrinkage.
The most interesting and unanticipated prospect of all would be a conservatism. Of our authors, only Longman has explored the potential ideological consequences of the new demography. In effect, Longman wrote his book to forestall a religiously-based conservatism precipitated by demographic and economic decline. Yet even Longman may underestimate the potential for conservative resurgence.
It wouldn’t take a full-scale economic meltdown, or even a relative disparity in births between fundamentalists and secularists, to change modernity’s course. Chronic low-level economic stress in a rapidly aging world may be enough. There is good reason to worry about the fate of elderly boomers with fragile families, limited savings, and relatively few children to care for them. A younger generation of workers will soon feel the burden of paying for the care of this massive older generation. The nursing shortage, already acute, will undoubtedly worsen, possibly foreshadowing shortages in many other categories of workers. Real estate values could be threatened by population decline. And all these demographically tinged issues, and more, will likely become the media’s daily fare.
In such an atmosphere, a new set of social values could emerge along with a fundamentally new calculation of personal interest. Modernity itself may come in for criticism even as a new appreciation for the benefits of marriage and parenting might emerge. A successful pronatalist policy (if achieved by means of the conventional family rather than through surrogacy or artificial wombs) would only reinforce the conservative trend. In that case we will surely find that it is cultural radicals standing athwart history’s new trend yelling “Stop!”
Humankind faces three fundamental choices in the years ahead: at least a partial restoration of traditional social values, a radical new eugenics, or endless and compounding population decline. For a long time, this choice may not be an either/or. Divisions will likely emerge both within and between societies on how to proceed. Some regions may grow more traditional, others may experiment with radical new social forms, while still others may continue to shrink. And a great deal will depend upon an economic future that no one can predict with certainty. In any case, the social innovations of the modern world are still being tested, and the outcome is unresolved.

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2008: Pollsters wonder why Proposition 8 defied expectations / Contra Costa Times

On the question of why Proposition 8 got more votes than expected, the biggest problem is that the secular media sees everything through its own preconceptions, in which religion is suspect at best, and dangerous at worst. This keeps them from being able to have a real understanding of what is going in the American religous scene.

The only churches they visit are mainline protestant congregations with old pastors and empty churches, dying because they have adopted religious pluralism as they mode of operation, and people leave them in streams to move to more conservative congregations

This results in much of the growth and success of the white or multi-ethnic megachurches like Saddleback and Mariners. They do not dwell only on the social issues, but their actual positions on them are not that diffferent from James Dobson of Focus on the Family, other than the tone of voice in which they talk about them. Pastor Rick Warren at Saddleback was a big pusher of Proposition 8. Large megachurches are also frequently affiliated with Calvary Chapel, Vineyard Christian Fellowship, and Evangelical Free Church members, and they all push and vote for pro-marriage items in full force. I visited many of them, and saw large rows of tables and 20 people assigned to sign people up to register and vote.

The Catholics in California are growing rapidly because of immigration from central and South America. After their experiments with moderate ideas as a result of the second Vatican Council, thousands of gays flocked to their Priesthood, and they were responsible almost completely for the Child Abuse scandals in that church in the 1980’s and 1990’s (at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars in payments to victims. The Cardinals straightened things out in naming the very conservative Joseph Ratzinger, who is now known as Pope Benedict XVI. He is pushing his church in the direction of conservative social values, and thus a lot more Catholics are voting with us on s issues, for which we love them and have a growing and warm relationship with them.

Black Christians in California are in very high percentages members of very socially conservative churches who are very strong in abortion and pro-marriage issues. They are 6% of the population of California, and are growing in numbers because they have more children than secular families. They vote democratically because they are assured more help for thier income levels. But they always agree with the conservative churches on social issues. They are generally very enthusiastic “Charismatics” in worship style, with lots of “Hallelujah’s and”Amens” being annunciated. They make wonderful Christians and wonderful helpers in pro-marriage issues. Two demoninations that make up a large proporton of their population are (1) the Church of God in Christ, which started the Charismatic movement from Scratch in 1900, and which has 50 churches in Los Angeles; and (2) the First African Methodist Episcopal church, which has some quite liberal leaders but whom are always with us on social issues (they endorsed Proposition 22 and Proposition 8). I met a number of their pastors and Prop 8 events, and am in the process of visiting thier churches building relationships. Africa is having its own massive growth of Charismatic Christianity, and will contain more Christians than any other continent on earch within 50 years.

Among Hispanic Christians in California, a very rapidly-growing group, most are still Catholics, but that is changing as we speak. The most rapid growth among them make up Mexico, Central, and South America’s versions of the “Charismatic Christian” explosion in all of the southern Hemisphere. Their worship styles are lively and loud, and would remind you of a black “Church of God in Christ” or a white “Assemblies of God” service. A fair number of them vote democratically not because they like their social positions, but because they get more assurance about immigration reform that would be more lenient with those now in the country. But on social issues of abortion and especially gay marriage, they are far to the right, and must have voted for Proposition 8 in high percentages (those who are citizens). In summ, Hispanics in California and in the US are growing rapidly, very socially conservative and anti-gay-marriage. They will be natural allies in cultural issues for many years.

Among Asians in California and the U.S. , many Chinese and Japanese who have been in the country for several generations are secular in the way educated Europen society is, and they must be the Asians voting against Proposition 8. They have few children, and will decline in numbers rapidly. The surprise for most Europeans is the very large and growing numbers of Asians of more recent arrival in the country. While they have been coming here, Asia on its home soil has been having its own version of the “Charismatic Explosion”, and at this point 40% of Koreans in Korea are charismatic Christians; 70% of Filipino in the Philippines are charismatic Christians; and there are hundreds of millions of charismatic Christians in communist China. This means that the millions of immigrants from those countries in the last 20 years have been part of this movement. There are huge mega-churches of all of these kinds that no one is very familiar with. Their charismatic characteristics and their worship styles are, as you would expect, quieter, calmer than those of Blacks and Hispanics. Their numbers are so large, and their support for the social issues is spectacular. I attended the multi-ethnic Yes on Prop 8 gathering at the L.A. city hall grounds last Sunday, and the entire place was filled with at least 5 thousand members of these Asian churches. They are a huge factor in the future of Christianity in the U.S., and I am in the process of meeting their pastors, getting to know their people, and facilitating working together with them in future endeavors.

A final group that I will mention is another hidden treasure in U.S. Christianity, of which there are close to a million in California, and we have in the past made little effort to get to know them. They are the members of Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches, and the eastern in their names mean coming from the middle east and north Africa, although some of them are from Eastern Europe. They include the Antiochian Orthodox, the Coptic Orthodox (from Egypt), the Syrian Orthodox (from Syria), the Armenian Orthodox (they are not from Armenia in central Europe, but from Asia Minor and Syria), the Maconite Catholics from Syria), and the Assyrian Orthodox church (from Iraq). Almost all of these people are coming to the U.S. under great duress from the predominently Islamic countries of origin, with persecutions and actual genocides; so they have little use for the Islamic culture. I have been joining some of these churches and meeting their leaders, and they are warm and friendly. Without exception, they are EXTREMELY CONSERVATIVE on social issues, and push involvement in picketing aborion clinics and all efforts to stop gay marriage. Those among them who are citizens are certainly a very large and growing addition to American religious life and as strong supporters on social issues, whose numbers will be hard to account for until people start polling them correctly.

The conclusion of all these comments is that, as the secular and liberal religious groups in America are disappearing because their people have no interest in having families and raising children, which would get in the way of their personal pursuits. So their numbers are rapidly dwindling. The conservative groups are growing rapidly in number, and will be more willing to work with us if we take the time to understand their backgrounds and growth patterns. Anyone who does not see that the conservative Christian character of the United States in the future is misreading the tea-leaves. I would suggest that California’s secular pluralistic society is at its maximum reach right now Some suggestions to get closer to the conservatives:

(1) move in the direction of conservative Christianity, as the apostles and prophets have been doing steadily for the last 25 years; it will help our growth in the United States and also in our exploding missionary work in the “charismatic” south;

(2) recognize that many of them are Charismatic, and learn to enjoy their wonderful lively services, and consider emphasizing charismatic aspects of our own faith (the Latter-day Saints were actually the first charismatics at the time of the dedication of the Kirtland Temple in 1836, so they preceeded the start of the movement among blacks in Los Angeles in 1900);

(3) To improve our ability to relate with the Hispanic varieties, I suggest that we not jump on the anti-immigration bandwagon that some other social conservatives advocate. Since a large percentage of our non-hispanic Europeans in the U.S. are secular, with low birth rates, it turns out that we need the immigrants to pay into social security and to keep our overall birthrate at above replacement level of 2.1 children per couple. This will also help in our own LDS church’s growth in the United States, since our growth among non-hispanic Europeans is going down, and our growth among new Spanish speaking immigrants is very substantial.

Love and thanks,

Steve St.Clair
Pollsters wonder why Proposition 8 defied expectations
By Matt O’BrienContra Costa Times
Article Launched: 11/05/2008 08:53:16 PM PST

Some pollsters say it was previously undecided Catholics, jolted from their uncertainty by a Sunday sermon, who made the decisive tilt toward eliminating same-sex marriage in California.

Others think that African-Americans and Latinos, voting in overwhelming numbers on Tuesday both to elect Barack Obama and pass Proposition 8, made a crucial difference.

Still others say that despite months of polling that led many to believe Prop. 8 was expected to fail, a huge bloc of Californians had always shown themselves to be internally conflicted, and therefore unpredictable, on whether gays and lesbians should be able to marry.

“The bottom line is the public, the voters, are very closely divided on same-sex marriage today,” said Mark Baldassare, president of the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California. “And when all was said and done, you just have to say the ‘yes’ side was just a little bit more persuasive than the ‘no’ side.”

Polls by Baldassare’s institute and other groups had indicated voter opinion weighted against Prop. 8, and so the measure’s victory Tuesday left many experts scratching their heads.

Some had predicted that Obama’s wide popularity in California, and his few public statements against Prop. 8, would work in favor of same-sex marriage supporters. Instead, the measure’s proponents used Obama to their advantage, sending thousands of Bay Area residents a mailer that prominently featured the candidate and a quartet of local African-American pastors expressing their opposition to same-sex marriage.

In mid-October phone interviews, 52 percent of likely voters told the Public Policy Institute that they would vote no on Prop. 8 if the election were held that day. Only 44 percent said they would vote yes, and 4 percent said they did not know how they would vote.

But when asked a slightly different question — “Do you favor or oppose allowing gay and lesbian couples to be legally married?” — the same likely voters reversed their opinions. Forty-nine percent opposed allowing same-sex marriages, 47 percent favored allowing them and 4 percent did not know.

That contradiction, in which a slight change of semantics swayed voters from one conviction to another, seemed to be at the heart of California’s most expensive and emotionally-charged election this year. Once they finally weighed in, nearly 5.4 million voters, or 52.5 percent, voted in favor of Prop. 8 and nearly 4.9 million, or 47.5 percent, voted against it.

Mark DiCamillo, director of the Field Poll, another group that had shown the measure losing, said the polls narrowed in recent weeks, but also may have been fooled by a last-minute switch of opinion by Catholic voters, who represent about 30 percent of the state’s electorate.

“This is the same thing that happened in 2000,” said DiCamillo, speaking of the last statewide initiative to ban same-sex marriage. “The Catholics seem to have moved to the ‘yes’ side in the final weekend.”

DiCamillo bases his hunch on exit polls, number-crunching and personal experience. In 2000, he attended his family’s Catholic Church the weekend before the election and heard his priest implore parishioners to vote for a proposition that prohibited California from recognizing same-sex marriages.

“The Catholics just don’t move until the very end, until they’re exhorted to do so,” he said.

The Rev. Mark Wiesner, spokesman for the Oakland Catholic Diocese, said there was no directive to have priests throughout the East Bay church network express their support of Prop. 8 last weekend. Anything that happened would have been at the discretion of the local pastor, he said.

But DiCamillo said he believes that Sunday was “the big crescendo of the Yes campaign,” and a changing Catholic electorate became a defining reason for the discrepancy between poll results and the actual vote. As of last week, 44 percent of Catholic voters interviewed by the Field Poll said they were supporting Prop. 8, and 48 percent said no. He said that according to exit polls conducted Tuesday, 64 percent of Catholics voted for Prop. 8 and 36 percent did not.

Exit polls from network television stations also revealed a wealth of other data that could have observers, and especially opponents of Prop. 8, looking back on the vote for a long time. A CNN poll said that 70 percent of African-American voters supported the measure, compared with 53 percent of Latinos and 49 percent of whites and Asians. But DiCamillo said there was not yet enough information to jump to too many conclusions, pointing out that African-Americans represent only about 6 percent of California voters.

“That’s not a very big sample upon which to make broad conclusions or estimates,” he said. With big margins of error, he said “you’re just throwing darts at the board” until more conclusive studies happen in the coming days and weeks.

Reach Matt O’Brien at 925-977-8463 or

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2002: The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity (Review) / David Martin

This article on the First Things website is dated 2002. See the original at this link on the First Things website.

Thanks much,
Steve St.Clair

Books in Review
The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity
Reviewed by David Martin

Recently a Hungarian Catholic sociologist suggested to me that as far as the future social geography of religion was concerned Rome might as well be in the center of Africa as the center of the Mediterranean. The same goes for Latin America, of course. The largest church in the world is in the Ivory Coast, and between Rio and São Paulo there is a new cathedral perfectly adapted to a papal blessing for “the City and the World.”

Contemporary Christianity has shifted south, and its preponderant weight has gone pear-shaped, which is the gist of Philip Jenkins’ remarkable and disturbing synthesis, The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity. The bare facts may be old news, but few have spelled out the trouble they portend for the cultural empire of the liberal establishment of the North Atlantic. Perhaps the broadest public hint so far was provided by the 1998 Lambeth Conference (which in part stimulated Jenkins’ book), where southern Christians used their numerical clout to promote opinions thoroughly unfashionable in the north. Queen Victoria’s ex-empire from southern Africa to Singapore struck back.

When it comes to the much larger sphere of Roman Catholicism, today’s tussles were prefigured five centuries ago, when the Spanish arrived in Chile and the Philippines, and the Portuguese in Congo. According to Jenkins, the key to the ecclesiastical politics consequent on the shift in demographic influence since then is obvious: there are now, for example, only five million Dutch Catholics, and the Vatican can count.

What Jenkins documents without precisely saying so is the dead end seemingly reached by the master narratives generating and generated by the European experience. 1789 petered out in 1989. The Rest of the World had been scheduled to follow the path of ex-Catholic France and post-Protestant Sweden. Philosophy decreed that religious fantasy should empty itself in politics, while liberal theology required faith to demythologize or die. But the corridors of history turned out to be as perverse and cunning as ever.

In the burgeoning Rest of the World we now see a sizable number of Fanon’s “damned of the earth” mobilizing behind the banners of the redeemed, and (as I’ve suggested elsewhere) you can see that as a global version of Elie Halévy’s thesis about Methodism sidelining revolution in industrializing England. Just as Wesley’s movement was repudiated by, and escaped, episcopal oversight, so the ebullient Christianity of “the South” is repudiated by and escapes mainstream Protestant oversight. There is naught here for the comfort of Bishop Spong or the Jesus Seminar, and what we see bears a disconcerting resemblance to New Testament Christianity. Indeed, were New Testament scholars (or Reformation historians) to leave their academies for the fields currently “white unto harvest” they might learn a lot about the dynamics of religious revolution relevant to a.d. 50 or a.d. 1520. Similarly, rationalist Catholic elites might discover just what acculturation means in terms of social reality rather than policy recommendation. It might also be worth noticing just where in the world the Catholic clergy of the future are going to come from.

Alternatively, those millions who “stand before God” in Schiller’s prophetic “Ode to Joy” turn out behind the antique drum of a radical Islam. Admittedly, the philosophes admired Islam as a relatively rational religion, but nothing in the Enlightened master narrative prepared us for this half a millennium later. The much promoted empowerment of “The Other” was not really supposed to negate the ideology of its promoters. Hence the unreasoning dismissal of contemporary religious dynamism under the blanket pejorative of “fundamentalism,” implying that it is only a reaction to modernity rather than an alternative way to name it and claim it.

If Jenkins’ principal subject is the southward shift of Christianity, his answering second subject is the encounter of Christianity and Islam as they expand into the unoccupied territories between them all the way from West Africa to Irian Jaya. Again, though this may not be hot news to specialists, especially since Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations (1996) stirred things up, Jenkins is pushing the argument on and into new territory.

First, he takes issue with Huntington by arguing that the population explosion consequent on “birth control lag” among southern Christians will not only sideline white, and especially white European, Christianity, but virtually equal the population explosion of Islam. Second, and more speculatively, Jenkins suggests on the basis of the kind of arguments advanced by Paul Gifford for Zambia (and, in a forthcoming publication, for Ghana also) that we may see a partial reversion to older models of Christendom. This does not mean a reversion to medieval organicism or to a synthesis of church and state, but it may be that some African countries will mobilize their identities in Christian terms.

More immediately alarming is the third leg of Jenkins’ argument, which simply states an obvious fact that has thus far been politically incorrect to articulate. Whatever the superiority of Islam in tolerating minorities during its millennium of imperial dominance, in the future a globally subordinate Islam will turn increasingly intolerant. That will be so even allowing for the many divisions in Islam itself. Indeed, one might speculate that Islam is now entering that phase of militant ethno-religion signaled in Christendom by the Iberian expulsions after 1492. Clearly that spells danger from Sudan to Indonesia, even though the latter country has so far managed to devise a non-Islamic identity. The places where ethnicity and religion correspond are especially ripe for conflict.

In Africa over a third of a billion Christians are juxtaposed to a roughly equal number of Muslims, and in Nigeria the two are precariously balanced. As for the European border with the Middle East, there has historically been an extrusion of ethnoreligious (and other) minorities in both directions. Ethnic cleansing is no novelty, as Muslims in Crete and Bulgaria, and Christians in Turkey, Egypt, and Iraq know very well, but henceforth the Islamic Middle East will become increasingly homogeneous, with its Christian populations moving elsewhere, particularly to the Americas. Meanwhile, a pluralistic Europe may receive some seventy million economic migrants, most of them Muslim, raising the Muslim minority from one percent to approximately 12 percent. One has to hope that recent tensions in Britain with a Muslim minority of 2.5 percent are not an augury of what that could mean.

There are, it seems to me, contrary global tendencies, one mainly pluralistic in partial association with Christianity, and one homogenizing, in partial association not only with Islam but with supposedly tolerant faiths like Hinduism and Buddhism. Maybe the conventional characterizations of these faiths in terms of comparative tolerance lack adequate sociological contextualization. With respect to Jenkins’ speculation about a new homogenizing “Christendom” in parts of southern Christianity, I rather doubt it, given the riotously fissiparous nature of African Christianity. Some countries in Africa are indeed entering a phase of national mobilization and there are ethnoreligious models for emulation available, for example in the Hebrew Scriptures, but if I read Paul Freston’s Evangelicals and Politics in Asia, Africa, and Latin America (Cambridge University Press, 2001) correctly, these tendencies are not all that pervasive. Certainly global Christianity, whether Catholic or Protestant, has moved away from established churches, messianic nationalism, and intégrisme, towards voluntarism and pluralism.

The sub-themes of The Next Christendom mostly relate to the decline in the numerical and intellectual influence of Europe. One consequence is that Orthodox Christianity, stepping eastward from Serbia to the Urals (and via earlier Russian expansion to Kamchatka), will stay static, and so no longer be the third party of global Christianity. Judaism will also stay static, with some complicated geopolitical consequences in terms of alliances. A U.S. decreasingly European in the origins of its people will, nevertheless, become increasingly Christian, perhaps increasingly Catholic, if one assesses the overall impact of Hispanic immigration and of a differentially Christian immigration from all over the Pacific rim.

Jenkins deserves praise for his willingness to assess realities rather than focus on vague aspirations and righteous indignation. The effect of his book’s trenchant realism is to highlight the dilemmas that follow from the fact that “we’re all liberals now.” In particular we have to note the price tag attached to acculturation and indigeneity in terms of the disavowal of liberal Western tutelage on such issues as gender and sexuality. We have also to recognize that we cannot be morally relativistic, and at the same time lambast southern Christians as backward people misled by Texans on the rampage. If we are going to be nonjudgmental and sensitive to the values, choices, and creativity of others, then even fellow Christians should benefit.

Yet another new world is appearing (to quote a British foreign secretary of the nineteenth century) to “redress the balance of the old,” and we cannot dismiss it airily as just needing to go to school in our better universities. The Christian mainstream, and especially the education it provided, contributed massively to the emergence of the ex-colonial world, and a Kofi Annan (Methodist) or a Julius Nyerere (Catholic) are witnesses to that. But the simple facts are that the new world in the south is not made in the northern image, whether with respect to northerners who expected its Catholicism to be liberationist when it more often turned out charismatic or traditional, or with respect to the liberal mainstream of Protestantism. In “the South,” even the mainstream is relatively conservative, as Lambeth showed in 1998. We live in interesting times, and should perhaps reflect gratefully that nobody identified the likely perpetrators on September 11 as Pentecostals from Brazil or Benin.

David Martin is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the London School

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