Ross Douthat tells liberals is time to go back to church even if they don’t believe in God.
Do it for your political philosophy: More religion would make liberalism more intellectually coherent (the “created” in “created equal” is there for a reason), more politically effective, more rooted in its own history, less of a congerie of suspicious “allies” and more of an actual fraternity.
Do it for your friends and neighbors, town and cities: Thriving congregations have spillover effects that even anti-Trump marches can’t match.
Do it for your family: Church is good for health and happiness, it’s a better place to meet a mate than Tinder, and even its most modernized form is still an ark of memory, a link between the living and the dead.
I understand that there’s the minor problem of actual belief. But honestly, dear liberals, many of you do believe in the kind of open Gospel that a lot of mainline churches preach.
If pressed, most of you aren’t hard-core atheists: You pursue religious experiences, you have affinities for Unitarianism or Quakerism, you can even appreciate Christian orthodoxy when it’s woven into Marilynne Robinson novels or the “Letter From Birmingham Jail.”
You say you’re spiritual but not religious because you associate “religion” with hierarchies and dogmas and strict rules about sex. But the Protestant mainline has gone well out of its way to accommodate you on all these points.
Finally, a brief word to the really hardened atheists: Oh, come on. Sure, all that beauty and ecstasy and astonishing mathematical order is because we’re part of a multiverse or a simulation or something; that’s the ticket. Sure, consciousness and free will are illusions, but human rights and gender identities are totally real. Sure, your flying spaghetti monster joke makes you a lot smarter than Aquinas, Karl Barth, Martin Luther King. Sure.
Just go to church, guys. The mainline churches’ doors are open. They need you; America still needs them.
In other words, be like a lot of right-wingers and become a complete and certified hypocrite just for the sake of appearances. This is after assuming that a lot of liberals don’t go to church or participate in a faith community because they don’t wear it on their sleeves or their trucker hats.
As for his snarky swipe at atheism, please explain to me why the Flying Spaghetti Monster story is any less plausible than the one about two naked people and the talking snake.
It sounds like Mr. Douthat is less interested in saving liberal souls than he is in keeping the mainline churches out of the hands of the hard-core evangelicals (they’re so tacky) and the politicians who know a flock of pigeons when they see them. He might have better luck if his fellow conservatives hadn’t fed them in the first place.