Saturday, April 2, 2005

Over the Top

Juan Cole predicts that Terri Schiavo’s ordeal could be the tipping point for the Religious Reich.

Both the reelection of George Bush and the Schiavo travesty have heightened the sense that the religious right in the United States is all-powerful. Reading the press, you get the impression that almost all Americans are devout Christians, people who believe in a literal heaven and hell and spend their idle moments devouring the “Left Behind” novels about the end of the world. This isn’t true — and it’s getting less true all the time. While evangelical Christians are a significant political force, they are probably only a fifth of the country, and not all of them are politically conservative: Only 14 percent of voters in an exit poll for the presidential elections in 2000 characterized themselves as part of the “Christian right.” In fact, polls show that the United States is becoming less religious. Only about 60 percent of Americans say religion is important in their lives. The United States is still a predominantly Christian country, but it is no longer an overwhelmingly Christian one. And more and more Americans are either non-religious, unchurched or subscribe to non-Christian religions.

The public relations fiasco that attended the Republican Party’s cynical attempt to play the religion card in the tragic case of the brain-damaged Terri Schiavo suggests that the religious right has jumped the shark.

Read the rest here (from Salon.com).