A Response to “Christianity on the Decline” – The Branding Iron

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By: Monte Bluebird
The recent Letter to the Editor by Seth Hustad makes the distorted claim that “society leaving God behind…brings more despair, hopelessness, and meaninglessness.” To substantiate this claim, Hustad cites a correlation between a decline in Christianity and a rise in political corruption, economic woes, and “debauchery.” 
In other words, Hustad would have us believe that the United States, the country with the largest population of Christians in the world and a Congress whose composition is 88% Christian, is faltering because it is not Christian enough. 
Unfortunately, the deep array of issues facing this country cannot simply be boiled down to a decline in the Christian faith—in fact, I would go so far as to claim that Christianity only stands to exacerbate many of these issues. 
Consider just a few of the leading cultural issues facing our nation today: reproductive rights and homosexuality. Among these issues, the position which seeks to limit personal liberty and freedom is, in many cases, religiously charged. Polls from Pew Research Center found that 94% of those who self-identify as atheists believe that homosexuality should be accepted, compared with a mere 36% of evangelicals. Similar polls found that 87% of atheists believe that abortion should be legal in all/most cases, while only 33% of evangelicals believe the same
These sorts of beliefs have real-world consequences, as we saw with the recent harassment of a transwoman on our campus by an elder of the Laramie Faith Community Church. Likewise, I will not be made to believe that our country would be better off if more women were forced to carry their rapist’s child, or if more people were barred from marrying the partner of their choice. 
Now, because Hustad builds his arguments using cryptic, vague platitudes, such as “loose morals” and “rampant debauchery,” it is difficult to ascertain his personal beliefs on either reproductive rights or homosexuality. However, many who share Hustad’s religious and ideological persuasions overwhelmingly take the negative position on both of these issues. 
While many Christians consider reproductive rights to constitute “loose morals,” I believe them to be a necessary step towards securing a woman’s dominion over her own body. While many Christians consider homosexuality to constitute “debaucherous activity,” I believe, in the words of Christopher Hitchens, that “Homosexuality is not just a form of sex, but it is a form of love, and it deserves our respect for that reason.”
Finally, I must address Hustad’s final point, that “if we were all created by chance we don’t have a meaning for existence,” for “only through God do we have meaning.” Not only does this declaration lack any basis in reality, where plenty of non-Christians live perfectly meaningful lives, but it also insults and discounts the billions of people across the world who do not practice Christianity. 
Moreover, a similar argument would have likely been made by a Catholic living through the Enlightenment, a period of time when humanity began to break free from the shackles of organized religion and to lay down the cornerstones of our modern-day Western society—reason, equality, liberty, and constitutional government. Many sects of Christianity run antithetical to these virtues, calling instead for dogmatic superstition, rigid hierarchy, self-subjugation, and theocratic authoritarianism. So tell me: living under a society with values such as these, do you think Americans would experience less despair and hopelessness, or more of it?
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