When I was a youngster, one of my scariest memories was a scene from Snow White. The huntsman’s shadow falling over the princess with a dagger was not it. Nor was it the scene where the queen tempts her stepdaughter with a poisoned apple. What made me shiver was the old woman’s desperate attempt to save herself on the craggy mountain top and her scream that followed as she slipped over the side to her death.
Conservative Christians, caught in a tectonic cultural shift, seem to echo a similar cry. They cling to Donald Trump’s rhetoric, the way the old witch grasps at a withered branch, attempting to break her fall as she flees from her assailants. Conservative Christians are strident because they fear they are no longer relevant. And they are right. In the last decade, religious affiliations in the United States have declined from 24% to 16%. (Click)
The Tennessee-based Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, a conclave of 187 religious leaders, gives us an example of their growing impotency. They recently issued a statement declaring homosexuality and transgender people as inherently immoral. They have decreed no “faithful Christian” would be allowed to disagree. (“Pretending that Gays Don’t Exist,” by Sarah Jones, excerpted from Mother Jones, The Week, September 22, 2017, pg. 12.) What they have failed to understand is “47 percent of evangelicals under the age of 53” support marriage equality. (Ibid pg. 12.) Given the times, such an edict has no more power to command obedience than does a kite to control the wind.
The rift between young believers and their preachers is real. Church elders may attempt to bully their congregations, but their strident tone rises from their inner terror. What they hear in the ranks of their parishioners is the rumble of rebellious youth.