I'd wager this will be the year liberals -- not conservatives -- drive the religious conversation, in the U.S. and abroad....I'm not sanguine that the Religious Right will go gently into that good night...
What is going on? The answer lies in two huge trends.
First, the U.S. is becoming more racially and ethnically diverse, as the 2012 Presidential election proved. Immigration from the developing world, especially Asia, has brought millions of people practicing faiths that once seemed exotic. But today, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and others are mainstream in many places. That means acceptance has increased, especially among the young. It also means there are more young people in the U.S. because of immigration. And that means a growing focus on issues, such as environmentalism and gay rights, that concern the young.
According to a 2013 study by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Brookings Institute, 23 percent of 18- to 33-year-olds are religious progressives, 17 percent are religious conservatives, and 22 percent are non-religious. By contrast, only 12 percent of 66- to 88-year-olds are religious progressives, while about half are religious conservatives.
Second, the conversation about income inequality in the U.S. and abroad -- the driving force behind the 2011 Occupy Wall Street movement -- is gaining momentum. Taking up the cause of the poor is a central tenet of religious liberalism. ....
And that gets us back to the pope, who appeared on the world scene nearly a year ago. It was a very particular moment.
The world's richest and most powerful nation has become more ethnically diverse and therefore more religiously tolerant than ever before, driven by a young generation that is increasingly disinterested in conservative social views. And that trend coincides with a growing global focus on the wealth gap.
So: take a new world religious leader [the Pope] from a developing country, with strong views about inclusion, diversity, and poverty mitigation. Then stir in two major demographic and socioeconomic trends driven in part by the world's most powerful country.
Result: 2014, the Year of Religious Liberalism.
Saturday, February 8, 2014
Is 2014 the year for progressive faith?
From the Huff Po: