Sunday, November 25, 2007

The irony of the religious right's attack on the wall of separation

In the introduction of Head and Heart: American Christianities, Gary Wills explains that one of the great myths of American history is that the nation was deeply religious at the time of its founding but religious fervor has steadily decreased since. In reality, from 1750 to 1790 is the only period in American history when Evangelicalism was on the decline.

Churchgoing achieved an all-time low of 17% in 1776 and did not begin to increase until after the disestablishment of religion, doubling to 34% by 1850.

The wall of separation that so many members of the religious right today hold in contempt is what has allowed religion in America to thrive and flourish, probably saving (if you want to call it that) America from the secular fate that our European counterparts have suffered.

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