March 23, 2015

NON-SECTARIAN, NOT NON-BELIEVERS:

Why Are Americans Happy & Religious? (Mark Tooley, 3/21/15, Juicy Ecumenicalism)

Such confidence in hard work in America obviously reflects the undying Puritan work ethic, still strong after 400 years, and reinforced by countless waves of ambitious immigrants.  As to rejecting "forces outside our control," this American trait is also rooted in historic Puritan/Anglo Protestant confidence about providential mastery over the future.  Calvinists may have believed in predestination but not determinism or passivity.  Americans, even the non-religious, are culturally embued with a notion of individual and national purposefulness.

Although not directly addressed in this survey, American rejection of fatalism also makes Americans less prone to the sorts of conspiracy theories that more commonly captivate and delude other cultures, especially under authoritarian and totalitarian regimes.  Christian beliefs in the limits of evil under Providence offer some restraint on paralyzing conspiracism.  

There's an ongoing narrative right now that America is inexorably becoming more secular.  Even if true, America remains more religious than other wealthy countries.  But this narrative is too simplistic and overstates fragments of trends.  Americans are less tied to denominations.  And the religiously nominal are disavowing formal religious categories.  But religious Americans are about as religious as ever, and even the purportedly non-religious remain more influenced by religion than often realized.

Posted by at March 23, 2015 4:24 PM
  

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