On Popular Culture and Religion.

A peculiar thing is happening with denominational church membership data.  While denominations, in general, are not doing well, liberal churches are doing more poorly than most others.  Yet, the ideas of liberal church denominations, open arms to gays and abortion rights, are are gaining popularity in our popular culture.

One explanation would be liberal denominations influence popular culture but are unsuccessful in using it to grow.  Another explanation is changes in popular culture were caused by something other than the church and respective churches chose to or not to conform.

It seems almost self evident to me church teachings have almost no influence on popular culture.  This, even though there is an appearance of great influence.

Think of how many phrases we use in English that come from the Bible.  A large percentage of names chosen by parents are names from the Bible.  Scripture is quoted and prayers given by all manner of celebrities and “leaders” including Presidents of the United States.  In this way, it seems religion is influential.

Then, look at the news coverage of Popes and another view emerges.  The recent coverage of Popes was extraordinary, almost nonstop.  The position of Pope is known by most people in the world.  A couple of the premier policies advocated by Popes, however, no artificial birth control or gay marriage, are mostly ignored.

Religion and religious celebrities appear to be influential.  However, the inevitable conclusion has to be culture drives religion, not the other way around.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/anxiousbench/2013/03/the-rise-of-liberal-religion/

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About Jon Lindgren

I am a former President of the Red River Freethinkers in Fargo, ND, a retired NDSU economics professor and was Mayor of Fargo for 16 years. There is more about me at Wikipedia.com.
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7 Responses to On Popular Culture and Religion.

  1. Michael Ross says:

    “It seems almost self evident to me church teachings have almost no influence on popular culture.”

    “The Americans combine the notions of religion and liberty so intimately in their minds, that it is impossible to make them conceive of one without the other”
    ~ Alexis de Tocqueville

    “When the past no longer illuminates the future, the spirit walks in darkness.”
    ~ Alexis de Tocqueville

  2. Brad says:

    One thing is certain: the more advanced we have become scientifically, and able to understand things scientifically as opposed to explaining everything as something to do with God, the less influence religion has.

    Back in the days when scientific knowledge was limited or non-existent, the religious and political hustlers had a much easier time fooling people and getting them under their control.

    • Michael Ross says:

      Nonsense Brad. How was it that the Christian faith aided the scientific approach of many of the original thinkers of those times and enabled them to break with the preconceptions of the past? In his 1925 lectures, Alfred North Whitehead* had said that Christianity is the mother of science because of “the medieval insistence on the rationality of God”. Because of the confidence of the early scientists in this rationality, they had an “inexpungable belief that every detailed occurrence can be correlated with its antecedents in a perfectly definite manner, exemplifying general principles. Without this belief the incredible labours of scientists would be without hope.” Newton wrote in Principia:

      “This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being…This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as the Lord over all.”

      *Alfred North Whitehead, OM FRS[1] (15 February 1861 – 30 December 1947) was an English-American mathematician and philosopher. He wrote on algebra, logic, foundations of mathematics, theology, philosophy of science, physics, metaphysics, and education. Whitehead supervised the doctoral dissertations of Bertrand Russell and Willard Van Orman Quine, thus influencing logic and virtually all of analytic philosophy. He co-authored the epochal Principia Mathematica with Russell and later wrote the metaphysical treatise Process and Reality

      • Jinx says:

        sad how the church still thinks in medieval terms.

      • Brad says:

        I’m not really talking about an actual belief in God, I’m talking about religion as a political system. And I’m not talking about any particular religion, although Judaism and Christianity are included.

        Religion has always been an organized system of controlling people, and the more things are able to be explained via science vs. explained by a god, the less influence religion has.

        • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

          Brad 12:49 “and the more things are able to be explained via science vs explained by a god, the less influence religion has.”

          I agree with that observation. I would add, the more access people have to science and other alternative explanations via the computer, the more difficult it is to withold information contrary to the company line.

  3. Les says:

    As science advances, religion retreats.

    The Pope receives a lot of publicity, but he isn’t taken much more seriously than the Kardashians by an increasingly educated public in modern nations.

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