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The New Age marches on

So far as I can tell, the “rising tide of religious fundamentalism,” at least in the West, is really the “rapid dissolution of religion as a social presence.” That dissolution leads to occasional complaints from people who aren’t totally on board with the new program, as well as horrified outbursts from radical secularists who are shocked when they find that the new program has not yet gone to completion. Hence the stories about religion in the news.

More evidence for that view is provided by a recent Gallup survey that notes that since 1999 the number of Americans saying they have “no religious tradition” has increased 5 percentage points, they’re “spiritual but not religious” has increased 10 percentage points, and they’re part of a “Christian religious tradition” has declined 6 percentage points. In spite (or because of) the increased interest in free-form spirituality, the percentage of those who affirm that “the spiritual health of the nation is important” has declined 14 percentage points since 2002.

Spirituality nonetheless has serious implications today, at least in some connections. A medical technician told me the other day that she’s had female patients diagnosed with breast cancer who’ve decided to treat themselves with herbs and such, and it’s said that “I’m not a religious person, but I’m a very spiritual person” is a very effective pick-up line that practically guarantees action. And even organized dogmatic religion still has its function, as demonstrated by Barack Obama’s church, which stands foursquare for the “Black Value System” of promoting the interests of blacks.

All such jibes aside, the basic function of all these movements is to support and reconcile people to a technocratic order. New Age spirituality doesn’t say anything and can’t resist anything. It is truly an opiate of the people. And the bottom line for the United Church of Christ, of which Obama’s church is part, is soft-and-fuzzy leftism. The managerial state is Providence and as a practical matter God. So far as I can tell, the same is true of all mainstream religion today. Otherwise, why would Dr. Schori make the Millennium Development Goals the organizing principle of her religion?

More detailed information on the Gallup survey is available here.