The Student News Site of Appalachian State University

The Appalachian

The Student News Site of Appalachian State University

The Appalachian

The Student News Site of Appalachian State University

The Appalachian

Newsletter Signup

Get our news delivered straight to your inbox every week.

* indicates required

Potential religious shift could be a sign of hope

The+Appalachian+Online
The Appalachian Online

Over the last few years, there has been a clear shift in the religious landscape of this country. Perhaps the biggest change is the declining number of self-identified Christians; a Pew Poll from May showed that number had fallen from 78 percent to 70 percent between 2007 and 2014.

But it seems that there may be another important shift in the country’s landscape: the rise of liberal Christianity.

In some ways, we see it already in evolving attitudes on once controversial issues such as gay rights. A Pew Poll in July shows that members from pretty much all Christian denominations have increased their support for same-sex marriage over the last decade.

One of the broader shifts appears to be the way that public religious discourse is being defined less by those social issues and more on economic issues.

Even though he has largely adhered to the church’s strict social teachings, Pope Francis has emphasized the importance of caring for the poor and dealing with the effects of climate change.

Just last week, Bernie Sanders framed his economic message within a Christian framework at Liberty University that appears to have resonated.

In response to the speech, a Liberty University alumni gave a response referring to Sanders as a “John the Baptist” who had come to awaken Christians to their neglected duties to the poor.

Certainly, there are plenty of signs of the religious right’s presence in our country. We have Kim Davis denying marriage licenses as part of her “religious freedom” and Republicans working to defund Planned Parenthood.

But it seems like we may be in a transitional period where the voices of religious conservatives will grow fainter. Perhaps what will rise up is a religious dialogue concerned with issues of poverty and equality.

As an Atheist, my personal feelings on that prospect are mixed. It would of course be great to see the religious right, with all its hypocrisy and cruelty, diminished.

On the other hand, I do not think we need religion to behave decently. There are a great number of secular arguments for addressing poverty and inequality that I find even more compelling than the religious ones.

Also, I believe in the separation of church and state and don’t believe we should be more eager to bring religion into public policy just because the religion is becoming more sane.

But, if we live in a world where there is religion, and I don’t see that going away anytime soon, at least we could have a better form of it.

Then we might be better able to meet the real, pressing challenges that we have before us.

Griffin, a junior journalism major from Madison, is an opinion writer.

Donate to The Appalachian
$1500
$5000
Contributed
Our Goal

We hope you appreciate this article! Before you move on, our student staff wanted to ask if you would consider supporting The Appalachian's award-winning journalism. We are celebrating our 90th anniversary of The Appalachian in 2024!

We receive funding from the university, which helps us to compensate our students for the work they do for The Appalachian. However, the bulk of our operational expenses — from printing and website hosting to training and entering our work into competitions — is dependent upon advertising revenue and donations. We cannot exist without the financial and educational support of our fellow departments on campus, our local and regional businesses, and donations of money and time from alumni, parents, subscribers and friends.

Our journalism is produced to serve the public interest, both on campus and within the community. From anywhere in the world, readers can access our paywall-free journalism, through our website, through our email newsletter, and through our social media channels. Our supporters help to keep us editorially independent, user-friendly, and accessible to everyone.

If you can, please consider supporting us with a financial gift from $10. We appreciate your consideration and support of student journalism at Appalachian State University. If you prefer to make a tax-deductible donation, or if you would prefer to make a recurring monthly gift, please give to The Appalachian Student News Fund through the university here: https://securelb.imodules.com/s/1727/cg20/form.aspx?sid=1727&gid=2&pgid=392&cid=1011&dids=418.15&bledit=1&sort=1.

Donate to The Appalachian
$1500
$5000
Contributed
Our Goal