Fantasyland 8. Religion the main factor in America’s descent into the darkness of superstition

[ This is the 8th of nine posts about Fantasyland.  Andersen believes all of the madness and superstition in America originally springs from our history of religiosity.

The scariest part of the insanity is that there are Christians trying  to make Armageddon happen ASAP so that they can be raptured into the sky and bring Jesus back, as depicted in the fictional Left Behind series (75 million sold). Now millions of Pentecostals, fundamentalists, evangelists, and charismatics (PEFC) believe the Antichrist is an actual person, who will unite the entire world under a satanic religion. So many of thought Obama was the antichrist that snopes.com felt compelled to state that this was false, and why it was false (for starters, Revelations never mentions an anti-Christ).  

It is also appalling is that religious leaders like Billy Graham and political leaders like President Reagan spoke many times about the end times being near. And the media was silent.

Links to the 9 parts of this book review:  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Alice Friedemann   www.energyskeptic.com  author of “When Trucks Stop Running: Energy and the Future of Transportation”, 2015, Springer and “Crunch! Whole Grain Artisan Chips and Crackers”. Podcasts: Derrick Jensen, Practical Prepping, KunstlerCast 253, KunstlerCast278, Peak Prosperity , XX2 report ]

Kurt Andersen. 2017. Fantasyland. How America Went Haywire.  A 500-Year History. Random House.

Mainline Catholics and Protestants, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Presbyterians, and so on are now outnumbered 3 to 1 by, as Tom Wolfe put it, “a little Hallelujah!…Praise God!..ululation, visions, holy rolling, and other non and anti-rational practices”.  Nearly all evangelical denominations are suffused with holy-roller, speaking in tongues, and faith healing.

By the 1980s, 40% of Americans were watching evangelical, fundamentalist, Pentecostal, and charismatic religious shows on TV. The audience for Pat Robertson’s show “the 700 club” was 7 million, three times larger than Fox today.

Christians make a huge deal about atheism, but only 7% of people were in 2014. Americans are more religious than any other developed nation with 80% saying they NEVER DOUBT the existence of god, and about 90% who believe in some sort of “universal spirit”.

The reason the Roman Catholic Church is far more sane than the Protestant churches is because “tenured grown-ups, from the Vatican on down, have consistently been in command, tamping down and pinching off undesirable offshoots.  Only 25% of Catholics consider the Bible to be the Actual Word of God, versus 50% of Protestants.  The Catholic church declared evolution to be true in 1996.

Most rational of all are the Jews, perhaps because they are more educated; 6 in 10 have college educations vs 1.5 in 10 of Christian Pentecostals, evangelicals, fundamentalists, and charismatics (PEFC from now on).

Armageddon

In the 1960s Billy Graham made this off the charts nutcase belief respectable, saying that the signs indicate these are the last days spoken of on the Scriptures, and that Armageddon and Jesus’s return were at hand.  By the 1980s, when President Reagan and some in his administration said the same thing, the news media was silent.

Basically in a single generation, belief in apocalypse and return of Jesus because the faith of a large fraction of Americans who viewed every new war in the Middle East as potential fulfillment of The Prophecies.  Each event was yet one more foreshock leading to the end, Armageddon.

Even before the madness began, Armageddon had already been fictionalized in the Left Behind series and the rapturing off of Christians to leave everyone else on Earth in Hell.  These books sold 75 million copies.  Many EFC believe that the Antichrist is a real person who will unite the entire world under a satanic religion, and 7 years after that the Christians will be raptured into the sky before the Messiah returns to beat the antichrist up, followed by 1,000 years of paradisiacal perfection under King Jesus.

58% of the PEFC believe Jesus will return by 2050. Only 17% of Americans said he definitely wasn’t coming back by then.

By the 1990s, Christian colleges that rejected evolution in favor of Creationism were able to get accredited, thanks to the 1991 Bush administration.

When it comes to evolution, 33% believe in a God-free evolution, 33% think that God took his time and maybe used evolution to create living creatures, and a third that God created humans.  Since the 1990s, the fraction not sure about evolution has TRIPLED.

Andersen splits Christians into the 2 camps.  The Horror-Story Christians see natural disasters as God’s punishment for our sins.  Here are some of Pat Robertson’s sinner stories: Stock prices dropped 3% because the government funded Planned Parenthood, Hurricane Katrina due to laws permitting abortion, tornadoes in the Midwest because he wasn’t hearing enough prayers, the Haitian earthquake deaths because their ancestors’ had made a pact with the devil, 9-11 was God angry about feminism, homosexuality, free speech, and paganism.

Happy Christians, especially charismatics, tell believers that prayer will bring them wealth now, on Earth, not a work ethic.  You can persuade God to make you rich!  You will never hear sermons or writings from the prosperity gospel about Mark 10:21 (Go sell what you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heave), Matthew 6:24 (No man can serve 2 masters…Ye cannot serve God and mammon), Matthew 19:24 (it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God), or James 5 (Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you).

Ever wondered if you’re blessed with the ability to cast demons out of afflicted people?  Take the Wagner-modified Houts Questionnaire.  There are about 100 questions, such as: can you recover sight to the blind, tell whether person speaking in tongues is genuine, have heard demons speaking in a loud voice, or spoken to evil spirits who obeyed me.

Interestingly, the Catholic church believes that speaking in tongues are signs of satanic possession…

There are Christians who have spiritually mapped their region so that demons can be cast out of Satanic places like Planned Parenthood clinics, Mormon temples, Catholic churches, Masonic lodges, meditation centers, LGBTQ gathering spots, strip clubs, and shops selling tarot cards or dreamcatchers.  Spiritual warfare expert Wagner said on NPR’s Fresh Air that Satan has enlisted Emperor Akihito in exchange for the sun goddess visiting him and having sexual intercourse. Wagner also believes that many U.S. politicians are possessed.

Why, why, why are Americans so irrational across the board, from believing in astrology to angels and the Rapture?

The bottom line is that PEFC DOESN’T SELL outside of America.  In all other nations, prosperity and a sense of security correlate with less religious belief.

Here are some stats comparing the U.S. with other developed nations.

  • In 1968, only 5-14% of Scandinavians attended church once a week, versus 43% of Americans then.  In 2012, half of the U.K. said they had no religion.
  • A majority of Americans pray every day, but in the developed world it ranges from 10 to 20%.
  • In the U.S. 10% never pray, in the developed world 50%.
  • We believe more in Heaven and Hell than 20 other developed nations, only three match or believe in this more.
  • In nearly every developed country devil believers are tiny minorities.
  • 25% of Americans believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible, 4-10% elsewhere.
  • As far as belief in evolution, 32 developed countries believed in evolution more than the U.S., which ranked only ahead of Turkey.
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One Response to Fantasyland 8. Religion the main factor in America’s descent into the darkness of superstition

  1. sheila chambers says:

    I feel very dismayed at just how IGNORANT & even STUPID so many ‘mericans are. How can so many actually BELIEVE IN things that are not just irrational but have been PROVEN to be UNTRUE?
    Just the other day our local paper came out with a story of how the VA was going to PAY with our tax dollars for homeopathy, raiki, tai-chi, acupuncture, & other “alternatives” to actual medical treatments!

    WHY don’t we have EDUCATED PEOPLE in the VA? What kind of nitwits are running the VA & where did they get their “education” to have such WRONG beliefs?
    If our “leaders” are so ignorant, what hope is there for the rest of the population?
    Our RULERS encourage even FORCE RELIGION upon us & our innocent children with their school prayers, “in god we trust” plastered on the court house, our currency, in the oath & school walls, bible reading in public schools & prayers before state & county functions, before games in school or professional athletic activities, they even “teach” “intelligent” design, creation “science” to our children!

    Why are so many ‘mericans so dam STUPID?
    Is it from all the crap like pesticides & herbicides contaminating our food? the fact that we keep “alive” those who should have been allowed to die? is it because the stupid have more children than the intelligent? (that’s my favorite, you get what you BREED FOR. Just ask any animal breeder.)
    How can we respond to the many disasters facing us when so many of us are poorly educated, profoundly ignorant, lack so called “common” sense & in denial of the growing evidence?
    This is just one of several reasons I think we are doomed as a civilization & perhaps even as a species, magical “thinking” & false beliefs along with a lack of a science education & critical THINKING!

    When the trucks do stop running, I can just see our “leaders” calling for prayers, sacrifice & more MONEY to feed our endless WAR machines all the while blaiming the poor for their poverty & blaiming unbelievers & homosexuals for the trouble the country is in instead of their own stupid laws, wars & “leadership”.
    Now we are being told that “renewables” can replace fossil RESOURCES, young people are marching in the streets DEMANDING that we get off oil & switch to “renewables” unaware that those so called “renewables” would not even exist if not for fossil resources!
    It’s also fossil resources that made their DRIVE or FLIGHT to those demonstrations possible, their simply CLUELESS to the reality of our situation & many otherwise seemingly intelligent people also believe we can get along just fine powered with just “renewables” forgetting apparently how our FOOD is grown using vast amounts of OIL & NATURAL GAS & without them, there wouldn’t be 7.6 BILLION humans but only about 1 billion or less.
    How can any aware person have hope in a better future for all under such conditions?
    I have no hope & I’m glad I’m OLD & probably won’t be around to see, feel & smell our collapse but YOUR children, if any, will.

    I think the world after humans will be left a smoldering ruin with little surviving life left on the ONLY planet we know of that has life & that those extinctions were brought about by just one species of animal unlike all other extinctions that were brought about by natural forces.

    Enjoy this high consumption, high energy way of life while you still can, our time is short & there will be NO RAPTURE!