The Church’s Self-Inflicted Wounds

Andrew Sullivan —  Aug 21 2011 @ 9:30am


Adam Lee theorizes why unbelievers are on the rise:

I’d love to say that we atheists did it all ourselves; I’d love to be able to say that our dazzling wit and slashing rhetorical attacks are persuading people to abandon organized religion in droves. But the truth is that the churches’ wounds are largely self-inflicted. By obstinately clinging to prejudices that the rest of society is moving beyond, they’re in the process of making themselves irrelevant. In fact, there are indications that it’s a vicious circle: as churches become less tolerant and more conservative, their younger and more progressive members depart, which makes their average membership still more conservative, which accelerates the progressive exodus still further, and so on. (A similar dynamic is at work in the Republican party, which explains their increasing levels of insanity over the past two or three decades.)

Jerry Coyne concurs:

So much for the mantra that "religion is here to stay," a claim that I always find annoying—and wrong in light of the dramatic decline of religion in much of Europe over the last two centuries.  If religion does stay, it will increasingly be in a less virulent form that doesn’t oppress women or gays, or intrude into the sexual lives of consenting adults. And we can count that as a victory.