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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Crisis calls for more than a milquetoast God

A USA Today article, "Americans' views of God shape attitudes on key issues," suggests that many Americans see God as far removed from our personal or national affairs. Baylor University researchers assert that nearly one in four Americans "see a Distant God that booted up the universe, then left humanity alone." The latest Gallup poll on the topic finds that seven of ten Americans believe that "religion as a whole is losing its influence on American life."
This trend may soon reverse. Faith can flourish when crises highlight our dependence on God.
Gallup found that in the world's poorest countries, the median proportion who say religion is important in their daily lives reaches 95%--contrasted with half that number in wealthy countries. A USA Today poll reveals that 83% of Americans still believe in a God who answers prayers.[3]
We would do well to heed Alexis de Tocqueville's insight from his famous 1835 publication, Democracy in America, in which he summarized the secrets of American success: "Liberty regards religion as its companion in all its battles and its triumphs, as the cradle of its infancy and the divine source of its claims. It considers religion as the safeguard of morality, and morality as the best security of law and the surest pledge of the duration of freedom."
The seemingly intractable moral and economic crises we now face may prompt us to exchange the current coolly existential view of a distant milquetoast God for the more active and powerful biblical God of our founders.

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