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The Evangelical Plan to Return the United States to the 1950s

prayer in school

Many atheists, humanists, and progressives look at the declining attendance numbers for Evangelical churches and wrongly conclude that Evangelicalism as a movement is dying. Numerically, Evangelicalism is dying, as an increasing number of younger adults exit stage left never to be seen again. As baby boomers continue to die off, their numbers are not being replaced by younger people. Instead, more and more people in their 20s and 30s are self-identifying as atheists, agnostics, or nones (people who are indifferent towards organized religion). Based on the sheer volume of articles I see on this subject from Evangelical “experts,” it is clear that churches and pastors are alarmed over attendance losses.

If we wait long enough, Evangelicalism will die from self-inflicted wounds. Unable to leave off their penchant for waging war on people different from their tribe, there will come a day when Evangelicalism as we know it will no longer exist. However, by then the damage caused by these Evangelical culture warriors, along with their Catholic and Mormon compatriots, will be irreversible. Evangelicals have traded piety, holiness, and commitment to preaching the gospel for raw, naked political power. Evangelicals are the power and money behind Trumpism, Qanon, 1/6 Insurrection, and countless attempts to destroy sixty years of social progress. The goal is to return the United States to the 1950s.

Evangelicals harnessed incrementalism to advance their agenda This fact is aptly illustrated in their frontal assault on reproductive rights. It is widely believed by conservatives and liberals alike that the Supreme Court will soon reverse Roe v. Wade, giving states the right to totally outlaw abortion. This outcome was birthed forty years ago when Jerry Falwell and Paul Wyrich started the Moral Majority. Year by year, Evangelicals chipped away at reproductive rights, using an incrementalist approach to strip women of their right to choose.

Next on the Evangelical agenda are issues such as legally recognizing fertilized human eggs as persons, outlawing same-sex marriage, banning interracial marriage, criminalizing homosexuality, and a host of other culture war hot button issues. Who do you think is behind the outrage over LGBTQ-friendly books in schools, critical race theory, Disney, and socialism? Evangelicals, that’s who. No longer believing there is a separation between church and state, Evangelicals, if left to their own devices, fully intend to establish a Christian theocratic state. Your Evangelical neighbors might be friendly, smile when they see you, and seem to all around nice people, but make no mistake about it, behind closed doors and at church on Sundays, they shout hallelujah and amen when their preachers call on them to take back America for the Christian God.

one nation under god

I was born in 1957, an era drastically different from today. Evangelicals look at the 50s and sigh, wistfully wanting a return to the “good old days.” Knowing they currently control the levers of power, Evangelicals are working tirelessly to return us to the days when President Dwight Eisenhower and the U.S. Congress added “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance and put “In God We Trust” on our money. And make no mistake about it, this “God” is the Christian God of the Bible.

I grew up in a world where there was one God — the Christian God — homosexuality, abortion, and birth control were illegal, LGBTQ people were deeply closeted, Blacks knew their place, and the only thing Mexicans were good for was picking our crops. Christian morals and ethics were expected and demanded. School days began with the Pledge of Allegiance, Christian prayer, and readings from the Protestant Christian Bible. Patriarchalism and complementarianism were the norms. Divorce, sex before marriage, and pregnancy outside of marriage were frowned upon. This is the world Evangelicals want to return to.

It remains to be seen whether the Evangelical horde at the gate can be repelled. I am not optimistic. Liberals and progressives seem clueless about the real and present danger we face from Evangelicals. Our constitutional republic is weak, if not failing. Evangelicals know this and are using this weakness to advance their theocratic agenda. Their goal is Jesus on the throne in Washington D.C. and the Bible as the lawbook of the land. And when this happens, freedom is lost and people die.

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Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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21 Comments

  1. Avatar
    ObstacleChick

    I really hate this. Some people told me I was an alarmist when I brought this up a few years ago. Some still think it won’t happen. We aren’t that far from a version of “The Handmaid’s Tale” becoming a reality. I am starting to see some right-wingers bemoaning out loud the declining birth rates in the US and some European countries. I was born just a few weeks before 1970. I grew up believing I could go to college, have a career, and break the glass ceiling. I never thought that my daughter would be facing a nation that wants to roll back her rights and limit her options to less than what I had. That’s f#”%ing bullsh!t. Sorry I am swearing, but I am incredibly angry.

  2. Avatar
    John D. Alder

    If they get their theocratic state it won’t be long before we have heresy and blasphemy trials even Witch trials. That’s where it will end up.

  3. Avatar
    dale m.

    Yet, humanists are unwilling to use force. Fine. Think of evangelicals as a Russian warrior horde. Think of the U.S.A. as Ukraine. Yes. They are our brothers and sisters. So why go against them ? In Ukraine today, Freedom is worth more than family ties between the Slavic Russians and Ukrainians. Now they are engaged in killing each other in the 10s of thousands. When Ukraine needed weapons, Trump refused. Now they’re at war. We too are afraid to arm ourselves. Eventually, the 2nd Amendment is going to mean far more to humanists than evangelicals. Ukraine surprised the head of the Christian orthodox church under Putin. They didn’t realize freedom meant so much to people. We are going to find that out soon enough ourselves.

  4. Avatar
    BJW

    I agree, Bruce. I think our government is falling, and the entire American empire with it. Oh sure, Dominionists may very well take over. At least in a lot of red states, I see that happening. And if something isn’t done about global climate change, the majority of the world’s population is going to be threatened by 2100. And if the wealthy and powerful don’t care, things are just going to get worse. I do believe the elites won’t escape, but they think their money will insulate them from the consequences. Oh well.

  5. Avatar
    GeoffT

    The irony is that evangelicals will pounce on anything they perceive as even vaguely liberal, and denounce it as Marxist (not that their homeschooling enables them to know what Marxism actually is, but they carry the perception). I read comments by one total and utter right wing nut that frequently include chocolate box type pictures (or sentimental Christmas cards) yearning for days gone by, and 50s figures almost exclusively. These are then accompanied by typical evangelical stupidity, including anti-vax rubbish (apparently the vaccines cause many more deaths than the infection, whereas there have actually been fewer than 100 deaths worldwide attributable), Trump won the election (by a landslide), public schools are sources of indoctrination (oh the irony!), and Zelenskiy is the devil incarnate. She accuses all of even slightly left persuasion of being a Marxist, by which she really means authoritarian, whilst the reality is that she is determined to see the autocratic rule of the religious right in the US come again to the fore. By that token it’s evangelicals who are the Marxists. In fact, I think I’ll start pointing this out, if only to annoy!

  6. Avatar
    Lee

    those of us who remember he 1950s (when I was in grade school) know it was far from perfect. one example: my MIL was widowed in the early 50s, she had to work to keep the house she and her late husband purchased through the GI bill benefits. she was significantly underpaid by her employer, as was considered normal back then. we had prayers in school, totally unlike any prayer we ever used at home or in any house of worship. those who like the idea can keep it, but the leave the rest of us out of it!

  7. Avatar
    Dave

    I share your pessimism, Bruce. Religious extremists are wholly devoted to their cause and will not be persuaded to accept any compromise. They exert power over more moderate spineless Republicans who are willing to sacrifice our democracy for their own power. Although collectively all of these people are a minority our system is designed to grant them power and once they have this they will ensure that this power is never lost. Christianity is not democratic and I fear we are headed towards a Christian nationalist state.

  8. Avatar
    MJ Lisbeth

    To understand what Evangelicals are really all about, all you have to do is look at Donald Trump. In other words, all they actually care about is power. While they may actually believe, in their heart of hearts, in a guy who was God but took a three-day weekend in Club Dead, they really want a society in which their privileged status isn’t threatened by “them.” And they know that the way to achieve power is to make people fearful and distrustful of anyone who is a threat—think LGBTQ people, racial and ethnic minorities, women (except for those who go along with their agenda) and anyone with a real educational (whether acquired formally or informally) and artists. That makes to spread distortions and flat-out lies. Appeals to “morality, at least as they define it, are the dog-whistles that bring their supporters together. In that sense, Mango Mussolini is a perfect tool for them

    While it’s true that most young people aren’t buying what Evangelicals are selling, it remains to be seen whether they’ll buy—and find themselves with a debt even more onerous than their student loans—if the Evangelicals and their allies use their power to decide who has access to jobs that pay living wages, housing, health care and other necessities. To paraphrase Yeats, this will no country for young people—or anyone who cares about the truth. I’m really, really worried.

  9. Avatar
    Barbara L. Jackson

    I am terrified as well. This is a crusade all over again. Evangelicals as well as catholics who believe no one has a right to birth control or abortion are starting to take over political power. My parents changed their religious views slowly overtime from lutheran to “there is probably something good in all religions”. I was lucky. The best choice I ever made was to have no children. We live in a physical universe on Earth, and we are killing the Earth thru overpopulation and inappropriate use of technology.

  10. Avatar
    Matilda

    IMHO, these folk may hanker for the 1950s, but times have changed. In many countries, it takes 2 salaries to raise even 1-2 children in a normal amount of decent housing etc. Over half the world’s population now lives in cities and that trend is going upwards. It’s kind of hard to raise a quiverfull in a small city apartment on the 20th floor. The WHO reported that 67% of the world’s childcare…note, the world’s….childcare, eldercare, nursing and teaching, are provided by women. And, being ancient, I notice my children’s generation doesn’t need to spend all day every day on the housekeeping. I date from pre-freezers, pre-dishwashers and laundry machines and that wonderful gadget called a Roomba. Should my daughters ever have the luxury of being SAHmums, they admit they’d soon be bored and are able to give time to their kids and also do jobs that benefit society and provide them with a decent environment in which to bring up those children..

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      Yep. My daughters and daughter in-laws have no interest in returning to the “good old days.” Our family is quite egalitarian these days. Polly and I have a division of labor based on what each of us do best. Much better way to live (at least for us).

      I remember when we got our first dishwasher in the early 90s. I told Polly for a couple of years we should buy a dishwasher. She always said no, saying, “I don’t need one.” She most certainly needed one with six children, living in a 12×60 trailer. Finally, one Valentine’s Day, I came home with a portable dishwasher. Polly quickly fell in love with dishwasher.😂😂❤️❤️

      And then there was our wringer washer . . . 😂😂We ran the drain out the back door of the trailer. Fun times, but we have no desire to relive the “good old days.”

  11. Avatar
    Revival Fires

    “But the king shall rejoice in God everyone that sweareth by him shall glory but the mouth of them that speak lies shall be stopped” Psalm 63:11

    One day they will be…..

    And those who continue to embrace the many lies mentioned here will one day be in hell screaming alongside Madelyn Murray Ohair (atheist who bellyaches about prayer in schools)

    And Norma Mccorvy (woman who got baby murder legalized)

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      O’Hare, and she’s already in “Hell.”

      Norma McCorvey later in life repudiated abortion and became an Evangelical Christian.

      Pay attention.

      I’m glad you agree that the people who advance the lies mentioned in this post will go to Hell when they die. Think of all those Evangelicals, including you, playing a starring role in Hey-Zeus’s award winning torture porn movie. Finally, Revival Fires 🔥, you will get the attention you desperately crave.

      • Avatar
        GeoffT

        To be fair, Norma McCorvey explained in her last days that she’d been paid to purport to change her abortion views by the evangelical lobby. Of course, yet more evidence of their corruption.

    • Avatar
      Astreja

      Revival Dumpster Fire, do you actually think you can trust a god so barking mad that it would torture sentient beings for eternity?

    • Avatar
      clubschadenfreude

      and ol’ RF here is a liar for Christ as usual. Alas, their sadistic fantasies will never come true. And funny how poor RF’s god is evidently utterly impotent since that promise from Psalms never happens.

  12. Avatar
    Jack Harper

    I’ll admit that even as an atheist, I have some mixed feelings on abortion. And I think extremism hurts both sides.

    I think pro-lifers hurt their cause by focusing on any and all abortions – not easing up on first trimester procedures, or allowing for abortions in instances of sexual assault. And when you throw in how many theists are also against contraception of any kind, it doesn’t help matters. Pro-lifers would do better focusing on late term abortion, as well as promoting free contraception and comprehensive sex education. And they need to be on board with financial support for mothers who choose to carry to term.

    On the other side, I know pro-choicers who believe abortion should be legal up to the day of delivery. If a pro-choicer can’t at least understand why a pro-lifer could be legitimately horrified by that, I’m not sure what kind of common ground can be had. I’ll admit to having trouble with that scenario – with assigning the fetus/baby value based solely on its position in relation to the uterine wall. And, again, that’s coming from an atheist.

    • Avatar
      BJW

      Pro-choice supporters believe that an abortion is a private medical procedure between a woman and her doctor. And the only babies that are aborted in the 3rd trimesters are the ones with horrible deformities, like the ones missing most of their brains. Even pro-choice people believe that babies in the 3rd trimester are viable, unless irreparably deformed.

      The rate of abortions go down when birth control is widely and cheaply available. But the pro-lifers I’ve run into believe that birth control is bad, and women just “shouldn’t have sex.” Guess who uses the most birth control? Married women. We really don’t need this control taking away rights to our privacy. And red state legislators are rushing the worst bills against abortion into law. If I could still get pregnant, I’d move out of my red state ASAP.

    • Avatar
      clubschadenfreude

      “On the other side, I know pro-choicers who believe abortion should be legal up to the day of delivery.”

      Who? I always hear this but unsurprisingly, the claimant can never show these people. Considering that we have the tech that allows premature fetuses to survive, how would this work?

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Bruce Gerencser