Social Conservatism Isn’t Dead, Part XXIV

This story about a presidential visit to South Dakota:

The motorcade wouldn’t pass for at least another hour, but already a small crowd was forming on the sidewalk. They huddled under blankets, carried signs and set up lawn chairs.

“Am I wasting my time standing here?” a woman asked the police officer.

“I know, but I can’t say,” said the lone policeman, a smile slipping across his face.

Most in the crowd, which was now three or four people deep, were die-hard Republicans and had little love for this president. “I wonder if he’s a Christian sometimes,” said Kristi Maas, 47, who owns a small hair salon in town. Just the thought was “scary” to her, she said. “He wants to take prayer out of everything. . . . Isn’t this country supposed to be based on religion?” Heads nodded around her.

This country is based on religion?

Now ask yourself where she might get that idea (other than Glenn Beck and her local preacher.) Think back to when you were in grade school and we all dressed up like pilgrims and did little plays about coming to America where we could practice our religion freely. See? Not so ignorant. Depending on when you think of the country’s founding, you can easily believe that it was based on religion.

Now it’s true that a lot of wingnut con artists have tried to sell the bogus idea that the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were based on religion but that’s not true, obviously. That came a couple of centuries later after the big religious wars in Europe by which time the Enlightenment had taken hold, which was definitely not based on religion.

But you knew all that, of course. That lady may not have. And I doubt she even consciously thinks of the pilgrims when she says the country was based on religion. To her, it’s just obvious — everyone she knows is a white Christian and they believe America is God’s country and that’s that. Somebody told her the president hates religion, he’s a black man and that’s all she really need to know. It’s a worldview not a philosophy.

This isn’t some anomaly. Millions of our fellow Americans hold this worldview. And they aren’t going to change because somebody on TV says the “demographics” require them to. They will fight for their worldview using whatever means they have. And in our system the minority has a lot of weapons with which to fight.

So don’t write them off. They are true believers with plenty of power in our system whether majority or minority. They aren’t going anywhere.

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