(Deseret News) Yuval Levin–The case for wooden pews

The “great awokening” sweeping some of our elite institutions hints at an opening. Showing younger Americans that our country’s religious traditions stand for social justice, too, as they surely do, might help clear the path to such an awakening.

But this logic mistakes the character of the crisis American religion now confronts. It is not exactly a crisis of belief in the teachings of traditional religion, but rather a crisis of confidence in the institutions that claim to embody them. In other words, Americans aren’t losing their faith in God. Eighty-seven percent of the public expressed belief in God last year in Gallup’s figures, which is roughly the level pollsters have found for many decades. What Americans do have trouble believing, however, is that our institutions — our churches, seminaries, religious schools and charities — remain capable of forming trustworthy people who actually exhibit the integrity they preach.

To overcome such doubts, and to appeal to persuadable younger Americans, our religious institutions need to show not that they are continuous with the larger culture but that they are capable of addressing its deficiencies — that they can speak with legitimate authority and be counted on to do the work of molding souls and shaping character. The problem, in other words, may be that our pews have grown too soft, not too hard.

Read it all (from the long line of should-have-already-been-posted material).


Posted in America/U.S.A., Religion & Culture