Stuart C. Reid: Religious freedom stands to lose the culture wars
FILE - In this Monday, Nov. 7, 2016 file photo, supporters hold signs and a copy of the Bible during a rally for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in Manchester, N.H. For the combatants in America's long-running culture wars, the triumph of Donald Trump and congressional Republicans was stunning _ sparking elation on one side, deep dismay on the other. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
An evangelical, megachurch minister, Pastor Andy Stanley, tried to embolden millennials and Gen Zers, dispirited over the political and religious conflicts provoked by baby boomers, by stating: “Once upon a time, a handful of disenfranchised Jews, crushed between an empire and a temple, maintained their faith in a resurrected Savior and changed the world.”
Many baby boomers became radical revolutionaries starting in the 1960s, militantly challenging the accepted norms and enduring values. Later, after the revolutionary disruption and discord, many other baby boomers became reactionary culture war combatants, fighting against the spread of socialism and immorality.
Culture war conflicts arouse the hearts and minds of baby boomer warriors. Battling in their social civil war is what dueling baby boomers do. It gives their lives meaning and purpose. Unfortunately, consumed in conflict, they cannot see that their social civil war is “crushing” their millennial children and Gen Z grandchildren.
The so-called generation gap that existed between baby boomers and their ancestors is becoming a growing gap between them and their descendants. To prosecute their social civil war, baby boomers have not only disrupted and disoriented six generations of their own families, they also are dangerously dividing the nation, putting democracy at risk.
Even amid their chaos, many baby boomers are mystified their children and grandchildren want no part of their 60-year social civil war. It is incomprehensible to them that the rising generations do not respect the blood, sweat and tears they spilled trying to build a better society on their behalf. They are frustrated the rising generations rebuff the fight for which they have sacrificed so much.
For example, many among the rising generations scoff at claims that socialism is some Marxist conspiracy. They think it is irrational that baby boomers indignantly demonize socialism when it exists all around them in the form of Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, COVID-19 relief, the public school system and farm, energy and manufacturing subsidies, to name just a few social services presently provided by the government.
Moreover, the rising generations rebel against baby boomers trying to shame them when they show no interest in fighting already lost battles over abortion and gay rights. They are unconvinced focusing on moral fights, as a political priority, over protecting equal rights, secures a more unified and harmonious pluralistic society. The rising generations believe a unified and peaceful society should be the first order of things, necessary for the security and success of the nation.
The rising generations by no means reject traditional moral standards. What they reject is exploiting them to further the baby boomers’ divisive social civil war. They reject the resistance to extending women and the LGBTQ community equal rights and justice under the law. Most of all, they reject baby boomers’ fear-mongering the “other” to obtain their political objectives.
The rising generations repudiate culture war Christianity. Many have had enough of baby boomers soiling their faith with political strife — a faith the rising generations believe should promulgate peaceful purposes. While baby boomers pervert faith to promote political ploys, the rising generations are fleeing faith that politicizes and commercializes its autonomy and authenticity for power and prosperity.
If baby boomers continue to traffic faith for their political schemes, the rising generations will view the vital defense of religious freedom as nothing more than subterfuge to further the divisive social civil war. Instead of promoting religious freedom as a cherished freedom, they will regard it as just another device deployed to prevent equality and justice for all.
The day the rising generations turn their backs on religious freedom will be the day religion and America become incurably crippled. On the other hand, embracing Pastor Stanley’s encouragement, the rising generations can rescue religious freedom from further political poisoning, restore religion to its once respected role, and recover the nation wounded by warring baby boomers.
Stuart C. Reid, Ogden, is a former member of the Utah Senate and a former culture warrior.