Bad Religion

Friday, April 27, 2012

In Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics, Ross Douthat, New York Times columnist, says American Christianity has gone astray, leading to an economic, social, and political crisis.


Ross Douthat

Comments [52]


CreditScore is a social instrument that is detrimental to people of color(Black).

Brian, This young generation is facing an unprecedented crisis in terms of social mobility. Coming from a middle class, specially people of color, it is most likely that you will not have a good credit score. Nowadays, silently corporations are not hiring people with bad credit scores. Does credit score truly reflect your character? If your parents are struggling to make ends meet, how do you expect that person to have a decent credit score while he is being discriminated against. The media is not talking about those internal forces that are very powerful. It is a silent crisis. So many young highly educated are without jobs bc of their credit scores. Could you debate that subject in your show one of these days.

To note, Upward mobility for young black men in AMERICA is becoming a dream. No matter how educated you are whether you graduate from Ivy League or not, young black men have been discriminated at the fastest rate which makes it almost impossible to move up whether it is Corporate America or the Public Sector. Thanks!!!

Apr. 28 2012 11:29 PM
Ed from Larchmont

It's interesting when B.L. interviews someone about the Catholic Church because they're talking about two different things. To the catholic, the Church is the 'pillar of truth', is the source of truth in the world. If it isn't, then forget about it. To B.L., the Church is another institution that is examined under the rules of sociology, he as yet has no category for truth in his thinking. So they kind of talk past each other.

Apr. 28 2012 08:04 AM
Ed from Larchmont

One should note that the laity have not succeeded generally in getting Bishops to deny Communion to politicians who are pro-life, except the evil Sibelius. Also the Catholic Church runs more programs for the poor and suffering than any private organization in the world - as an expression of its faith and the duties it implies. One of the problems with Obamacare driving Catholic agencies out of adoption, healthcare, etc. - is that they are the best at doing these things, everyone looses.

B.L. "What does this gain?"

If we follow morality, we live according to our nature, to the truth, and find harmony and peace. More than that, if we live morally, we invite God to live with us. And God is life, peace, joy, and the only one who can solve our problems and make us happy - not an idea, a Person. "A world at prayer is a world at peace." Fr. Peyton.

B.L. "Not rule from the top."

The Church isn't an organization like others that can be explained fully by sociological analysis. It's a family, so the head is called 'papa', father. Also, to say it's 'rule from the top' is a vast oversimplification, as any father knows.

Apr. 28 2012 06:08 AM
Tim from California

Mr Douthat defends the RC church for withholding communion from lawmakers who advocated legal abortion while not withholding it from lawmakers who'd do away with all welfare? Dude, have you read the Gospels? I don't think Jesus would have withheld communing with *anyone* - that is a conceit of your precious church. But if he had an emphasis it was not on reminding people of moral laws but rather on caring for the sick, the poor, and strangers. Dude, in Christianity I'll give you a D+. This was a waste of the airwaves.

Apr. 27 2012 08:11 PM
RITA from manhattan

i have never until this morning turned the radio off on your program but I could not stand the driviel coming out of Mr. Douthats mouth.

Apr. 27 2012 02:27 PM

Mr. Douthat never lived through the "romanticized" R.C. Church of the '30's, '40's, and '50's, I did. I am 82 year old, the youngest of a family of 12, in Brooklyn. Mr. Douthat, unfortunately you have never experienced the authoritarian indoctrination, the oppression of intellectual idess, or the almost totally closed system of the RC Church at that time. The sixties appeared to be the R.C Church experiencing a "glastnost" period, I actually went back to church on rare occasion to enjoy this brief respite, but never bought into any of the liturgy or repressive ideas of the religion. Mr. Douthat and Mr. Santorum have urged us to return to a time that never did exist!

Apr. 27 2012 12:04 PM
Jim B

As Mr. Douthat (Doubt that?) calls Rick Santorum "orthodox", another WNYC guest recently described Phyllis Schlafly with the same word. By using a term which refers to a core set of beliefs, one in effect gives greater religious legitimacy to essentially political actors that they don't deserve.

Apr. 27 2012 11:56 AM

Why community based on religion? There are so many outlets for people to meet up. NYC is a great place and regardless of the guests ideals I love its cosmopolitan feel.

Apr. 27 2012 11:42 AM
TP from tarrytown

The crisis is because we live in a country where people spent money that they didn’t have…
NO… The crisis is because Walls St. bankers played casino with mortgages that were pitched to people as safe and attainable, and the rest of our money we threw into war…. Real Christian values (not)

Apr. 27 2012 11:42 AM

Christianity was at its best when it consisted of having orgies in Roman sepulchers and still had an aura of "oriental otherness". As the dominant ideology of the West is sure lost a lot of appeal, mostly because its practitioners are all so mean spirited and nasty which seems to contradict the leadership style of the founder...

Apr. 27 2012 11:39 AM
DarkSymbolist from NYC!

Christianity hasn't gone was never on track in the first place.

Apr. 27 2012 11:39 AM
Bonn from East Village

To the current seminary student: I would like to know what is being taught in your seminary about other religions and non-Catholics. In other countries, Jews are still demonized in seminaries (A former Brazilian seminary student told an audience recently - he left when he found out his dying mother revealed she was Jewish.) Why isn't the Vatican stopping such hate, or is it to their advantage to demonize the other? To be a truly open, good, generous, charitable person, be unaffiliated and nonreligious.

Apr. 27 2012 11:38 AM

Rick Santorum sounds more like an evangelical than a Catholic, or simply a modern conservative American Christian, where the only real sectarianism anymore is political affiliation. How is it that we've come to the point where Santorum, in order to ingratiate himself with American evangelicals who have traditionally been virulently anti-Catholic, can blithely repudiate Kennedy's defense of his Catholicism in order to appease anti-Catholic American evangelicals. Is Santorum a papist or not? The question of prior allegiance that Kennedy had to lay to rest Santorum should have had put to him.

Apr. 27 2012 11:38 AM
william from manhattan

The last time Roman Catholic polemicists got exercised about heresy, a whole lot of people got burned. I find this topic incredibly offensive. What is next, a German rightwinger inveighing for racial purity?p

Apr. 27 2012 11:38 AM

Santorum's know-nothingism is not confined to religion, and I doubt he would have been accepted as well as he was in an earlier time.

Apr. 27 2012 11:37 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

But Nick - 95% of the people on this earth are weak-minded, need to be led, and are scared of dying - religon is perfect.

Apr. 27 2012 11:36 AM
Rodolfo Soriano from Mexico City, Mexico

Many of the heresies the author talks about are not exclusive of the US. I am in Mexico and the story is pretty much the same. It is not an issue of US Christian faith or practice. It is wider and it is also related to the exhaustion of certain forms of religious practice.

Apr. 27 2012 11:36 AM
Hilary from Brooklyn

So far a lot of the critiques of the individual or independent interpretations of Christianity have focused on the more permissive interpretations, on the liberal side of things - but WHAT ABOUT THE EVANGELICAL INTERPRETATIONS? Those interpretations also tend to be just as individual and "convenient" for their preachers, who often push their own skewed interpretations to their flock - with disastrous results (think Westboro Babtist Church, the folks bombing abortion clinics or murdering doctors, etc.)
What about them?

Apr. 27 2012 11:35 AM

Brian, can we have a show about how to promote ethics/morals/ideals without religion? As an agnostic, I find this to be one of the challenges of our day as an increasing number of people are becoming less religious, for various reasons (more rational thought or discouragement by scandals are probably the two big ones), we aren't having a dialog on how to teach values or processes to uphold them. Of course, part of the reason is that we don't all have the same values. But I believe we're seeing the affect of this ethics vacuum - public scandals with rarely ever any sign of remorse. The most current example - Zimmerman's phony apology.

Apr. 27 2012 11:34 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

I am not Christian, but my observation of religion in general is that it evolves in answer to expediency and lack of proper religious education.

If Christian practice is to go to service (mass, et al) at least once a week and parents don't, how do they expect their children to go? If children are not properly instructed in the interpretation of the "bible" as seen through the lens of their denomination, how will they know what it is? As a matter of fact, Christian denominations evolved from increasing interpretations of the original Christian bible. And if Christians are not instructed that there are certain situations in which their religious beliefs and practices trump current social phenomena, then how will they ultimately behave in current social settings (i.e., belief in chastity until marriage)?

Ultimately, unfortunately, people - individuals - do what they want to do and it is a small minority that can follow their religious beliefs (or even civil and criminal law) over their immediate personal needs and wants. And, believe it or not, this is partly due to religion not doing its job.

This also applies to members of other religions, but this show is focusing on Christianity.

Apr. 27 2012 11:33 AM
dianne from cold spring ny

The guest suggests that abortion, because it is a question of life and death is fundamental, whereas aid to the poor is not. If abortion is fundamental, so is the death penalty, and so is war. Why don't bishops refuse communion to politicians who support the death penalty?

Apr. 27 2012 11:32 AM
The Truth from Becky

The inaccurate pic above is offensive to me but may not have been to my great-grandmother, there you have your difference. Not a subject I am willing to debate. *listening ears on*

Apr. 27 2012 11:30 AM
John A.

Ross Douthat is simply an antidote to pinheaded politicians, for varying degree of pinheadedness (Bush,Perry,Santorum) saying they speak for the American Religious. There have always existed the wiser types within religion, and those better heads should've prevailed but didn't, THX to American politics 1980-2010.

Apr. 27 2012 11:30 AM

Why is the bible so important? What about other texts?

Apr. 27 2012 11:30 AM
oscar from ny

The master od the universe made me a jinn nd i can assure you that there is a god watching...hus name us allah iehova yahwei ...he has 99 beautiful be warned..

Apr. 27 2012 11:29 AM
Barbara Hoffmann from millrift, pa

I think the author fails to understand why women, like myself, left the church a long time ago. Why, would any woman belong to an institution where they are less than second class citizens.

Apr. 27 2012 11:29 AM
tom LI

Gone astray? When was it ever on track? I love these people who claim there was a time when Xtianity was ever doing it right...when was that? By whose metrics? And if we were once there, what was the "level" where we went under...? If there was a point of right what do we do to reach it again? How many kids need pray in school to reach this past level?

Apr. 27 2012 11:29 AM
Mike From Brooklyn from Clinton Hill

If nature will always go to a state of disorder, then the attempt to constrain the natural tendencies of humans within religious boxes is unnatural.

Apr. 27 2012 11:28 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Thank you Nick.

Apr. 27 2012 11:27 AM
pliny from soho

What is his opinion on the infallibility of the Pope?

Apr. 27 2012 11:27 AM
Nick from UWS

Why are all these people talking about "God" and "Jesus" as if it's a given that they exist?

Apr. 27 2012 11:26 AM
Nick from UWS

This guy Douthat hates himself so much. He's terrified of his own self. He needs "religion" to keep himself under control, and he needs "religion" to see himself as good, rather than the bad person he thinks he is.

Apr. 27 2012 11:25 AM
Jim from NYC

"Becoming" heretics?
Think Salem Witch trials.
Think the Virginia CO. needing to bring the heretical,heathens to Christianity.
We've ALWAYS been heretical - no?

Apr. 27 2012 11:25 AM
Jennifer from New York City

Well, he's slightly more tolerable than Bill Donahue.

By the way, it ain't that hard to find progressive Catholics, especially in New York City. Please try interviewing one of them once in a while.

Apr. 27 2012 11:22 AM
Bassett from Chappaqua

Douthat is doing a poor job.

Apr. 27 2012 11:20 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

A family of TRUE Christians hid and saved my mother in WWII.Unfortunately, other "nominal Christians" were helping the Nazis kill the rest of them. If all Christians were TRUE to the words and actions of Jesus, it would have been a very different western world long ago.

Apr. 27 2012 11:19 AM
John A

Everyone in certain churches is encouraged to give 10% of everything they earn. That trumps that Churches giving even 50% of it's collection in taxes. To answer another commenter.

Apr. 27 2012 11:18 AM

Room for "prudential debate" when a nun who allowed an abortion purely to save a woman's life is excommunicated, while the pervert priests are not?

Apr. 27 2012 11:18 AM
Elle from Brooklyn

I've been a Catholic all my life, and I've heard LOTS of sermons preached against abortion, but I can't remember ever hearing one preached against capital punishment. Supposedly, the Church opposes both. Does your guest have anything to say on that point?

Apr. 27 2012 11:17 AM
Karen from NYC

P.S. I am progressive politically, and also, of course, pro-choice.

Apr. 27 2012 11:16 AM
Nick from UWS

Here ya go, Sheldon:

A healthy religious community? No such thing...a religious community by definition has problems ranging from emotional and intellectual rigidity to outright delusional states and behavior.

A nation of heretics? Maybe we are finally growing out of this primitivistic nonsense and starting to think like adults. The faster religion is eliminated from human society, the faster we will move forward into a better life.

Apr. 27 2012 11:14 AM
Karen from NYC

I was raised as a Roman Catholic by two very devout parents. I rejected the doctrines -- God, resurrections, virgin birth -- by age 11. (I had figured out that there was no empirical evidence for any of this and that other religions had similar myths, so that all religions were essentially "the same.") My parents were very upset.

As an adult, I've belonged to Catholic communities (and Episcopal communities) that served the poor and elevated the "spiritual" above the material. To me, all religions are metaphors for human spiritual, moral and ethical goals. You don't need Jesus to be a Christian.

Apr. 27 2012 11:14 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

The Romans taking over Christianity 000's of years ago, ended that "we are for the poor" thing.

Apr. 27 2012 11:14 AM
dan from manhattan

Liberals especially need instruction in chastity? What does this even mean, despite being absurd to the point of mind-boggling.

Apr. 27 2012 11:12 AM
John A

He's more e a free thinker than those that insist that "freethinker" only means atheist.

Apr. 27 2012 11:12 AM

How is this different than the mid 1800s, when Mormonism and other new churches formed

Apr. 27 2012 11:10 AM

What constructive role can religion play? Well they could start by paying taxes.

Apr. 27 2012 11:10 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

I'm waiting for my "Nick from the Upper westside" comment.

Apr. 27 2012 11:08 AM

That’s what happens when u cross free thinkers and religious extremists

Anyway no matter, all religion is phony, just a tool, like a leash, to control the peasants.
Just this week there was an NPR story about how strong religion is in the poorest countries. See how well it works.
Sure, you’ll get your reward AFTER you die. I swear it!
A lie, just like the tooth fairy.

Apr. 27 2012 10:31 AM
Ed from Larchmont

Also I would like to recommend to Mr. Douthat the new book: 'The unintended Reformation: how a religious revolution secularized society' Brad Gregory, Harvard, 2013 - he traces the current situation to the late middle ages - for example that the scientists' rejection of God is traceable to Scotus' univocal view (in disagreement with St. Thomas), which wouldn't have had much effect except for historical circumstances centuries later: the God some scientists are denying is not the Jewish, Christian, or Muslim God.

Apr. 27 2012 08:10 AM
Ed from Larchmont

Wonderful, the one faithful person at the Times. Looking forward to this segment.

Apr. 27 2012 06:02 AM
ellen from nyc

amazon says he's the youngest ever columnist of the nytimes. So what? He's one of the most irrational conservative columnists.I'm sorry the times has him on its pages. He's there for diversity,lest the right wing accuse the times of neglecting the right wing on its op ed page.

Apr. 27 2012 06:00 AM

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