Supreme Court Rules Town Meetings Can Have Prayer: A Mere Symbolic Victory for Conservatives

You can read the story right here if you haven't heard yet. I don't usually comment on political issues although I could do so. Today's Supreme Court ruling deserves commentary though, and I'm the one to provide it. First off, the ruling is inconsistent with the First Amendment as applied to the state and local level by the Fourteenth Amendment. After the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified the Bill of Rights as a whole, including the First Amendment, applied to the state and local level. We fought a war over this so we cannot revisit that issue. The ruling is also stupid and offensive to those of us without faith. However, Christians are hailing it as an important victory while atheists think it's quite a setback for us. It is neither. It is merely a symbolic victory that serves as a morale booster for the conservatives, something that means little to either side in the long run. There's no reason to praise Jesus nor is there any reason for despair. Let me explain.

Sometimes court rulings like this one can backfire. It will probably increase the disgust for the conservative agenda and mobilize the liberals. Such a ruling won't stand for that long. It will be overturned by different justices in a few decades at the most. In the meantime it won't have much of an impact since local governments that already have prayers will continue doing so, and those that don't probably won't introduce them at the next meeting without some resistance from voters. Elected officials know that they shouldn't risk alienating any voting block (unless of course, more votes are gained).

Supreme Court rulings like this one are merely symbolic victories. It's not much to worry about. It's a symbolic victory that goes against the trends. What matters are the over-all trends, and the forces of secularism continue to grind on, even if they grind slowly. But they will prevail.

As noted in another post of mine here's one trend:
"In the next decades we will see a massive decrease in evangelical influence politically, economically, culturally, and financially" writes John S. Dickerson, in The Great Evangelical Recession (p. 26). "260,000 evangelical young people walk away from Christianity each year. Of that number 35% will find their way back, and 65% do not find their way back. Why are they leaving? They don't believe anymore." [Dickerson, pp. 98-102]. "This is not a blip. This is a trend. And the trend is one of decline," said Ed Stetzer [as quoted in Dickerson, p. 32].
The Christian Right failed in the abortion debates, they failed with Obamacare, and they are failing when it comes to legalizing marijuana and gay marriages.

How can Evangelicalism buck these trends? I just don't see it. The steady trend has been away from conservative Christianity. This will continue. Americans are watching the Big Bang Theory, Two and a Half Men, and Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. Look at how our culture is turning away from evangelicalism, especially with the music industry and also with Hollywood movies (where do we see conservative "family values" in them?). The evidence is there for these trends to continue.

I see evangelicals losing their nerve, their strength and their willingness to keep fighting so many battles all at the same time. Now with Dickerson's claim that they will lose 70% of their financial resources in the future due to the 10% decline per decade of their youth they won't have the money to keep fighting. America is headed toward the same state of affairs seen in Europe's declining churches. This isn't leading to complacency on our part. Diligence is still needed. It will get much worse when churches lose their tax exempt status within 30 years time, but I think that will happen. Hell, the court cannot define a religion anymore, so why grant Christian churches any preferred tax-exempt status?

Symbolic setbacks that go against the trend are mere bumps on the road to secularism. There is little cause for conservatives to rejoice and there is little cause for the rest of us to despair. Our hopes are in the trends.

Now you know why you read what I write and follow or subscribe to this blog. ;-)