Home / Polls / This week's poll: Has the Christian right led you to question or abandon your faith?
This week's poll:  Has the Christian right led you to question or abandon your faith?

This week's poll: Has the Christian right led you to question or abandon your faith?

religious zealots trying to convert peopleMore and more people are leaving organized religion.  Even the Billy Graham Evangelical Association admits, "No religious group is growing as fast as those who claim no religion at all."

Religious lobbyist groups have increased fivefold in the last 40 years, according to a study by the Pew Forum, and spend about $390 million a year on efforts to influence national public policy (see the chart that breaks down the millions of dollars spent by various religious groups on a federal level).

The Christian right, with its brand of anti-evolution, anti-abortion, anti-contraceptives, "pro-life," anti-gay, anti-liberal, Christian nationalist biblical worldview has become a powerful voice in Republican politics.  The American Family Association, Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America, Conference of Catholic Bishops and many others are very visible in politics and the media.  Pulitizer Prize winning journalist and theologian Chris Hedges characterized the religious right as fascists, and Frank Schaeffer, formerly a leader in the Christian fundamentalist movement, says that there are "scores of younger former evangelicals diving headlong out of the right wing evangelical churches" who are spiritually hungry but turned off by right wing hate.  Mainline Christians, he says, should reach out to this group.

In our poll this week, we ask if the Christian right has led you to question or abandon your faith.

Your identity will remain anonymous if you vote in the poll.  While the polling software tracks IPs to void double-voting, your personal identity is not revealed.  Comments are always welcome, especially if you don't agree with any of the answers in the survey or wish to clarify your vote.  The poll is not scientific, but represents a gauge of what our readers think.

This week's poll will remain open until 7:00 A.M. Pacific time on Sunday, March 25, 2012.  Thanks for sharing your opinion!

Has the Christian right led you to question or abandon your faith?

  • I have researched the claims of the Christian right and/or read the Bible because of them, and am now atheist/agnostic or a freethinker (freethought includes Deism, pantheism, etc) (40%, 51 Votes)
  • The Christian right has strengthened my atheism. There is no god. (20%, 25 Votes)
  • As a theistic freethinker, the rhetoric of the Christian right has only strengthened my view that revealed texts are flawed and irrational. (18%, 23 Votes)
  • Because of the Christian right, I am now "spiritual but not religious." (8%, 10 Votes)
  • The Christian right's version of Christianity does not speak for all of us -- I have joined or am looking for a more compassionate Christian church. (7%, 9 Votes)
  • I have left organized religion because of the Christian right, but still consider myself to be Christian. (5%, 6 Votes)
  • What you call 'the Christian right' is not hateful, but speaks the Word of God. They have strengthened my faith. (3%, 4 Votes)

Total Voters: 128

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  • Sheldon

    Mainline Christianity is facing its own problems as well… declining membership to name the big one. It too, is built upon doctrine based ideals that don't resonate like they used to. No, I don't think mainline Christianity will help Christians who are fleeing their bigoted and hateful brethren.

    This religion must now make sense to a growing population of younger people who see their spirituality as something that is community driven… service driven and highly personal. This new Christian is more concerned with the question, "What would Jesus do?", as opposed to "what does the bible tell me", and they ask it from the perspective of love and acceptance.

    They are no longer willing to accept the exclusivism practised in their churches (God loves you but only if you're Christian and then, only under certain conditions) nor the ignorance and hatred emanating from the bully pulpit. They do not extol the hypocrisy of – hate the sin, love the sinner. They understand the truth Gandhi spoke: "I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ".

    What this means for mainline Christianity is open to debate. What I see is a move towards private practice combined with community activism, sans proselytizing. How this manifests is anyone's guess and yet, I know a good many Christians who are moving in this direction.

    • Deborah_B

      I am seeing the same kind of thing, Sheldon, with a more humanistic view/approach.

      • Yes, I agree, Deborah.  I find it difficult, with my love of nature and other animals not to possess a form of non-religious/non-theistic spirituality.  However, naturalism is part of atheism, just as there is a branch of Spiritual humanism (which is naturalistic) and even some forms of pantheism are naturalistic also.  Taoism and some forms of Buddhism are also non-theistic  So may see more naturalistic views as time progresses.

    • Ein SC

      Well said. The Methodist church I grew up in and the one I belong to now focus on serving the community and being inclusive and empathetic. No proselytizing.

  • dakota o'leary

    Great picture!!!!  LOL!

    • Deborah_B

       I bought that one on iStock for the site.  They have some good stuff there.

  • I really cannot answer this poll, because while I abhor the Religious Reich's dogma, I did not leave because of that.  I left because I educated myself on religion, mythology, science, etc and found modern religion just as superstitious as the mythologies of the past.  If there is a god, it isn't what the religious, be they Jewish, Xian, Muslim, Hindu etc, state it to be, but rather something that is within and part of the universe, not a separate entity above and beyond it.  I cannot fathom a deity that is not loving, caring, empathic, and within everything and everyone that is within the universe, connecting everything and everyone together as one within the universe.  Such a deity does not exist to the religious though, because it does not resemble a human being or anything else, unless they were to call it "Casper, the Holy Spirit", but that is not what it is either nor is there any afterlife as they perceive there to be.  All that is written are human creations, struggling to define and describe the unknown.  The problem is, once they do, it is not describing it all, in part because once they blame a deity or a demon for this or that, science comes up with a tangible explanation for what they impose such superstition upon, such as the Plague, volcanoes, etc or even deny such realities that we are all related via evolution, stating that the devil did that to make us not believe in God or that God created us separate from everything else.  I do not see how we could survive in such a hostile world, if we not somehow part of it, but the denial that we are part of the earth and the universe, could be what drives humans to extinction, because it causes such a disconnect from our true [evolutionary] origins and our relationship to it.

    As I said many times before, two of my favourite sayings come from the Tao Te Ching, a paraphrased version of saying 1 "To describe the Tao (or the way) is not to describe it at all" and saying 56 "Those who know don't say and those who say, don't know".  It seems all too many want to describe and add human attributes to something that cannot yet be described, not even by science, or add superstition to what science has explained.

    • Sheldon

      In some respects, science has far surpassed religion in delivering awe. How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, "This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant. God must be even greater than we dreamed"? Instead they say, "No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way."

      – Pale blue dot : a vision of the human future in space. 1994.
      -Carl Sagan

      • That is exactly what they are saying, but some how a little nymph doesn't seem right for such a big universe.

    • joe paterno

      What a great posting!

  • stebra90

      I voted "I have researched the claims of the Christian right and/or read the Bible because of them, and am now atheist/agnostic or a freethinker (freethought includes Deism, pantheism, etc)" as this was the closest option to my view.
      But this option isn't a perfect fit, so I felt that I needed to clarify: I have done a little research on the claims of the Christian right, and whilst their additional claims are not particularly repugnant to me, I reject their core claims [belief in revelation, belief in "holy" text, belief in super-natural events, etc etc etc].
      My belief is un-changed, I remain a non-theist, I am [still] a Deist.

  • Guest

    The real problem that nobody wants admit, is that the "Christian Right" simply rejects the sexual revolution of the 1960s.  And they are on solid biblical and historical grounds to do so.   The young people fleeing churches in droves — the "emergent fornicators" — are doing so largely because they are unwilling to discipline their sex lives, or deal with the cultural unpopularity that comes with resisting the sexual revolution. 

    If, in God's eyes, abortion is murder and homosexuality is an abomination, then we as a culture are in real trouble.   One ought to seriously ponder the question, "What if the religious right, is actually right about this stuff?" 

    Interestingly, the ideological forefathers of the religious right, were the first and loudest voices against slavery… and they were HATED in their time.  Now they're heroes…   Will today's villified religious right, be the heroes of your great-grandchildren's history books?

    •  All of these things you mentioned are purely human definitions of sexuality and morality.  These things have nothing to do with a deity and rest solely on humans and the need to control others.  Thus, the question has nothing to do with who is right or wrong about this stuff, but who is really making the rules.  In this case, it is nothing more than humans trying to impose their own personal standards of morality on others and nothing to do with any deity.  I seriously doubt such stringent views on sexuality will be anyone's hero in the future.

      • Sheldon

        Ah… in my eagerness to respond to Guest, I missed reading your response. It appears you already said what I was thinking 🙂

    • Deborah_B

      I think you have a point, guest, with respect to perceptions about sexual 'immorality' contributing to how the religious right is perceived.  But there are other issues, too, such as patriarchy, creationism, the 'war on Christmas' (which is actually a pagan holiday) and legalism.  All of these things, at least what we are seeing in the poll, are prompting people to read the bible, question, the teachings, etc.  Many become non-believers after reading the bible from cover to cover.

    • Sheldon

      The problem is that this isn't about God or sex at all. This is about the needs of some to control the lives of others. Simply because the some are seemingly obsessed with sex doesn't mean that's the core of the issue. 

      Now, here's an idea to ponder regarding sex and the man-made bible and its religion. The bible is full of all kinds of loathsome edicts regarding sex. Why wouldn't a sexual revolution have occurred as a result? Furthermore, there are no solid historical grounds to reject that revolution… only biblical grounds. If you believe that actual history, not biblical history, shows viable reasons why the sexual revolution should be disavowed in favour of biblical law regarding sex, then show us some history, and I don't want to see your bible present anywhere in the discussion.

      Here's another question to ponder. What if the religious right is actually right, but for all the wrong reasons? What if there is a God and He's watching and keeping count of how many zealots go out of their way to promote hatred and bigotry and ignorance in His name? What if He's got a little surprise waiting for those "sinners"? What then?

      The real problem, as I see it, is the painfully unfortunate reality that so many women still see themselves as they are wrongfully portrayed in that hateful book. I conjecture that many small-minded people, along side hereditary and generational brain-washing are behind the unwillingness of women to break free of the slavery done upon them in the name of superstition.

      Lastly, the ideological forefathers of the religious right are heroes to who exactly? Who were those ideological forefathers? Who do you think they were? Post some names.

      • Deborah_B

         I think part of the issue is that the far right views the Bible as the 'literal word of God' and mainstream Christians view it as allegory.  Those who finally sit down and read the Bible from cover to cover are often appalled by what is written in there and then take offense at being told by political and religious leaders that they must believe in Bible God.

        Even those with a 'literal' or 'legalistic' view, however, explain away all the violence, the slavery, the polygamy — so it becomes an issue of interpretation and using that interpretation to control.  If they cannot control via church membership, I think we'll see more and more efforts to "legislate morality" as church membership continues to decline.  People resent that.

        Guest is correct in pointing out that people are taking issue with the religious right's view on sexual issues — and I think that is prompting many to look deeper.  I do not think that the growing anger toward the religious right is strictly about sexual 'morality,' as Guest suggests.

        • Sheldon

          Sometimes, I can be quite a zealot myself.

          • Deborah_B

            We need zealots to counter the dominionism, in my opinion.  🙂 

            I personally don't have an issue with Christianity and, in some ways, believe we need it and religion as a whole.  The reason I say that is because of stories such as the one last Christmas season, when a man was lying on the floor with a heart attack, and shoppers just stepped over him.  We see a lot of these incidents of inhumanity toward others, and for those who need some kind of an authoritarian group setting to learn morality, then religion plays a good role.  Without it, we might see even more extreme inhumane behavior.

            On the other hand, I don't see how the religious right is fulfilling much of a role in teaching basic empathy, which I think is the foundation for morality.  They focus on "victimless crimes" that have absolutely nothing to do with them (i.e., gays, personhood).  

            I suspect that in the future, we'll see more Humanist, New Thought, Unitarian and other types of 'churches' that offer a similar setting and social atmosphere as religion, but without the emphasis on the supernatural.

            • Sheldon

              Well, I say New Christian, guest says emergent fornicators… that gets my hackles up. The New Christians are fleeing the church in droves because it is now clear to them that the church can no longer claim the moral high ground. The church simply can't hide its crimes like it used to. In fact, this is not exclusive to the church. Buddhist monks have committed many heinous crimes of their own so, actually, it's a religion thing.

              You know, for all my talk about sex and equal rights, I suppose I see fear as the core issue here, and the use of fear as a means to an end. Everything else derives from it. Fear of homosexuality, feminism, etc. If you can use fear to make people think what you want, and see that it works, that becomes a powerful motivation to keep using it.

              As to religion, in my opinion, if it ever had a purpose, it has been served and is no longer necessary. I believe we can do quite well without it and I see no viable reason why that should not be so. We can teach morality in secular settings without the need for religiously motivated and fear based moral precepts. I simply do not see the value in the moral teaching of: do good or else.

              The novelist Holly Lisle, once said, and it bears scrutiny here, that a good politician knows how to do this very important thing… "You fabricate a crisis, manufacture the news surrounding the crisis and then convince people that you are the only one suitable to solve the crisis. Scare people and grab power." I suppose the same could be said of clergy men. Fear is a powerful tool.

            • joe paterno

              "I don't see how the religious right is fulfilling much of a role in teaching basic empathy, …."
              You hit the nail on the head with that comment.

          •  I think I am a zealot when it comes to them imposing and forcing they dogmas on others.  I really don't care what they believe as long as they don't force it on the rest of us.

            • joe paterno

              Incidentally, to Mriana, who is passionate,
              zealot was also used to define a
              radical, warlike, ardently patriotic group of Jews who advocated the violent overthrow of Roman rule and vigorously resisted the efforts of the Romans and their supporters to heathenize the Jews.

              •  I think wishing we could abolish religion due to the tragedies people have done in the name of it qualifies.  The only problem is, I'm not only a pacifist, but in comparison to Dawkins, I'm an [American] Yorkie/Chihuahua/Maltese/Spitz/Rat Terrier mix, but still cute, while he's the English Setter.  We're all bark and no bite.  lol

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  • Adam

    I'm a member of the Christian Left, and I belong to a very compassionate and loving church atmosphere. The views of the Christian Right certainly don't speak for all of us.
    However, that does beg the question: "What is the Christian Right?" There are some very loving and accepting Christians who do consider themselves to belong to the right-wing side of the spectrum, just as some of the more hateful Christians consider themselves to be on the Right as well. It's a swings and roundabouts games, because I doubt that the majority of people have a bad heart, they just don't always see eye to eye. 
    One of the biggest differences I have noticed are peoples views on global warming. My friends and myself for example, are champions of the environment, and regularly promote caring for and cultivating our eco-system. Some Christians who consider themselves "right", are deniers of Global Warming. I realise that I am generalising here, and what I am saying could be classed as unfair, I am sorry if that is the way it comes across, but I had to use at least one example!

    •  Actually, it sounds like you're an apologist.  How much damage do you think the Reich does when they deny Climate Change and deny women the right to Choice or deny gays the right to marry, among other things?  I wouldn't want to enable such things by saying they are nice.  I don't think this is very nice, personally, because when they attempt to push their agendas through out government, it affects us all adversely.

    • Deborah_B

       You're absolutely right, Adam, about the global warming denial.  Members of the religious right call environmental activism "The Green Dragon" and actually put a documentary out accusing Christians involved in environmental protection as pagans.

      The religious right is basically the list found here:


      There are many in the "Christian left" who are very charitable, compassionate people, and it is a shame that their voices are drowned out by the religious right.

      • joe paterno

        Thanks for the link to the religious right list.  I have wondered.  Incidentally, how did you arrive at this listing?

  • Tria MacLeod

    In my case it was more a 'by their acts you shall know them' situation.  Religious leaders of several different sects of Christianity being arrested for raping children, stealing from their own church, in my local area arranging for the murder of his lover so his wife wouldn't find out about their affair and divorce him, apparently causing him to lose the respect of his flock. Taken one by one you might be able to write them off as isolated incidents, but when it is so widespread as to not even raise an eyebrow anymore, when it is so widespread as to become a running joke it isn't isolated incidents anymore, it's endemic.

    The hate spewing from so many of the conservative and evangelicals is mind numbing.  And then the attempts to legislate 'their' views as law.   You cannot force someone to accept God, god, gods or anything else of a spiritual nature.   Either you accept it with an open and willing heart or you don't.  Forced conversion would seem pointless to me and I don't imagine any sort of god worth their salt finds it particularly thrilling or flattering either.

    Going through and reading the Bible (all 3 effing versions of it) had me vehemently opposed to any sort of literal translation and I was pretty near giving up on even an allegory or Bronze-Aged Poetry interpretation rather quickly.

    But the final nail in the coffin was GWB claiming that 'God' had told him to go to war.  -What?   Are you really trying to blame God for this?  You have scads of intelligence, years worth of information, some of the best technology on the planet but you can't take the responsibility for your own decision and instead lay it at the feet of God…..and no one said a word about it.   Not any of the major religious leaders in the USA stood up and said "Don't you dare use our God to justify your decision."  

    No one.  

    So either they agreed that god wanted blood offerings back in his old stomping grounds, or they were too frightened to stand up for what they thought/knew was right.  Or, more than likely they either didn't know or didn't care what god thought or what was right or wrong,   In which case, why bother with religion at all?  Their claims to the moral high ground have become laughable and it grows worse with each passing day.

    • joe paterno

      All "3 effing versions" of the bible?  I'm surprised.  I really thought there were many more versions than that.

  • ivanjohn

    Judging is judging be it done by the left or the right.
    The left lacks tolerance for intolerance.
    Are there moral absolutes? If so then there is a moral law giver.
    If not all is left is subjective preferences of equal value enforced upon one group another by might. Is that right?

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