U.S. Religious Landscape Survey


Where Have All the Liberal Protestants Gone?
(Replaced by Neocons Every One)

by Philip Weiss (who is, for your information, a left-wing Jew)
Mondoweiss, 2008-08-02

[This is really about some religious aspects of sociology,
in particular as they relate to war and liberal causes.
Some parts about the decline of Protestantism come in paragraphs 5 thru 7.
Paragraph numbers and emphasis are added.]

I’m still reelin and rockin from Joe Klein’s statement/confession that
Jewish neoconservatives made the Iraq war happen.
Of course the key word in it is Jewish.
That’s what’s got the Foxmans and Commentary bloggers so upset.
Because the essential understanding Klein offers is that
the neoconservative ideas for Iraq have a Jewish origin,
and are caught up with the Zionist religion
that has overtaken the American Jewish mind in the last 60 years
(including the neocons’ fellow traveler mainstream Jewish journalists
with a little Zionist fire in their bosom).
That’s starting to unravel now, imshallah. inshallah.

Walt and Mearsheimer avoided the word Jewish.
They are political scientists not sociologists,
yet one of the most important moments in their book
is when they talk about the changeover of Washington political culture
from the days when William Quandt was at Brookings
and writing important studies on the need for a two-state solution,
way back in 1975,
to 2002 when Kenneth Pollack is at Brookings,
under the wing of Haim Saban, toymaker and Zionist,
and issuing his Iraq war tract, The Threatening Storm,
in which he stated that
the Arab world doesn’t really care that much about
the “troubles” in Israel/Palestine,
and said nary a word about the occupation.

You simply can’t look at Saban and Pollack’s accession
without talking about the
Jewish rise, Jewish success, Jewish money.

A few weeks back a reporter at a local Gannett paper interviewed me
about the new Jewish establishment.
He said he was interviewing Jamie Johnson,
who has chronicled this trend somewhat at Vanity Fair,
and Nick Lemann, whose book The Big Test
described the ruling class before the meritocracy as the “Episcopacy.”
‘Cause they were all Episcopal.
I don’t know if the guy’s piece has run,
I suspect not or I would have heard about it;
but in the interview as soon as I started talking about Zionism,
he cut me off.
This is about the sociology, he said, not international relations.

So right now we have
a little reporting about the sociology,
and on the other hand
political reporting on the neocons and Iraq.
Joe Klein’s comment and the furor over it may help at last
to bring these two ideas together.

Look what’s happened to the Episcopacy, it’s vanishing from American life.
I married into an Episcopal family.
My wife doesn’t go to church, her sisters don’t go to church,
and I hear fairly violent statements about religion at the Thanksgiving table.
My mother-in-law is still a churchgoer, and for real.
She went to Palestine with a church group,
and smuggled sheets into a hospital in Bethlehem.
But another Episcopalian and Israel/Palestine activist, Nancy Horn,
tells me that in her small town in PA, she can go to one of three churches.
“One’s got 15 members, one’s got 30, one’s got 40.”
Then she adds with delicious irony: “The buildings are beautiful.”
Liberal Protestants are leaving American public life.

One reason for the departure is religious fervor.
“Liberal Protestants were crucial to abolitionism and the civil rights movement--
they were in the driver’s seat.
But now, the word Christianity has almost become a synonym for evangelical or fundamentalist or pro-life,”
says Brian Dana Akers, the son of a Methodist minister who was a big do-gooder.
Akers himself is now a leading publisher of yoga books.
“I myself have never been a churchgoer,
taking after my father’s father instead of my father,
so perhaps I’m part of the reason for the mainstream decline.
And it occurs to me--
not only was liberal religion driving events in the 60s,
many of the main actors were literally clergy members:
Martin Luther King Jr. and many of his associates,
William Sloane Coffin,
Father Drinan,
the Berrigan brothers [Daniel, Philip], et al.”

This all speaks to a fact
that an Arab friend pointed out to me a couple of weeks ago:
“in the diverse American establishment,
Zionists are the only ones with an esprit de corps.”
By esprit, he meant a religious understanding, a way of giving life meaning.
That religious understanding of course includes Israel--
in the same way that fundamentalist Christian understanding
includes pro-life and stem-cell research ideas.
Joe Klein has kick-started a really important conversation.
Can we have it?

Zionism Becomes a Social Value in the Establishment
by Philip Weiss
Mondoweiss, 2008-08-04

My wife and I spent the weekend socializing
in our community in the Hudson Valley.
One of the things I do in this blog is
try and report on the life of an intermarriage.
We are both from privileged backgrounds but distinct tribes;
the life we’ve made together is a privileged one.
And the thing that strikes me forcefully from this weekend is that
in privileged circles,
Jewish and gentile pathways are intermingling almost seamlessly.


I am saying that there is a comfortable acceptance of Jewishness
in some high social circles in the U.S.
It used to be that WASPs tolerated Jews because they were indispensable,
as professionals, doctors and lawyers.
When I was young, I remember visiting a high-WASP’s house in the country
and looking through his father’s rolodex.
My friend said that his father was antisemitic,
but the doctors in there were Jewish.
Now WASPs embrace Jews because
we are such important players in American society.
We have money.

Consider this delicious phrase from the coverage of Congressman Eric Cantor,
whom McCain is eyeing as a possible veep:
Cantor, 45, is
a prominent Jewish Republican with a talent for fund raising,
which he has used to help
the McCain campaign in recent months.
Ah, euphemism.

One consequence of the Jewish “talent for fundraising”
is that
Cantor’s rightwing love of Israel
is sort of taken for granted in establishment circles

and not openly discussed.
[Weiss isn’t totally clear about what he is suggesting,
but it seems to be a (partial) implication:
Rich Jew implies Likud supporter.]

I think it’s impolite to address it directly or questioningly.
Israel is imbibed by all
along with the Yiddish.
So even gentiles are Zionist in a mild unthinking way
(like Walter Russell Mead, the minister’s son
who attacked Walt and Mearsheimer in CFR’s magazine).
At one party I went to,
a weedy gentile kid had just returned from a trip to Israel
that his new Jewish stepfather had compelled him to go on.
He went reluctantly, but had a great time.

Meanwhile, it’s impolite to talk about Palestinians in American society.
I noticed that last night on “60 Minutes”
Steve Kroft interviewed Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum,
the Dubai dictator who is visiting Bush right now.
Al-Maktoum said he loves everything about America, except our foreign policy.
When Kroft asked him what about our foreign policy,
Al-Maktoum said he would bite his tongue,
but Kroft pushed him to mention the Iraq war and Iran.
He did not mention Israel.
A similar self-censorship prevails in establishment circles in the U.S. today.
Do we have to bring that up?
As I say, everyone’s a little bit Zionist, because it’s easier.

Last weekend I spent with my own tribe, in Cape Cod.
My wife was back here, on deadline.
Israel came up a few times, usually because I brought it up bumptiously,
and the impression I got of American Jewish attitudes towards Israel is that
they are not well-informed.
One guy said that
Israel’s Arab neighbors have threatened it with extinction forever.
A liberal woman said she knew little about the conditions of Palestinians,
because she finds it too complex and upsetting.
This is simply denial.
Denial in one quarter, liberal Jews.
Blank passivity in another.
So no wonder the crazies rule the conversation.

Episcopal Split as Conservatives Form New Group
New York Times, 2008-12-04


Banning prayer in schools hurts public morality
By Gregory Kane
Washington Examiner, 2010-04-05

Without church and parents, kids run wild
By Gregory Kane
Washington Examiner, 2010-04-19