Ross Douthat, in his engaging book, Bad Religion, addresses the perennial “ongoing search for more comprehensive theories” about the decline of America. Both the left and right offer a prevailing, and widely accepted, narrative. But most of these theories involve religion, at least in some way.
Professor Alan Jacobs of Wheaton College calls Bad Religion “an indispensable book.” I completely concur with this praise. Rarely have I read a more engaging treatment of our current religious and political scene which explains not only how we got here but why the future, without a recovery of deeply Christian orthodoxy, will be more bleak than we can know at the present time.
On the right we are continually told that America has lost its way because we’ve fallen away from the faith of our founding fathers. Or, in another version of this message, we hear that we’ve been attacked by secular elites who wish to do our faith end. Douthat believes that the most “simplistic version” of this view, which is only sometimes clearly named, argues that America was founded