Wednesday, November 12, 2008

First Things: Culture Wars, R.I.P.

First Things Mag has a piece on the state of the culture wars. Red verses Blue

Have a read....

Only four years ago, the media were abuzz with the revelation that a fissure ran through America, dividing us into Republican red states and Democratic blue states, polarity as much cultural as political. Red states are NASCAR and barbecue, while blue states are NPR and brie. Red states are overweight and vulgar and gas-guzzling, while blue states are trim and green and cool in a European sort of way. Tell me what radio station you listen to, what kind of beer you drink, where you spent vacation—and I can tell you what party you voted for.

The red–blue divide has never been as sharp as the electoral maps make it seem, and the red–blue analysis obscures the more fundamental division in American political life. Since the mid-1970s, the “culture wars” have defined the alignments of American politics, and the alignments of the culture wars are largely religious.

The 1963 school-prayer and Bible-reading decision, Murray v. Curlett, startled some believers into activism, but it was not until Roe v. Wade that evangelicals awakened from their Pietist slumbers and launched a crusade to win back America. Once energized, evangelicals were not content to remain narrowly anti-abortion, but sought to promote religiously grounded positions on everything from Star Wars to stem cells. The culture wars are the result of the invasion of conservative religion—mostly Christianity—into public life.

Not everyone sees things this way. Despite his post at the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life, Alan Wolfe has nothing to say about religion in his post-election analysis of Obama’s achievement in ending the culture wars. That’s because Wolfe doesn’t think the culture wars were really about religion in the first place. The culture wars, it turns out, were racial conflicts in disguise.


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