Is the south getting more religious or am I just getting paranoid?
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16-07-2011, 08:39 PM
Is the south getting more religious or am I just getting paranoid?
Ok. My family has been in the American south for ages. I moved away when I was little, but we'd visit rural Ala a couple of times a year. Now, it's true my one grandmother was a southern babtist, but the other side of the family never seemed religious. Once in a very great while my pawpaw would put on his special Sunday hat & go to church, but he never talked of it, & he left the rest of the pack at home. And it never came up even casually, like...my uncle & aunt never said to my cousins, "you kids get in the car, we have to get up early for church." Or, "yea I saw Billy Faye over at church the other day & he said such & such." No talk of heaven, no talk of angels, no "that's a sin!" It was NOT MENTIONED.

But now I'm on FB with all these various relatives, because that's the only way we can tolerate each other any more for the reasons you will read after this comma, & it's jesus everywhere! And I'm talkin' some seriously annoying stuff. I mean if I were that overt with my atheism, I would be considered obnoxious. Which I'm most certainly thinking about them when I read "Our God is an AWESOME GOD, press 'like' if you agree," but you know what I mean....that's socially sanctioned.

Anyway, what the heck?! They're younger, hipper, & more educated than their farmer parents; they have cable tv to show them the wider world; they no longer have to beg the lord for a good harvest what with that fancy new Walmart down the road; when the kids get sick you don't have to hang a sheet dipped in carbolic over the bedroom door. Yet they seem to be far more conservative & overtly religious than their parents' generation, which always seemed pretty darned straight to me.

Any of you tapped into other rural areas? Is this a trend? Is this why we're hearing more evangelical crap from the hinterlands? And WHY is this happening? Why are the rural folk resistant to what otherwise seems a natural progression of more knowledge eroding superstition?

Every time you say you don't believe, Jesus rips the wings off a fairy. - SkepticalParenting.com
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16-07-2011, 09:49 PM
RE: Is the south getting more religious or am I just getting paranoid?
I grew up with a family similar to yours in the city. I never had strong beliefs and my theist family was never right wing crazy. When my husband and I moved to a rural location two hours away and I met some (not all, but a lot) people our age (younger) and I was surprised too. SUCH conservative and, really, uneducated thoughts and ideas. TV is BAD, makeup is evil and horrish ( imagine being me and walking my child to (secular) school with *gasp* makeup) or drinking coffee (devil inhibitor!!!). It's one thing if the crazy old lady cares, but another thing if it's a new pal on FB. Wish it were simple to just leave it, but if FB had a relationship status with everyone, those would be the it's complicated ones. Lol.
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16-07-2011, 10:03 PM
RE: Is the south getting more religious or am I just getting paranoid?
I too have noticed a huge surge of conservatism among rural family members (midwest here). The older family members are religious but the ones in their 30s and 40s are so much more so. Most family members in their 20s are city-folk, and the younger group is a bit too young to really judge (let's wait till after they are done repeating their parents drivel). This whole religious war that's been sparked has to me led to a large amount of uprisings within churches. Pastors are making a big deal about the lack of faith and garnering support from the flock. As far as I can tell everyone is just extremely worried that the next generation is truly godless.

Most of my rural family members in their 60's or older are pretty understanding and easy to talk to, it's the people more around my age who I just can't stand to be in a room with. Especially hearing what they do with their kids >.> I would definitely have to say that rural USA which has always been a nearly pure christian community (most non-christians gravitate towards city life or make their own separate communities) is up in arms about this whole religious squabble. It really does seem to be a massive change to me, and not just that a bunch of people are being born again.

I've been staying away from my rural relatives recently. It's just too awkward.

I'm not a non believer, I believe in the possibility of anything. I just don't let the actuality of something be determined by a 3rd party.
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17-07-2011, 01:00 AM
RE: Is the south getting more religious or am I just getting paranoid?
I used to go to family reunions and West Virgina. They were all YEC and racist and mad Regan look like a liberal. Anyway, my country family pretty much implied to my grandma that they didn't want me or my sister to come due to our liberal secular-ness (keep in mind I was an apathetic Christian at the time, so it's not like I was preaching the morals of atheism).

They didn't want us telling our cousins about the universe and evolution (I loved science as a kid, and my sister just had a hobby of proving people wrong). Hell, they hated the fact that I brought Harry Potter along with me. My grandma still goes, but I haven't went since I was 11.

Also, I noticed a huge rise in religion amongst my friends. I think it's the hip trend or something, those that were agnostic or non-theistic were just sucked right up into the trend.

Personally I think it's just a backlash from a secular period in American culture, it will die down for the next generation and rise up again when we are all grandparents.

Either that or there is something in the water that is making people freaking crazy!

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17-07-2011, 10:01 AM
RE: Is the south getting more religious or am I just getting paranoid?
One big reason I'm confused is that these people have more answers. Which historically leads to less religion. My grandparents lost their first 2 kids as babies, to pneumonia. And they worked hard on that farm, growing food for their pre-birth control family of 7. People got sick & you didn't know why, crops failed. There was so much hardship & it was just plain beyond their control.

But these cousins - I am the oldest, which means they are all in their 20s & 30s. Their lives are entirely easy. In fact they have nearly all left behind the lean & sinewy, starved-dog form of their overall-covered male ancestors, & are doing their part to keep Ala in the top of the obese states list. They don't struggle for food, either physically or by hoping the weather holds until harvest; not one kid has died in 2 generations; when the weather is brutally hot, they don't need to ask god why, they just go in & turn on the AC.

Also, they do have extremely complete access to current media. We're not taking the southern version of Amish here. These people must have been exposed, even just casually, to the fact that it's a big world, with a lot of ideas other than theirs. Why hasn't that caused open-mindedness, or tolerance? Because it is much clearer to them than it was 2 generations ago that theirs is not the only way to be. Why hasn't science driven from them these simplistic bleatings?

THAT. That's the problem. Non-theists discuss that as the gaps are made smaller, as science finds more answers, people will naturally turn to a less theistic view, because they won't need it. You don't need to kill a chicken for your fevered kid, when you can just go to the dr & get some amoxicillin. But here are groups of country folk who have, in 2 generations, divorced themselves completely from the hardships of their heratige solely because of advances in science & technology, yet they arrange their lives & choose their friends so that god is at the forefront of all they do.

Every time you say you don't believe, Jesus rips the wings off a fairy. - SkepticalParenting.com
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17-07-2011, 11:28 AM
RE: Is the south getting more religious or am I just getting paranoid?
But here are groups of country folk who have, in 2 generations, divorced themselves completely from the hardships of their heratige solely because of advances in science & technology, yet they arrange their lives & choose their friends so that god is at the forefront of all they do.

Why indeed ?

Hi kids.
Have thought about this question a lot, as I know some really intelligent people who seem to need to keep their tight grasp on the (sorry) ridiculous. These are sometimes medical people, scientists etc. who never in a million years would buy anything "without evidence" in their professional lives, but when it comes to this, they choose to suspend their rationality. It boggles the mind.
In my humble opinion, this decision/need is not about science, or religion, or theology, or biblical archeology, (as "most" people don't really know all that much about what is actually taught in the rigorous academic theology schools), (and indeed would be SHOCKED if they found out what was actually taught there..see Bart D, Ehrman's stuff, ex: Jesus Interrupted), but it IS about psychology.
I have come to the conclusion that people instinctively know that if one has a house of cards, if they pull out one card, the whole thing comes crashing down, and THAT is simply unacceptable. To leave oneself without a "working model", or "world view", is VERY VERY threatening, psychologically. The Pink Monkeys are pattern seeking animals, and there HAS to be a pattern in which to place their observations of their environment, even if it makes not a lick of sense, (for example saying "god" sent the tornado to kill the babies in Missouri last spring). But if they can say to themselves, "God works in mysterious ways", it deflects the doubt/question, and in the end, IMHO, becomes an interesting study in neuro-linguistics, (or "self talk"), more than anything else.
As to the question of "why the South?", I can only suggest that is a cultural acceptability thingy. I am unaware, (although I have never inverstigated), of any demographic studies which show there are more believers in the South than the North, (except the old "Bible Belt" anecdotal thing). It may just be it is OK to speak publicly of that sort of thing in the South, than the North. I LOVE the South, being from the North. My best friends live there. I wish I could move there TODAY. They are laid back, and gracious, (and VERY self depricatingly humorous), in a way Northerners do not have ANY idea about. My California friends say this is because the Northerners need to retain heat in the winter keeps them "huddled" up, and "hunched over". But that is off point. The cultures are vastly different, and there is likely no simple answer to "why the South". Their medical centers, (Atlanta, Houston), and science schools are just as good as anywhere in the North.

BTW, as a newbie, I need to find out if there is a spell checker embedded somewhere here, or should I do that externally? (Ah spel reel bad, and use way tu meny apostrafees).

Cheers

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein
Those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music - Friedrich Nietzsche
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17-07-2011, 12:29 PM
RE: Is the south getting more religious or am I just getting paranoid?
From my European point of view... (I hope I am not going to step on sensitive patriotic toes here, but this has to be said...)

The US is becoming really polarized. It's not that the south is getting more religious, nor the North more secular, the contrasts about EVERYTHING in the US is getting more and more intense (politics, race, religion, finance...)

Knowing "when it pours in Washington, it drizzles in Brussels" this deeply concerns me

Observer

Agnostic atheist
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Disclaimer: Don’t mix the personal opinion above with the absolute and objective truth. Remember to think for yourself. Thank you.
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17-07-2011, 04:48 PM
RE: Is the south getting more religious or am I just getting paranoid?
(17-07-2011 12:29 PM)The_observer Wrote:  From my European point of view... (I hope I am not going to step on sensitive patriotic toes here, but this has to be said...)

The US is becoming really polarized. It's not that the south is getting more religious, nor the North more secular, the contrasts about EVERYTHING in the US is getting more and more intense (politics, race, religion, finance...)

Knowing "when it pours in Washington, it drizzles in Brussels" this deeply concerns me

No kidding! Imagine living right next door.
I don't think anybody is getting more religious - that is, more determined to follow the teachings of Christ, or more resolved to nourish their souls with fasting, solitude and meditation, or more involved in good works, or more mindful of the beatitudes. I think they're just becoming more encouraged to express the worst in their human nature and the worst in their culture, under the blanket excuse of: I'm saved and they're not, so it's okay for me to push them around. (You can see this by the frequency of OT vs NT quotes to justify bad actions. Worked for slavery, witch-burning and empire-building, right?) I think most of those people would behave much better on their own, without the influence of self-serving politicians and dishonest pastors, who harness and direct the people's frustration, fear and anger. Self-righteous control-freakery is just too hard to resist!

And since it has such broad appeal, the power-hungry everywhere take advantage: the pols and pastors feed one another in an upward spiral of intolerance, regression and oppression... and who cares about the collateral damage?

If you pray to anything, you're prey to anything.
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17-07-2011, 11:09 PM
RE: Is the south getting more religious or am I just getting paranoid?
(17-07-2011 12:29 PM)The_observer Wrote:  From my European point of view... (I hope I am not going to step on sensitive patriotic toes here, but this has to be said...)

The US is becoming really polarized. It's not that the south is getting more religious, nor the North more secular, the contrasts about EVERYTHING in the US is getting more and more intense (politics, race, religion, finance...)

Knowing "when it pours in Washington, it drizzles in Brussels" this deeply concerns me

No kidding, I think the US has gotten way polarized, and I don't think we can really blame anyone, the US is fairly large and has a large population, I'm thinking Rome all over again. To be honest I see intellectuals emigrating from the USA like rats jumping from a sinking ship. Everyone in the US seems to enjoy demonizing the opposition without even letting them speak.

There is no enemy, we are all Americans! Ah well, I'm sick of American politics and to be honest, American people, they have fallen so far from the honest freedom seeking people they used to be, it seems only a few Americans still really understand what it's like to be a true American!

Well that's my thoughts on the matter.

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18-07-2011, 02:32 AM
RE: Is the south getting more religious or am I just getting paranoid?
Hmm, interesting question i have been thinking about for a few years now. Problem is i have to let anger subside before i can rationally think about it. I've lived in the south my whole life, grew up in New Orleans, and moved following the Big K to south MS where my family had relocated a few years prior. Now the entire time i grew up in New Orleans I saw/heard of two crazy religious incidents one being some friend of mine trying to date a girl went to a church to meet her and the reverend/pastor/ high priest what ever he was start talking about washing themselves in the blood of nonbelievers. (my friend was a young contrary "atheist" meaning he was lashing out at the time and had no true reasoning for his feeling). He said something or laughed but whatever it was got him kicked out of the place. The second was a normal occurrence of being in the French Quarter on a weekend night and seeing a few people taking turns walking up and down the length of Bourbon street with a replica of the cross Jesus had to bear according to their holy book, while the people not carrying the cross repeatedly screamed that everyone who was there was going to burn for their sinful ways and blabbity blabbity blah.

Fast forward to nearly 6 years later im still in MS met a lovely girl and started a family all while going to school and that sort of thing. Daily i encounter some person trying to talk to me about Jesus here. Be it at work, school, the grocery store. These people will not leave it alone. I honestly thought the Glenn Beck worshipers were a myth until i met people who took his word as law. Now i have spent a lot of time and energy getting zen about most things in my life and i can remain zen as people praise Jesus to me all the time because ive got way more important things to contemplate such as how do i raise my kids in this area with having them grow up to be this jackass. IM not a militant atheist by any means but im not shy in telling people i disagree. I have been proud of the fact that i have been able to deal with it this long and still be able to say its just a difference of opinion, it helps them sleep at night, it helps them cope with life. Not everyone has the strength to realize that this is it. IF there was a Jesus according to their own book and the books that were left out, he talked of being good to each other and that it is okay to have different thought processes. The bottom line I took from it is that we create our own heaven or hell right here and now while we are alive and interacting with the world and each other. To say the least it makes a lot more sense to me than the sky-cake theory(thanks Patton Oswalt!).

Well after nearly 5 years of being this way the dam has broken friends. My wife's ex served her with papers recently stating he wanted full custody of their son. This same ex who suddenly had become deeply involved with his church and insisting on taking their son to their all day crazy fests on Sundays resulting in her not getting their son back at the allotted time frame. Well we saw a lawyer about the situation and he said to us at the end of our meeting that the free advice he would give us until we came up with the money to fully hire him is to get involved with a church. Because that will be one of the deciding factors in her custody case. And that we needed to get good with Jesus because the Judge would know if we were insincere. So all this time that I have been calm, accepting, not just tolerant, but accepting of these peoples beliefs and worldviews now its is going to to be a part of the future of a 3 year old child. As someone posted above i cannot see how this is America any longer.

Sorry went off ranting there, i think it boils down to a difference of opinion and if both sides would stop insisting they are right we wouldn't end up stigmatizing or being stigmatized. If a religious person says ill pray for you say sure and don't think about it anymore. I understand and have been fully aware of the connotation that is sometimes made when one makes that statement, but in this case it about walking the walk they are supposed to and "turning the other cheek" and being the better person. Let them have their negative thoughts of you all they want but they just know as long as they pray for you you'll be ok. I know this sound bipolar with my previous statements and i will admit i am angry enough to burn this entire state to the ground and start anew with my wife and kids someplace a lot more progressive but this is where the fight has to start. Letting go of the anger and knowing that true righteousness is in your hands and that will always win. Such as with the above mentioned custody case there are 13 other standards that the state of Mississippi looks at in deciding child custody, and if because we do not go to church is the only thing they have to fight us with, by all means do so. Winning here without submitting to the forces is a small step for us, but will mean a whole lot in the long run.

The south isn't getting more religious they just have more access to the internet and television news stations with nonstop biased coverage of how the president must be the antichrist. The internet is a beautiful and ugly tool, it can enlighten and frighten. Those who live in fear of a God we already know are easily frightened. We as atheists live with out that fear and getting rid of the God of fear is the greatest step one can make. But as previously mentioned if God isn't the sky-cake we've all heard of for all our lives then what else is there? If there is opportunity for healthy debate by all means do so. But if its worthless you need to realize it is worthless from the get go and do not engage because no matter what is said they will think they were right and they won the day. We all know that the future is going to be all right and much like with the gay rights movement its just another aspect of social change and will get better over time, probably not in our lifetime but in time. My own family two generations ago were devout roman catholics, my grandparents less so, my parents, easter and christmas catholics. Myself, atheist and unafraid. My kids will have their choice in the matter unlike my parents or their parents.
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