According to the 2001 American Religious Identification Survey, 80% of the U.S. is Christian. The percentage has always seemed high to me (especially when driving SoCal freeways), but demographic studies like this and this seem to support those figures.
This could explain why Rep. Pete Stark’s profession of non-belief was such big news. The Secular Coalition for America, an association of eight atheist and humanist groups, offered a $1,000 prize to the person who could identify the “highest level atheist, agnostic, humanist or any other kind of nontheist currently holding elected public office in the United States.” Apparently, they found their man.
What’s more shocking to me, however, is not that there’s a professing non-believing politician, but that so many of our politicians consider themselves Christian.
Okay, so I’m being judgmental. But the statistics just don’t jive. Especially when you look to the Bible as the arbiter of what it means to be a Christian. And maybe that’s our problem. We don’t.
Anyway, the stats took another hit when I stumbled upon The Secret in our local Costco. Call me out of touch, but it’s the first encounter I’ve had with this “ground-breaking,” “life-changing,” gazillion-raking new work. Far be it from me to not want to know How to Attract Prosperity and Create Harmonic Wealth Through Proven Principles. I’m big on “harmonic wealth.”
The website calls it
. . .The Great Secret of the universe. It has been passed throughout the ages, traveling through centuries. . . to reach you and humankind. This is The Secret to everything – the secret to unlimited joy, health, money, relationships, love, youth: everything you have ever wanted.
Zoinks! That’s a tall order! Everything? I’ve got this ugly growth on my. . . never mind.
Yet the key to The Secret’s success appears to be less its contents, than it’s handlers. Enter O. Yep, the Queen of Daytime Talk has studied, scrutinized and heartily endorsed “The Great Secret of the universe.” The result? Cha-ching!
Needless to say, there’s nothing “secret” about the info in this book. It’s rehashed, regurgitated gnosticism. In Oprah’s Ugly Secret, Salon columnist Peter Birkenhead roundly criticizes the omelette of overused ideas. The way I look at it, after the James Frey debacle, Oprah is playing it safe. I mean, you can disprove facts about people’s past (ala Frey). But how can you disprove “the secret to unlimited joy, health, money, relationships, love, youth: everything you have ever wanted”? It’s a no-brainer.
The sad thing is that, not only does Oprah have Christian roots, she postures herself as a friend of the religious. It is not a stretch to suggest that Oprah Winfrey has become, for many Americans, an incredibly influential spiritual leader. So here’s my question: If 80% of Americans are Christians, and the Secret is a mishmash of gnostic, non-christian, humanistic, fluffy self-help principles, who’s reading all these books?
We’ve one of two options: Either 80% of Americans ARE NOT really Christians, or the type of Christians they are is a big Secret.