In the book, Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics, Ross Gregory Douthat traces the degradation of Christian religion in America through the decades following the Second World War. He challenges the idea that we are no longer a religious nation or a non-religious society and points out that, “America’s problem isn’t too much religion, or too little of it. It’s bad religion: the slow-motion collapse of traditional Christianity and the rise of a variety of destructive pseudo-Christianities in its place.” It is not that we no longer believe, it is a question of what we believe. “At the deepest level, every human culture is religious—defined by what its inhabitants believe about some ultimate reality, and what they think that reality demands of them.” In the past, it was common to hear people say, “I know it’s wrong, but I’ll do it anyway”. Now, it has become easier to erase the concept of right and wrong by redefining our religious believes by what we want the truth be rather than defining our lives by what the truth really is.
We should not be surprised that we are where we are; after all, we did not arrive here overnight. As we look at the years following World War II, we see a time that America was growing and prosperous. No longer were we praying the prayers for daily bread that were heard during the Great Depression. No longer were we praying for peace and the safe return of our children from the ravages of a world war. We thanked God for our good job, nice family, two-car garage, and the American way of life. For many, there was no need to pray at all. Wealth and power brought security both for now and for the future. Did we really need God anymore? Well of course we did…how else would we get to heaven. Besides, we were America, the greatest nation on earth and blessed of God. We could not get too radical about God; just enough to keep getting blessed and make sure we would go to heaven. We did not abandon God, we just redefined the gospel. Along came the next generation. Sensing the emptiness of their parent’s religion, they continued to redefine what was real and true. The rabbit hole runs deep. Oh what to do!
We must get back to a truly Christian America. We must elect Christian politicians who will make Christian laws to make us a great nation once again. Surprise, that doesn’t work either. “The Bush administration ultimately became a case study in the limits of winning elections as a means to achieving religious and cultural change.” We continue to look outside of the Church for the cause of our despair. “The religious mistake has been to fret over the threat posed by explicitly anti-Christian forces, while ignoring or minimizing the influence that the apostles of pseudo-Christianity exercises over the American Soul.”
We must look inside the Church and inside ourselves. It would be convenient to cast the blame at the feet of secular society, but that will change nothing. “Every argument about Christianity is at the bottom an argument about the character of Christ himself, and every interpretation of Christian faith begins with an answer to the question Jesus posed to his disciples: ‘Who do you say that I am?’” This is the question we must answer in our lives and in our churches. Jesus did not pose this question to secular society, he asked it to one of his closest followers. Only when we, as followers of Jesus, define our answer based on who he is rather than on who we want him to be, will we moved beyond bad religion and become the people and Church we were created to be.
 Ross Gregory Douthat, Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics (New York: Free Press, 2012), 3.
 Ibid., 2.
 Ibid., 136.
 Ibid., 4.
 Ibid., 152.