Of course, it wasn’t always this way. There was a time, maybe even as recently as the early 1990s, when to support the Republican Party was not altogether evil. And further back, of course, things were even more different. As Garrison Keillor once reminisced, Republicans used to be:
moderate, business-minded civic boosters and unapologetic patriots who were the linchpins and bulwarks of small towns across the Midwest, the enthusiastic backers of projects for the civic good, usually in partnership with the town liberals (the librarian, the bar owner, a lawyer or two, the Methodist minister, the banker’s wife). These Republicans were uniters and diehard optimists and persons of compassionate conscience, inveterate doers of good deeds.
Even today, there are probably some Republicans who still fit that description. The problem is that they are for all practical purposes invisible in American public life, and if their party found out about them, they would be hounded out of it. If they dared to compete in the lunatic talent show of Republican primary politics, they wouldn’t stand a chance.The reason that you cannot be a Republican and a Christian is that today’s Republican Party doesn’t appear to stand for anything but what Christ strenuously rejected, like organized violence, self-righteous division, and greed. To say the least, this is hard to square with Christ’s teachings and example. I am not a Christian, and I’m certainly no Biblical scholar, but you don’t have to be. It’s not hard to tell the difference between who is and isn’t really a Christian, and Republicans, you’re not.
• In Christ, we’re talking about someone who said turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:39) and that all those who take the sword will perish with the sword (Matthew 26:52).
Religious construction is down–way down–in the U.S. over the last decade or so. New religious buildings and additions to existing structures will total an estimated 10.3 million square feet this year, down 80% from 2002, according to Dodge Data & Analytics.
But that overall decline doesn’t mean every denomination and faith has stopped building new houses of worship.
The Catholic Church and many mainline Protestant denominations are shrinking, according to the decennial U.S. Religion Census conducted by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) shed 22% of its adherents between 2000 and 2010, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America shrank by 18.2% over the same period and the United Church of Christ saw its ranks decline by 24.4%.
It makes sense that many shrinking congregations wouldn’t be in a position to embark on ambitious construction projects. But other faiths are seeing strong growth. The estimated number of Muslims in the U.S. rose by 66.7% between 2000 and 2010, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints grew by 45.5%, according to the census.
Those congregations would be ramping up construction as their memberships grow. Amosque-building boom, for example, more than doubled the number of purpose-built U.S. mosques between 2000 and 2011.