America is now a nation of 300 million souls, wielding more influence than any people in human historyâand yet 240 million of these souls apparently believe that Jesus will return someday and orchestrate the end of the world with his magic powers. This hankering for a denominational, spiritual oblivion is not a good bet, much less a useful idea.
And yet, abject superstition of this kind engorges our nation from sea to shining sea. Consequently, the rest of the developed world has learned to view America like a rich, southern auntie: She may be bumptious, bloviating, smarmy, and God-drunk, but sheâs got all the money; everyone is in her debt, and everyone is hoping that sheâll just shut up and go to sleep.
This is one of many short essays in The Atlantic Monthly‘s 150th issue, out now, on “The Future of the American Idea.” The complete essays are available online by subscription only.
Curiously, The Atlantic editors also invited “Left Behind” author Tim LaHaye to pen a piece about the religious beliefs of our Founding Fathers.