08 December 2005

the saudi arabia of christendom

I had a very interesting conversation with a couple of customers last week. They're the kind of customers that never buy anything, but you have to meet up with them and feed them now and then because just in case, they ever bought something it would huge.

Anyway, we were talking about the holidays coming and religion, and the subject of Christianity in the U.S. came up. One of the guys is from Southeast Asia, the other from Central America. They commented that the U.S. is viewed as one of the most religious countries in the world - on par with Saudi Arabia. Hmm. That got me thinking about how many times people I have met or my friends/relatives overseas have made this comment over the last 5-10 years (also pre-W). I have been lucky enough to travel widely, so I have a pretty representative sample.

I thought about it more, because I was always under the impression that South American countries were far more religious than we are. Then it dawned on me, the context of these comments: we have power in the world and wield it.

During the Clinton blow-job-gate, so much of the rest of the world was saying "so she gave him head under the desk, big deal". We were viewed as being prudish and I supposed associated with being religious. I agree about the blow-job part, but he lied under oath, mind you, and that is unacceptable and trashed him in my book.

Then over the last 5-6 years, the rise to power of the Religious Right has really reinforced a view of us as being very religious.

If you think of five of the world's largest religions, what country do they evoke (regardless if they are secular or not) and do they stand on the world's stage?

Hindu: India: Yes, mostly regional power
Judaism: Israel: Yes, mostly regional power, global philosophical to other Jews
Islam: Saudi Arabia: Yes, global, economic and philosophical to other Muslims
Buddhism: Thailand: Not really
Christianity: this is where i go "duh?"

Now I realize it is us. This bothers me. And the religious element's views are slowly creeping their way into our secular system, making it not-so-secular anymore. So maybe we are becoming the Thailand of Christendom, on our way to being a Saudi Arabia of Christendom.