What Really Happens When Americans Stop Going to Church

What Really Happens When Americans Stop Going to Church

Daniel K. Williams at The Atlantic examines the effects of declining church attendance, finding that Americans become even more entrenched in their politics when they stop attending services. While some churches have a reputation for hyper-politicization, affirming a denomination’s broadly shared values and being part of a religious community with others — including others with different political views — can be depolarizing. For millions of Americans, leaving those communities can lead to the nation’s political system becoming their church. Earlier this year, a PRRI/Brookings survey measuring Christian nationalism found that nearly half of Christian nationalism adherents rarely, if ever, go to church.


Four Million Enroll in Biden’s Student Loan Repayment Plan Ahead of Payment Restart

Katie Lobosco for CNN reports that more than four million people have enrolled in President Biden’s new student loan repayment plan, known as SAVE. Student loan payments are scheduled to resume in October for the first time since March 2020. The SAVE plan is available to most people with federal student loans and can lower borrowers’ monthly payments, calculating them based on income and family size, instead of how much student debt they have. President Biden initially proposed canceling up to $20,000 in student loan debt, but the Supreme Court struck down the program in late June. PRRI finds that Americans with household incomes below $150,000 per year (22%) are more likely than those with incomes above $150,000 (14%) to be concerned about their ability to pay their student loan debt.


QAnon 2.0, The Sound of Freedom, and the Rise of MAGA Vigilantism

Robert Guffey at Salon writes that whatever the original intentions of the filmmakers, the “Sound of Freedom,” with its central plot of combating child abuse, arrived in theaters as a thinly disguised QAnon recruitment film. Jim Caviezel, the star of the film and an evangelical Christian, has said he believes in QAnon’s  central myth: that innocent children are being kidnapped by Satanists and harvested for a chemical used to keep the privileged elite forever youthful. To muddy the waters even further, some Republicans are openly connecting QAnon theories to immigration policy, blaming the Biden administration for “creating the largest child trafficking ring in U.S. history.” According to a PRRI survey, one in four Republicans believe in QAnon conspiracy theories.


Tracing the Origins of American Racism as a Path to Healing

In a review of The Hidden Roots of White Supremacy and the Path to a Shared American Future published at The New York Times, Ned Blackhawk considers PRRI President and Founder Robert P. Jones’ argument for locating the roots of American racism in the Doctrine of Discovery. By contextualizing recent attempts at racial healing within a broader history of injustice and moral failure, and avoiding the Black/white binary, Jones shows how countless Indigenous and African American lives have been irrevocably harmed and how government leaders at every level have failed to offer sufficient commemoration, repair, or justice throughout the past five centuries. Blackhawk concludes that while our past defies easy judgment, confronting the truth of our history is a compelling, necessary, and urgent undertaking.


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Register for a conversation on Robert P. Jones’ new book The Hidden Roots of White Supremacy and the Path to a Shared American Future tonight at 7 PM, online or in-person, here.