Sound the Trumpets | Opinion | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Sound the Trumpets 

Taking a Gander: The Christian Right may be forced to evolve.

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Just about everyone—and certainly all Bible-toters—knows the Bible story of the grand city of Jericho. Its walls were impenetrable, and its defenders were well-provisioned. Living in a city with a pretty-much tamper-proof lid, no one in Jericho was particularly worried when Joshua and his army began a siege.

Of course, as legend had it, Joshua had a trick up his sleeve. He set out to do the impossible, and a pinch of divine direction put a new spin on things.

Clear back in grade school, my class learned the spiritual, "Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho," and the walls came tumbling down.

It was a really cool trick. Following their fearless leader, Joshua's troops marched around the city six times, while blowing their trumpets and raising a mighty cry. The key was super-high-volume sound. It was kind of like an opera star, breaking a crystal goblet with the harmonically tuned power of his/her voice.

Well, as the Bible says, Joshua's force repeated the effort once more. On the seventh day, they blew their trumpets for all they were worth, while the priests circled the city—groaning under the heavy weight of the Ark of the Covenant, which they'd been commanded to carry—and the walls of Jericho, did, indeed, come tumbling down. The amazing tactic worked—not so surprising, since it was a battle plan attributed to God.

As the story goes, God then commanded Joshua to kill every man, woman and child in the city. (One exception: The prostitute Rahab and her family, whose inside-job cooperation had preceded the conquest.) With Jericho's protectors totally eliminated, Joshua's forces plundered the wealth of the city, which was added to the coffers of the church.

It's a great story, though it's one of many biblical events that even devout followers largely regard as a charming legend.

Well, if noise can bring down a great city, perhaps a similar fanfare is shaking the walled home of America's right-wing religious zealotry. According to current trends, it appears possible that alliance between the religious Right and players from the Trump heyday could be headed for a fall.

Instead of the walls of a wicked city falling, though, it could be the house of cards where the religious Right has aligned itself with the most corrupt president—and ex-president—in America's history. And it's not Joshua and his bugle-toting army bringing the walls down; rather it's a new generation that may see beyond what was thought to be an invincible religious/political alliance.

While the old, white men of the traditional Christian churches continue their insensitive assumption that religions need not adjust their iron-clad policies, there's a crop of younger adherents who don't see things in the same way, and a proliferation of religious dissidence is growing. And, with the recent trend of youthful attrition from organized religion, it's not something that can simply be ignored.

Young people of today are exiting organized religions in record numbers—The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints included. Religions are noting the trend with concern—if not alarm. It's easy to see why. The inflexibilities of the old starched-shirt religious orders are creating anger in the young.

Birth control, endemic racism, and the need for clearer understanding of the LBGTQ community are issues not about rebellion or choice; they can't be given the simple label of evil. The perception young adults have of the unholy alliance between Donald Trump—who almost singlehandedly toppled our democracy—and Christianity are all factors creating the "noise" that could bring down the walls.

A key player with right-wing believers lately has decided that when it comes to racism at least, enough is enough. The Southern Baptist Convention—the largest protestant denomination in America—turned its back on its turmoil-laden leadership and voted a relative unknown, Ed Litton, as its president.

It was a major break from the right-wing grip that's endured from the beginning, and some view it as a harbinger for the end of the Christian Right cronyism that's contributed to the destruction of our country's democracy.

So, what caused this shift? The answer is the "noise" of the energetic younger generations who quite possibly see a disconnect between hardline conservative values and their own humanity.

As I see it, the younger people of our country are the ones with the louder trumpets and voices, and their pressure on the faiths-of-their-fathers is going to impact and bring down the religious Right's sycophantic relationship with the Republican Party's golden calf they've been worshipping.

The walls may not fall tomorrow, but the shake up with the Southern Baptist Convention is one to watch. The strong voices of the young and the disenfranchised could symbolize advance forces that crack the foundation of the Christian Right, evangelicals and the flailing Republican Party.

The author is a retired businessman, novelist, columnist and former Vietnam-era Army assistant public information officer. He resides in Riverton with his wife, Carol, and the beloved ashes of their mongrel dog.

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