President Bush said yesterday that he senses a "Third Awakening" of religious devotion in the United States that has coincided with the nation's struggle with international terrorists, a war that he depicted as "a confrontation between good and evil."
Bush told a group of conservative journalists that he notices more open expressions of faith among people he meets during his travels, and he suggested that might signal a broader revival similar to other religious movements in history. Bush noted that some of Abraham Lincoln's strongest supporters were religious people "who saw life in terms of good and evil" and who believed that slavery was evil. Many of his own supporters, he said, see the current conflict in similar terms.
"A lot of people in America see this as a confrontation between good and evil, including me," Bush said during a 1 1/2 -hour Oval Office conversation on cultural changes and a battle with terrorists that he sees lasting decades. "There was a stark change between the culture of the '50s and the '60s -- boom-- and I think there's change happening here," he added. "It seems to me that there's a Third Awakening."
While I'm not entirely sure I would go so far as to say I agree this is another Great Awakening, it is fair to say that religious expression has become more common in the aftermath of 9/11. It's perfectly understandable that religious expression would become more prevalent in a time of crisis.
Eutychus' Window seems equally skeptical but makes a good point about the religious divide in this country:
It's been my conviction for some time that the great divide in our nation
isn't simply a political divide, or a divide between ideologies, or a cultural divide alone. The chasm that divides the nation is primarily a spiritual one. The major divide in America is between people of faith and radical secularists. The divide is between those who look to God and who incorporate their convictions into their opinions and their lives, and those who consider that the material world is all there is. The secularists rage over the influence (which appears to be growing) of faith and religious convictions in our national life. Secularists accuse the "religious right" of wanting to set up a theocracy as oppressive as the Taliban.
Secular materialism, on the other hand -- a worldview that rejects God and religious teachings in general -- has a poor track record when it comes to the affairs of men and nations. While the secularists appeal to what they view as "enlightment," to the elevation of reason, knowledge, and tolerance, history has shown that when the reality of God is dispensed with, and the belief that life has no special origin and no special purpose, and that man is accountable to no one but himself, mankind spirals down into chaos and unimaginable inhumanity and brutality. While secularism claims for itself enlightenment and tolerance, secularists are appallingly ignorant of religious conviction and are intolerant of people of faith.
Something has to give in this struggle between faith and secularism, and if I understand the signs of our times correctly, faith has the momentum at the moment, because what the secularists have to offer isn't enlightenment and tolerance, but nihilism. And the "weapons" of our struggle, because it's a spiritual struggle, are the resources of the Spirit -- praise, worship, prayer, and revealed truth. This struggle certainly shows up in the battles of the "culture war," and within our political contests, but the struggle is, primarily, spiritual in nature. And it's still unclear which viewpoint will emerge as the dominant one.