Sideways glance

I have some news for you that may come as a shock – the Bible Belt has been lost.  And it happened right under your nose.

The belt, that once stretched from coast to coast, first shrank.  The erosion began on one end of the country (guess where) and continued to shrink, collapsing inward from the other end of the country (guess where), tightening the belt in a vice-like grip forcing it to shrink smaller and smaller.  Fat with success and giddy with their newly available playtime, modern-America never even noticed that the belt was being lost.  We began to accept as the norm, more and more, what the Bible taught us not to do – substance abuse, lying, marital infidelity, sexual immorality.  Today the Bible Belt is a mere sliver running through the heartland of our country.  It happened so gradually, we never even saw it coming.

So who’s to blame for the loss of the Bible Belt?  Several are to blame including politicians.  America’s two-party system evolved to one that offered a choice between (1) decent morals with big-business freedom to behave however they saw fit and (2) more freedom to do what we want with the added advantage of a hero to reign in big business practices that may harm “the little guy”.  The two parties once worked together to solve the country’s problems but in more recent times, their focus shifted from their constituents to “politics simply for the sake of politics”.  When our wallets ached or uncontrolled big-business behavior became too unbearable, we gave in and voted for the one that would take care of the 99% – regardless of the erosion of morals that we knew could result from our choice.

Religious leaders share the blame too.  Satan is not a two-bit dolt.  After all, he tricked the first two humans on Earth with consequences that still impact the human race today.  In more modern times he took the direct route – he stepped right through the front door of the church (and we thought Adam and Eve were naive).  Church leaders gave in to temptations and fell from grace and oh, how the medial loved it, spotlighting stories of church corruption on the front pages of their newspapers.  In some cases, sexual deviancy of the most horrid kind slipped into our sanctuaries.  And the devil just smiled – Adam and Eve were solid rock compared to our modern-day weak-kneed complacency.

As a result, we began to distrust our church leaders, many of us giving up on church entirely even when it was obvious that the attack on our faith was coming, indirectly, from outside our church walls.  Large churches sprang up preaching to massive glazed-eyed audiences, greed took over, and money was squandered.  We lost even more trust in our church.  When the offering plate passed by we wondered, “Where does all that money really go?”

And finally, you must shoulder part of the blame too.  You rolled your eyes and looked away from the problem, as if shielding your eyes and accepting a moment of blindness would allow the problem to take care of itself.  As our morality shrunk, we began to avert our eyes even more, ignoring the problem, pretending it did not exist.  We began skipping church on Sunday, maybe to watch an “important” football game.  We began to think of Sunday as a day to rest before the work week began anew, taking God’s commandment to rest on the seventh day a bit too literally.

All it would have taken to keep the Bible Belt would have been to retain our faith, continue to attend church, and follow what we know is right.  It would not have been that hard.  We could have been martyrs simply by continuing to honor our faith.  Much less was demanded from our forefathers who after all, truly paid the price for our modern-day easy-living.

Can it be corrected?  Yes, but it won’t be easy.  How can it be corrected?  By an army of believers working through the list above – in the reverse order (yes, that means the first step begins with YOU).  Will it be corrected? Only if we stop rolling our eyes and looking away, ignoring the assault upon our faith.

How to win the Bible Belt back:

  1. Recognize the Bible Belt is shrinking and take active steps to win it back – regain your faith.
  2. If a church appears to be abusing their power, call them on it.
  3. Demand leaders that support your moral values and call them to task if they fail to meet your expectations.