It’s Not Only America; Is Christianity Imploding Worldwide?

Brett Alan Williams
6 min readMay 15, 2022
Church: Kelly Boon on Wiki Commons, Lightning: NOAA on Unsplash, combined by the author in GIMP

In Seven Truths Trump Taught the World, we asked here, “What is a Christian? Complex as that answer can be, might we simplify it as one who at least attempts to practice the teachings of Christ?… But as the world has witnessed of America since 2016, David Hume’s assessment has been validated: ‘the highest zeal in religion and the deepest hypocrisy, far from being inconsistent, are commonly united in the same individual.’” In Are We Witnessing the Collapse of American Christianity? We found just half of America’s young people identify as religious, and over a third of Americans identify as nonreligious, a four-fold increase in 30 years. We looked at the most well-known scriptural verses and compared them not to people’s self-professed “devotion” but to their actions. Adding to the implosion, as Billy Graham Center director Ed Stetzer said on the BBC, some Christians are replacing Christ with Trump’s-affiliated QAnon, which 4 in 10 “Republicans” believe in. “Gullibility is not a spiritual gift,” says Stetzer. As Baptist News Global’s Jeff Brumley wrote, “evangelical support for a scandal-ridden [Trump] could spell the end of Christianity in the United States.” It’s not science, reason, or liberals that threaten American Christianity most, not widespread pedophilia in the Catholic priesthood, sexual predation by or against Nuns, nor abuse by Southern Baptist clergy. It’s the wanton betrayal by the flock themselves. Betrayal not hidden or embarrassing to a specific sect of American Christians, it’s a badge of honor. Their party is more important than Christianity. But the U.S. is not alone.

In his strongest words to date against the pro-war leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, Pope Francis slammed him for endorsing Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. “I spoke to him for 40 minutes via Zoom,” the Pope said. “The first 20 minutes he read to me, with a card in hand, all the justifications for war. I listened and told him: I don’t understand anything about this. Brother, we are not clerics of state, we cannot use the language of politics but that of Jesus.” Pope Francis warned Patriarch Kirill, not to become “Putin’s altar boy.” Kirill back’s Putin’s war crimes against Ukraine the way Trump does. Putin is “some peacekeeper,” Trump said. “He’s a genius. Smart, very smart.” So we’ve seen, with Ukraine’s ass-whipping of Putin’s Army and self-inflicted collapse of his economy. With 70-percent of Russians identifying as Orthodox Christian, Putin has lauded religion in Russia the way his counterintelligence Guns & Bible Campaign did the same for Trump-supporting Christians in the U.S. when Russian spy Maria Butina suckered the NRA and penetrated the Republican Party. In Putin’s Russia, the church is a tool of the State, as it is in the U.S. for Trump.

In an interview on PBS Newshour’s documentary Inside Russia, Russian Orthodox Arch Priest Ivan Garmisch said, “the only way to be a true Christian is to be a true Russian. The State and my faith are united. They can’t be separated. The values of the church and the State coincide.”

So, forget Mark 12:17; don’t leave to Caesar what is Caesar’s.

Coming from a nation where orthodox priests bless Russian weapons, this should be no surprise.

“Putin,” says Garmisch, is “a religious man and he takes part in the divine worship.” Like Trump, who held up a Bible as he stood beside a church for a photo op after unlawfully clearing peaceful protesters there. And yet Trump can name no verse, no book, no prophet in the Bible. Like Garmisch kissing missiles, theater for the tavern. Pretend belief is close enough.

In Russia, Father Garmisch regularly blesses brigades of Cossacks — once the Czar’s henchmen — who believe Russia should be governed by tradition, not the rule of law. And like Trump-Christians beating his opposition at Trump rallies, the good Christian Cossacks act as vigilantes for Mother Russia, hospitalizing those who disagree with Putin.

Surely a thrill to Father Garmisch and Patriarch Kirill, Putin bombed Ukrainian civilians throughout Easter.

In Brazil, the slogan among Christians used to be “Believers don’t mess with politics.” But in the 1970s, Brazil’s economy and politics began to crumble. Economically up and down, rife with corruption, with and without dictators, people wanted order. As Chayenne Polimédio writes in the Atlantic, “Brazil’s evangelicals came to recognize their new strength: Democracy is a numbers game. And their own numbers were growing,” while nonmilitant, mainstream Christians shrank.

In 1985, in the city of Anápolis in the rural state of Goiás, the leaders of the Assembly of God, a popular evangelical church, announced they would begin supporting candidates to run for office. The new slogan was “Brother votes for Brother.” Participation in politics by major Pentecostal denominations was a reversal in the faithful’s approach to politics. By 2016, with skyrocketing violence, record unemployment and constant political scandals, Brazil spiraled into chaos. On May 12 of that year, a leader of the Assembly of God baptized in the Jordan River a lifelong Brazilian radical and political outlier by the name of Jair Bolsonaro; though he claims to be Catholic, baptized at birth. As Polimédio writes, “This was [Bolsonaro’s] most important act in formalizing his relationship with Evangelicals that he spent the early part of this decade cultivating… Bolsonaro placed his political fortunes in the hands of the evangelicals. Brazilians find Bolsonaro’s nostalgia for military dictatorship and even his disdain for democracy appealing, [able to unify] Christians sympathetic to a law-and-order governing style.” With our insurrection party’s redefinition of “law and order” as its opposite, we in America know what that means. Again, like Putin’s “divine worship,” Trump’s Bible pose, or Bolsonaro’s dunk in the Jordan, it doesn’t take much to convince those who don’t need convincing. Sounding like Trump’s authoritarians who “love the Constitution,” as Bolsonaro said, “You can’t change anything in this country with voting and elections.”

What Paul Waldman wrote of Trumpers applies to those above, “Trump taught them that shamelessness can be a kind of superpower. If you don’t care whether journalists (let alone your political opponents) point out your lies, then you have been liberated. And if you stop caring what anyone except what your most committed supporters believe, then not only can you ignore the truth, in the Republican’s case, you have to… lying is not only permitted but mandatory.” So much for Ephesians 4:25: “We no longer lie to one another. We only tell the truth.” Lies become the only way to compensate for one’s own betrayals; the only way to feel belonging when belonging is dead because the religion we once belonged to has been wrecked from the inside.

To watch prayerful humans parade their faux-faith alongside their normalization of violence, immorality, and fantastical conspiracies is to see the chaotic spiral of incongruities that must attend the disassembly of every once-inspiring system of order. This is what the ancients saw. The unraveling of their beliefs as forerunner to their civilization’s dissolution, vanishment, Dark Ages.

With these worldwide examples, perhaps Pope Francis would agree, we’re not talking about casual sinners here. These are apostates. Loathers, if not of Christ, certainly of his teachings because political power matters more.

And yet, while Christianity continues its decline in the U.S., worldwide numbers of self-identified Christians might not change much. Russian Orthodox Putin-worshipers will still claim to be Orthodox. Brazilian Bolsonaro-idolizers will still go to church. And 82% of Trump supporters who claim to be Christian will blatantly betray Christ for political power. They can’t conceal what they’re doing. They make Christianity a farce, a sham, surely an embarrassment to Christ, levied against him by “Christians” themselves. These are cults with a twist. Claiming to be one thing, acting as another.

But this view is one-sided. In a world of over 2-billion Christians, there are those who practice the ethical aspects of their faith, are faithful to the Teachings, and many more who try. These are the people we don’t hear about. Whatever their fraction of the whole, compared to what we do see, they appear to be in desperate retreat, losing to their radical brethren.

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Brett Alan Williams

Physicist / artist / author writes about science & religion, art & culture, philosophy & politics with an edge. On Medium, Goodreads and TheFatherTrilogy.com