When World magazine, an evangelical Christian publication, reported last week that Dinesh D’Souza, the outspoken conservative and president of the King’s College, a small Christian liberal arts institution in Manhattan, had checked into a South Carolina motel with a woman who was not his wife, the first obvious question was how a smart man could do something so ill-considered.
And given that news reports said Mr. D’Souza’s college was financed by the Campus Crusade for Christ, an evangelical Protestant group, a second question arises: How did a Roman Catholic become president there?
After all, traditional evangelicals think of Catholicism as idolatry, the papacy as an abomination. Had nobody at the King’s College heard of the Reformation?
L’Affaire D’Souza — the news media affair, not the romantic affair, which Mr. D’Souza denies — is further evidence of the decline of denominational importance in American Christianity. Catholic or Protestant, or which variety of Protestantism: the particular theology is less important in 2012, for many Christians, than a church’s style of worship or its politics. Typical for many of his generation, Mr. D’Souza, it turned out, had journeyed from one religion to another, disregarding boundaries that once mattered.
According to a Pew Forum survey released this month, 30 percent of American adults under 30 have no religious affiliation, compared with only 10 percent over 65. Nancy T. Ammerman, a sociologist at Boston University, said Wednesday that this was more a “decline in participation in organized religion, not a decline in denominationalism.” She said that nearly all Christian groups had been hit by declining attendance.
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