Coming Apart Religiously

Ross Douthat has a post at the NYT with his take on the implications of the religious differences between the elite in Belmont and the working class in Fishtown.

I have much more to say about this in the book, but so far as Murray’s argument is concerned, I think that religious institutions are both one of the areas of American life hit hardest by elite self-segregation (you can’t pastor a church in suburban Buffalo from a corner office in Washington D.C.) and one of the few areas where it’s plausible to imagine his call for elites to leave their cocoons and live among the people actually being answered. Institutions are only as strong as their personnel, and the major religious bodies in the United States have struggled mightily since the 1960s to attract large numbers of the best and brightest (and, indeed, large numbers period) to the ministry. This isn’t just a Catholic problem — the Protestant denominations, which allow clergy to marry and often ordain women, have had the same difficulties drawing in and keeping talent — and it’s a hard trend to reverse: In the scramble for money and status that we call meritocracy, a career in the clergy offers little of the former (save to megachurch-builders) and less of the latter than it used to.

Read the whole thing.

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