As Religion Recedes, America’s Culture Wars Are Apt to Become More Intense

Many Western liberals hold fast to a version of what sociologists call the “secularization thesis,” which goes something like this: as science and knowledge progress, people will shed religion (or, at least, certain forms of religion) along with other prejudices, grow more enlightened, and become increasingly tolerant of racial differences, homosexuality, abortion, and other things. There is plenty of evidence the U.S. is becoming less religious, but the result appears to be that people are deviating further from the ideals of the liberal secularists. Thus, for instance, extreme-right anti-Semites—including self-styled “Christian nationalists”—tend to come from the ranks of the unchurched. Daniel K. Williams comments on the broader phenomenon. (Free registration required.)

Even as early as 2014, the Pew Research Center’s Religious Landscape Study found that 30 percent of self-identified Southern Baptists “seldom” or “never” attended church—and that was before the “great de-churching” accelerated after the disruptions of the coronavirus pandemic. The exodus of millions of Americans from churches will have a profound influence on the nation’s politics, and not in the way that many advocates of secularism might expect. Rather than ending the culture wars, the battle between a rural Christian nationalism without denominational moorings and a northern urban Social Gospel without an explicitly Christian framework will become more intense.

Only half a century ago Christian denominations acted as politically centrist forces. Southern Baptists such as Jimmy Carter and Al Gore ran politically moderate campaigns that appealed to their fellow church members on both the right and the left, and devout Catholics such as then-Senator Joe Biden could still combine relatively moderate positions on abortion with a liberal-leaning Catholic social ethic to win Catholic votes. But those days are disappearing.

Denominations and church commitments once preserved a set of broadly shared Christian moral values that transcended the right-left divide, but now that some of the loudest supporters of Christian nationalism have left these denominations behind, there is little to stop them from refashioning the Christian faith in their own image, with potentially heretical results.

Read more at Atlantic

More about: American politics, American Religion, Christianity

Despite the Toll of War at Home and Rising Hostility Abroad, Investors Are Still Choosing Israel

When I first saw news that Google wasn’t going through with its acquisition of the tech startup Wiz, I was afraid hesitancy over its Israeli founders and close ties with the Jewish state might have something to do with it. I couldn’t have been more wrong: the deal is off not because of Google’s hesitancy, but because Wiz feared the FTC would slow down the process with uncertain results. The company is instead planning an initial public offering. In the wake of the CrowdStrike debacle, companies like Wiz have every reason to be optimistic, as Sophie Shulman explains:

For the Israeli cyber sector, CrowdStrike’s troubles are an opportunity. CrowdStrike is a major competitor to Palo Alto Networks, and both companies aim to provide comprehensive cyber defense platforms. The specific issue that caused the global Windows computer shutdown is related to their endpoint protection product, an area where they compete with Palo Alto’s Cortex products developed in Israel and the SentinelOne platform.

Friday’s drop in CrowdStrike shares reflects investor frustration and the expectation that potential customers will now turn to competitors, strengthening the position of Israeli companies. This situation may renew interest in smaller startups and local procurement in Israel, given how many institutions were affected by the CrowdStrike debacle.

Indeed, it seems that votes of confidence in Israeli technology are coming from many directions, despite the drop in the Tel Aviv stock exchange following the attack from Yemen, and despite the fact that some 46,000 Israeli businesses have closed their doors since October 7. Tel Aviv-based Cyabra, which creates software that identifies fake news, plans a $70 million IPO on Nasdaq. The American firm Applied Systems announced that it will be buying a different Israeli tech startup and opening a research-and-development center in Israel. And yet another cybersecurity startup, founded by veterans of the IDF’s elite 8200 unit, came on the scene with $33 million in funding. And those are the stories from this week alone.

But it’s not only the high-tech sector that’s attracting foreign investment. The UK-based firm Energean plans to put approximately $1.2 billion into developing a so-far untapped natural-gas field in Israel’s coastal waters. Money speaks much louder than words, and it seems Western businesses don’t expect Israel to become a global pariah, or to collapse in the face of its enemies, anytime soon.

Read more at Calcalist

More about: cybersecurity, Israeli economy, Israeli gas, Israeli technology, Start-up nation