How Are the ‘Disengaged’ Destroying America?
Southern Evangelical Seminary President Dr. Richard Land Says Internet Culture Feeds Disengagement and Provides Only ‘Junk Food for the Soul’
CHARLOTTE, N.C.—Primary elections with significant consequences will soon begin in states around the nation, and many already know how they will cast their votes. New research from George Barna at the American Culture and Faith Institute finds that those in the middle—the tiebreakers who won’t show up—will be the deciding factor.
This “disengaged” segment, Barna says, is “destroying America.”
Southern Evangelical Seminary (SES, www.ses.edu) President and Evangelical leader Dr. Richard Land can’t help but agree—and has some further insights on the disengagement plaguing America.
“I share George Barna’s frustration,” Land said. “It has been apparent for some time now that basically about a third of the nation is conservative (predominately Republican), about a third is liberal (predominately Democrat) and about a third are the people who decide our elections—the ‘mushy middle,’ or what Barna calls the ‘disengaged.’ And it is clear they are more often the least interested, the least involved and the least informed. So when they vote, they often vote for shallow and half-baked reasons. This has been a continuing source of frustration to the engaged, both left and right.”
Barna goes on to report that the disengaged make up two key segments. The first is those who have moderate views—i.e., obstinate ambivalence—on both politics and theology (31 percent of the adult population). “They will not take stands on the important issues of the day, from immigration to abortion, from the veracity of the Bible to the role of Jesus Christ in modern life,” Barna says. The second segment is people who are not registered to vote and pay little attention to political news and information (21 percent). “Rather than work through the garbage and distortions in the pipeline, the disengaged retire from the game altogether,” Barna adds. Read the full study here.
“The internet culture feeds this,” Land continued. “Research shows us that these people disproportionately tend to operate in a virtual electronic culture instead of engaging in the real culture. Unfortunately, instead of using the internet to inform themselves of the issues, they use it as an entertainment narcotic—what Neil Postman called ‘Amusing Ourselves to Death.’ And the problem is getting worse. Recent research also shows there is a direct correlation between how much time young people spend on their screens and how depressed they are—the more time on screens, the more depressed; the less time, the less depressed.”
Why? God created human beings in His image as social creatures.
“He made us for fellowship with Him and with each other,” Land said. “Our virtual relationships are not real relationships. They are like junk food for the soul, providing temporary fulfillment but no nutritional value. Barna’s research is yet one more wake-up call that something is seriously amiss in our culture, and it’s not going to get better by itself; if anything, it will get worse.
“We as Christians have been called to be the salt of the earth and light of the world, and that means providing the Gospel, which is health food for the soul, and will inevitably, if internalized, cause people to engage emotionally and spiritually with their neighbors and their fellow human beings.”
Land recently delved into this topic for his daily radio feature, “Bringing Every Thought Captive,” which airs on nearly 800 stations nationwide, as well as in a commentary for CNS News.
SES is in the midst of its new “Philosophy, Politics and Economics” program, with classes in the current session continuing through May 4. Additionally, the 2018 National Conference on Christian Apologetics, which will focus on the theme of “The God Who Is,” is set for Oct. 12-13. The seminary will welcome top thinkers, scholars, authors, apologists and scientific minds, including Ravi Zacharias, to its 25th annual conference, which will be held at Calvary Church in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Read more about Southern Evangelical Seminary and SES President Dr. Richard Land here.