Stainedglassnicholaskammafpgetty

The latest survey of American religious life reveals who's been winning the mother of all culture wars:

It's a reminder to exercise a little skepticism when you hear of America’s religious exceptionalism. Yes, America is far more devout than most of western Europe; but it is not immune to the broader crises facing established religion in the West. The days when America’s leading intellectuals contained a strong cadre of serious Christians are over. There is no Thomas Merton in our day; no Reinhold Niebuhr, Walker Percy or Flannery O’Connor. In the arguments spawned by the new atheist wave, the Christian respondents have been underwhelming.

As one evangelical noted in The Christian Science Monitor last week, “being against gay marriage and being rhetorically pro-life will not make up for the fact that massive majorities of evangelicals can’t articulate the Gospel with any coherence”.

The quality of the Catholic priesthood has also drifted downward: the next generation of priests is more orthodox, but also more insular and less engaged with the wider world. There are a few exceptions: the 29-year-old orthodox Catholic Ross Douthat has just won a treasured opinion column slot in The New York Times. But he is sadly an exception that proves a more general rule. American Christianity may be stronger in some pockets, but it is dumber too. In the end, in the free market-place of ideas and beliefs, that will count.

The rest here.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.