There was a time when religion dictated what was right. Even if you were a self proclaimed atheist, agnostic with no particular religious allegiance, certain behaviors and morals were rooted in the religious influence in the society’s values. And for many of those societies, the religion was the glue that held them together when everything else seemed to fail or was out of control.
When the barbarians were ransacking Western Europe during the 4th and 5th centuries, it was Roman Catholicism that held the course while Rome’s emperors and conquerors came and went. When the Middle East came under the power of the European nations during the early 20th century, it was Islam and Orthodox Christianity that helped those people maintain their cultural identities and not become entirely assimilated. This is a role that has not been able to be replaced.
Lately this trend seems to have changed. In western cultures today, religionists have greatly modified their language and practices to maintain a social voice when there’s a complaint of prejudice or judgment. Where once it was the church that acted as the moral policeman, being the first to protest public immorality or voice open opposition, now that voice has become largely muted; reduced to emphasizing ‘God is love’ or ‘our religion is about peace’. It’s former role now taken by activists groups. It wasn't just religion either that was growing tamer, but every major political, entertainment, and economic institution began mastering silver-tongue techniques to make some of their positions more palatable to us.
In the 1990’s and early 2000’s, we coined a phrase for this behavior: political correct or ‘pc’. Being religious was now called being spiritual. Being a black person was transformed into being African-American, or for that matter anything-American depending on what your ethnicity was! Only the few evangelists, right wing groups, and church leaders dared say anything that was not remotely capitulating to the pc status quo. This resistance is mirrored in the Middle East somewhat by the violent actions of fundamentalists and extremists resisting what they see as corruption by western culture and the injustice and immorality it perpetuates.
For the past fifty years, the society has begun to determine what was acceptable for itself, rather than religious institutions. And at the turn of the century, it evolved from self-determination into determining what was acceptable for religion, at least if it wanted to continue to have a relevant voice. A new generation of apologists like Lee Strobel and Darrel Bock, came to age defending their beliefs as being misappropriated and not being truly followed but somehow corrupted.
This may sound like I am opposed to this turn of affluence. This is not entirely true, and many would argue that given their darker tendencies in the pasts, religions needed to be put in their place and their social power checked. However, it is worth noting that the very religions that secularists try to tame started out the same way they did. Voices in the wilderness against what they thought was wrong, that eventually turned them to activists, that eventually became the status quo and sought to put their ungodly enemies under heel.
I am not saying mainstream religion becoming politically correct is neither right nor wrong. It is a social and global phenomenon that plays a large role in the ebb and flow of our world today. Secularist activist and left wing progressives may celebrate the taming of institutions that once kept them under heel, but like the religions before them, they too risk becoming the very thing they fought against.