Millionaire and Duck Dynasty commander Phil Robertson is last of a dying breed. [Map via the Washington Post]

Millionaire and Duck Dynasty commander Phil Robertson is last of a dying breed. Religiously affiliated people are plummeting, and it’s not surprising that Phil Robertson’s clan and their fundamentalist quackery is mostly relegated to the south.
[Map via the Washington Post]

The Catholic church (blue) and Southern Baptists (red) dominate the map below, which marks the religion with the largest number of adherents in every American county. Blanketed red, the Bible Belt is alive and well. Members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in orange can lay claim to a smattering of Midwestern and Western counties, while Mormonism (gray) is, unsurprisingly, the largest religion in every Utah county and in chunks of Utah’s neighboring states.

DUCK DYNASTY patriarch Phil Robertson could use a sit-down session with Pope Francis I, who recently dumped “didn’t retain” Cardinal Raymond Burke, former Archbishop of St. Louis, because he was most noted for railing against marriage equality and abortion rights. Subjects that Pope Francis has directed should not be the main concern of the Church over administering to the poor and the faithful who need guidance and spiritual leadership.

As someone who began my life as very religious, through my mother’s guidance, I’ll never forget the moment when everything began to shift for me. I was studying philosophy in college, my teacher a one-time assistant to Albert Camus, when in one class we began excavating the struggle between faith and doubt. The importance of spirituality in my life is one reason religion is always a topic in my books, including in my next one, as well. There is nothing that can impact a relationship more than religious collisions, along with money and sex.

I long ago moved to a more enlightened path as a member of the “frozen chosen,” albeit a rebel Episcopalian, whose leading female bishop believes abortion isn’t the Church’s business, and marriage equality deserves to be a guiding Christian light, whether you, personally, agree with it or not. Today, for me, it’s daily meditation. It is at Christmas when I have missed church the most, the singing of carols in church, though I simply can no longer limit my spirituality to the paucity of what organized religion offers. New age connection offers much more freedom, expanse of thought, as well as experiments in meditative miracles that you have to experience to appreciate.

Religion in America today is moored in politics and capitalism, which is just one reason Pope Francis has made such waves, while also revealing the hypocrisy and destructive message of so-called Christians like Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson.

Louisiana’s lieutenant governor says the Duck Dynasty reality TV show is important to state tourism “” and he could help connect the Robertson family with new producers if they cannot reach agreement with the A&E cable TV network. [USA Today]

As someone born and raised in Missouri, it’s hardly surprising to see a photo of a Joplin, Missouri man standing for a picture in front of the Duck Commander store, which is posted over at the Daily Mail. My brother Larry, and my father, were born in Joplin, and the Reagan right didn’t much care for my brother’s Republican politics that included the philosophy that conservatism included staying out of the private lives of people.

Phil Robertson’s latest ramblings are hardly surprising, but it is very fitting that a klieg light Christian like the Duck Dynasty patriarch would be more concerned about keeping the bright lights on him, rather than speaking to the plight of the poor. Speaking to the Daily Mail, his comments continue to stir the pot for the extremist fundamentalist wing of religious zealots everywhere.

Then reading from the Bible he said, “˜The acts of the sinful nature are obvious. Sexual immorality, is number one on the list. How many ways can we sin sexually? My goodness. You open up that can of worms and people will be mad at you over it.

“˜I am just reading what was written over 2000 years ago. Those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom. All I did was quote from the scriptures, but they just didn’t know it. Whether I said it, or they read it, what’s the difference? The sins are the same, humans haven’t changed.

“˜If you give them the bad news, they’ll start kicking and screaming. But you love them more than you fear them, so you tell them.

“˜A lot of times they don’t even wait for you to finish and say, “˜But there’s a way out, do you want to hear the rest of the story or what?

“˜Jesus will take sins away, if you’re a homosexual he’ll take it away, if you’re an adulterer, if you’re a liar, what’s the difference? If you break one sin you may as well break them all.

“˜If we lose our morality, we will lose our country. It will happen.

The poor and the least among us aren’t as important as dividing people on so-called “social issues,” which is really just a clever way for the fundamentalist right to spread their bigotry and misogyny, without having to take responsibility for what their views do to people. That it’s none of Robertson’s business what an American does in the privacy of their own life, a place that is not his concern, never occurs to him. Phil Robertson is the poster boy for social engineering, Christianist style.

The Duck Dynasty crew is reportedly going to start stumping for Republicans in 2014. What an opportunity for Democrats.

It will be a test of the most committed bigots and patriarchal traditionalists versus those who want to insure the uninsured, as well as help the poor and the working class get a living wage by raising the minimum wage. That’s an argument worth having, but whether the fundamentalist extremists can be beat in a midterm election is unknown, because zealots always come out when it’s about denying equality to LGBT and women, while ignoring people and children suffering in hard times.

See the Republicans on unemployment benefits, with Democrats running a classic Christmas ad during the holiday season trying to guilt Republicans into walking their Christian talk. Good luck with that, especially since Rep. Paul Ryan has doubled down on his idea to cut military pension benefits, instead of carving defense contractors’ fees.

Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson, who is a very rich man, as is his clan, doesn’t care about equal freedom and opportunity for those with whom he disagrees, and he’s not particularly worried about the poor. He’s a traditional fundamentalist who’s proud of his bigotry and his arrogance, because he actually believes, is convinced, that he speaks for God.

In the 21st century era, the good news for modern people is that the diatribes spouted by the Duck Dynasty millionaire only speak to a small sliver of the 300+ million Americans, which now includes more non-denominational people who are spiritual than at any time in our history. It’s also why Pope Francis is the best thing to happen to Catholics since well before the priest sex abuse scandal.

Among Americans ages 18-29, one-in-four say they are not currently affiliated with any particular religion. […] While those Americans who are unaffiliated with any particular religion have seen the greatest growth in numbers as a result of changes in affiliation, Catholicism has experienced the greatest net losses as a result of affiliation changes. [Pew Research]

Phil Robertson represents a dying breed. He may be around for a while still, and will have a voice on A&E and elsewhere, which is how it should be in a market driven media, where capitalism wins the day. Watch him and his clan while you can. There will be fewer and fewer like him in the decades to come.

That’s the good news out of this story, which we could be living with throughout 2014.