To the editor: Urban hubs in the traditionally religious South now tend to serve as progressive laboratories for social change, notably seeking to liberalize laws on rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. But the South’s rural-influenced state governments oppose that trend as contrary to biblical values shared by most of their constituents. (“The South’s new divide: Blue cities and red states,” April 20)
This odd turn runs counter to the co-evolution of human societies and human belief systems documented by cultural anthropologists.
In primitive times, when humans lived in small, close-knit communities where they knew everyone they interacted with, their deities were non-judgmental and unconcerned with regulating human behavior. As rural settlements evolved into cities, however, inhabitants began to encounter strangers, who couldn’t be trusted to abide by one’s own social rules.
The solution: City dwellers contrived all-knowing, punitive deities to enforce morality, as God-fearing strangers weren’t likely to do harm. Thus, God came to primitive cities’ rescue.
It’s ironic that rural Southerners now feel God has forsaken their cities.
Betty Turner, Sherman Oaks