Ross Douthat, complementing recents posts from us and Russell Moore, provides a broader sociological perspective regarding the pope’s alleged moderating tendencies. In Western religions, liberal elements have withered while conservative congregations have continued to grow. The confessional middle, as we might call it, simply doesn’t hold. In an increasingly secular world, accommodative theologies are just pointless. Might as well join UNICEF or the United Way or the ACLU if your church is acting just like them. Douthat, himself a Roman Catholic, doubts that Francis is really moving in that direction.