If one wants to understand why it seems as if religion has changed in this country, has been captured by the right, a number of issues would need to be examined. But this chart summarizes well one of the factors: the decline of the mainline and the growth of evangelical protestant groups. Of course what would be interesting is to pair this chart with the number of Americans who have ceased to identify with a religion all together. I suspect you'd find the numbers rise as religion is largely understood to be under the province of a certain conservative agenda.
One reason which has been given for such a situation is that people desire certainty. As Wesley Blog writes "People want absolutes and they want to hear leaders who speak authoritatively." A recent piece on how evangelical churches are growing while the mainline are shrinking in New Hamphsire hit upon the same theme. But what if the world is constituted in such a way as to prevents us from having such certainty? Is religion doing people a favor by giving them what is not rightfully had?
There was some flap over the women's division of the Episcopal Church, specifically the content of their website. And because tactics change little it should not be surprising that the right has also been looking at the Presbyterian Women's Ministry website only to discover that it is "out of line with the Bible and with the Confessions of the PCUSA." Deborah Milam Berkley, who pinned this piece happens to be the wife of Jim Berkley, head of Presbyterians for Renewal and the person who brought up the charges against Jane Spahr for her blessing of a same sex union.
And now for some good news pieces. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has called for conservatives opposed to homosexuality to stop using inflammatory words against gay and lesbians. I don't think it will change the rhetoric but William's leadership on this issue is still important. The Dutch Reformed church of South Africa apologizes for it's treatment of gay and lesbians. It's one of my hopes that such a thing will start taking place in this country. And Progressive Christian has been wrestling with a number of important questions from historical critical scholarship of the Bible to evangelism. A new site for me to add to the blogroll.