I came across an interesting article concerning Kentucky. Apparently 1 in 3 adults in the state are unchurched. But with all the talk about sharing the gospel and stepping up evangelism by religious leaders in the piece, what interested me was the responses of folks who no longer identify with the church and the faith:
One couple was said to value universal religious ideals such as helping the needy, but they are turned off by what they see as intolerance. Several said they are turned off by churches that preach that homosexuality is sinful and that only Christians are going to heaven."My division from religion came when I could not sit in catechism and believe that little kids in Africa were condemned" said Ruth Fister of Louisville, who sat knitting scarves at a long table with other self-proclaimed agnostics and atheists.
I don't think it's a coincidence that the folks not identifying with a religion has climbed as fast as the increase in evangelical and conservative churches. I could agree with everything these folks who were estranged from the church said, but I found a home in mainline Protestantism, where I could value religious pluralism and the contribution of gay and lesbians to the church. But as Christian faith is now largely identified with a set of right wing politics and a certain evangelical belief structure, many are finding themselves cut off from the faith.
So now the mainline should know what it's mission field is. There are hopeful signs, such as the UCC ad campaign. But there are discouraging signs, such as the cutbacks in campus ministry by denominations like the Presbyterian Church. And then there's this story by blogopotamus about how impossible it was to find mainline churches in Des Moines who would advertize their Christmas services or make any room to be accessible for seekers.
I also wanted to advertize a few sites. For some reason I thought Heretic's Corner had bowed out but the site is active with a number of thought provoking posts. For deconstructing the claims of evangelicals and seeking to present a liberal religious alternative there's the blog I'm a Christian Too. And there's Fundamillenium, a site which has linked me, and I haven't had a chance yet to return the favor.