A Religious Liberal Blog

This site hopefully can provide some vehicle by which I can comment, complain, and once in a while praise the state of religion in this country and around the world from a liberal protestant perspective.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004


Philocrites highlighted an interesting article in the American Prospect. It's a chronicle of how the left has lost the art of associated living where there is people to people interactions, which build the sort of relationships where by change can occur, and hearts and minds can be changed. There was the trade labor movement and the church, but with the decline of the labor movement and the loosening of ties of religion and neigbhorhood, there is little which connects us with one another.

At the same time, with the rise of the evangelicalism, churches have acted as just this form of association among those on the right, connecting them to the greater community. How did the church become to be seen as the domain of the right in the first place? There does appear to be a snowball affect. As religion is now largely seen as conservative, the possibility of liberals being attracted, what less staying in the church continues to decline. And the more it declines, the more faith is associated with the right and so the cyles goes. But what started the cycle?

Two-thirds of those born between 1946 and 1964 who were raised in the mainline Christian denominations left the churches in which they were raised. Some went to evangelical churches. Most simply left the church, working on their own path. One can imagine that if they had remained in the church, the dynamics of American religion would look quite different then it does today. What churches were left behind? The ones whose values and ideas could play in terms of a progressive vision for this country. As one article notes:

These were congregations and denominations that were open to science and said one could believe in God and learn from Darwin. These were groups that emphasized the place of reason in faith. They were in the forefront of the civil rights movement and gave a priority to civic involvement and social justice. They prized tolerance and respect for other religions.

If those with liberal values, want to have that level of community. If they'd like to see religious faith which is open to science, to other religions, committed to questioning as well as social justice. If they are not associated with another religious community and are open to working with others on the big questions of life and meaning with the use of Christian images and stories then maybe mainline Protestant churches are something to take a look at again. Maybe this is one way in which the language of faith can be learned anew. If millions of Americans became involved with the mainline again, the dynamics of religion would take quite a turn.

That was my shameless plug for the mainline. But something which is important is the groups folks are contributing to for the relief of those suffering from the Tsuanmi disaster which has killed almost 80,000 people in Asia. The death toll could skyrocket even more because of the possibilities of disease. Without clean water, respiratory and waterborne diseases could break out within days, putting millions at grave risk according to UNICEF. Some trusted groups which are doing good work on the ground include UNICEF, Doctors Without Borders and the Church World Service.

3 Comments:

At 11:45 AM , Blogger Mumcat said...

As I fit into the age group you mentioned, I'll throw my 0.02 in.

I left the Southern Baptist Church at age 19 for the Episcopal Church so I went rather more "mainline" than a lot of folks. I was drawn by the liturgy, the beauty, the introspection rather than the emotion I'd been accustomed to. And nobody was railing at me every Sunday about how sinful I was and how much I needed Jesus. I liked being able to think, not just follow directions.

Looking at our congregation, lots of them have come from something else -- I'd say only about 1/5 - 1/10th of them are cradle Episcopalians which leaves the remainder as converts. Many are former RCs but there are a number who, like me, came from more conservative churches. So I think when one wants to consider the drain from the mainline churches, one also has to consider the infusion of new blood into those same mainline churches.

 
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