"The churches that require members to hold definite doctrinal beliefs and to share common moral commitments are more likely to grow." This according to Al Mohler, head of Southern Baptist Seminary explains why conservative churches are growing and why liberal churches are declining. But there's a problem here. Mohler doesn't seem to recognize that liberal churches can also hold definite beliefs and share common values. And so he's unable to account for liberal religious groups which do grow.
The United Church of Christ did a study of churches which are growing within the denomination and discovered that having a liberal identity was a key feature of such churches. UUism has had consistent growth over the last 20 years, a group which despite its stated diversity, has a religious identity and shared values. While there is much schadenfreude in the right over mainline numbers, growth is not the result of being liberal or conservative, it rather flows from churches which have a sense of themselves.
The IRD has a humorous press release about a number of mainline religious groups which have supported the use of the filibuster against some of Bush's judicial nominees. If the issue is the religious committments of Bush's nominees how can dems be ok with mainline activism? Maybe because the issue is *not* over having religious committments. It's rather over the extremity of the folks Bush picked such as Brown who called social security a triumph of socialism and Pryor who called Roe an abomination.
Some groups are working to raise an alternative religious vision than that of the religious right. Building the Beloved Community has a bus tour starting this Sunday. It's called Breaking the Silence and it'll include rallies and events throughout the midwest including Chicago, Indianapolis, Columbus and Cleveland. If you're in the area check out the site, bring your friends, and show up. I'm going to attempt make it up to Chicago which coincides with the Rainbow/PUSH convention and some big name speakers.
Also wanted to highlight some websites. The United Church News has just set up an online newswire site. Some area churches in North Carolina has set up a website to advertize the fact that there are progressive religious communities in their area. This sounds like a good idea, especially in areas which most people think of as conservative, this sort of advertizing can do a lot of good. And Catholics for Free Choice has set up a pope watch which includes not just criticism but helpful constructive ideas for the church.