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  1. #1
    MayDay Coriolis's Avatar
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    Default The Future of American Christianity

    A recent opinion article attributes the decline in Christian affiliation and church attendance at least in part to a backlash against the "Christian right", especially among young people.

    While prominent progressive Christian voices exist, too often the loudest voices in American Christianity often sound nothing like Jesus — the radical healer and teacher who taught his followers to love their neighbor and free the oppressed. The "Jesus Saves" signs at the US Capitol insurrection, Franklin Graham and Marjorie Taylor Greene's excoriations of LGBTQ rights and the US Catholic hierarchy's abysmal response to the sexual abuse scandal all make a mockery of Christian teaching about love, dignity and justice.
    Recent legislation on the state level such as that allowing doctors to refuse to treat LGBT patients on the basis of religious conviction seems to run contrary to the example of Christ himself. The actions of many who claim to be Christians often fail that test of "What Would Jesus Do?" (WWJD) once popularized on everything from t-shirts to jewelry to coffee mugs.

    This decline isn't limited to Christianity:
    Consternation about church decline and the secularization of America reached a fever pitch this Holy Week when Gallup released a new poll that found a majority of Americans do not belong to church, synagogue or mosque. This was the first time the membership percentage fell below a majority since Gallup first started asking the question in 1937.

    These findings are troubling to many. "This is perhaps the most distressing graph related to the future of America," Eric Sammons, editor-in-chief of the conservative Catholic Crisis Magazine wrote on Twitter, adding, "We are officially living in a pagan nation."
    It is worth observing that paganism is a religion, too, but that's not the point here. The author continues with the hope (wishful thinking?) that:
    This Easter, I hope my fellow Christians who deeply care about the future of our movement to spread the Gospel of love will recommit ourselves to build a movement that more people want to join. We must contest the popular depiction of what it means to be a Christian today. Church decline is not a rejection of our message of love, it's a rejection of our movement's failure to model that message for the world.

    . . . we as Christians should not look for the living Jesus movement among the dead remains of conservative Christian hate that looks nothing like the love Jesus embodied. Instead, we should look forward to a resurrection of Christianity that fights system oppression and stands in solidarity with the most vulnerable. We should look for the living of the Gospel among America's youth today. Alongside their relative lack of formal religious devotion, today's young Americans are known for their commitment to social justice.
    Even in our threads here, people have bemoaned the bad name some Christian groups give to the faith. It is hardly surprising that some people are driven away by that. Is tapping into the desire for social justice of American youth the way for Christian churches to be revitalized?

    Thoughts?
    Let us go together to that Sea of Stars.

  2. #2
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    Even in our threads here, people have bemoaned the bad name some Christian groups give to the faith. It is hardly surprising that some people are driven away by that. Is tapping into the desire for social justice of American youth the way for Christian churches to be revitalized?

    Thoughts?
    Well, it's a good point. It's late and I don't have the mental acuity right now to wax on about it, but yeah -- I think if American Christians actually didn't obsess over abortion and anti-LGBT sentiment and trying to remake America into a "Christian nation" legally (by their definition) and instead tapped into fighting against racism, oppression, poverty / oppression by the rich, getting people a living wage, and all that jazz... well, hell, yes, that is a message that would resonate to people in their 40's and younger. Most of them can't even afford to get married, buy a house, pay off their education loans, and have children anymore -- Christianity is going to have to actually dig down and find the "rubber meets the road" instead of trying to legislate theocracy and doctrinal stances they get stoked about.

    It's really ironic. Christianity in trying to "save the country" is going to lose it because they are just trying to control things harder and harder; meanwhile, if the followers would loosen up, focus on where people are and what they need, view them as people rather than as targets for conversion, and help those people with everything they have, then they are much more able to make Christianity look enticing and valuable. "The faith that seeks to save its life will lose it" so to speak.'

    People haven't become "immoral," they have a strong morality they feel like the church doesn't care at all about, based on actual love of others.
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    Haunted Echoes Red Memories's Avatar
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    This is my post reminder to come back to this as a young 20-something Christian who left organized church I gotz an essay worth of thoughts.


    After all,
    How can you run from what is inside of you?
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    Terpsichore Abcdenfp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Totenkindly View Post
    Well, it's a good point. It's late and I don't have the mental acuity right now to wax on about it, but yeah -- I think if American Christians actually didn't obsess over abortion and anti-LGBT sentiment and trying to remake America into a "Christian nation" legally (by their definition) and instead tapped into fighting against racism, oppression, poverty / oppression by the rich, getting people a living wage, and all that jazz... well, hell, yes, that is a message that would resonate to people in their 40's and younger. Most of them can't even afford to get married, buy a house, pay off their education loans, and have children anymore -- Christianity is going to have to actually dig down and find the "rubber meets the road" instead of trying to legislate theocracy and doctrinal stances they get stoked about. It's really ironic. Christianity in trying to "save the country" is going to lose it because they are just trying to control things harder and harder; meanwhile, if the followers would loosen up, focus on where people are and what they need, view them as people rather than as targets for conversion, and help those people with everything they have, then they are much more able to make Christianity look enticing and valuable. "The faith that seeks to save its life will lose it" so to speak.' People haven't become "immoral," they have a strong morality they feel like the church doesn't care at all about, based on actual love of others.
    ^^^^ exactly.

  5. #5
    Armchair Explorer Doctor Anaximander's Avatar
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    I blame evangelists. They brought this on themselves

    They have the crudest, most rigid interpretation of scripture I’ve ever experienced. It goes hand in hand with political authoritarianism and materialism. I’ve rarely met one with an ounce of imagination, curiosity or intelligence, and if I did, they usually ended up eventually leaving religion or converting to a denomination like Unitarianism or Episcopalian. One split off to form his own ministry in the city that actually worked to help the poor and homeless get a leg up.

    Sorry if I just repeated the obvious. I’m at work and will read the article later.
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    Armchair Explorer Doctor Anaximander's Avatar
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    Also, for all the right wingers’ complaints of leftists virtue signaling, in my experience it’s been fundamentalist Christians who tend to make the biggest show of signaling their supposed selflessness and charity to everyone in ear shot or everyone reading their social media feeds. That’s pride and vanity in a nutshell.

    Your church knit a few scarves for the homeless? Great. Good for you, I see a lot of people liked your post about it on Facebook
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    A recent opinion article attributes the decline in Christian affiliation and church attendance at least in part to a backlash against the "Christian right", especially among young people.



    Recent legislation on the state level such as that allowing doctors to refuse to treat LGBT patients on the basis of religious conviction seems to run contrary to the example of Christ himself. The actions of many who claim to be Christians often fail that test of "What Would Jesus Do?" (WWJD) once popularized on everything from t-shirts to jewelry to coffee mugs.

    This decline isn't limited to Christianity:

    It is worth observing that paganism is a religion, too, but that's not the point here. The author continues with the hope (wishful thinking?) that:


    Even in our threads here, people have bemoaned the bad name some Christian groups give to the faith. It is hardly surprising that some people are driven away by that. Is tapping into the desire for social justice of American youth the way for Christian churches to be revitalized?

    Thoughts?
    Was there an LGBT movement in Jesus day? I wonder if he would have been familiar with any of the behaviour of homosexuals let alone the others who make up those movements, I do wonder what Jesus would make of a lot of the normative struggles and culture wars which are typical of the american scene presently.

    I do know that there are plenty of examples of Jesus in conflict with the authorities of his day, his teachings were entirely consistent with much of the tradition into which he was born but they also transcended it, I see it as a kind of conflict between a chaotic-good/neutral-good and lawful-good authority, there is the imperial occupation as a background but that is mainly it.

    At the heart of Jesus teaching I think there is a perennial truth, the greater the formal law, the greater the need for enforcement, then the weaker the conscience or consciousness of what is right.

    I think there are important lessons in that for those who are making greater and greater recourse to legal sanction in order to bring about their own personal and private morals, norms, mores as a public new world order. It will fail. If it does not then the likely end point will look very different from the hoped for one. And this time there will be no messiah to provoke any rethink or second thoughts on the matter.
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  8. #8
    Armchair Explorer Doctor Anaximander's Avatar
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    I do know Jesus wasn’t aftraid to mingle with prostitutes and the supposed dregs of society. He likely would have responded similarly to the lesbian or trans kid excommunicated by their church in the 21st century.
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  9. #9
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    There's nothing new in this to be honest, I also think some of the conflating with political causes is regrettable, highly regrettable, as while there are temporal dimensions to most belief systems the spiritual is not the temporal. Jesus was pretty clear on that point. Repeatedly so actually. Its something I know has been endlessly considered by liberation theologians in my own tradition.

    I dont think that it is simply religions which are considered at their worst rather than at their best, unfortunately I see most of religion's detractors or most of the possible alternatives repeating the faults, failings and well trodden paths of the supposed precursor (if you believe the linear progress idea).

    The history of socialism is pretty sobering as an early attempt at finding a substitute, Marx thought that philosophy was the substitute, as did a lot of his contemporaries, after Hegel, and they largely thought that religion would vanish in their life time or the life time of their immediate grandchildren. It didnt. Instead the new movements took on A HELL OF A LOT of the traits of the older earlier, critically appraised, ones, Engels devoted books to it, Karl Kautsky, a marxist philosophy, wrote a history of chirstianity, so did Bernstein, an early democrat and revisionist of marxism.

    Its part of why I got so interested in psychology, typology and psycho-analysis, the seems to be something else working itself out which is deeper seated and politics, culture, norms, conventions, the works are all vassels, vehicles and flags of convenience for it. At least its my take. So far as christianity goes, I think Kirkegaard wrote a lot of good stuff about being a Christian contra formal, official, established Christendom, although in a much less secularized context, the priests he criticized really where officials, civil servants or aparratniks in his society.

    Personally, I think the LGBT movement is in its ascendency, just as other movements once were, protestantism, liberalism, socialism/communism, neo-liberalism, neo-conservatism and I expect they'll royally fuck things up exactly how their precursors did, no lessons will be learned in the process, either by themselves or by their opposition and the wheel will turn again. This is not even the pseudo-hegelian thesis, antithesis, new synthesis playing out and I'm not even sure its demography cycling either. Its just a mess.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Memories View Post
    This is my post reminder to come back to this as a young 20-something Christian who left organized church I gotz an essay worth of thoughts.
    I've found that much as people may complain on organized anything it is usually preferable to the unorganized or "spontaneous" varieties. At least there is an authority to respond to complaint in the former, usually, no matter how illegitimate you may consider it to be or have actually found it to be.

    That said I'm very clearly neutral/lawful in my outlook, I always preferred castles to caravans.

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