Brian McLaren, "Two Kinds of Religion," and #OccupyWallSt

I was reminded today of a quote from author and public theologian Brian McLaren that has fresh resonance in the wake of the Occupy Wall Street protests:

There are two kinds of Christianity, along with two kinds of Islam, Judaism, and every other religion and non-religion too: one of social control and one of social transformation; one to hold people down, one to lift them up; one an opiate to pacify people into compliance, the other a stimulant to empower people to imagine a better world, a better future, a better life — giving them the courage to live in peaceful defiance of violent, corrupt, and greedy powers-that-be. Neither kind is perfect, and both kinds contain good and sincere people. But if those who use God and religion for social control are left to define faith, the religion they define will be a false one, an ugly one, an idolatrous one.

Which kind of religion does your church, synagogue, Temple, mosque, or community of faith represent?

What kind of religion is God calling you toward?

The Rev. Carl Gregg is the pastor of Broadview Church in Chesapeake Beach, Maryland. Follow him on Facebook ( and Twitter (@carlgregg).

About Carl Gregg
  • asdf

    There is only one Islam which is of social control. That is how it started as – reflects the personality of the founder Prophet Muhammed. That FBI training lecture is partly rightly in claiming that it is a tribal cult.

    Obviously later on, since human beings have goodness, they tried to re-interpret it for social transformation.

    But,clearly they haven’t succeeded, nor are they likely to. Since it’s all codified in the Quran and the Hadiths.

    • Carl Gregg

      I appreciate your interest in my blog, but your comment is both historically misinformed and borderline Islamophobia. I would point you toward contemporary examples of hope for a more progressive Islam such as Eboo Patel, a former Rhodes scholar with a doctorate in the sociology of religion from Oxford, who is the founder of the Interfaith Youth Core, an organization in Chicago that unites young people of different religions to perform community service and explore their common values. His story is told in the important book “Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, in the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation” ( For the past and future, see Reza Aslan’s book, “No god but God (Updated Edition): The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam” ( There are many other great resources out there, but these are two strong places to begin.