What conservative churches & liberal churches have in common today

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More from Kenneth L. Woodward’s Getting Religion:  Faith, Culture, and Politics from the Age of Eisenhower to the Era of Obama. . . .

Movements take place outside of denominations, so one legacy of the dominance of “movement religions” over “embedded religions” is the erosion of denominational distinctives.  There is thus a new ecumenism among both liberal and conservative churches.

In contemporary Christianity, liberals have their ecumenical movement; conservatives have their para-church organizations.  Both of which minimize the differences between theologies and denominations, creating a least-common-denominator, de facto  type of Christian unity.

There are other areas in which conservatives “both countered and paralleled” the liberals (p. 141).  Both invested heavily in politics.  The liberal churches have been promoting liberal and leftwing politics.  (See the mainline denominations’ convention resolutions.)  The conservative churches have been promoting conservative and rightwing politics.  (And getting criticized for it by people oblivious to how the liberal churches have become far more politicized and were doing it long before there was anything like a “Christian right.”)   [Read more…]

Are evangelicals responsible for Milo?

1806225034_50df5b8ba4_oHow did the gay, profane, iconoclastic Milo Yiannopoulos get to be a poster child for conservative Republicans?  Was this due to a surge of pro-gay tolerance?  Or have conservative Republicans lost their moral compass?Ben Howe, writing in the Atlantic, blames evangelicals, especially evangelical leaders who taught that Donald Trump’s moral failings should not prevent him from getting their followers’ support.  These evangelicals used to hold politicians to high moral standards.  But in their zeal to support Trump, they have become moral relativists, at least when it comes to politics.  If morality and politics have nothing to with each other, Milo presents no problem.Now the question is, will evangelicals and this new breed of Republicans take the next step of separating morality from government?  Have they already?

Consider Howe’s argument after the jump.  He is writing from an openly anti-Trump position.  I doubt that he would criticize Milo’s gayness.  I would think that he would laud the evangelical leaders who have been giving him a pass.  But does Howe have a point anyway?  Do you see an error in his reasoning?  Didn’t Milo get taken down by a moral reaction? [Read more…]

Democrats lost because they raised religious liberty fears

2519766036_d988be0058_zThe reason the Democrats lost, argues David Bernstein in the Washington Post, is that their words, actions, and policies made large numbers of Christians afraid that their religious liberty is in jeopardy.  So even though they had major qualms about Donald Trump, they voted for him in large enough numbers to give him the victory.

Bernstein’s point, I believe, is that Democrats wouldn’t have to threaten religious liberty to meet their major policy goals.  The country could have gay marriage without punishing those who don’t believe in it.  The country could have legalized and insurance-subsidized abortion without making religious people pay for it.  LGBT folks could have legal rights and find acceptance–probably more acceptance– even if they made some accommodation to religious sensitivities.  And yet, Democrats threatened and demonized Christians, oblivious to the fact that this meant that a very  large percentage of the American public would not be voting for them.

Read Bernstein’s analysis after the jump.  Is he describing you? [Read more…]

“America needs a religious right”

New York Times Ross Douthat offers a defense of the Religious Right.  In fact, he argues that America needs a religious right in order to save conservatism from its own darker impulses.

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What about the Christian left?

A listener whose religious beliefs make him a political progressive asked NPR’s Danielle Kurtzleben why we always hear about the Christian right, but seldom hear about the Christian left.  Read her answer, after the jump, and then consider the points I make. [Read more…]

Non-denominational vs. confessional evangelicals on politics

Jacob Lupfer makes the observation  that non-denominational evangelicals tend to support Donald Trump, while “confessional evangelicals” (those committed to a specific theology) tend not to.

These are generalizations about leaders who are vocal about the election, not poll results of rank and file members.  But his lists of partisans on either side (see his article after the jump) hold up.

We confessional Lutherans are counted as “evangelicals” in surveys, based on our belief in the gospel of Christ and the Bible, though we are different from others in that camp.  We would doubtless count in the use of that term as “confessional evangelicals.”  As evident in our blog discussions, some Lutherans fiercely support Trump and others fiercely oppose him.

I don’t know how a majority of confessional Lutherans will come down on the election.  Because Lutheran confessions teach the doctrine of the Two Kingdoms, which distinguishes between the political and spiritual realms, there may be more political diversity among Lutherans.  Many confessional Lutherans are on the political left and many are libertarians.

But what would account for Lupfer’s observation?  Why would “mere Christians” support Trump, who himself makes some pretty strong distinctions and has a forceful ideology?  You would think that those who reject denominational distinctives and think all Christians should get along wouldn’t be attracted to Trump’s exclusive kind of nationalism.  And why would Christians with a distinct and forceful theology be so opposed to him?  You would think that these Christians often branded as “intolerant” would like Trump’s exclusive political ideology.  Somebody please explain this.

[Read more…]