Why IS liberal Protestantism dying, anyway?

Connor Wood

Empty Church

Liberal Protestantism is dying. Rod Dreher says so in a recent column in The American Conservative, and the statistics back him up: for decades, liberal and mainline Protestantism has been on the decline in the US, with some denominations (such as the United Church of Christ) losing adherents so quickly that their future is in peril. Meanwhile, more conservative and evangelical denominations have generally held their own, or even experienced growth (see graph below). But liberal Protestantism in many ways exemplifies the best of what religion could be: it’s tolerant of differences, non-judgmental, open to scientific knowledge. Good stuff, right? So why is it that the open-minded liberal churches are dying out? 

In his American Conservative post, Dreher – who’s recently published a memoir about rediscovering his roots in his small-town, religious Louisiana – suggests that the decline is partly because conservative Protestants are better at forming community and articulating a clear mission than liberals. This is almost certainly true, but it raises a further question: how exactly do conservative churches do a better job of forming community? Do they hypnotize their members? Brainwash them? Spike the Kool-Aid with mind-control drugs?

Source: SoWhatFaith.com.

Well, the first thing we have to realize is that conservative churches are almost always stricter than their liberal counterparts. They demand more investment, require their members to believe in more rigorous, exclusionary creeds, and don’t look kindly on skipping church four Sundays in a row to sleep in.

In the early 1990s, a political economist named Laurence Iannaccone claimed that seemingly arbitrary demands and restrictions, like going without electricity (the Amish) or abstaining from caffeine (Mormons), can actually make a group stronger. He was trying to explain religious affiliation from a rational-choice perspective: in a marketplace of religious options, why would some people choose religions that make serious demands on their members, when more easygoing, low-investment churches were – literally – right around the corner? Weren’t the warmer and fuzzier churches destined to win out in fair, free-market competition?

According to Iannaccone, no. He claimed that churches that demanded real sacrifice of their members were automatically stronger, since they had built-in tools to eliminate people with weaker commitments. Think about it: if your church says that you have to tithe 10% of your income, arrive on time each Sunday without fail, and agree to believe seemingly crazy things, you’re only going to stick around if you’re really sure you want to. Those who aren’t totally committed will sneak out the back door before the collection plate even gets passed around.

And when a community only retains the most committed followers, it has a much stronger core than a community with laxer membership requirements. Members receive more valuable benefits, in the form of social support and community, than members of other communities, because the social fabric is composed of people who have demonstrated that they’re totally committed to being there. This muscular social fabric, in turn, attracts more members, who are drawn to the benefits of a strong community – leading to growth for groups with strict membership requirements.

The evolutionary anthropologist William Irons calls demanding rituals and onerous requirements “hard-to-fake symbols of commitment.” If you’re not really committed to the group, you won’t be very enthusiastic about fasting, abstaining from coffee, tithing ten percent, or following through on any of the other many costly requirements that conservative religious communities demand. The result? Only the most committed believers stick around, benefiting from one another’s in-group-oriented generosity, social support, and community.

Other researchers have empirically tested Irons’s theory. In 2003, anthropologist Richard Sosis and psychologist Eric Bressler conducted a retrospective study of American communes in the 19th century. They searched for data about how strict those communes were – whether they demanded that members abstain from coffee, give up all their money to the commune, or even surrender their parental rights over their children (!). As the researchers expected, religious communes whose membership requirements were strict and demanding survived, on average, many years longer than those without strict demands.

Since then, Sosis has also demonstrated that religious Israeli kibbutz members are more generous in resource-sharing games than both secular, urban Israelis and secular kibbutzim. He argues that this is, in part, because demanding rituals – such as having to pray three times a day and study Torah many hours a week – serve as a signal of investment in the kibbutz community. The more rituals you participate in, the more invested you feel – and the more willing you are to sacrifice for your fellows.

But if your community doesn’t have any of these costly requirements, then you don’t feel that you have to be really committed in order to belong. The whole group ends up with a weakened, and less committed, membership. Liberal Protestant churches, which have famously lax requirements about praxis, belief, and personal investment, therefore often end up having a lot of half-committed believers in their pews. The parishioners sitting next to them can sense that the social fabric of their church isn’t particularly robust, which deters them from investing further in the collective. It’s a feedback loop. The whole community becomes weaker…and weaker…and weaker.

Which is too bad, because the theology of liberal Protestantism is pretty admirable. Openness to the validity of other traditions, respect for doubters and for skeptical thinkers, acceptance of the findings of science, pro-environmentalism – if I had to pick a church off a sheet of paper, I’d choose a liberal denomination like the United Church of Christ or the Episcopalians any day. But their openness and refusal to be exclusive – to demand standards for belonging – is also their downfall. By agreeing not to erect any high threshold for belonging, the liberal Protestant churches make their boundaries so porous that everything of substance leaks out, mingling with the secular culture around them.

So what if liberal Protestants kept their open-minded, tolerant theology, but started being strict about it – kicking people out for not showing up, or for not volunteering enough? Liberals have historically been wary of authority and its abuses, and so are hesitant about being strict. But strictness matters, if for no other reason because conservatives are so good at it: most of the strict, costly requirements for belonging to Christian churches in American today have to do with believing theologies that contradict science, or see non-Christians as damned. What if liberal Protestantism flexed its muscle, stood up straight, and demanded its own standards of commitment – to service of God and other people, to the dignity of women, and to radical environmental protection? Parishioners would have to make real sacrifices in these areas, or they’d risk exclusion. They couldn’t just talk the talk. By being strict about the important things, could liberal Protestant churches make their followers walk the walk of their faith – and save their denominations in the process?

Check out my research team’s survey website, ExploringMyReligion.org, for more about liberalism and conservatism in religion.

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  • Jim

    I like your interesting question about liberal protestants enforcing strict requirements on people. But that would mean that a central tenant of liberal protestantism would go away- tolerance to other traditions and a non-judgmental attitude towards different ideas. You can’t have exclusive standards or rigid membership requirements unless you actually have standards that you believe in that can be enforced across a community.

    Not long ago, I read a document that described the best things about being an episcopalian. It was one of those top ten style lists. One of the things on the list was a statement that was something like this: “Whatever you believe, you can bet another Episcopalian believes it, too.” Or…mostly anything goes. It’s hard to have rigid membership requirements when you have to preface every statement with, “This is just my opinion.”

  • connorwood

    > But that would mean that a central tenant of liberal protestantism would go away

    Yeah, I think you’re right – but I’m wondering whether a middle ground could be found. Conservatives are strict about believing in certain doctrines and participating in church. What if liberals were open regarding doctrine, but strict about participation? It might be ultimately not be doable, but it’s worth thinking about how to bring together the best of both worlds.

  • Jerry Lynch

    I know you are not limiting the possibilities of why either Protestant liberalism is declining and Protestatnt Conservativism maintaining or even growing to what you put forth in this piece. I think you know there are other and perhaps many reasons for this change.

    Move the light a little on the commitment to fasting and such and the need to suffer for God is there. It’s the belief in the bitter medicine being better. As written here recently, there also seems the need for a little bullying and shame, or what might be taken as the stern but loving father. Then there is also the unifying fear factor, not necessarily of hell but of a world gone seemingly mad and real threats to mortality: they are given a focus of what is wrong, and with that a sense of some control.

    Then there are the Big Sin issues of gay marriage and abortion, which their righteous indignation tends to gloss over their foibles and failings, lends the notion of doing something holy and gives something of a reassuring taste of the moral high ground. Plus the status quo, the heart of Conservatism, lends itself to fear naturally: a clinging to what one has and a suspicion of change.

  • Skip Johnston

    If the standard for a successful institution is the number
    of active noses counted, then I think those churches enforcing strict
    requirements and rigid dogma will always win. It seems there will always be a
    large segment of people who find comfort in being directed externally. Fewer
    are those who experience religion and spirituality as an internal drive.

    Years ago I helped lead a series of intensive Bible studies
    at a relatively liberal, mainline church. The studies required a 7-day a week
    commitment for 9 months. Our pastor said we would never attract more than 10%
    of the congregation. He was right. In fact, no one involved, could actually
    maintain the strict schedule for the entire period. We decided early on no
    negative reinforcement of attendance or fulfillment. No stigma was attached to
    sporadic participation or even dropping out. We did encourage the benefits of persistence
    and self-discipline, however. The studies fostered individual growth and the
    groups contained an amazingly wide variety of beliefs and opinions. The results were surprisingly cohesive groups
    that ended the 9-month studies looking forward to more.

    Again, this is not the way to maintain a massive movement
    with a consistent message. I’ve attended mega-churches with thousands in attendance
    at every event. This model has its place, I suppose. Yet I’ve never been as
    connected with others in a spiritual environment as I have in those small,
    internally directed groups.

  • Agni Ashwin

    I think, regarding American religion, immigration can not be excluded as a factor when explaining the decline in liberal Protestantism and the steady level of conservative Protestantism. If many of the immigrants are coming from Latin America, Africa, or Asia, then that might contribute to replacing some losses that would otherwise be experienced by the conservative Protestant groups. (It certainly explains why Catholicism in America has been enjoying rather steady levels.)

  • LogicGuru

    If you look globally you can see that in general educated people in affluent countries are giving up religion. The same is true in the US, so liberal churches, which have traditionally catered for educated, upper middle class urban people are dying. Note: people from these churches are leaving for conservative churches–they are dropping out of religion altogether. Evangelicalism has traditionally catered for the lower classes and lower class people, people in the Global South and othes who live in traditional societies are still religious. Moreover, Evangelical Churches have to some extent upgraded to attract the lower-middle brow. Secularism however is filtering down to the lower classes–see the statistics on the youngest group of Nones. And Evangelicals are leveling off. The Southern Baptists have been declining for a few years. And of course educated upper middle class people have fewer children. In the past when white trash moved up they left Evangelical churches for mainline churches. Now they stay because of the Evangelicals middle-brow rebranding. It isn’t the content–it’s class. And the global picture confirms that.

  • Harry Underwood

    What about ritual and symbolism? Do liberal Abrahamic religions/denominations lend themselves as well to innovations in high ritual and thick symbolism when ethics, social justice, equality and inclusion often become main focuses? And don’t conservative establishments retain their populations (or at least score with the Easter/Christmas/wedding/funeral crowd) because of the insistence upon unreconstructed ritual and symbolism combined with reactionary ethics?

  • tanyam

    Why don’t we? Because the medium is the message and if we act like bullies, with hard rules and clear “you’re in/ you’re out we’ve undermined our message. No matter how much “gets done.”
    Jesus had a bunch of slackers around him — and so it goes.

  • Charles

    Back in 1990 I visited Church of the Savior in Washington DC. Actually there were 7 branches of this Liberal Christian Church around the DC area, each organized around a particular mission emphasis – medical care to inner city poor, environmental issues, etc. To be a “member of these churches, you had to commit to tithe 10%, attend regularly, come up with or participate in someone else’s mission activity, and so on. I don’t think there were any doctrinal requirements. Each of the mission churches had a core group of “members” and probably 3 or 4 times as many interested and contributing non members. These churches were an often used model for what church should be. You could feel the commitment, family, excitement, devotion, presence of God in those communities. It can be done.

  • jainhimank9
  • brucechap26

    “Why is it (Liberal Protestantism) dying?” There are certainly a lot of factors to consider. Let me suggest that a tandem question helps get at part of the answer: “What does it offer?”
    -Ultimately you have to wonder: Why celebrate Christmas when you don’t believe in the Incarnation? Or Easter, when you don’t really believe Jesus rose from the dead?
    -How many people will keep attending because they just like the hymns or the scent of candles?
    -You want to be involved in a group that reaches out to the needy? Well, there are thousands of those these days, from Habitat for Humanity to the local Lions Club.
    -What do you mean when you state that you don’t like theologies that contradict science? If you are talking about cosmology, there are plenty of evangelical Christians who have no problem accepting both the historic Christian faith and the Big Bang model (Google Alvin Plantinga or Hugh Ross). Or are you are just repeating the old tripe about how modern people can’t accept the bible’s stories about miracles, blah, blah…?
    -You say you prefer Liberal Christianity because it practices tolerance. But are you confusing tolerance and acceptance? I can appreciate living in a pluralistic religious environment without having to create/embrace a pluralistic religion. Everyone has an equal right to believe what they want – am I really supposed to believe that, therefore, everyone’s beliefs are equally right?
    Anyway – it’s not really a matter of strictness. In the end, why keep going to hear a message that, in the end, must admit (or boast), that it essentially denies or wholly reinterpretss the original gospel message: Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life?

  • Michael Anderson

    The problem with Liberal Protestantism IS their theology. With ministers who have denied the miracles of the Bible, the resurrection of Christ, the virgin birth, the trinity, original sin, substitutionary atonement, and the like, they have left themselves with nothing unique to offer their adherents that they can not find in our secular culture. The church has lost its raison d’être. The evangelical churches are not growing because of their sociological attributes, but because they offer their members something to believe in that they can’t get anywhere else.

    Being pluralistic, tolerant, and pro gay is not unique to the Liberal Protestant church. Being concerned about social welfare and social justice is not unique to the Liberal Protestant church. Without a raison d’être the Liberal Protestnat church is doomed. Short of a theological reformation of returning to their Reformation roots, they are doomed to fade on the ash heap of history. Already in Europe we have seen the Liberal Protestant church become nothing more than a memory as great church buildings have become nothing more than museums.

  • Jz Jz

    What isn’t said in this article is more revealing than what is actually said. In a discussion about the decline of certain Protestant denominations vs. others, absolutely nothing was said about Jesus or or His teachings. It all had to do with sociology and psychology. While sociology and psychology are important tools, they don’t get at the heart of what it means to be a Christian – which is having a relationship with Jesus Christ and living that relationship out in your life.

    This gets to the heart of the problem with liberal Christianity. It doesn’t have Jesus and His teachings at its starting point. Jesus has been replaced by what this author describes as liberal Protestant values – “it’s tolerant of differences, non-judgmental, open to scientific knowledge” as well as environmentalism. Jesus’ teachings are then viewed in light of these primordial values instead of the other way around. The fact that liberal Christianity doesn’t make demands of its adherents is an easily predictable effect of not having Jesus at its center. People leaving is an effect of lack of demands only because liberal Christianity first gave up the reason for making those demands.

    All this ignores a much more straight forward diagnosis of the problem. Liberal Christianity has evolved to reflect the values (those mentioned above) of popular culture elites. One does not need to go to church to hear them – all you have to do is turn on MSNBC. Why would I bother to wake up on Sunday to hear the same thing? This probably sounds snarky, but I mean it as an honest question.

  • 013090

    There is substance in your post, but calling poor caucasians ‘white trash’ shows that it is about class to you also. You view these people as trash just because they are poorer than you, and being poor makes one more likely to be religious. You yourself have a very class-based mindset.

  • Will

    If Liberal Protestants want to stop their decline they need to start having more kids. Denominations/religions either numerically grow, stay the same or decline largely based on demographic trends which involve fertility. Liberal Protestants have a frighteningly low birth rate. All of this stuff about strictness and liberal versus conservative theology is just a side show.

  • Dan

    I very much agree with Jz Jz. Having spent years in a liberal church (UCC) and most of the last 10 in more conservative community churches, it is clear that the liberal churches are much more intolerant. Openly political and cultural sermons are the norm, whereas expository preaching out of the Bible is the norm in conservative churches. The conservative messages are aimed directly at helping ordinary people(white trash, middle brow and high brow) find Biblically based answers to the problems facing them in this life. In the conservative churches I have attended and visited, I have never heard dismissive, intolerant and unkind words about liberal Christians. Something you routinely hear from the UCC pulpits when they speak of their Conservative brethren. The writer of this article has a completely different view of what’s happening than what I have personally experienced. I think the fact that conservative Christians are more generous with their time and resources speaks to the reality of their faith, not any outside requirements.

  • geoffrobinson

    When they do mention God or Jesus, He (sometimes she in their thinking) resembles a cosmopolitan liberal from New York City or California, etc. That should strike them as odd, because it is a sure sign they are creating an idol for themselves.

  • geoffrobinson

    You are missing why theological conservatives are strict about attendance and participation. First, Scripture (Hebrews) says not to give up meeting together regularly. Secondly, it’s a pretty bad sign about your faith commitment if you stop showing up. At the very least, something is up.

    Here’s another thought. Scripture is true and God takes away the lampstand (read the first few chapters of Revelation) of apostate churches.

  • connorwood

    > In the past when white trash moved up they left Evangelical churches for mainline churches.

    Slurs such as “white trash” aren’t okay in the comments at Science On Religion. If you’ve got something interesting to say, you need to say it in a way that isn’t bigoted, or you’ll be banned from commenting. Thanks.

  • connorwood

    Very interesting points. I think you’re onto something, and the sociological literature on ritual would back you up – powerful ritual drives strong communities, while weak or no ritual hurts them (roughly speaking). But one of the things that makes powerful ritual work is that people HAVE to participate in it.

    In other words, I’d say that the weakness of liberal churches’ liturgy and symbolism isn’t another factor in their decline – it’s directly related to their refusal to be strict about participation. The two create a self-perpetuating feedback loop. IMO.

  • Abu Daoud

    Jesus was intensely demanding in fact. In John 6 he alienated most of his disciples because they would not accept his scandalous teaching about eating his flesh and drinking his blood. Read your bible.

  • Abu Daoud

    How people understand Jesus IS related to the sociology, though. If they see his calling to discipleship as a nice little addendum to being a rich American, then they will not be demanding at all. That is what we Episcopalians in fact do so often (though I’m not very happy about it).

  • Abu Daoud

    This is interesting, but as someone who moves in both evangelical and high Anglican circles, I must confess that evangelicals in the USA may have high standards of membership (in general), but are very impoverished in terms of ritual. This is where I see a new recovery of strong sacramentalism with high standards of belonging coming together, as with evangelicals becoming devout Catholics or Orthodox. Or as with evangelical church es regaining some rituals/symbols like the Advent wreath or Ash Wednesday.

  • tanyam

    Its tough though, isn’t it? You can stare at the demands, or you can stare at the people he had around him, the extension of grace and forgiveness in so many directions. And of course his utter frustration with the Pharisees, who had plenty of rules, and plenty of judgment.

  • Katie

    “Openness to the validity of other traditions, respect for doubters and for skeptical thinkers, acceptance of the findings of science, pro-environmentalism”
    “So what if liberal Protestants kept their open-minded, tolerant theology, but started being strict about it ”

    Then they’d be Catholics! Okay, so maybe Catholics aren’t as theologically open as you have in mind, but I think that a lot of what you’re describing – the breadth of theology and understanding of multiple paths to truth, stringent rules that are held up as ideals, but with understanding of the role individual circumstances can play – can be found in some strains of Catholic thought. We’ve learned a lot (mostly from our own mistakes) over the past 2000 years.

    But then… I’ve also invested a lot personally in both Catholicism and in the mostly liberal academic world, so I tend to see everything through both of those lenses simultaneously… maybe I’m a bit biased =)

  • Alden Smith

    Stand for something or lose everything.

  • Lee Johnson

    Well said. The starting point is exactly the issue.

  • Lee Johnson

    You are reading a liberal/conservative paradigm into Christianity. That paradigm doesn’t exist. Christ calls for nothing less than your entire you and calls for a complete transformation. In heaven there are no liberals and conservatives, just the Saved.

  • Jay

    Yes… The teachings of the Catholic Church do allow a lot of the flexibility and stringency that were spoken of within this article.

  • YesDavisIsMyFirstName

    Sry if it seems that I’m hijacking this thread but what?
    The analysis is well stated by the author but your premise is entirely flawed if you think that “Jesus” is somehow missing. The problem is not that “Jesus isn’t the center”. Liberal Christianity, focuses on that almost exclusively, often framing faith and commitment as an active relationship. They do have a different interpretation of various portions of text then conservative churches, but this is irrelevant. The empirical data shows, that the level of required commitment and sacrifice to the ideals of the specific church has more to do with the style of belief. Liberal churches trend away from that level of commitment in direct reaction to the many of examples of authoritarian structures which are riddled with abuse. That’s all this article sets out to explain.

    Each side (Conservative or Liberal) takes a firm stance that their interpretation and presentation of the text is the correct one. Who’s right? There is no way to know. The text of the Bible doesn’t provide a cipher or list of criteria to be used in interpreting the rest of it. everything then is left to “revelation” and various non-empirical criteria which led to the schism in belief that you see today. If there was “one way” to interpret the various texts, then the Church would never have split. (especially if the God of the Universe had an interest in preserving the unity of his flock – which apparently he doesn’t)

    Also when you critique “it’s tolerant of differences” do you mean to imply that they teach the differences as their core value? When you critique their non-judgmental focus” do you mean to say that everyone should judge everyone? When you critique “open to scientific knowledge” do you mean to say that scientific discovery is invalid (By which I assume you NEVER go to the doctor)? And lastly when you jab at environmentalism do you mean to say that we shouldn’t be stewards of this Earth? I mean these as honest questions…

  • Paolo E. Castellina

    An interesting article which is both true and not so true. The strict churches which are not cults, do indeed filter out from the wider population the most reliable and worthwhile people who are believers, who try seriously to live by God’s standards. They are honest people who have a conscience so belonging to this community gives you access to the finest people who are the best people to be close to. However,there is a fine line between strictness and cults. Cults can look very like stricter churches but in the end they destroy their members’ lives through undercover inner corruption and exploitation. Also Jesus did away with strict Jewish religious laws regarding foos. One must choose carefully what “strictness” to follow and what to avoid. Possibly, lots of undiscerning liberal churches think all strict churches are really “cults” destroying their members in the end or making them unemployable. Clearly, there are genuine strict churches which do you good and there are cults which look like churches. One needs to be discerning. The notion that liberals churches should be stricter about things like “high regard for women” and “the environment” wholly misses the point. Liberal churches major on feminism and ecology but they miss Christ as the motivator for all good things. Strict balanced churches keep sin at the centre and the “good works” for the world all in a balance. I would say this: liberal churches die out leaving the fine building that attract people to their services falling down through lack of attendance and donations, not through lack of strictness per se, but through lack of seeing that the focus is Christ in all things and that He requires strictness in certain areas (not food) and that Christians obey Him as a sign of their commitment to Him.

  • Joseph M

    I think this would not be a surprise to Jesus.

    Matthew 10:35-39

    35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.

    36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.

    37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

    38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

    39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

    Joseph Smith taught that “a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has the power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation.”

  • Thursday1

    As Jon Haidt has shown, conservatives are simply more comfortable with authority. That means they aren’t afraid to crack the whip on occasion. Now to survive in the long term any community has to be based more on love than fear, but there is a certain minimum level of discipline that you just can’t do without and still function well.

  • connorwood

    Well said, Thursday1. Thanks for the common-sense perspective.

  • Jack

    “it’s tolerant of differences, non-judgmental”

    There’s your answer.

  • bobthechef

    Take what the author says further: the reason liberal Protestantism is dying is the same reason liberal Catholicism is dying and that is that it becomes a merely nominal distinction. For example, when something like 90% of declared Catholics use contraception, a good portion support abortion, dismiss the very fundamental, even “definitional” teachings of the Church, when clergy fail to transmit and share the teachings and a general lack of awareness ensues, then what good is the label “Catholic” applies to such a person? In time, nominal Catholics will fail to see the whole point of the Catholic Church, or will see that it offers nothing that can’t be found anywhere else. I don’t quite buy the ritual explanation either because it falsely assumes that strict adherence and emphasis on ritual entails genuine faith. I have known many people who practice these rituals for reasons other than faith or who identify faith with ritual (not as something which aids in living the faith). I have also found that the holier-than-thou are masters at ritual, but poor in the substance of the faith, poor in reasoned faith (and contrary to the received opinion of the chattering classes, faith is reasonable, otherwise why believe one thing over another?). So in the end, the mindless ritualists are just as likely to leave the faith. The difference is that liberals go our with a whimper, and ritualists go out with a bang of rebellion because there’s only so much empty ritual one can take. Ritual is a sign, or a tool, which is only as good as it aids in the nurturing, growth, maturation and maintenance of our faith. It cannot function as such when it isn’t done as an expression of understanding.

    Also, I’ve grown tired of the false dichotomy between science and faith. It’s simply rubbish. The Catholic Church founded the university, it gave science it’s real beginning. The rift you see between the Scholastics and Moderns is a matter of concern: the Scholastics were more interested in truth, the moderns in utility.

  • Collin237

    What a horrible concept! Jesus couldn’t have said that. Matthew just made it up.

  • Surprise123

    Excellent article. And, I think you’re right. The Episcopal Church, and other liberal religious institutions, HAVE to be more demanding of parishioners, in a way that resonates with young people today, OR they will die out.

  • Y. A. Warren

    Religions can rail all they want about the breakdown of the moral fiber of society, but they should heed their own scriptures. “A house divided against itself will surely fail.”

    It seems to me that the marriage of church and state is what has loosened the bonds of religion. This has created a triangle affect that is the basis for what is referred to in psychology as “dysfunctional families.” If the church says “no,” the taxpayer funded programs say “yes.” The problem is that the churches are in the pockets of the taxpayers for many of “their” outreach programs.

    When they are willing to stop feeding at the tax trough, they may be able to strengthen their ranks.

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