The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench


Is organized religion just too conservative?

posted by jmcgee

This commentary in the Los Angeles Times suggests that young people are being turned off by churches that seem to embrace conservative politics:

The most rapidly growing religious category today is composed of those Americans who say they have no religious affiliation. While middle-aged and older Americans continue to embrace organized religion, rapidly increasing numbers of young people are rejecting it.

As recently as 1990, all but 7% of Americans claimed a religious affiliation, a figure that had held constant for decades. Today, 17% of Americans say they have no religion, and these new “nones” are very heavily concentrated among Americans who have come of age since 1990. Between 25% and 30% of twentysomethings today say they have no religious affiliation — roughly four times higher than in any previous generation.

So, why this sudden jump in youthful disaffection from organized religion? The surprising answer, according to a mounting body of evidence, is politics. Very few of these new “nones” actually call themselves atheists, and many have rather conventional beliefs about God and theology. But they have been alienated from organized religion by its increasingly conservative politics.

Check out the rest here.



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Panthera

posted October 18, 2010 at 2:47 am


Chi va dormir con i cani, si leua con i pulici.
And that is the most charitable view I can take on the matter.



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Panthera

posted October 18, 2010 at 2:55 am


Whoops! Forgot, citing Roncalli is very much on the icky-poo list for conservatives.
“Lie with dogs, arise with fleas”.



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Wes

posted October 18, 2010 at 4:47 am


Christianity is a lie thats why its becoming less popular.



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Tom

posted October 18, 2010 at 11:25 am


I laughed out loud when I got to this sentence:
Increasingly, young people saw religion as intolerant, hypocritical, judgmental and homophobic. If being religious entailed political conservatism, they concluded, religion was not for them.
True, it wasn’t as consistently comical as the HuffPo piece, though it does underly a certain bias. What the LA Times failed to mention is the increasing pro-life trend among younger generations (colorful paraphrasing not withstanding).



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Katherine

posted October 18, 2010 at 1:04 pm


There is some truth to that survey. In my parish (not one known as a conservative hotbed) I spoke with a young man who recently joined and was working up the courage to speak to the pastor about getting married in the Church. He couldn’t imagine not having a Catholic wedding but was afraid he would be yelled at or even refused because he had worked on the Obama campaign. (He found his fears to be unfounded and now has a beautiful new bride!).
But let me go in a different direction. In the 1970s, the backbone of the progressive Democrats in the Catholic Church was the working class. If you wanted to find good, Catholic men, the building trades was the place to look. If you walk by any construction site today, you would be hard pressed to find a regular church-goer or a man in a sacramental marriage.
There are cultural and personal failing behind this, but the Church has also failed in her evangelical obligation to the lower middle class. They are not receiving the pastoral care they deserve and need. (Are you listening,deacon).
So religion has lost the blue collar element while is actually doing quite well among bosses and managers. And the result has been more politically conservative Republican laypersons and fewer Democrats.
I would not want to see anyone alienated from religon because of their secular politics. But I think that is secondary to the much deeper problem of Christianity in the US becoming a white collar religion and an increasing alienation from the faith by working families.
What is more troubling to me is that I find most of the the Church’s pastors blind to this. It is a serious matter and is being ignored.



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Panthera

posted October 18, 2010 at 2:11 pm


Katherine said:
So religion has lost the blue collar element while is actually doing quite well among bosses and managers. And the result has been more politically conservative Republican laypersons and fewer Democrats.
I would not want to see anyone alienated from religon because of their secular politics. But I think that is secondary to the much deeper problem of Christianity in the US becoming a white collar religion and an increasing alienation from the faith by working families.
endquote
Absolutely true! I have often been told here that I can’t be a Christian and support the Democrats. I can’t be a Christian and gay. I can’t be a Christian and oppose torture. I can’t be a Christian and believe in a woman’s right to chose. I can’t,,,,….!
The Southern Baptist Convention was founded on the basis that Negroes are, at best 3/5 human. A position they maintain to this day.
The Mormons are a heresy from top to bottom.
For the Roman Catholic church to stand arm in arm with these people and to believe their evil would not swap over into the laity of the Church was more than naive.



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Katherine

posted October 18, 2010 at 2:23 pm


Conservative say those things, Panthera, but there motivation is more politics than faith.
The faith filled people would not say those things.
Geoge W. Bush and Rand Paul are not my favorite Republicans from a political standpoint, but both of them believe you can be a good Christian and pro-choice.



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Panthera

posted October 18, 2010 at 2:40 pm


Katherine,
That is so true.
Intertwining Christian faith with politics is one of the things Jesus warned us about. But then, he was just a long-haired, sandal wearing Jewish Rabi, what would he know about it?
We went down this road during the Nazi era. Not even with all our German technology and organizational skills were we able to end homosexuality. That is because our orientation is immutable – a God given gift.
The most drastic laws forbidding abortion just led to coat-hangers and young girls who bled to death in back allies. Women will always search out their own truth. That is their right, whatever my personal feelings on the matter. I shall never be pregnant, I have no standing.
The inevitable result of seeking to impose one’s religious views upon others through law is corruption. To think that the Roman Catholic church stands arm in arm with the heirs of the Know-Nothing movement is sadly ironic. To think the Roman Catholic church embraces the Mormon heresy to fight my rights should give pause to every Catholic with a health conscience. One might as well enlist Beelzebub, he at least, admits to which master he serves.



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Steve

posted October 18, 2010 at 2:59 pm


Panthera, I had to smile when I read this line: “…one of the things Jesus warned us about. But then, he was just a long-haired, sandal wearing Jewish Rabi, what would he know about it?”
I was reminded of that great song Willie Nelso covered in the mid-70s, “The Troublemaker.” Jesus as rabble-rouser, leader of a “motley crew,” etc. Great song.



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RomCath

posted October 18, 2010 at 3:09 pm


“you can be a good Christian and pro-choice.”
“our orientation is a God given gift”
Just wondering if this is still a Catholic blog?
How long do we have to listen to the insults being heaped on the Catholic faith by Panthera and company?
Deacon?



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Panthera

posted October 18, 2010 at 3:09 pm


Steve,
Josh Turner has a good song about Jesus – I don’t know whether such links are permitted, so if not, I will understand if the Deacon removes the link. The song is: The Way He was Raised.
These culture wars are not winning anybody over to our Christian beliefs.



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Katherine

posted October 18, 2010 at 5:52 pm


While I am absolutely opposed to abortion and believe justice requires the society to protect the unborn by making the act illegal (as well as an equal obligation to support women in crisis pregnancies), I agree with His Holiness the Pope, President Bush (pere et fils), and Dr. Rand Paul that there are others who we Christian that sadly do not support our call for making abortion illegal.



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Panthera

posted October 18, 2010 at 7:19 pm


Katherine,
I respect your position. There is, for Christians, more than one way to look at this matter.
I don’t care for abortions, one bit. I also (noted above) don’t feel that anyone but the pregnant woman is in a position to tell her what to do with her body.
It strikes me that we should invest enormously more money (the almost $100 million dollars spent stripping me of my rights in California, for instance) on helping young people not to get pregnant and, when they do – and they always have and always will – helping them to keep the child, put him or her up for loving adoption or find a way to finish their education and raise the child. We’ve been through this before, but the data remain valid no matter how loudly the conservative Christians scream: It is not the liberal Christians who are throwing their pregnant daughters and gay sons out onto the street.
It’s unfortunate that there is no working together on those aspects of the matter on which we agree – it’s all or none for the “pro-life” groups.
There’s not much, really, that will change the situation regarding the churches and young people. One of the most insidious aspects of the false studies perpetrated by Dr. Reekers and others over the last years was to convince conservative Christians of many untruths and downright lies. Young people have the resources – and the personal friendships with gays and lesbians and the transgender to see that those lies and untruths just aren’t based on reality. Such things debase Christianity enormously.
Reject my marriage because the teachings of your Church disagrees, fine – within the Church. On a secular level, it’s ultimately a losing proposition, no matter how many hundreds of millions of dollars may bring short term wins on the battle line – the war is one over human and civil rights and the majority of Christians see this the way the Constitution does.
Young people see the hypocrisy, they see the exclusive focus on preventing any legislation to protect us – even anti-bullying measures are attacked and aggressively fought in America by the conservatve churches (in Europe, the Roman Catholic church supports anti-bullying for all children, including gays).
This was very much their elders’ battle – it is, for many conservative Christians of the older generations, the ultimate battle – should we be granted our civil and human rights, they will have lost everything – Negroes became fully human, then permitted to marry outside their race. Women received full protection of the law (if only in 2009!) in the workplace. If gays and transgender are now fully franchised, well that’s the end. The absolute end. There’s no ‘other’ left to rally against.
This is not the fight younger people care about or are willing to commit too. Either the conservative Churches bring things back into focus (not one red cent to end no-fault divorce but hundreds of millions to strip gays of rights? That is “defending the family?”) or the attrition will continue.
Embracing the Republicans was a dreadful error, theologically and, now, tactically.



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Katherine

posted October 18, 2010 at 7:33 pm


Dear Panthera,
We have sincere and real differences. However, I agree with the Holy Father that those differences do not preclude a shared profession of faith in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour.
May God be with you on your spiritual journey. And may Mary, blessed among women and through whom God blesses all women, keep you in her prayers.



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Panthera

posted October 18, 2010 at 7:40 pm


Why, thank you, Katherine. I shall pray for your well being also!
Cardinal Fisichella should get in touch with you! You’ve the best arguments for the Roman Catholic church I’ve read in a very long time.
I trust the Deacon will forgive me a short citation:
1 If I speak in human and angelic tongues 2 but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.
2
And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing.
3
If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4
3 Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, (love) is not pompous, it is not inflated,
5
it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury,
6
it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.
7
It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8
4 Love never fails. If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing; if tongues, they will cease; if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing.
9
For we know partially and we prophesy partially,
10
but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.
11
When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things.
12
At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known.
13
5 So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.



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romancrusader

posted October 18, 2010 at 8:50 pm


Panthera,
You should be a comedian. Honestly, out of all the strange things you post, this has got to be number one. The Catholic Church is neither republican nor democrat. You’ve got that? And why heap insults on Southern Baptists? You’ve got to be kidding yourself. And your attempts to paint all conservatives as a bunch of racist, homophobic bigots is tiring. Really, just get a life! You’re nothing but a race baiter. That’s what you are. And I don’t make apologies for saying it either. Cause it’s the only ammo you’ve got left.



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Goodguyex

posted October 18, 2010 at 11:37 pm


There was once a powerful political force in the U.S. that was very socially conservative and quite econmically liberal, and that was the in the late 19th century, early 20th century populists movement. It had a big agrarian base. This is the time of William Jennings Bryan.
They would hate abortion and “gay marriage”; be quite suspecious of even contraception, but would accept prohibition. However would love cheap money,deficiets, labor laws, etc.
This force has largely passed away due to the very dramatic reduction in the percentage of people in agriculture. Ma and Paw Kettle hardly exist much today.



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Panthera

posted October 19, 2010 at 4:07 am


RomCath,
Your ignorance of the history of the major Christian denominations in the US is met only by your appalling lack of good will towards those in the Christian body with whom you disagree.
I never once suggested the Catholic church was either Republican or Democratic. We both know quite well – oh, and it does happen to be the topic of this thread which party’s political candidates have been overwhelmingly supported and which party’s obstructionist goals massively financed through “voluntary” donations over the last years by the American bishops.
Seriously, are you suggesting that the young people are not competent to grasp this? Look at Cuomo and Paladino and what the Church is saying. Seriously? Paladino is morally superior? The man who rents to planned parenthood and who’s son manages gay bars on his property really means it when he says he will impose Church teaching? Words fail me. Actually, they don’t, I’d love to cite a picture the Deacon just posted…but you’d have yourself one royal hissy fit if I did.
I guess, in your minor way, you do illustrate the point the article made rather well.



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Panthera

posted October 19, 2010 at 4:32 am


Goodguyex,
The agrarian world of Thomas Jefferson (who was not an especially good farmer or gardener, whatever his academic skill in the field) has passed away, except as a national reflection on the “good times” and simple, clean living.
I chose to spend a good part of my time doing farm work and working with my dawgs…I even turn a profit, if very very modest, yet I cannot for the life of me imagine anyone who is not running a very large business actually doing well today. The day my parents pass, the ladies (oh, mei, on any other blog that would be understood. My female canine breeding stock is meant) go home to Europe with Séan and me, everything else goes on the market. There’s no point in even pretending it’s more than a hobby to make me happy and keep up my parent’s spirits.
It was Ronald Reagan’s administration’s decision to stop enforcing the anti-trust laws whenever possible which gave an already ill sector, the ma and paw’s of your fond remembrance, the final shove over the cliff. If we want to know why nearly every egg America eats comes from less than ten “farms”, that’s why.
I drive an ancient Chevy truck ’cause it makes me happy, never breaks and when he does, I can fix him meself or get him fixed anywhere. Our teeny, tiny little tractor cost six times what that new Cadillac coupe cost my brother just ordered himself. I try not to even touch it – the manufacturer has an extra class with real instructors on just the basics to run it! Where on earth would the ma’s and paw’s find money for that, today? Their bank wouldn’t even give them money back in 2006 when they were shoveling it out the door into the windiest schemes they could find.
With a few niches holding out OK – organic and heritage – it’s a fool’s business, truly.
And sadly. Did you know that in Berlin, after the blockade, the city fathers mandated everyone contribute what they could to producing food for the city’s needs within her own boarders? Gardeners were heroes.
Today, farmers (the real ones, not me) still are heroes in my book. They feed us. They are also bankrupt and crippled by poverty and isolation. If conservative politics actually cared about economics, this would be a priority.



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RomCath

posted October 19, 2010 at 7:30 am


Panthera, once again you address me as saying something I did not say. In your post of 4:07 am you address me instead of romancrusader.



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Panthera

posted October 19, 2010 at 8:30 am


How, true, O! RomCath, how true!
Of course, I suppose it is better to be ignorant of the facts than to know the facts well and still work hand in hand with a group of vicious racists. And heretics who pretend they are all gods-in-waiting.
Says a lot about your priorities.
Still, I apologize for calling you ignorant instead of him.



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RomCath

posted October 19, 2010 at 8:40 am


Panthera, so now you are attacking me for something I did not say? Reread your last post and tell me it is not drama-filled.



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Panthera

posted October 19, 2010 at 8:53 am


RomCath,
I don’t doubt for one second that you have a keen grasp of drama. Again, by not accepting my apology, instead turning right around and attacking me for stating a plain truth, you are evidencing exactly the reason so many young people are rejecting conservative Churches.
It only takes one or two people in a congregation with your approach to drive a new member away, to guarantee that a child will leave the first Mass or service their parents or school can not force them to attend.
Won’t matter – your animus is showing, again RomCath. You really ought to have that checked. It seems to be a progressive condition.



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Panthera

posted October 19, 2010 at 9:37 am


RomCath,
For as long as I can remember, you have attacked me directly on this blog.
You exploit every possible angle of approach and you constantly ask the Deacon to kick me out.
While it is certainly true that your animus illustrates just how hate filled many on your side of the Christian house are, I’d rather we focused on working together.
A personal plea – can you drop the attacks and the nastiness? Please?



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RomCath

posted October 19, 2010 at 10:00 am


Panthera, in your 8:30 post you used terms like “vicious racists” and “heretics” and then you accuse me of “attacks”. What do you call those terms? Are they reflecting your Christian love?
Your animus toward the teachings of the Church and what you call “conservative Christians” is far more serious than anything I have said here. As far as prgressive conditions I am beginning to think there is more going on with you than you would care to admit.



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Deacon Greg Kandra

posted October 19, 2010 at 10:08 am


Folks …
Stop the sniping. Please. Or I’ll shut down this thread. If you can’t comment and disagree respectfully, don’t comment at all. Or take your act elsewhere.
Grow up, alright? This is getting tiresome.
Thank you.
Deacon G.



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pagansister

posted October 19, 2010 at 9:48 pm


IMO the younger generation has access to much more information on many, many things, including religion. They use what they learn to make up their own minds and not be dictated to. I expect this applies to organized religion. Nothing wrong with using that information to form their beliefs.



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