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Thread: American religion: sliding down the social scale

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    Administrator lpetrich's Avatar
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    American religion: sliding down the social scale

    From High Prestige to Low | James Haught
    As religion fades relentlessly in America, evangelical leaders are fighting back. Fundamentalist writers deny that Christianity is in retreat. Instead, they say, only weak believers are quitting Catholic and mainline Protestant churches, while hard-core, true-blue, devout adherents remain as firm as ever.

    ...
    Stanton admitted that “liberal Protestant churches” have suffered enormous losses. “People are leaving those churches as if the buildings are on fire.” He said it happened because the mainline ceased believing miracle tales and other divine claims of the Bible. “They might as well become Unitarians or something like that,” he said in an interview.
    JH claims that something like 1/4 of American Xians are now members of speak-in-tongues churches.
    When I was young in the 1950s, America felt high respect for “tall-steeple” mainline Protestant churches with seminary-educated clergy, many with doctorate degrees. Back then, the most respectable community leaders belonged to the most highbrow congregations.

    Far less respected were arm-waving, whoop-and-holler, fundamentalist churches with amateur, self-proclaimed, jackleg preachers. Bottom status went to “holy rollers,” those pitiable emotional religious basket cases. It’s a realm notorious for Elmer Gantry-type charlatans.
    Over the last half-century, it has been the mainline Protestant churches that have been hit the hardest, with Catholics keeping going because of Latin American immigrants.
    Shrinkage of respected churches leaves more low-respect ones behind. Thus religion itself loses prestige in America’s eyes. After all, it’s difficult for educated people to admire believers who spout “the unknown tongue” or croon in church.
    Though the conservative ones congratulate themselves on what strong conviction and commitment they have, they also may be starting to lose: The Southern Baptist Convention Needs to Change - The Atlantic
    The SBC is contracting in both membership and church attendance. It has shed a stunning 1 million members since 2003, and is on pace to lose nearly 100,000 people each year for the foreseeable future. Annual baptisms, which are of obvious importance to Baptists, have plummeted to a 70-year low. Additionally, the denomination is failing to either attract new young people or retain the ones it has. Only half of children raised Southern Baptist choose to remain Southern Baptist. Although the denomination has made attempts to curb the decline through evangelism task forces and mission efforts, such tactics aren’t working as hoped.

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    Veteran Member Brian63's Avatar
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    Yesterday I turned on the TV and caught the tail end of a Jimmy Swaggart infomercial acknowledging that his church or organization was not meeting its fundraising goals, and that they needed more assistance. I wish I had gotten to hear more, but of course was pleased to hear the Good News.

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    Administrator lpetrich's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian63 View Post
    Yesterday I turned on the TV and caught the tail end of a Jimmy Swaggart infomercial acknowledging that his church or organization was not meeting its fundraising goals, and that they needed more assistance. I wish I had gotten to hear more, but of course was pleased to hear the Good News.
    Cute. I note that he didn't expect God to rain the money down on him, like manna from heaven. An omnipotent being would have no trouble doing so, and a tri-omni one would want to reward someone who has been such a faithful servant.

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    Wow -- I'd've guessed he was dead by now from untreated advanced gonorrhea. Googled him and there he is -- he's 84!!! He should do a cross-country Crazy Train tour with Pat and Jim. His son -- the famous "Donny" is in his mid-sixties (I'm six weeks older than "Donny" -- this has got to be like the Prince o' Wales waiting for the Queen to kick off.)

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    Formerly Joedad
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    Science is far more interesting than religion ever was, and certainly more rewarding. It could be that people just have more knowledge today, and have access to more knowledge when they have a question. Back in the day you couldn't easily investigate the truthfulness of a story you just heard. Today you can get different opinions and compare the claims against good information in a matter of minutes. So religion just isn't the path to success that it once was.

    Immigrant churches that took care of people have been replaced by news of pedophiles and multi million dollar payouts because of abuse and cover ups. The whole equation is different. Who puts their pastor's name as a reference on a job application anymore? That was pretty common stuff when I was young.

    It actually seems anymore that the most religious people are also the biggest hypocrites. That's my observation anyway. It's not always the case certainly, but there's enough of it to go around that people associate the two anymore.

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