Having sung as a staff singer with an Anglican Church for more than a decade, I have some more or less direct involvement with the political battles roiling Christianity these days. More about that later, but first let us turn to Michael Walsh at PJ Media:
The Left won’t rest until it has politicized everything, including Christianity:
Christ Church in Alexandria, Va., a historic Episcopal church, hasn’t been a particularly political congregation. It has welcomed Democratic and Republican presidents. George Washington and Robert E. Lee were members. Stone plaques commemorating them adorn a wall.
Then last year, Richard Spencer, the leader of a white nationalist organization, rented office space in Alexandria. Several parishioners organized protests outside his office, which became bimonthly events. The church released a written statement denouncing white supremacy, and later decided to remove the plaques honoring Washington, who owned slaves, and Lee, who led the Confederate Army.
‘We just have to keep standing up,’ said David Hoover, 61, a member of the church who helped organize the protests outside Mr. Spencer’s office and is encouraged by the church’s sharper political tone.
That same foray into politics outraged other members. After the announcement that the plaques would be removed, at least 30 people quit the congregation, according to current and former parishioners, including some who had been there for decades. ‘There is no sanctuary at Christ Church, just a battleground,’ Riki Ellison, 57, a former NFL player, wrote to fellow members of his family’s decision to leave.
Readers may be aware of the long battle in the Episcopal Church. I risk making errors by generalizing, but the division is a result of some churches, and diocese, consciously adopting a progressive political stance as their guiding principle, which has manifested itself in all the ways one might expect: rampant progressive political activism from the pulpit and elsewhere, a focus on LGBTQWERTY issues, the ordination of gay and lesbian priests and bishops, and militant, hostile treatment of congregations and diocese that take seriously Christ’s admonition to render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, but to render unto God that which is God’s.
Take for example, the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. Choosing to separate from the Episcopal Church in America (TEC), it immediately found itself the defendant in a lawsuit seeking to seize all church property. Despite the fact that Canon law makes clear all property belongs to local diocese, and the Constitution requires courts to steer clear of delving into internal church law, the court of origination ruled for the TEC. Upon appeal to the Texas Supreme Court, the Court sent the case back to the trial court, ruling it must be decided on “neutral principles of law,” which meant the case would inevitably be decided in favor of the Diocese. But the trial court ignored the Supreme Court and again ruled for the TEC, and the case is now back on appeal. What this has meant is the loss of well over a million dollars over a decade, money that could and should have been devoted to ministry.
To observe this has caused hard feelings is perhaps the understatement of the century, but it is representative of battles roiling contemporary American Christianity. Many, perhaps most, are taking place in “mainline” denominations rather than evangelical denominations. Walsh continues:
For some congregations, that shift has prompted a surge in attendance—especially among young people—something mainline Protestant churches haven’t seen in decades. Liberal churches are organizing rallies, taking on racial issues and offering sanctuary to undocumented immigrants. Some clergy have returned to the front lines of protests, where they are playing more prominent roles than any time since the Vietnam War.
A traditional view might be that church attendance has declined due not to the failure of the Word of God to resonate with contemporary Americans, but due to social shifts, such as the proliferation of smart phones and the Internet. Like no time in history, people may carry on relationships with people whose hands they’ve never shaken, for many, eliminating the social cohesion that was once cemented by attendance at church and the social bonds fostered by that experience.
Another issue may be that mainline churches have failed to enliven the experience of worship. I don’t mean by glitzy, canned music and contemporary theatrical worship, but by focusing on the power of God’s Word, delivered with skill and enthusiasm. Aligned with this are ministers that are poor public speakers, people who couldn’t recognize a theme if it met them on the road to Damascus, and as a result, produce rambling, interminable sermons that encourage little but slumber.
These moves have alienated conservatives, or worshipers who think politics has little place in church. Pastors pushing their congregations toward activism acknowledge their efforts could hasten the demise of a mainstay of American life: the apolitical mainline church where Republicans and Democrats sit comfortably side-by-side in the pews. But they contend it is the best way to follow Jesus’ example—and maybe the only way to save churches whose membership and influence have been in decline for half a century, having been overtaken by their evangelical counterparts.
‘If we’re not going to stop the wall and the deportations, then I don’t think we’re following Jesus,’ said the Rev. Kaji Dousa, pastor of Park Avenue Christian Church in Manhattan. ‘We’re just getting people in church, and that’s not interesting to me. The point of following Jesus is that you move and you do.
Churches with more conservative leaning members, which now tend to be evangelical, had their political phase, more or less led by The Moral Majority, which was founded in 1979, and actively lobbied from the pulpit and otherwise for conservative issues. But by the mid 1980s, congregations were becoming more and more disillusioned with that approach, and by the later 80s, the Moral Majority passed into history. Even some of its highest officials, such as Cal Thomas, came to understand putting politics before Christ was wrong and destructive to faith and society.
Mainline denominations like the Episcopal Church have not had such a realization, and have, with virtually no ideological exceptions, adopted a particularly militant form of progressivism. This is an insidiously destructive philosophy for any church as progressivism is a faith for people without faith. Its god is the latest maximum progressive leader, as was so clearly and sickeningly evidenced by progressive worship of Barack Obama, who was constantly depicted with halos about his head, called the God of gays, “The One,” even “sort of God,” by a newsmagazine editor.
To be entirely fair, I would like to believe Rev. Dousa is suggesting that the church should work in the world, not just hold services on the Sabbath, but it certainly sounds as if she believes political activism is more meaningful than the Good News. Progressives always claim to have ultimate moral—and intellectual–authority for their polices, but the most thoughtful among them know that’s not true. Their policies seek nothing but power, not for the benefit of Americans, but for the sake of wielding power over them, of intruding into every aspect of their lives, including regulating their thoughts and words. Because most progressives are not people of faith, other than faith in progressivism, they don’t invoke God. In fact, for most, there can be no God, no power greater than the state, greater than their progressive ideology and their current progressive messiah. A greater power implies there are limitations on progressivism, which they cannot abide.
What they do believe in is the long march through the institutions. As recent studies have revealed, leftist professors outnumber conservatives in the religion departments of top liberal arts universities by 70 to 1. There are no conservative teachers in 39% of these universities, and there are more leftists than conservatives even at West Point and Annapolis. Progressivism essentially owns the entertainment industry, education, the legacy media and the NFL. Now they seek to own mainstream Christianity.
Obviously, they see this as a means to claim real ultimate moral authority for their policies. After all, if God is for them, who can stand against them? And so we learn that the God of Hosts favors abortion. Jesus opposes national sovereignty and the building of a border wall. The Holy Trinity is all in for Obamacare and hates nothing so much as the Second Amendment. Who knew The Everlasting Father thought the EPA holy, promotes race baiting, or wished Donald Trump impeached or dead? Who knew of the 11thCommandment: “honor the preferred pronouns of the confused,” of the 12thAmendment: “honor the trans, let them pee where they like, and keep them holy”? And the 13thCommandment was certainly a surprise: “honor gay marriage and punish all that should not praise it or provide cakes, flowers, etc.” Who knew Hillary Clinton was a saint? And who could possibly have guessed God actually opposes His Chosen people, Israel, and wants to economically starve them?
The newly religious Left call down God’s blessing upon themselves and their ideology, and in so doing, worship themselves and that ideology. They serve two masters, making God secondary—and it is a distant second–to their political, earthly desires. They love progressivism and the power it provides with all their minds, their hearts and their souls, not God. They think themselves, because of their ideology, God’s chosen people, but God made that choice millennia ago.
Christ spoke clearly of those that would lead people, particularly children, astray. He said it would be better that they had never been born. The role of faith in our earthly lives is clearly explained in the New Testament. It is an opportunity to live truly moral lives, and in so doing, to prepare for eternal life. The Bible gives us our marching orders, which the progressively faithful tend to ignore in favor of more earthly marching.It is well known Conservatives give far, far more of their own resources to those in need. They are genuine Good Samaritans who see the needy among them, and who care for them. Progressives speak a good game, but do little because they believe it’s government’s job—with other people’s money—to deal with such things. Policy and law matter to them. They actually believe the right policies, enforced with the right—progressive–laws, will transform human nature and create a progressive utopia. God, and churches faithful to Him, know better.
If mainline churches do the right thing, no matter the cost, maybe there will be nobody left in 25 years,’ Ms. [Diana Butler] Bass [Christian author] said. ‘But those churches will have followed their calling—that’s what matters.
For Ms. Bass, “the right thing” is the progressive politicization of faith. She’s willing to abandon the exhortation of God to spread the Good News in favor of Leftists following “their calling.”
The Episcopal Church is not the only church in trouble. The Presbyterian Church is also committing spiritual suicide. Progressives are more than willing to deny humanity the joy of eternal life with God in favor of transitory political power. It’s their calling. The Bible speaks, clearly, to that. It will not end well for them, but God gives us all that choice.