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Where have the mainstream churches of America disappeared to? I grew up in a mainly judeo-christian nation that was focused on the basic rules of how to live a good life. It was a flawed society but one that was trying to do the right thing and was repeating the kinds of lessons that could be appealed to make change. There were many wrongs to be righted but the scriptures were used to move in the right direction for the most part.

Foremost of these teachings were many lessons that perfectly match what we espouse as Liberals and Progressives: tolerance, caring for each other,love for one's neighbor despite the differences that naturally exist among us including those from practicing other religions, making sure that those that need to be cared for are:  feed the hungry and shelter the homeless, be honest in all dealings and many, many more.

How did these Neochristians suddenly silence the moderate churches that are still leading their flocks to do the righ thing? It really is a mystery.

In many ways it follows the great changes in our society that has allowed us to fragment not just into marketing targets but into real communities seperated by geography that can gather quickly and powerfully in national terms. The internet is part of this but there is more.

As intolearant as many of these new fundamentalist churches are in terms of biblical interpretation relative to each other, their collective leadership has been able to unify nationally mainly to fight gay marriage, women's right to chose and the role of the church within the state. These basic ideas have driven marginal and major new churches into a force that now controls the Republican party and cowers the Democratic Party into trying to figure out how to be true to its precepts and win elections.

We actually stand for the fundamental judeo-christian principles that built western society and allowed the development of liberal democracy that the President uses to such effect to cover the errors of his adminsitration. We need to change the discussion. Stop playing Defense! Our leaders need address the gap that exists at present not be responding on their favorite topics (because their minds can't be changed and they are not our voters) but by going back to the well that truly feeds what is great in our society we can gather those with still open minds on how we can be greater as a people not because of our military but by the force of our human values.
Our judeo-christian values stress caring not only for other humans but for our world. The indictment of Republican policies was put no better than by Ansel Adams after meeting President Reagan.I agree with Mr. Adams because the battle is one to preserve and enhance all the great things that make this country worth defending.

In 1983, Adams met with President Reagan, and not to deliver a photograph. He was a vocal critic of Reagan's rollbacks on environmental protection and preservation of wild areas. He said Reagan's land policies were ones of ''rape, ruin, and run!" According to Adams, had the nation been under the vision in the 1930s of Reagan's infamous Interior Secretary James Watt, Kings Canyon National Park would today ''look like part of the outskirts of Las Vegas."

After Adams told Playboy magazine in 1983, ''I hate Reagan," an embarrassed White House had the beloved photographer sit with Reagan for nearly an hour. Adams left unimpressed, borrowing from Oscar Wilde to say, ''They know the price of everything and the value of nothing."

One can only guess what sparks would fly if Adams, who died in 1984, could witness President Bush's resurrection of Reagan's rape, ruin, and run.

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Originally posted to What were you thinking on Thu Apr 06, 2006 at 10:27 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  When exactly was this magical time (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pico, kraant

    that we were all taught tolerance, caring and love? Because I missed that era in American history. I'm guessing it was after slavery some time, I mean it would have to be, right? And then there's all those years of segregation... and putting Japanese people in internment camps... several illegal wars... road rage, police brutality, Kent State, assasinations... the list goes on.

    •  I think that time was.,,, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Arken, kraant

      from after school let out until 5:30 or so when Ward got home from work.

      "I am the pitbull on the pantleg of opportunity." G W Bush

      by irate on Thu Apr 06, 2006 at 11:16:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The poster acknowledged America's past is flawed (5+ / 0-)

      The point I take from the post is that we used to have a vibrant religious community that tried to change those flaws. The abolitionist movement had deep religious roots. Many of the heroes of the civil rights movement were men of the cloth. Did the reactionary Right have support from some religious sects too? Yes. But they were marginalized, not main stream.

      Now, it seems that the only voices allowed to speak from a "Christian" perspective are the ones that espouse fanatical milleniallism, extreme right economic and social policies and military adventurism.

      The Bible, both Old and New Testiment, is anchored in a doctrine of social justice. As just one example, the text of Micah 6:8, which also happens to be inscribed on the US Supreme Court building;

      "He has showed you, O man, what is good.
            And what does the LORD require of you?
            To act justly and to love mercy
            and to walk humbly with your God."

      So, the question is, when will people of Christian faith stand up to the charletons, liars and frauds in their midst and reclaim their faith in the public realm, seeking justice, mercy and walking humbly with God?

      •  For every self-professed christian in history (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kraant

        who follows such ideas, I could show you ten who didn't. The fact of the matter is that there have always been people who did horrible things, often much worse things than are done now, in the name of Jesus and Christianity. This is not a new problem. There was no time when things were better and people were nicer. All we can hope is that one day such a time will happen and when it does, it won't matter what gods people do or do not worship.

    •  The goal is not to be perfect as that is (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kraant

      unattainable but to be moving towards a better place. If the churches are marching towards a more hateful tomorrow we will have todays miseries and those we will create in the future.

      I don't think the poster spoke of a magical time just one more grounded in reality.


      "And we are here as on a darkling plain Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight, Where ignorant armies clash by night." Matthew Arnold

      by Cantinflas on Thu Apr 06, 2006 at 11:42:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's not perfect (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kraant

      Nothing is but progress has been made. Deal with it.

  •  America took a steep moral decline (5+ / 0-)

    after 9/11, as fear and anger let in unthinkable things like secret prisons and torture.  And unfortunately, people that call themselves 'born-again' Christians forsook the bible and went right along.

    •  The bible has proven itself to be a very (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kraant, LiterateWolf

      versatile book - open to a myriad of interpretations.

      "Bin Laden determined to strike in US"- Presidential Daily Briefing - August 6, 2001

      by What were you thinking on Thu Apr 06, 2006 at 11:52:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I am not so sure... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kraant

      That the 'born-again' Christian right fundies so much forsook the bible, so much as they seized an opportunity to promote what was already their view.  Unfortunately, too damned many Americans, who should have better sense, a more realistic view, either bought into the nonsense or were too compacent to fight against it:(

      Life is not a 'dress rehearsal'!

      by wgard on Fri Apr 07, 2006 at 02:16:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm a Liberal cradle Episcopalian (4+ / 0-)

    One thing even my Conservative Episcopalian friends agree upon is that these evangelical "Xtians" have little in common with traditional Christians or even Jesus for that matter.

    The "Christian Fundamentalists" are all about the power and money.  They are the modern day Pharisees. Jesus just works out to be a convenient tool for their use.  They do a great show of professing "family values" which is basically a code for three things: anti-science, anti-gay  and anti-woman agendas.

    They have as much in common with Jesus as I have in common with an amoeba.

    What is absolutely frightening is that they are having a profound effect on unaffiliated Christians or those who just feel uncomfortable with their parent's church.  They are, at least I think, a gigantic, loosely affiliated cult.  Given the beliefs of some of the mega-churches, maybe a cargo cult would be an appropriate description!  God want you to have that Hummer!

    I have seem some very intelligent men and women turn into scripture reguritating robots. Mostly they seem to regurgitate Paul and Revelations; maybe Jesus is too liberal!

    Can't wait 'til -08, censure and impeach NOW!

    by Rogneid on Thu Apr 06, 2006 at 11:42:21 PM PDT

    •  The modern Pharisees is a great way to call them. (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Subversive, vacantlook, Rogneid, kraant, ChiTom

      I very much agree with your post. It is the use of marketing tools to project a brand of religion (that offers little in the way of sacrifice) to a society used to being marketed to and starving for the sense of community.

      "Bin Laden determined to strike in US"- Presidential Daily Briefing - August 6, 2001

      by What were you thinking on Thu Apr 06, 2006 at 11:50:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Not all megachurches are like that (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rogneid, kraant

      In my town, a mega-church (almost but not quite) was very Baptist and very Republican. After the 2004 elections, they changed some since people thought all churches were right wing campaign HQs.

      Over time, they allowed gays into their choir. They left the SBC because of their comments on public schools and how everyone must beleive certain things. They focus more on Jesus than Falwell. And it gets better.

      A lady that attends that church told me that her granddaughter is in DC on a project to feed the homeless her church is working on. A couple days ago, her granddaughter and her friend got some of the other kids, after seeing protesters, together to sing a song (can't remember it now) about how Jesus loves children as loud as they can for the cameras. These kids are middle school range acting out on what their parents and minister taught them. They protesters they protested, and the kids' families are proud of them, belonged to the "God hates fags" group.

      •  That's wonderful (0+ / 0-)

        I know many people who have left the SBC, including a former coworker, her brother (the Baptist minister) and most of their family, which makes it much easier around the dinner table when their neice and her wife come to visit!

        Now if I can just get them to stop deep frying everything...must be the Scottish in them.  Although I have to admit deep fried Tasty Kake Butterscotch Krimpets are heavenly!  (Well, now, that was totally off subject. Tsk.)

        Can't wait 'til -08, censure and impeach NOW!

        by Rogneid on Fri Apr 07, 2006 at 07:43:05 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  MSM covers religion as unevenly as politics (3+ / 0-)

    Of course part of the problem is that progressive and moderate Christians (and Jews and Muslims) either do not get coverage, or do not get fair coverage in the media anymore than do progressive and moderate politcians.  The Republican Party is not the only group with well rehearsed "talking points"

    Look for example at the recent "Action Alerts & Newsletters" of the Episcopal Public Policy Network to see some of the issues that one agency of one denomination has addressed.  Who knows about this?  I'm an Episcopalian priest and I had to look it up. (OK, my bad.)

    On the other hand, I don't think we have played the media game very well over the years.  Everybody knows Falwell & Robertson & Dobson, mainly because they are out there in the mass media.  We haven't really tried, I don't think-- we mostly make excuses about how hard it is "to communicate complex issues".  Maybe so, but somehow that Jesus fella (the real one) managed to get tough ideas out.

    Of course, now I suppose I am preaching to myself. . . .

    •  It helps them that they leaven their on air time (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ahianne, wgard, kraant, ChiTom

      with insane and provocative statements which any mainline religous leader would rather cut an ear off first before making (and of course they don't even think in those terms). It makes for great cable viewing. They are religous "Ann Coulters". Perveyors of  hate.

      I see what you mean on how poor most denominations are at communicating and I think they don't push it hard enough nor put the money behind it. They preach to the choir on Sundays and bipass the national dialogue.

      "Bin Laden determined to strike in US"- Presidential Daily Briefing - August 6, 2001

      by What were you thinking on Fri Apr 07, 2006 at 12:53:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You are spot on, of course, but I would add... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kraant, ChiTom

        Many, if not most, of the 'fundie' leaders and mouthpieces seem to me to be more about the accumulation of power and money rather than religion (of any kind).  Lets see ... Oral Roberts, Jim Baker, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, James Dobson, etc., as self-proclaimed bearers of the 'true word of God'.  Their brethren who do not occupy the pulpit but nontheless broadcast the same message, such as Jack Reed, etc.  And I am sure I am missing quite a few well-known names here.

        They all seem to share a universal message.  "Be saved -- I am the one to give you salvation, I am the path to life everlasting.  For I do God's work, but I need your help.  Send money, and you will receive the Lord's blessing."

        How many square feet are under the rooves of their houses?  Do they ever struggle for simply food, shelter, heat?  What kinds of cars do they drive?  Ever notice their suits?

        Their message is not about God or Christ, or even any of the basic tenets that are near-universal among most all religions.  Their message is only about money, or as those who are devout might put it, about mammon -- and their drive to amass as much of it as possible.

        Life is not a 'dress rehearsal'!

        by wgard on Fri Apr 07, 2006 at 02:38:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Heeeeeere's Jesus !!!!! (0+ / 0-)

    {insert original 'Tonight Show with Johnny Carson' theme music}

     title=

    http://www.dudehisattva.com/

    "Rovus Vulgaris Americanus" nasty, soon-to-be-indicted co-conspirator -7.63, -9.59

    by shpilk on Fri Apr 07, 2006 at 05:02:05 AM PDT

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