separation anxiety

How Upset Should Anyone Get About a Homophobic Church Leaving ELCA?

One the one hand, yeah, it’s sad to see this St. Paul Lutheran Church, in Ohio, leave the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America because its governing body voted to let (monogamous) gays service as clergy members. But then we hear from Pastor Roger Miller — about how the decision to leave ELCA isn’t about gay people, but about church leadership — and then it’s like, Okay, buh-bye! [WTVG]

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  • AndrewW

    Great news. The Lutheran divide continues.

    We need New Lutherans that embrace equality and drop the literal interpretation of the Bible.

    We need Old Lutherans to simply die.

  • Baxter

    @AndrewW: I don’t know about the growth rates of the ELCA and their Missouri and Wisconsin Synod rivals, but in general stricter, more conservative religions grow at a faster rate than the more liberal and accepting ones.

  • AndrewW

    @Baxter: That is absolutely false.

    Stricter and more Conservative (your words) religions are shrinking because they are made up of primarily older people. Christians that self-define as “literalists” or “very religious” are now less than 1/3 of all religious people in America.

    The divide for many denominations is based on whether or not the Bible is the literal word of God. Lutherans, Episcopalians, Presbyterians and Methodists are all dividing. Even some Catholics are considering leaving for more liberal or progressive groups.

    Religion is taken much less seriously than in the past. The fastest growing group in America is “Non-religious.”

    All of this is good news for America and the LGBT Community.

  • DR (the real one, not the guy who made post #12)

    The ELCA has more than twice as many members as the other synods; the ELCA’s membership is hovering around 4.6 million, the Missouri Synod is about 2.4 million, and the Wisconsin Synod is at less than 400,000 members.

    I know several ELCA clergy. They’re not going to lose sleep if the less progressive congregations leave. It’s disturbing to them, obviously, but they want the progress.

  • randy

    Conservative religions seem to grow all the time. But they aren’t, actually. The membership just shifts around from one group to another. They don’t often stay as life time members in any one church, and I heard that the average amount of time if a little more than a year.

    So any conservative religion that grows is really growing at the expense of another conservative church. The other way they grow is to encourage their flock to have large families. Which is great, since it impoverishes them.

  • B

    QUEERTY said, “One the one hand, yeah, it’s sad to see this St. Paul Lutheran Church, in Ohio, leave the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America because its governing body voted to let (monogamous) gays service as clergy members.”

    Why is it sad? The ECLA requires a 2/3 vote to change a “social policy” ( ), so having a few conservative churches drop out will allow the ECLA to become more progressive in the future.

  • Javier

    Baxter is correct. Just do a Google search on the fastest growing Christian denominations. With the exception of the Southern Baptist Convention, which has experienced a very recent modest decline after decades of rapid growth, the fastest growing denominations and Christian churches are conservative or evangelical. Whether its the Assemblies of God, Church of God in Christ, or non-denominational megachurches, conservative churches continue to boom. Pentecostal and charismatic churches have especially experienced robust growth. Notice that there are almost no liberal megachurches.

    Further, not only is this trend in AMerica, but it is global. Conservative Christianity is booming in Latin AMerica, Africa, Asia, and even Australia, especially Pentecostals. It is estimated that almost half of all Christians today are Pentecostal or charismatic, which is a huge increase over previous times.

    See link

  • AndrewW

    @Javier: Religion is declining rapidly. You need to look at actual research and polling. Have a look at Gallup:

    Barna, ARIS and Pew have a lot of information, too.

    What is clear from all the research is that “conservative Christians” get all the attention and people perceive them to be growing and/or powerful. But, the truth is they are declining rapidly. Non-Religious or “Spiritual” are the fastest growing segments of the American population. What is happening in Third World countries is a bit different – religion is being introduced into ignorant societies. It is having some success because it is offering hope. But, in America religion is on a very rapid decline.

  • Javier

    The decline in religious activity amongst progressives has been at the expense of the long-slumping liberal mainline denominations, not the energetic Pentecostal/evangelical churches that are spawning megachurches throughout the land:

    In her remarks on this year’s church stats – which, again, are actually from 2008 due to the reporting delay – the Rev. Dr. Eileen W. Lindner, editor of the annual yearbook since 1998, acknowledged the continued loss of membership in the largest mainline denominations.

    This year, church bodies reporting the highest membership losses were the Presbyterian Church (USA), down 3.28 percent to 2,941,412; American Baptist Churches in the USA, down 2 percent to 1,358,351; and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, down 1.92 percent to 4,709,956 members.

    Though she noted that many observers have attributed accelerated membership decline of some churches to “an increasing secularization of American postmodern society, and its disproportionate impact on liberal religious groups,” Lindner advised caution in assessing the causes of decline.

    She also said statistics in the yearbook actually reflect “continued high overall church participation, and account for the religious affiliation of over 163 million Americans.”

    “American society as a whole has not experienced the kind and rate of secularization so clearly demonstrated during the last quarter century in Western Europe. Indeed, American church membership trends have defied gravity particularly where the Pentecostal experience is included,” she added.

    Lindner also noted that the largest plurality of immigrants to the United States in the last 50 years have been Christian in their religious affiliation.

    “In an era in which we have come to expect the inevitable advance of secularism in the U.S., the influx of robust Christian communities among new immigrants once again amends the topographical map,” she reported.

    So while a number of denominations have reported losses, overall, the Church in the America is growing.

    Total church membership reported in the 2010 Yearbook was 147,384,631 members, up 0.49 percent over 2009.

    That figure has been rising every year since 2006, when the overall membership total dropped for a second straight year following a record high 161 million.

  • AndrewW

    @Javier: You are using data supplied by “Conservative Christians.” I wonder how you out any (forgive me) “faith” in those assertions?

    Independent polling data gives much more reliable information. “Literalists” are declining rapidly. Good news.

  • AndrewW

    Sorry “put any faith …”

  • tinkerbell

    They all just need to fade into obscurity, where they belong. Religion is an anachronism that is, thankfully, dying.

    In what other subject of life do we (many people) look to the ancient past for direction: religion, transportation, electronics, medicine, warfare, utilities, entertainment? Only religion. Am I the only one that sees the absurdity in basing one’s life choices around what a man 2500 years ago saw fit to write as his outlook on life (as “revealed” to him by a “deity?”)

    Come on, people, THINK for yourself.

  • Cassandra

    Tinkerbell orders people of faith: “Come on, people, THINK for yourself.”

    So, we are to set aside our own experiences and take the word of an anonymous persona on the internet that has consistently demonstrated a complete lack of understanding and education about religion, someone who has consistently demonstrated an abusive prejudice.

    Tinkerbell, your assumption that people of faith do not think for themselves is degrading and dehumanizing, and it absolutely is prejudice. You, personally, could not hold you own with most of the people in the church I attend, in a debate or discussion, much less a Jesuit.

    When you wrote: “Religion is an anachronism that is, thankfully, dying.” You were simply parroting one of the common atheist false assertions – indicating that you don’t think for yourself. Frankly, atheists on line tend to use all of the same, tired, refuted arguments over and over again. And they consistently recognize only fundamentalist theology or their strawman versions of Christianity. Again, this is not ‘think for yourself behavior’.

    “In what other subject of life do we (many people) look to the ancient past for direction: religion, transportation, electronics, medicine, warfare, utilities, entertainment? Only religion.”

    This is either an example of a very substandard education, or dishonesty.

    Transportation builds on the past, from the layout of roads, the roman method of constructing roads, to the ancient invention of the wheel and cart. Electronics, while a relatively modern invention, are the result of centuries of exploration of the physical world. Your example of medicine was the second most ridiculous, medicine in a sphere of knowledge that builds on the past, and many of the ‘modern’ practices are re-discoveries of techniques practiced millenia ago.

    As for warfare, the heart of modern warfare is still gunpowder, invented in china in 142 AD, while armies to this day use tactics developed by ancient cultures, and study Alexander the Great and other ancient military leaders.

    Utilities – windmills, watermills, are ancient technologies, as are cams and gears.

    Entertainment – much of literature is based on traditions that go back thousands of years, so to with music, art, dance and theatre.

    Even your anti-faith arguments are ancient.

  • AndrewW

    @Cassandra: There is no need to preach Cassandra. Any encouragement to think should be supported – even by the “faithful.”

  • B

    No. 13 · tinkerbell wrote, “In what other subject of life do we (many people) look to the ancient past for direction: religion, transportation, electronics, medicine, warfare, utilities, entertainment? Only religion.”

    Of the ones you mentioned, I’d add “warfare” (Sun Tzu, “The Art of War”, which influenced Napoleon, Mao Zedong, Vo Nguyen Giap, and Douglas MacAuthor). Also entertainment – classic Greek plays are still performed today (the last one I saw was Lysistrata, about how the women of Athens ended the Peloponnesian War by going on a sex boycott. As typically staged, the men go around with ever increasing erections that eventually stick out several feet (under their robes) until they finally had to relent.

  • jeffree

    Ultimately, what matters is the makeup of Congress, state legislatures, and the court system. It’s interesting to argue about polls and church membership, but the biggest deciding factor on the issues of ENDA, DOMA & DADT depend on the influence of the conservative religious right on Congress and the courts. Same-sex marriage efforts at the states level depend not just on church membership, but the ability of conservative churches to get their members to vote.

    As long as those churches hold sway over politicians and the courts, it doesnt matter so much how many people drift between one church and another. The Mormons reproduce at a high rate, the Megachurches (all conservative) are booming, & TV/ Radio are bursting with preachers crying FIRE.

    The liberal churches may or may not be gaining membership, but they can’t compete in raising funds & getting voters to the booths.

  • AndrewW

    @jeffree: Instead of promoting the power of the “religious Right,” you should do some research. They are going out of business.

    Start with Gallup:

    Religious influence in individual States is important. States where the majority of their residents do not make religion important we are doing very good. Very religious States are still hurting us – especially in the US Senate.

    Anti-gay politicians are immutable until we change the minds of their constituents. That’s the only thing that will change their minds/votes. Lobbying politicians and protesting don’t change any minds. We need to lobby fellow citizens. Gay Christians should be doing that at their churches. “We” are the issue that is dividing many denominations, including the Lutherans. It is a chance for religious members of our community to take a stand for equality.

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