21 votes

United Methodist Church votes to maintain its opposition to same-sex marriage, gay clergy

12 comments

  1. [12]
    D_E_Solomon Link
    I always feel for progressive churches and their struggle to remain ecumenical while still affirming their beliefs. I suspect that this will cause many of the progressive Methodist churches to...

    I always feel for progressive churches and their struggle to remain ecumenical while still affirming their beliefs. I suspect that this will cause many of the progressive Methodist churches to separate in the United States.

    This is a hunch - I don't have data - but it feels like liberal denominations and churches are in decline. I don't know the reason - lack of forceful belief, lack of a counterculture - but as a non practicing person, I've had really strong relationships with clergy and congregants from liberal churches. I'm sad to see their numbers dwindle.

    9 votes
    1. Phlegmatic Link Parent
      I think that liberal churches have lost membership because liberal people have stopped going to church. That trend has started to affect a wider swathe of society now, and a lot of conservative...

      I think that liberal churches have lost membership because liberal people have stopped going to church. That trend has started to affect a wider swathe of society now, and a lot of conservative churches (the Southern Baptists come to mind) are facing the same decline. I think that the successful union of conservative Christianity with conservative politics is a major factor. And hey, as a proud Episcopalian, I can't help but say that if you're sad to see us dwindling, come try us out! If you're under sixty they'll likely be very excited to see you.

      10 votes
    2. Akir Link Parent
      I think you would be surprised at how much wiggle room there is for beliefs in chruches. It's fairly common for a church to splinter off from a sect and become independent because of the...

      I think you would be surprised at how much wiggle room there is for beliefs in chruches. It's fairly common for a church to splinter off from a sect and become independent because of the differences between their beliefs and those of the parent church. It's why you see so many of them labeled things like "Christian Church" or "fellowship Church" instead of Methodist, Baptist, or other big name religions.

      For those big name Christian religions, they will always have a hard time adapting to a changing society. Any time they have to make a decision like this there are going to be schisms, and that is regardless of what decision they make. Sometimes it's a major schism - see Baptists vs. Southern Baptists. Other times it's just individual churches deciding to splinter off.

      If anything, this is probably why you feel like liberal churches are disappearing. Although I also have no real data for this also, I am willing to bet that it is the liberal churches that are most likely to splinter off. When that happens, your church becomes an island. Since these churches don't have a united front, they don't seem to be a large group collectively.

      3 votes
    3. [9]
      acdw Link Parent
      Could you talk more about what you're seeing? I'm curious, since from where I'm standing things look a little different. may it's my friends and my church (I'm Unitarian), but most mainline...

      Could you talk more about what you're seeing? I'm curious, since from where I'm standing things look a little different. may it's my friends and my church (I'm Unitarian), but most mainline Christian denominations are getting more liberal on social issues, or seem to be. It could be wishful thinking that the vitriol we see from evangelicals regarding the "culture wars" is just a vocal minority, though.

      1 vote
      1. [4]
        dubteedub Link Parent
        Here is some data from a Fox News article summarizing the findings of the Pew 2018 Research Survey Young Christians are leaving the church – Here’s why This certainly rings true to me. I grew up...

        Here is some data from a Fox News article summarizing the findings of the Pew 2018 Research Survey

        A new, 2018 Pew Research Center Report polled a growing group in America: “religious nones.” This group describes themselves as “nothing in particular” when asked if they identify with a specific religious group. The vast majority are ex-Christians, and most are under the age of 35. Pew asked a representative sample of these “religious nones” why they now reject any religious affiliation and provided respondents with six possible responses.

        According to the Pew report, most “religious nones” left because they “question a lot of religious teaching” (51 percent agreed with this statement), or because they “don’t like the positions churches take on social/political issues” (46 percent agreed with this statement). To a lesser extent, “nones” agreed with the statements, “I don’t like religious organizations” (34 percent), “I don’t like religious leaders” (31 percent), or “Religion is irrelevant to me” (26 percent).

        Young Christians are leaving the church – Here’s why

        This certainly rings true to me. I grew up in the Catholic Church but began questioning its teachings at a younger age due to the churches strong political stances, as well as the rash of child sex abuse. This ultimately led to me not believing in god altogether.

        Even of my friends that still believe in a higher power in one way or another, they by and large are not interested in going to church or supporting the institution itself and prefer to worship privately in their own way.

        4 votes
        1. [3]
          acdw Link Parent
          I'm not sure how to relate this to the (now grandparent) comment. Are you saying that young people are leaving churches because the churches are getting more conservative, or that the churches are...

          I'm not sure how to relate this to the (now grandparent) comment. Are you saying that young people are leaving churches because the churches are getting more conservative, or that the churches are getting more conservative because younger, more liberal people have left them? Or something else?

          1 vote
          1. [2]
            dubteedub Link Parent
            I would say that younger, more liberal people are leaving the church because of their conservative political / social views. While the Catholic church and others may be making some minimal strides...

            I would say that younger, more liberal people are leaving the church because of their conservative political / social views. While the Catholic church and others may be making some minimal strides toward more moderate stances, to myself and I would assume others, it is too little too late.

            I would say one great examples is the treatment of LGBT in the religious community.

            With 4.5 Americans now identifying as LGBT, that means that millions more Americans have family, friends, or colleagues that they know who are LGBT. As people become more exposed to LGBT people, their support for LGBT causes increases. Looking at the churches negative stances towards LGBT clergy, gay marriage, and even the existence of homosexual relationships at all leaves an extremely bitter taste in my mouth and I feel deeply for my LGBT friends who were raised in the church and felt abandoned by them.

            5 votes
            1. acdw Link Parent
              Yes, I agree. It's a shame that churches can't get past what I see as an outdated hang-up about their could-be parishioner's personal lives, because as I say in my comment below, church can be a...

              Yes, I agree. It's a shame that churches can't get past what I see as an outdated hang-up about their could-be parishioner's personal lives, because as I say in my comment below, church can be a great place to build communities of love and support, for everyone who feels their relationship to the ineffable the same way. I'm afraid you're probably right for mainline Christian denominations, though -- it's probably too little, too late for many of them. Maybe that's why we're seeing more denominations turning to extremism and dogmatism (I think that's what you're talking about in your parent comment to mine).

              2 votes
      2. [4]
        welly Link Parent
        I feel like this liberalisation of the church is the church grasping at straws to remain relevant when they know full well that their time is up. Probably not in my lifetime but I suspect not far...

        I feel like this liberalisation of the church is the church grasping at straws to remain relevant when they know full well that their time is up.

        Probably not in my lifetime but I suspect not far beyond that, we'll grow up and move on from, for want of a better word, the idea of a theological church, ie. a church that believes in and worships a divine being.

        I wonder if perhaps "churches for atheists" may become a thing in the future.

        4 votes
        1. NaraVara Link Parent
          I suspect these things are cyclical. Even when society was a lot more "Christian" you tended to have plenty of people who weren't really practicing or even believing Christians. They just wouldn't...

          Probably not in my lifetime but I suspect not far beyond that, we'll grow up and move on from, for want of a better word, the idea of a theological church, ie. a church that believes in and worships a divine being.

          I suspect these things are cyclical. Even when society was a lot more "Christian" you tended to have plenty of people who weren't really practicing or even believing Christians. They just wouldn't have called themselves "Atheists" because that wasn't a thing, but they probably didn't go to church or believe in much of the doctrine either.

          There were also always heterodox and mystic schools of thought out there, they're just more open now because the people predisposed to that sort of thinking aren't scared of being burned at the stake. So they now feel more comfortable finding each other and finding theological frameworks that work for them. This is probably one of the driving forces behind Wiccans and pagan reconstructionism.

          I wonder if perhaps "churches for atheists" may become a thing in the future.

          It's called "Crossfit." :-p

          But on a more serious note, there is a substratum of really intense yoga practicioners or vegans and stuff who lean on those things as a form of community and as a way to assert control over their lives. If you expand the definition a bit, lots of people adopt restrictive dietary regimens or intense workout groups as a form of personal asceticism and as a way to assert control over their lives. They may not know that's what they're doing, but is that so different from a religious person's stated and internal motivations?

          It's likely this is just an inherent drive in human beings and when the framework for religious devotion is gone, people just substitute in something else ranging from helpful (spiritual practices, meditation, exercise) to benign (crystal healing, diets) to malignant (nutso conspiracy theories).

          4 votes
        2. acdw Link Parent
          They could be -- while I'm an atheist personally, one thing I really missed from growing up in a church, and a reason why I go to a Unitarian church now, is that feeling of community that churches...

          They could be -- while I'm an atheist personally, one thing I really missed from growing up in a church, and a reason why I go to a Unitarian church now, is that feeling of community that churches can provide. It's a community that's not bound by work or interest, but by love, which is a really important thing to be bound by. It's also focused on creating a more just world, which I think of as my secular faith mission, if that makes sense.

          2 votes
        3. Algernon_Asimov Link Parent
          Humanists started something called Sunday Assembly a few years back.

          I wonder if perhaps "churches for atheists" may become a thing in the future.

          Humanists started something called Sunday Assembly a few years back.

          2 votes