Southern Religion

Fundamentalism death watch

Although neither God nor fundamentalism is dead, Harvard Divinity School professor Harvey Cox believes the latter is on its deathbed.

Cox’s article in the Boston Globe looks at the history of fundamentalism, and proclaims “that for all its apparent strength, the fundamentalist sun is setting on all horizons.” Cox also argues that the religious right in America “is becoming a niche:”

The shrillest TV evangelists are losing audiences to more moderate “evangelical-lite” preachers. Fundamentalist congregations are ceding ground to Pentecostals and mega-churches, which embrace a wider social agenda and teach the spiritual authority – not the literal inerrancy – of the Bible.

Cox calls the fall of fundamentalism “a decisive change in global society:”

It has already freed Christians, Muslims, and Jews to explore what all three have in common as they now begin to cooperate in confronting nuclear weapons, poverty, and climate change.

A key reason for the downfall of fundamentalist movements is their “inherently fractious” nature, Cox says. He writes:

When your view of reality is the only acceptable one, you cannot compromise. Almost from its inception, American Protestant fundamentalism split into warring factions.

No doubt. Earlier today we reviewed the Southern Baptist Convention seppuku – a relentless process of denominational self-destruction through ejection of all but a steadily narrowing group of the sufficiently fundamentalist.

Cox believes the frozen righteousness of fundamentalism will fail because young people learn that “inherited prejudices can soften and melt when confronted with good, morally upright people from different belief systems:”

Virtually anywhere on the planet, it is hard to imagine the grandchildren of fundamentalists reconciling themselves to their tightly constricted spiritual world.

He suggests that in fact a reverse process is the rule, a process which involves throwing off narrow adherence to some body of text and doctrine for living spiritual encounters. Specifically:

The very nature of human religiousness is changing in a way inimical to fundamentalist thought. The most rapidly growing spiritual groups today focus not on someone else’s authority, but on a direct encounter with the divine. Whatever else it may mean that so many people call themselves “spiritual but not religious,” it suggests they still yearn for contact with the sacred, but are suspicious of the scaffolding, the doctrines, and hierarchies through which it has often been conveyed.

Read the entire piece here.

[H/T Bruce Gourley.]

November 9, 2009 Posted by | Religion, SBC | , , | Comments Off on Fundamentalism death watch

Conservative blasphemy project (CBP)

Robert Parham at Ethics Daily systematically strips Andy Schlafly’s Conservative Bible Project (CBP) of pretense, unmasking one false assertion after another, drilling unerringly down to its core hypocrisy:

Regrettably, Schlafly hasn’t allowed the Bible to speak to him — a well-worn Christian practice of studying a text, seeking to understand its message and searching for how to be faithful to the word. He is less interested in listening to the Bible than making the Bible record his voice.


November 9, 2009 Posted by | Politics, Religion | , | Comments Off on Conservative blasphemy project (CBP)

Mr. Bono, tear down this wall

A free concert to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall ended up being a disappointment for fans blocked off by a wall put up by a television network.

U2, an Irish rock band with lead singer Bono plays music with spiritual overtones. The 10,000 tickets for the group’s concert in front of the Brandenburg Gate on Nov. 5 were snapped up a few hours after they became available.

Concert organizer MTV put up the wall, a Berlin spokesperson told the Irish Times.

“I find it rather unfortunate and unusual for organisers of a free concert – particularly one of this nature – to demand such a barrier,” the spokesperson said.

Later in the article, MTV’s reason for putting up the wall is revealed.

“We are asking fans without tickets to watch the concert on television. The barrier is for security reasons and to contain the crowd, allowing the surrounding shops and restaurant continue trading.”

Of course, no legitimate U2 fan would chose to watch the concert on TV. And the security garbage doesn’t fly either, according to the Time article, which says “MTV was unable to say why the concert was being staged on Pariser Platz, on the eastern side of the gate, rather than the Tiergarten park side, where there are no space problems and no businesses to be disturbed.”

So MTV might have gained a few viewers that night, while effectively walling out scores of others with bad publicity.

November 9, 2009 Posted by | Cultural, Politics, The Arts | , , , | Comments Off on Mr. Bono, tear down this wall

Southern Baptist Convention seppuku

Adoption of the Baptist Faith & Message 2000 sent thousands out the Southern Baptist Convention door and pushed a still larger number back a step or two while institutions which could, continued to flee the conservatives.

Weighing the spoiling fruits of their labors, SBC fundamentalist power brokers adopted another self-destructive strategy, as Enid, Oklahoma, pastor Wade Burleson explains:

So conservative leadership decided to change, behind the scenes, the doctrinal statements that served as the standard for cooperation and service within individual SBC agencies. These changes in the doctrinal statements of SBC entities were approved and implemented without SBC convention-wide approval. Designated trustees began changing the doctrinal statements to reflect the core of organized Fundamentalism (anti-spiritual gifts, Landmark, pre-millenial, etc.). There is nothing necessarily morally wrong with Fundamentalism if the adherents to that particular ideology love those who disagree with them. The problem with Fundamentalism, especially in the Southern Baptist Convention, is when people of cooperation become more interested in doctrinal conformity than missional cooperation. When that happens, Baptist people, pastors and churches who used to identify with the cooperative efforts of Southern Baptists will CEASE cooperating.

With overarching demographic change running against them, their secrecy-blighted Great Commission Resurgence floundering as the chickens of their earlier secrecy come home to roost, the SBC power brokers seem incapable of adapting.

November 9, 2009 Posted by | Religion, SBC, Uncategorized | | 1 Comment

What Republican South?

Virginia, North Carolina and Florida drummed out of the South? In his Gone With the Wind, Kevin Drum of Mother Jones writes, “Republicans are the party of the South these days, and sure, the GOP will regain power eventually. “

Obama and others broke the back of the Nixon Southern Strategy. The demographics of the Southern electorate suggest that South is gone and by the wind unmourned.

You owe the facts an apology, Kevin.

November 9, 2009 Posted by | Politics | Comments Off on What Republican South?

Why abortion mattered so much to the House health reform vote


November 9, 2009 Posted by | Catholic, Health, Medical Care, Religion | | Comments Off on Why abortion mattered so much to the House health reform vote