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April 15, 2008


Dan Hays

I agree with you about 9-11. Something to consider, however, is that 9-11's aftermath revealed another religion with an extreme penchant for violence. Bush has declared that God appointed him president for this very time, and it has been a very powerful, conservative Christian voting block that has elected him to two terms (OK, you can argue that the Supreme Court gave him the first one). How many Christians--even today--have been appalled by the unfolding, unending carnage caused by the immoral and abominable invasion of Iraq? How many care that the Neocons are still considering a war with Iran? Not nearly enough. Expect the percentage of non-religious to grow as long as Christians refuse to abide by their founder's non-violent principles.

Chuck Frasher

I do not see any type of reference stating where this information came from. Not that I don't believe it, but anyone could pull something like this out of a hat. So without a reference, there is no way to know. The url above goes nowhere.

John Petty

Oops, good point, Chuck. It actually comes from the Pew Forum, and their large study of American religion just released a few weeks ago. I'll try to remember to post a link later today.

Thanks for the visit.

John Petty

Hi Dan,

Hypocrisy has always been a huge problem in the church, as we all know. It used to be that the church had enough control over peoples' lives that it didn't matter. Now, thankfully, that is no longer the case.

Christianity must change, or it will become a "niche religion."

Dan Hays

Hi, John,

I don't know that the issue I laid out can be adequately addressed as hypocrisy, though the label may fit. Instead I would suggest the major problem at hand for us all is the way so many people have fused their sense of the Christian religion with the national civil religion. I think most people do this unconciously, while others do so in conscious attempts to use that fusion for their own agendas. The revelations coming from David Kuo are most illustrative. These disclosures deal with the real reasons the Bush Administration established the Faith-based Initiatives Dept. These reasons had very little to do with the stated purpose of the Dept. and much more to do with perpetuation, expansion and consolidation of political power and influence. Unless enough of us wake up to this unhealthy fusion, it will be as you say, we'll be little more than a niche religion. And we will have justly earned that place.

John Petty

It's like a friend of mine--Mike Ross--once said. He was actually quoting his wife, who said, "Rites always serve the state."

In other words, religion serves the state. It helps keep the masses in line--that sort of thing.

There's some truth in this, which I remarked about to Mike at the time, and I didn't much like that truth.

He said, "Yeah, but Jesus can reach in and steal the time."

Which IS what happens.

Dan Hays

I agree with your friend, Mike, to the degree that the state always employs "state's rites" to advance its vision of the shared public good. Yet the New Testament witness is predominately a witness of people gathered together in a religious framework that offers them a new-found sense of identity and belonging--our Easter season epistle, 1 Peter, is a wonderful example of a message that speaks to such people. Their sense of religious ritual actually enables them to live and to persevere in ways that help them to survive the persecution and tyranny of the state systems of their time. And an outcome of this religious identity and activity is transformation--of self, of community, of those state systems, of the world. And as your friend rightly says, the key is found in the ongoing break-ins of the Good Burglar, Jesus. So I'm definitely not anti-religious, just a bit P.O.'d that so many of us have allowed the state to co-opt our religion to serve agendas that don't comport with the Way of Christ. If we're not careful, those agendas at work right now threaten to get a whole lot more of us killed, and perhaps bring irreparable harm to our planet.

John Petty

I'm probably more anti-religious than you are. In fact, I think I have a post on that somewhere.

The state pretty much always co-opts religion--and, usually, quite successfully. That's true in the scriptures themselves--note all the false prophets who were on the government payroll.

Air Jordans

Compete, only for good, only against time.

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