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trekie70
Lifelong bibliophile and political junkie
07:13 PM on 04/23/2012
Mainline Protestant churches are their own worst enemy. Americans, particularly Generation X and the ones to follow, are no longer willing to show up every Sunday to hear about nothing but Hell and damnation in EVERY SiNGLE SERMON or put up with the hypocrites found in many churches. I was a United Methodist for more than half my life but left last year after I could no longer put up with the hypocrisy of the ministerial staff.
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QuarkGluonSoup
07:57 PM on 04/23/2012
Few churches talk about damnation every sunday (or most). The picture you paint doesn't exist.
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lilly091
11:36 PM on 04/23/2012
I know. I go to a pretty contemporary church that ties God's influence to daily living and relationships. But even if I go with my best friend to her traditionally southern baptist church, they still do not preach of damnation and hell.
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Bones Rhodes
11:44 PM on 04/23/2012
--never attended a Southern Baptist service, I see.
11:04 PM on 04/23/2012
Mainline churches rarely discuss hell and damnation today. In fact, they are roundly criticized for this by the more conservative or fundamentalist branches of the Christian tree. Other than Southern Baptists and two synods of the Lutheran church who are conservative, the mainline churches include: Presbyterians, Lutherans, Episcopalians, Methodists, United Church of Christ, and Christian Church-Disciples of Christ to name the larger groups. Most of these groups are fairly progressive and thus emphasize the love, grace and forgiveness of Godl. Trekie70, you may be thinking about the most conservative and/or Pentecostal groups rather than the mainline denominations.
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trekie70
Lifelong bibliophile and political junkie
08:47 PM on 04/24/2012
Well, I know what I've heard and stand by my statements. The UMC I spoke of is of a more conservative nature than most.
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gal416
is a Bible verse † † †
06:46 PM on 04/23/2012
The problem that I see with low church attendance these days is that most people today want God to agree with them rather than they agreeing with God. God is still the same today as he was when He created this universe. It's not like mankind has thought of a new and better way to be human that God didn't know about. It hasn't been that long since a large number of humans thought it was a good idea to gas and incinerate the Jew. Pride keeps people out of church. All the other reasons are just excuses.
06:46 PM on 04/23/2012
I am happy to see the numbers of the religious dwindle, it shows that the mind can grow beyond the, spiritual/non-spiritual, handicap that is religion. The one thing I find interesting is that a call is put out to be less religious and to become more spiritual, as many seem to think that it is more of a natural way of believing in a higher power. As with god; spirituality is non-provable, so I won't be riding that pony either.

Though my Atheism is fairly "new", (5 years) I don't understand why I must be labeled as being a "New Atheist" or more commonly referred to as 'militant atheist'....IMO the obstinacy shown by atheists could be due to the long period of time (millennia) that religion has held the hearts and minds of those who are subjective to the abhorrent concepts of heaven or hell. While I do see the passion amongst atheists to get their world view across to people, I do not see it as being militant.

Thank you for your blog Clay :-)
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lilly091
11:40 PM on 04/23/2012
Well, I'm pretty religious and like to think that I'm very open-minded. I don't get why some people believe they cancel each other out.
06:10 AM on 04/24/2012
@lilly, I can give you one of many, which you may've heard before. Atheists, humanists and freethinkers are able to change our minds in the face of proof and accepted truths within our lives. some try to hold onto absurd hypothesis, but most of us accept the evidence given.

The assorted religions of the world have sets of beliefs that are absolute and final, though they are adept at changing according to their desires, hence the surplus of denominations. Many religious posts that I've seen on Hoff Po have been in this vain. In their desire to accept their 'religious truths' they are more than willing to disregard those same accepted truths that others can accept.

IMO, I think that's because the religious have that fear of "What if I am wrong." It is well known that religions use fear to keep their parishioners in line.
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bermudababy
Left lane for passing only!!
06:15 PM on 04/23/2012
Confused! Wasn't the story supposed to be about Old vs. New religion? How then did and entire mid-section of the article go to politics? So one sided to. Then pushing a book, c'mon give me a break, dude!
What's the REAL reason why love has 'cooled' off.....
Our Creator gives the answer. His Word, the Bible, calls the time in which we live “the last days.” Bible prophecy says that this is a period during which people would have “no natural affection.” Regarding these “critical times hard to deal with,” also called in the Scriptures “the conclusion of the system of things,” Jesus Christ foretold that “the love of the greater number will cool off.”—2 Timothy 3:1-5; Matthew 24:3, 12.
No secrets. It's clear as crystal to me and true Christians that those churches who say they're all about God, really aren't. The proof is in the 'basket'.
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Clay Farris Naff
Blogger, science journalist, & author
09:13 PM on 04/23/2012
I'm not the one who mixed politics with religion. That was a decision made by the leaders of Old Time Religion themselves: from the Taliban to Rev. Pat Robertson to Archbishop Dolan, the incursion of reactionary religion on politics is a phenomenon that cannot be ignored.
As for your particular theology, you're entitled to it, but if you would read my book you might gain a new perspective. I'm not grubbing for money -- if you want I'll send you a free copy.
Thanks for commenting. -- Clay
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bermudababy
Left lane for passing only!!
09:51 PM on 04/23/2012
Thank you for responding, I agree that the mixing of religion and politics seems to be picking up speed in this day. Or it may be that it is just much more publicized? I am very interested in the out working of God's Will when it comes to mankind's goverments. Reading Dan. 2:44..should open some eyes. Very soon, a 'One Government entity' will stand in place of all these sad manmade messes.
Thanks for your offer, I don't believe you are in it for moola. I have a library of incoming Faith strengthening literature I can barely keep up with, so I'll decline your kind offer.
Sincerly, bermudababy..a witness of Jehovah
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Hillbilly49
If God is your Co-Pilot; let him land the plane.
04:50 PM on 04/23/2012
Christianity on the decline in America and the world.

Are we witnessing the decline of Christianity in America?  When you examine all of the most recent poll numbers, the answer is inescapable.  Christian churches in America are losing members rapidly, and this trend is especially dramatic among young Americans. 



American Religious Identification Survey by the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society & Culture at Trinity College discovered that 46% of Americans ages 18-34 indicated that they had no religion.



The reality is that nearly all Christian denominations are rapidly losing members at this point.
The only place Christianity is growing in the world is in American prisons.



http://signsofthelastdays.com/archives/the-decline-of-christianity-in-america

11:16 PM on 04/23/2012
The "only place Christianity is growing is prisons?" This is factually incorrect. Christianity is growing in S. Korea, China, parts of the former Soviet Union, and in many parts of Africa south of the northern tier of Muslim nations.
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johfrewal
I love my dog Chuco
12:41 AM on 04/24/2012
There are more True-believers in China where you can still die for your faith than the United States where for so many their faith is dead.
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Hillbilly49
If God is your Co-Pilot; let him land the plane.
09:04 AM on 04/24/2012
Link?
relevancematters
You're so full of what's right, you can't see what
09:55 AM on 04/24/2012
I have noticed that a lot of people's personal faith seems to be intractably connected to their place of worship, so when they leave the church, they leave the faith as well. I find this odd; there can be faith without institutional guidance/interference. I have, this decade, turned my back on 40+ of Catholicism because, as the author here mentions in a note above, "the incursion of reactionary religion on politics is a phenomenon that cannot be ignored." I have lost faith in the church, but not in God.

My point is that the cited decline in Christianity may in fact reflect spiritual confusion--less a loss of faith in God than in the churches themselves. And that has to happen, doesn't it, for faith to rise to a higher level?
MarkJudiGoet
Diogenes was an optimist
04:11 PM on 04/23/2012
Great post, I'm often struck by the frequency that evangelicals, fundamentalists and other proponents of " That old time religion " rage about the breakdown of "good Christian values" in this country and, in order to prove their point, start quoting the Old Testament. I always understood the Bible to state that Jesus represented a new covenant between God and man, a kinder, gentler covenant, if you will, negating the old.
06:13 PM on 04/23/2012
MarkJudiGoet: I always understood the Bible to state that Jesus represented a new covenant between God and man, a kinder, gentler covenant, if you will, negating the old.

Jaknik: But? Jesus is also portrayed as having stated that he had come to "fulfill" the Laws of Moses. Then, to further muddy the waters, he is made to pronounce that the Laws of Moses are the eptitomy of "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Just think: Jesus is saying that those Laws from the Old Testament, hammered out by God and Moses, twice, deep within the confines of a mountain retreat, reflect "Do unto others...." I wonder if Jesus recalled the first time when Moses descended, and accidentally dropped a tablet or two, exactly what Moses ordered to happen to many of his wayward people; and how those orders of Moses, sanctioned by God, were consistent with "Do unto others...."?
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alterego55
Resident tea grinder.
06:34 PM on 04/23/2012
There are no such things as Christian values, only human values, some of which Christians have plagiarized and called their own. There are ritual values and even many of those aren't unique to Christians: cannibalism, zombieism, virgin birth, trinity, etc.
04:05 PM on 04/23/2012
Maybe if we free god he'll disappear.
05:42 AM on 04/24/2012
Exactly. Renounce him and his covenant. Lift his burden by lightening the lumpishness of his existence so he can get over himself and move on.
04:56 PM on 04/24/2012
Amen to that.
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The Knocker
a mind is a terrible thing to waste
03:38 PM on 04/23/2012
Excellent piece.  as usual it is always a pleasure to read your articles.
SelfAwarePatterns
blogger; programmer; science fan
03:23 PM on 04/23/2012
Religion in the western developed nations is losing its grip. Personally, I see this as a good thing. The problem I can see in the near future is that the moderate middle is shrinking. The only Christian denominations that are growing are the evangelical/fundamentalist ones. This means that those who remain religious will be far more hardcore in their beliefs. For a while, they'll continue to see thriving memberships. But they're on the wrong side of history and the brightest of them can see it. This will make them increasingly desperate and aggressive in the years to come.
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AntithiChrist
Rhymes with Grist
05:22 PM on 04/23/2012
And by the way, most of them are likely armed. Jes sayin.
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Dogger807
Faith is a poor reason to believe anything.
08:20 PM on 04/23/2012
Armed and willing to force others into submission.
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TheApostate
blasphemy for a half century
03:01 PM on 04/23/2012
Old time religion is the belief that we had to be brought into line by the threat of a hell or the promise of a paradise.
Once we shed the childhood indoctrination, we discovered that we could lead the kind of lives that we once imagined supernatural,invisible beings demanded of us.
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Truthtalker2
02:56 PM on 04/23/2012
Of all 66 books of the Bible, There are NO orginials. Therefore, the entire Bible is 100% hearsay. Many verses do not exisit even in the earliest manuscript copies. Such as the verse that speaks of drinking poison and taking up snakes in order to prove faith. The Bible God is NOT pro-life. I am amazed that Christians, Muslims and Jews have no qualms of the Bible God killing children. This cold-heartedness of believers has lead to many atrocities that I am sure you are aware of. If you are a good person, and I have no reason to doubt that, then how can you believe in such a cruel, vindictive God? How many times does the Bible say, "And then the anger of the Lord was kindled...."
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Truthtalker2
02:51 PM on 04/23/2012
My problem with Christianity is not the impossibility of the mud man, Adam,
or the rib lady, Eve, or the snakes from sticks tricks of the Pentateuch,
Balaam's talking jackass, or even the God ordained wars of conquest,
genocide, polygamy, slavery, and other nauseations found in the "good book,"
but rather its fundamental flaw - there is no love in the Christian
hereafter.
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02:31 PM on 04/23/2012
I read through all of this, and I'm still not sure what it's about. Is it just a book plug? Or somehow an Obama ad?
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samearl
What is truth?
04:01 PM on 04/23/2012
Some people won't see what it is about. That is what it is about.
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bermudababy
Left lane for passing only!!
06:20 PM on 04/23/2012
ahhh hello! Thank you! My take exactly!
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whirlpool
founder walnut tree congregation
02:25 PM on 04/23/2012
This is an excellent essay. My wife is a Catholic but she is so disgusted with the "old frts" who run the religion that she will probably end up going to a protestant progressive church nearby. I am one of the "assorted others" who has my own little "religion" (for want of a better word) that suits my needs just fine. I think the old men who have dominated religion lo these many eons sense their time is up so but we can expect the death throes to be particularly virulent. They will not let go without a fight. Probably the best thing to do is just ignore them but we probably do that at our peril. Anyway the walnut tree congregation is open to un-baptize anyone who wants it including un-baptizing those dead folks the Mormons baptized. We can also do reverse exorcisms to drive the demons back into the churches from which they escape. One of our goals is to get the poor tortured Jesus down off the cross of the Catholic crucifix and give him a decent burial. In the meantime a more relevant symbol of Jesus as nature and life is being created.
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Clay Farris Naff
Blogger, science journalist, & author
09:28 PM on 04/23/2012
Thanks. Sometime back I wrote a piece, playing off the Vatican's "Catholics, come home" ad campaign, urging Catholics to simply take control of their church. The hierarchy's pretensions to divine authority are absurd, and it's high time Catholics simply say, no more! A democratic Catholicism would smell as sweet.
relevancematters
You're so full of what's right, you can't see what
10:08 AM on 04/24/2012
Amen to that! I don't see a lot of movement in that direction, though. I think the last thirty years has seen a slow, deliberate, dumbing-down of the faithful (ostensibly carrying out the vision of Vatican II, but really doing just the opposite, in much the same way as reality tv numbs and narrows the senses) and there are too few thinkers left who can or will mount of the barricades. Still, the bishops are becoming increasingly dark and ugly, and if they continue with the brutal power plays they've been trying recently, they may at some point tip their hand, and the fortunes of the church as well.
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Dallas Dunlap
12:11 PM on 04/24/2012
whirlpool - From Sam Kinneson: "This wouldn't have to happen if you'd get a ladder and a pair of pliers."
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whirlpool
founder walnut tree congregation
12:53 PM on 04/24/2012
Sorry I just don't get your point.
02:24 PM on 04/23/2012
What all of religions of man are in a rage? God spoke about the Awaking, He not? God Time is here, the awaking place is it what God prophecied about in the end of times? God said. In the end I Will place it in their Hearts to know Me and there will be no doubt it is I Who Calls. God said. In the end, I Will gather (not Man) My chosen people from the 4 quarters of the Earth. I Will place it in their hearts to know who they are, no one will doubt it is I who calls. Jesus said: Let those who have Ears, Hear what the Holy Spirits says to the..God told the end and who wins the final great War of all Wars, the last battle, I Am Victorious. Will God not let all know -No one Owns God and no church owns Jesus? The Time is here-God is awakening the Lion of Judah. Jesus spoke a prophecy, right when it was taking root, Did Jesus not identify to all ones enemies-Soothsayers? Whitewashers? Moneychangers? speaking much more. Will they be all running in a rage with no shelter to hid in? God said: Let your gold and silver save you now did He not? I Am Victorious. He the great deceiver and his followers, know his Time given, better then anyone is coming to an end told he would be in rage not like since the beginning of time, right? he is the one who offers all material wealth and riches, power in this world did he not tempt Jesus to worship him, will give all riches to him? Moses and Jesus said no, chose to remain poor and live among the poor lay people, labors.
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phal4875
The world is run by cats; we just feed them.
04:49 PM on 04/23/2012
Running Bible verses together can be confusing for readers. What are you saying - in your own words?
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whirlpool
founder walnut tree congregation
07:09 PM on 04/23/2012
"God is awakening the Lion of Judah." What species of lion is this? Is it in a zoo? How long has it been asleep and why?
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Bones Rhodes
11:54 PM on 04/23/2012
---sleeping lions are probably like sleeping bears: not something to poke with a sharp stick.