Predicting the future is fraught with difficulty in the rapidly changing, competitive marketplace of American religion. But the prospects for a turnaround in mainline Protestantism are growing fainter as the movement enters its second half-century of precipitous decline.
Just as one-stop shopping behemoths such as Walmart and Amazon are fulfilling the retail needs of America's consumers, larger churches are increasingly meeting the spiritual needs of America's faithful.
Religious communities can provide important sources of social support. Personal faith can provide solace and a sense of hope to men and women who endure constant stress and may have experienced traumatic events.
By letting this decision, and others like it, stand, the Supreme Court seems to be recognizing the amazingly swift turnaround in public attitudes on the issue of same-sex marriage and on gay and lesbian rights, in general.
Religious communities calling a new pastor, rabbi or imam do not get the same public attention focused on the choice of the next king of late-night TV. But saying goodbye to a longtime leader and deciding on a new spiritual CEO pose special challenges for congregations.
America's pews are becoming dramatically more welcoming to gays and lesbians and increasingly reflective of the nation's racial and ethnic diversity, according to the latest results from a major study of U.S. congregations.