Religious Profiles

Since the American religious landscape is always changing, it is important to note current demographic data. The following image is from the Public Religion Research Institute and Brookings based on data captured last summer. So What? According to this survey of just over 2,000 people religious progressives are more racially diverse than any other group, and are more than twice as successful in attracting the affiliation of America's youngest adults: the Millennials.  On the other end Read More …

Progressive Identity

Many people think of the United Church of Christ as a progressive Protestant denomination.  Since it is a congregational tradition, it is important to note that this tradition features congregations and members with views all across the theological continuum.  Individual congregations that claim progressive as a core part of their identity should be intentional in communicating that message. Recently I encountered an exemplary example of how to tell the progressive story well on the website Read More …

The Decade of Christian Decline

2000-2010 can best be labeled as a decade of decline for American Christianity.  David Roozen's recent piece in the Christian Century provides an important look at just how rapid the decline was for conservative/evangelical Protestants, mainline/oldline Protestants, and Roman Catholics.  As a percentage, the declines were oldline/mainline: 13% Catholic: 5% conservative/evangelical: 1% So What? After decades of progressive Christianity, it should not be surprising to see the Read More …

A Divided Christianity

Marcus Borg is professor emeritus in the philosophy department at Oregon State University, where he was the Hundere Chair in Religion until his retirement in 2007.   He is also the only author to ever make my top ten books of the year list in consecutive years (2011 and 2012).  Recently, he joined Patheos.  In his introductory post explaining who he is and what he will be blogging about, Borg explains the reality of what American Christianity is today: My (and our) cultural context is a deeply Read More …

Review of On God’s Side

Meet the Author Jim Wallis is president and CEO of Sojourners where he is editor-in-chief of Sojourners magazine.  He has written ten books including two New York Times bestsellers: The Great Awakening: Reviving Faith & Politics in a Post–Religious Right America (2008) and God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It (2006).  Wallis regularly teaches a course on “Faith, Social Justice, and Public Life” at Georgetown University.  Additionally, he Read More …

The Scandal of American Christianity

In response to Candace Chellew-Hodge's recent interview question about religion and wealth, progressive Christian scholar Marcus Borg offers these wise words: The scandal of American Christianity today is that it is deeply divided not only about issues like biblical inerrancy and evolution, but it's deeply divided between a conservative vision of Christianity that emphasizes that what really matters morally is personal morality, the behavior of individuals . . . On the other side of the Read More …

Are You An In Between Christian?

In a recent blog post, Rachel Held Evans included a bit of self-disclosure that warrants consideration by all who seek to lead the church into the future.  After mentioning the recent article by Ross Douthat and response by Diana Butler Bass (something I have written about recently as well), she shares the disheartening reality that many with differing theological perspectives choose to attack the other's position rather than collaborate to craft a brighter future for the church. Notably, she Read More …

Can Christianity Be Saved?

As I read Ross Douthat's latest  New York Times editorial, "Can Liberal Christianity Be Saved?," I knew I had to respond.  In short, he suggests that the end could well be near for progressive or liberal Christianity unless something changes rather significantly as a result of decades of decline.  While not proposing that other forms of Christianity have all fared well, he suggests that they have by way of comparison to progressive denominations. (For more on Douthat's perspective, read my Read More …

Progressive – The Best Word?

The Pew Research Center for People & the Press released the results of their recent poll of American's views of political terms.  The term with the most favorable view is progressive.  Interestingly, it rates about 33% higher than the term liberal. So What? Many people characterize mainline churches as theologically liberal.  Do you think congregations and denominations should move beyond that label and claim the more culturally valued term progressive to describe themselves? Why or why Read More …

Liberal Protestant Decline – Fact Check

Yesterday, I wrote a review of Mark Chaves' new book American Religion: Contemporary Trends (2011).  In that post, I included  a quote that offers a basic overview of something most people take for granted: the decline of liberal Protestant churches over the last several decades.  As a result of this shift, there were twice as many Americans who "claimed affiliation with conservative denominations as with theologically more liberal ones" (p. 87). Chaves goes on to debunk the commonly held Read More …