Our president embodies [America's] uncentered spiritual landscape in three ways. First, like a growing share of Americans (44 percent), President Obama changed his religion as an adult, joining Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ in his 20s after a conversion experience brought him out of agnosticism into faith. Second, he was converted by a pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, whose highly politicized theology was self-consciously at odds with much of historic Christian practice and belief. Finally, since breaking with that pastor, Obama has become a believer without a denomination or a church, which makes him part of one of the country’s fastest-growing religious groups — what the Barna Group calls the “unchurched Christian” bloc, consisting of Americans who accept some tenets of Christian faith without participating in any specific religious community.
"It seems to me the mainline churches are set up institutionally not to
generate celebrity-status people, whereas evangelical churches, which
are likely to be independent and have an entrepreneurial minister,
almost breed celebrity status."
Amid their “slow but general retreat” this decade in terms of financial health and membership, the oldline Protestant churches are especially hampered by the aging of their memberships, a new study says.
Although mainline Protestant denominations for decades have been closely linked to liberal causes—civil rights, women’s movements, abortion rights and antiwar protests—most of their members have been mainstays of the Republican Party.
On the way to the airport for my TWA flight to St. Louis, I gassed up at the Standard station. When I got to the airport, my plane was delayed so I had time to drop in on Crown Books and then stopped at the Rexall concession to get some aspirin. Having an hour to kill in the club before takeoff, I put on my earphones and listened to the tape I had purchased the day before at Rose Records.
On the third Sunday of Easter I was in La Jolla, California, for the baptism of a granddaughter. If there is anything better than witnessing and participating in the baptism of a grandchild, I don’t know what it is.
When asked, “Whatever happened to the mainline Protestant churches?" as I often am, I respond: Mainline decline is an old, tired story, but mainliners’ mission is urgent. How are mainline churches recovering? By going local in order to turn global.