The sharp awareness of religious pluralism that developed in the 20th century is likely only to intensify in the 21st century. Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, people of other faiths and people of no explicit faith will increasingly work, study and play together—and share their faith with one another in formal and informal ways.
When Vice President Al Gore picked Joseph Lieberman as his running mate, it was the first-ever selection for a national ticket of a Jewish nominee—and a practicing Orthodox Jew at that. Though in decades past the decision might have been viewed as highly risky, choosing Lieberman was seen quickly as a “plus” for the Democrats.
One in eight background checks conducted on volunteers or prospective employees through LifeWay Christian Resources found a criminal history that might have kept an individual from working or volunteering at a church, the Southern Baptist Convention publishing house reported in August.
Southern Baptists opened their annual meeting last month with calls to turn around plummeting baptism rates, even as researchers warned that the nation’s largest Protestant body could lose half its size by mid-century.
Southern Baptist ethicist Richard Land, a leading Christian conservative who helped advance the Bush administration’s agenda on a range of social issues, says that the formerly sanctioned practice of waterboarding of suspected terrorists is torture and “violates everything we stand for.”
The number of forced terminations of pastors and church staff in Southern Baptist congregations has dropped. For 2006, the last year tabulated, 680 full-time and “bivocational” pastors were forced from their positions, in addition to 265 staff members.