During the past 30 years various churches have begun to revive an ancient pattern for preparing adults for baptism and Christian discipleship. The Roman Catholic Church began the process in the 1980s by creating a Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults-now the way one becomes Catholic as an adult. The Episcopal Church soon followed with a process of its own.
Why are people ripping "For Those Tears I Died" out of songbooks and hymnals? It's one of the most popular Christian folk songs to come out of the '60s. It's been translated into 12 languages. There's hardly an evangelical songbook in which it doesn't appear. Written by then 16-year-old Marsha Stevens, the song expresses adolescent piety, yet its images of baptism and liberation are universal.
Is the religious right becoming sectarian? That was the question I found myself asking after Paul Weyrich, one of the founding fathers of the Moral Majority, recently called on Christians to "drop out" of American culture. "I believe that we have probably lost the culture war," Weyrich lamented.
The saints are in retreat. Faced by what they consider moral as well as academic breakdown, some evangelical leaders are calling on Christians to withdraw their children from public schools and place them in private religious academies--or better yet--teach them at home. "Exodus 2000," they call it. And for those who miss the exodus, they have a backup plan: "Rescue 2010."