Monday, June 05, 2006

Katie bashes religion!

Katie really gets her Underoos in a bunch when a group of Christians – or of any religion for that matter; Katie is very ecumenical in this regard – has the temerity to regard the social gospel of the New Testament or social justice in general as important. And that goes double for those darn Methodists! As a gal who cries so piteously at any slight, real or perceived, of the Catholics, she’s got a lot of damn gall criticizing another denomination. Not to mention being shot through with hypocrisy.

The event that prompted Monday’s rant (great story, eh Anders?) was the petitions by the Methodist Church (in Minnesota, anyway) at its Annual Conference last week in Saint Cloud. About the petitions, Katie says:
In the past, Methodist leaders have often focused on racism and sexism. This year, however, gay issues jumped to center stage. The Minnesota Annual Conference outdid itself, passing nine petitions on various aspects of the topic. The conference went on record as supporting both gay marriage and the ordination of gay clergy.

It just torques Katie to think that anybody could read the same book and come to different conclusions than Katie does. Why, the nerve of these people!

Katie isn’t satisfied with just criticizing the Methodists, though. She puts in the extra effort for which Katie is so justly famous, claiming the Methodists (and other mainline denomination, too) are losing membership because of their social activism! Here’s Katie:
Clearly, Methodist Church leaders are an energetic lot. Why, then, is United Methodist membership heading south? Here in Minnesota, church membership fell from 121,000 in 1980 to 95,000 in 2000, according to the Atlanta-based Glenmary Research Center. Minnesota Methodists reported 86,000 members in 2004.

Nationally, the United Methodist Church lost about 3 million members between the late 1960s and 2003, according to church figures -- a nearly 30 percent drop. During the same period the U.S. population grew by roughly one-third.

The United Methodist Church is not alone in its membership decline. Other mainline Protestant denominations such as the Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church (USA) have been hemorrhaging members for decades.

Why the sagging Methodist numbers? Perhaps many folks in the pews don't share their leadership's left-wing political agenda. Today, the average United Methodist would probably be uneasy about gutting America's defense budget when Iran is on the fast track to building nuclear weapons. [italics are Spot’s]

Well perhaps, Katie. But perhaps more right wingers who suffer from katian arrhythmia attend conservative churches. (Spot believes that Katie, for example, has replicated four times.) There is some actual evidence of that, unlike Katie’s attribution to social concerns.

Katie is hardly the first one to raise this bogus explanation. That doesn’t surprise you does it, boys and girls? Media Transparency has a series of articles on the decades-long right wing attacks against the mainline churches, especially the Methodists. In one of them, this is written about the issue of membership decline due to social agenda:
These three so-called "renewal" groups repeatedly seek to justify their attacks by claiming that a decline in membership in our church [the Methodists] and other mainline denominations is the fault of "liberals" who involved the church in social action, and that they are needed to repair the damage (IRD, 2001a; Tooley, 2003; Case, 2003).

The problem with this assertion, which is used ad nauseam by all three groups, is that it is simply not true. Social-scientific evidence shows that the decline in membership in mainline churches over the past 70 years and the growth of conservative churches is the direct consequence of conservative church members having more children. According to several leading experts in the sociology of religion, who published their findings in the American Journal of Sociology, "switching from mainline to conservative denominations ... explains none of the decline of mainline denominations" (Hout, Greely, and Wilde, 2001). [italics are Spot’s, well, except for the ad nauseam part]

Boys and girls, Spot wants you to think about this very carefully. We can see here that a Darwinist edge goes to the most prolific breeders, a group that is anti-science, anti-social, and anti-reality. It seems to Spot that this is the best refutation of Darwin’s evolutionary theory that he has ever seen! The knuckle-draggers will inherit the earth, at least until it burns up! Then, they hope, to be whisked away by the Heavenly Hoover.

The Media Transparency article that Spot quotes is Church and Scaife by Andrew Weaver and Nicole Siebert. It is a fascinating account of how a few very well-heeled right wing foundations have worked to undermine the social activism of the Methodist Church and other mainline denomination. It is definitely worth a read; there are related articles on the site as well.

Here’s what Katie thinks religion is all about:
But there may be a deeper answer. Most people -- whatever their politics -- don't flock to churches, synagogues and mosques to find outlets for political and social activism. Instead, they seek answers to life's most profound questions: What is the purpose of my life? What is the meaning of my suffering? What is my connection to the transcendent, to God?

Whoa. Somebody has her irony warning buzzer turned off! And her hypocrisy indicator is entirely non-functional! There are of course countless examples of political activism of the conservative churches, all the way back to advocating against the abolition of slavery. One example that springs readily to mind is the un-godly crowd that gathered for the Pastor’s Summit to organize against gay marriage last fall that Spot described in Pious, Scmious. Michele Bachmann was there, of course.

Spot says to the Methodists, stick to your guns, so to speak. If the choice is living out the words of Jesus Christ in the world, or sinking into self-absorbed ascetic wankery, the Methodists have made the right choice.

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