Devo's Blog

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Mainline churches targeted by IRC

I attend Snohomish First Presbyterian Church in Snohomish, WA. I grew up in SnoPres, then grew out of SnoPres, later returned and, thanks to the caring and supportive people there, have experienced a deepening faith journey over the past several years. I can't imagine how I'd have gotten through this past year without my brothers and sisters at SnoPres praying for, listening to and supporting me.

SnoPres belongs to the Presbyterian Church (USA), a so-called "mainline" denomination, which basically means "being in a principal or well-established position." (Click here for a definitive description of Mainline.) Generally, mainline churches are moderate in their interpretation and application of biblical truth - as opposed to liberal or fundamentalist denominations. It's not, then, surprising that fundamentalist Christians regard this as unacceptable and a compromise of "Biblical Truth" in their POV.

So what? To each his own, right? Well, as I've learned, that's a extremely naive way to look at it, even if you're not a Christian and don't give a damn about any of this. Why is that? Because fundamentalists aren't happy with the status quo; their perception is that their faith (the only "True Faith" - they enjoy speaking in capital letters) is under siege and they need to fight on behalf of God against the Satanic forces they believe are behind the attacks on our Nation's Moral Character (lot's of cap's there!). Their strategy is based on fear and the desire for control and it affects all people of all faiths (and those with none whatsoever); they don't discriminate even among themselves, attacking their own ranks if need be - just look at recent developments in the SBC, for example.

So why am I writing about this? Because I recently read about plans by an organized group of religious and political fundamentalists known as the Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD) to actively target mainline churches with the intention of "Reforming the Church to Renew Democracy."

In a speech by John Thomas, President of the United Church of Christ, denouncing the IRD, he details the tactics and breadth of their strategy:

The IRD supports and encourages campaigns of disruption and attack in Mainline churches through its Alliance of Church Renewal. IRD has committees specifically focused on the United Methodist Church, the Episcopal Church, and the Presbyterian Church (USA), committees which provide support for so-called renewal groups within each of these denominations - the Presbyterian Lay Committee, Good News, and Anglicans United. More recently the United Church of Christ, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the American Baptist Churches, and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) have increasingly come into their sights as well. The IRD pursues its political agenda in the churches through three strategies: campaigns of disinformation that seek to discredit church leadership, advocacy efforts at church assemblies seeking to influence church policy, and grass roots organizing which, in some cases, encourages schismatic movements encouraging members and congregations either to redirect mission funding or even to leave their denominations. Indeed, the Mainline churches are facing hardball tactics.

Now, I'm not running scared in fear that my own dear SnoPres is under attack, but knowing there are groups like the IRD out there only deepens my concern for religious freedom and tolerance in this country. Regardless (or in spite) of my moderate Christian faith, the IRD will not return the favor, and that worries me. How do you build bridges when others insist on building walls? Or run an incursion to blow bridges up from the inside? I'm not sure.

The price of freedom of religion, or of speech, or of the press, is that we must put up with a good deal of rubbish.
- Robert Jackson

I never told my religion nor scrutinized that of another. I never attempted to make a convert nor wished to change another's creed. I have judged of others' religion by their lives, for it is from our lives and not from our words that our religion must be read. By the same test must the world judge me.
- Thomas Jefferson

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I often wonder what God must really think. He created something so beautiful when he created people. We keep making that creation into something ugly, and hateful. We are our own worst enemy.

11:02 AM  

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