Last week I received a comment that I refused to publish because it attacked an individual or a group. Apart from the personal attack, the commenter attempted to make the point that gay friendly resolutions by mainstream churches explain a general membership decline.
Two years ago, a book entitled American Grace became a national best seller, and I blogged about it in a post entitled Conservative Christianity Driving a Generation Away From Religion. That post included this quote from another blog that suggested American Grace:
makes the case that the alliance of religion with conservative politics is driving young adults away from religion …. Among the conclusions [of a major survey] is this one: “The association between religion and politics (and especially religion’s intolerance of homosexuality) was the single strongest factor in this portentous shift.”
Today I ran across another blog post about a more recent book that makes the case even more starkly. Here’s the open-ended survey question that formed the basis for the book:
What words or phrases best describe Christianity?
How would you respond? What’s the first word that pops into your head? Then, give yourself a couple of minutes to think and then answer again. What’s your answer after reflection?
Now shift your thinking. How do you think others, self-identified as non-Christian and aged 16-29, responded to the question? What of those who self-described as Christian?
With an open-ended question, one would expect a wide variety of answers, but it turns out there was a single theme that was listed on a startling 91% of the responses from this youthful age group that self-identified as non-Christian. What do you think that one answer was?
Ouch! Thanks UMC and General Conference 2012 (GC2012) for reinforcing the perception.
Well, what about the self-identified Christians in that age group? How did they respond?
But, it was only 80%.
The blog post contains this quote from the book, unChristian, by David Kinnaman.
“The gay issue has become the ‘big one, the negative image most likely to be intertwined with Christianity’s reputation. It is also the dimensions that most clearly demonstrates the unchristian faith to young people today, surfacing in a spate of negative perceptions: judgmental, bigoted, sheltered, right-wingers, hypocritical, insincere, and uncaring. Outsiders say [Christian] hostility toward gays…has become virtually synonymous with the Christian faith.”
That’s the bad news. The good news is when a problem is so clearly defined, the solution also becomes obvious. The United Church of Christ, the Episcopal Church, the ELCA Lutherans, and the PC(USA) Presbyterians have opened their doors. They understand that “all means all”. They have decided to become part of the solution rather than part of the problem. By inviting gays into their pulpits and to serve at their altars, they have welcomed the whole host, the entire gay community, into full communion, full participation, full inclusion in the life of the church.
Don’t be shy, don’t be embarrassed, don’t hide your light under a bushel. Tell the world what you have done. Shout it from the rooftops!