The United Methodist Church And My Loss Of Faith In Its Mission

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

It comes with much personal reflection that after the United Methodist Church’s Annual Conference for the Pacific Northwest Conference area, encompassing where I live in Washington State, I decided to leave the church after seeing what I believe to be the church leadership moving away from spirituality and Christian teachings to a place where members of the hierarchy in our conference use the Church as a platform to pontificate a particular flavor of politics, aligning itself with an American political party, promoting organizations that provide legal advice to those who evade the law, and worst of all having members that promote an organization that advocates the killing of law enforcement officers. This is a sad outcome, but it represents an evolution of thinking becoming endemic to particular districts. I do not believe that most of the districts approve generally of these changes but unfortunately for me they encompass the area I reside. The best choice for me was to end my relationship.

I joined with the faith when I was twelve years old, being introduced to the United Methodist Church by two close friends. My parents were married at the same church my wife and I were thirty-seven years later.

Now the Church I attended as a teenager or a young adult in the area I reside is not as it was before. For this I will no longer attend. After attending an annual conference meeting, I penned a letter to my church’s laity and pastor which describes my observations and sums the decision I had to leave.

I faced three choices. Either accept the changes and go about as before, constantly at odds with myself as to why I must endure what I cannot accept; contest the actions of the church administration at a time in my life when I have grown weary of continually having to fight such battles; or attending to my own conscience and pursuing the faith of my choosing. For me the last choice is the best choice.

Here is the letter:

I attended the conference held in Portland as a lay member in representation of our church. Last year, I attended the conference in Puyallup.

One of the first differences between the two years is that both Washington and the Oregon-Idaho conference attended and were represented equally. I will defer to Pastor Sandy to elaborate on more of the particulars and structure. What I present now represents my overall impression of the event and some of my observations—which are my own.

For a brief background of the previous year’s event I participated in several work forums held between members of the laity discussing a wide range of topics pertinent to our annual conference. The participation among the audience showed how our church involves its members in a consensus minded, laity centered conference where members provided a foundation for our church and set policy accordingly. It moreover provided us to witness worthy causes such as disaster relief, bible education, spreading the world of Jesus, and helping vulnerable people to find comfort and meaning in their lives. Of course there were administrative matters requiring the vote of the membership.

In last year’s event for me and undoubtedly many others, there existed to my belief only one outstanding topic related to the church offering a more inclusive approach to clergy having alternative family arrangements that is in conflict with the book of discipline. We had a healthy debate in that fashion, which was good to voice these matters. In the end, the conference voted to not allocate funds toward prosecuting individuals based on these alternative lifestyles. For me this was a middle ground for this decade’s long controversy.

That aside, I came from last year’s event invigorated and very pleased with the experience. So when I had the opportunity for this year I had many hopes that I could further experience the renewal of faith in our church and reflect on the conference for direction on how we can grow our church accordingly and to the teachings of Jesus.

Unfortunately that was not the case this year.

Having attended our annual meeting in Portland, I came from the experience dissuaded and profoundly concerned at the misdirection the leadership and many influential members are steering the Pacific Northwest Conference.

From the start of the event my concerns came into play. One of the first acts of the leadership was to bring forth a group of probably a dozen or more individuals who were assigned roles to act in a manner of safety monitors for the conference. Not that these were individuals solely tasked with providing safety of the conference, such as medical professionals or maintenance of fire watch or similar duties but rather these were a light form of security officials who could be summoned whenever there was a disagreement between individuals. They were brought before the audience and introduced. The speaker declared that this group avails itself to involve itself whenever there is a situation where two or more people discussing a matter which “makes them feel uncomfortable”. The speaker further elaborated that the meeting would not be a place that is “unsafe for people” and there was an implied warning that vigorous dissent could warrant the imposition of the safety officers into the discussion.

Why was this of such concern to me? Because I have seen over the past five years in my writing and study of social censorship shows great numbers of examples where one particular party suppresses contrary views under the rubric of “safety” or “safe zones”, both of which were expressed by the speaker in a manner that is consistent with the types of censorship of speech when groups such as safety committees find certain speech objectionable.

Had this safety announcement been the limit of what I experienced, I propose it might have been benign. Coupled with other problems over several days it proved to be a prelude of more to come.

At these events, one can find booths featuring a great number of programs, crafts, books and displays introducing to participants some of the efforts our church brings to the many, with at least one goal being to provide members with additional resources and ways to participate. Yet, I discovered in hearing from others that several of the displays were not featured due to “lack of room” and were cancelled. Suspiciously, some of the displays were prominent and being placed next to the auditorium, while others were in the lower level where some of the classes were held.

Of those that received the preferential display site next to the main auditorium most carried political undertones.

I recall one booth showing a legal defense fund and advocacy group formed within the church administration addressed toward law breaking individuals in our society. This was not a jail ministry of sorts but almost went as far as being an analog of the ACLU but one centered on criminal defense. There were pamphlets proffered to be handed out to illegal immigrant groups advising them how to evade immigration officials and to not trust certain law enforcement officers. There was a political side of this that encouraged members of the church to lobby to end enforcement of immigration law.

Next to this booth was a display showing a police officer purportedly attacking a person who was down on a sidewalk, claiming that police brutality was involved and the take away from this booth was that law enforcement officers were essentially untrustworthy villains who victimize others. Compounding the message, was the introduction of groups that confront police in disturbing manners, groups that openly call during rallies for the death and murder of police officers. But the promotion of this group was not limited to one booth.

During one of the full membership events in the main auditorium, one of the speakers praised this group as being somehow beneficial to the community and that they were welcome with open arms into one of the churches to participate in volunteer services. It was not just that participants in this organization wanted to receive church services, but they were collectively identified and praised by the speaker collectively identified with this movement.

For me and undeniably many others in attendance I found the promotion of that organization as deeply insulting to those who served in the police profession. I retired from a sheriff’s department as a deputy. No other officer or deputy I have known over the years has done anything to justify being murdered yet the PNW conference leadership actively promotes a group who advocates the killing of persons such as my friends, family members, and coworkers who actually protect the community. I attended over the years probably fifteen officer funerals, the majority of which were officers who were murdered in the line of duty. I also had the unfortunate experience of two of my coworkers dying at work, one when I was a cadet back in 1984 and another in 2010, the latter person I found dead in a field after he suffered a horrific car crash. Yet, again, the UMC church officials promoted an organization having many of its membership who would rejoice in such tragedies.

If that was not enough of a concern, the leadership of the event made much work of introducing secular politics into the church. In my view this is both outside of what should be the scope our discipline and from a financial perspective could jeopardize our church’s tax-exempt status.

During a film presentation to the membership, it was greatly apparent that the conference was made to endorse a particular political view that is held by a faction of one of the main political parties in the U.S. Several politicians, one being a socialist city councilwoman in Seattle, are promoted as having virtues that somehow align with church teachings. The film also showed political movements at the exclusion of other political causes that were in conflict with the official political position presented, and presumably assented to by church leadership. None of these politics, or other politics for that matter, should have a place in our church as they are not the word of God or Christ.

It was readily apparent that the leadership and speakers’ goal was to foster a change in the UMC to align with these political goals. I had to wonder what they were managing, was it a church or a political movement disguising itself as a church. It seemed to me that there is an attempt to use the church as merely a vehicle to promote a particular politic, of course using funds from the membership to accomplish this effort.

To promote financial income of a politician, numerous persons at the conference wore decals and pins advertising a book that was offered by a political candidate for the presidency. Cokesbury, the Christian Bookstore aligned in some fashion with the Church, provided a shelf at the conference for this candidate along with free pins/decals for to be worn by members to help sell these books. Aside from the political endorsement, which walks the line of being in violation of IRS regulations of promoting political candidates, this particular candidate was the person who eagerly assisted the prosecution of elective wars that cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians, a person who during an interview visibly rejoiced and expressed a disturbing glee in how the leader of a particular nation was ultimately assassinated as a direct result of this military expedition. I cannot help but see the irony of this when coupled with our church’s century’s long goal to rid the world of the sufferings brought on by war and needless conflict. But apparently, this former candidate’s professed political position somehow aligns itself with the same political goals fostered by the conference’s leadership.

Toward the end of the semi-week’s schedule, the speakers presented a workshop encouraging members to write letters and make phone calls to politicians to encourage certain policy making.

Moving on from the political concern, the leadership swore in new ministers and others appointed to positions. While I laud each of these persons for their accomplishments and wish them the best, the official reciting to them their oaths of office when dictating that the appointees should Uphold the Book of Discipline, there was very obviously a dismissive attitude toward affirming this element of the oath. In fact, laughter was expressed, as if the book of discipline was to be ignored whenever it suited them or was inconvenient. Coupled with some of the political ideals promoted, led me to believe we were witnessing the cusp of the transformation of our conference into one that chooses to deviate from the will of the church generally.

The political correctness did not end there but the most striking example was some of the disrespect shown at one time toward our Indian members in the Southwest of our region.

My table was situated adjacent to an exit door leading outside. An Indian woman standing at the door lit a smudge pot containing herbs and sweet grasses and waiving the wafts of a light smoke outside. Later, she was introduced to the membership in front of the platform. She recited a tradition they had: a century’s long tradition that they incorporated into their later worship in our church. The practice where the laity would pray to God and the smoke from the smudge pot rose to carry their prayers to the heavens, a beautiful allegory and praise thought I. But apparently this was not permitted.

Sometime before her presentation, someone told her that she would not be permitted to present her prayer with us in the traditional manner. She had to extinguish the smudge pot before the prayer because “someone complained” about how the smoke would affect the health of people in the audience. The conference room was very expansive and provided a high ceiling. The argument was baseless. Somehow Catholics manage with having a censer but we could not pray this way. Once again we subjugate our Indian friends by denying them the right to pray in a manner of their own choosing. And if the insult was not enough, she asked that we refer to her people as not Native Americans but Indians or as their tribe such as the Chehalis, or such. In the end, however, the speaker at the podium somehow could not respect this and called her instead a Native American.

On the notion of church attrition we in the membership learned of more church closings. It seemed this time there were many more than last year. I foresee that if the leadership of this conference continues its political and social engineering goals the number of these churches leaving will increase. I did not see as much affordance to discussion as last year, and I had the impression that the leadership was uninterested in what the laity might have thought about the politics and instead is going to press on with its own agenda.

Several weeks ago, and I apologize for not having the source immediately available to me, I read that most of the church closings are in conferences where the approaches similar or identical to the policies set by the leadership of our area are much higher compared with areas that are not. The UMC is declining in the United States generally but is flourishing in Africa and South Korea, among other nations. The politics in our area are also not in alignment with that of Eastern Washington, most of Idaho, most geographical areas of Western Washington, and most of Oregon except for the Willamette Valley and possibly Salem. If the administration of these conferences keeps to themselves and practices whatever politics they wish they might also be benign. But, if instead it forces the matter onto each of the members in these more conservative areas, that’s going to be off putting to most of the laity of those named locations.

While I believe that our church should be more inclusive as previously aforementioned, my opinions are that the leadership is going too greater lengths to foster a political agenda.

The claim is that we need to fundamentally change the church to be more in political alignment with the Millennial Generation in order to stave off the attrition of the church membership. To some degree this is helpful but in the long term it is a recipe for failure.

The Millennial Generation is the least pious generation seen so far. I don’t believe we will gain more of these cohorts than we will lose by stepping over ourselves to attract them. If instead we ditched the politics and political correctness and focused on our worship and time honored traditions of promoting care and good toward others we actually will appeal more to the Generation Z cohort that is just coming of adult age.

This generation is as evidenced by research to be the most pious generation since the Greatest Generation. It is estimated that 40% of this cohort is open to religion and is interested in exploring membership. They are also not in direct ideological alignment with some of the identity politics and policies that the conference leadership is promoting. If we evangelize and bring to our church this generation we are all but certain to reverse the decade’s long trend of membership attrition plaguing mainline protestant churches. If continue with alienating our more conservative older members and ignore the wants and needs of Generation Z, we might make a strategic mistake that will be greatly damaging.

I hope for the sake of our church generally that the leadership of the PNW changes its approach and policy and not be so willing to be rogue in its approach toward the United Methodist Church General Conference.

In all, for the past thirty or so years, the possibility of a schism occurring in the church between two factions in the church and its damage being debilitating, I have since this conference event reversed my beliefs in part.

If we are to experience minor but vocal leadership factions of the PNW annual conference act with dismissiveness toward church policy, to use the church as a platform to promote a brand of politics, and exclude others who might have a difference of opinion in how the region is governed it might be better to allow this split and release these factions to go their own way. In the long term it might be the better solution.
~+~

From the above letter the objection came down to the fact that I could not attend and provide donations to a church that allows itself to promote an organization or an idea that calls for the murder of those such as myself, family members, and coworkers simply for the uniforms and jobs we performed. It is abhorrent. When I asked our bishop for clarification of this position, she stated that the United Methodist Church has no official position on this organization but does support the ideas for which it stands. Both the bishop and the pastor of my local Church were asked to comment about the fact that a booth, prominently displayed at the front of the conference entrance, or that during an all member meeting one of the presenter advocated this hate group both of them expressed they had no knowledge of these matters and claimed that they did not see and did not hear this.

For the embracement of politics, again I believe the conference’s leadership uses its position to further a political agenda. This is not a matter in my view for the Church which should be a refuge from politics and a place where doing good should be paramount. Unfortunately, to an unacceptable degree this is not the direction the Church is taking in this conference.

It is time to move on.

By Darren Smith

161 thoughts on “The United Methodist Church And My Loss Of Faith In Its Mission”

  1. Darren, I remember your poignant post on this subject last year – it was obvious you were struggling then — hope your decision to leave the church provides you with some release from your concern and pain.

    re: “If instead we ditched the politics and political correctness and focused on our worship and time honored traditions of promoting care and good toward others we actually will appeal more to the Generation Z cohort that is just coming of adult age.” – spot on.

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. The post was of interest to me. And going by the number of comments, to a lot of others as well.

    You really need to follow your own advice.

  3. The Master’s Call….Dirty rotten sinful living only leads to a fall. Then a bolt of lighting calls you.

  4. Darren, your (ex) church, like the Catholic Church, condones illegal immigration because immigrants are a huge source of new membership and money.
    Unfortunately, church leadership can’t or won’t see that condoning illegal immigration alienates existing church membership that defects and takes money with them.

    The Catholic Church in the US is fuming over deportations that are causing huge loss in membership and cash flow. Its lawlessness has now come full circle to bite its bishops in the ass, and rightfully so.

    1. Many in the hierarchy of the Catholic Church may take this stance, but most Catholics I know do not. I am Catholic and believe all should follow our laws. I contribute to my church because it does a great deal of good for our community. I stopped contributing to our annual Bishops Appeal when I found out the money was supporting illegal aliens. Many people mistakingly believe that Catholics must do everything the Pope says. This is not true. I strongly disagree with the open borders statements from Pope Francis. I would like to see him retire.

      1. Many priests, themselves, agree with you and don’t follow everything the pope tells them.

  5. Then there’s believing in god or God through yourself and your own understanding. Then pick a church or club that reinforces or debates your issues. If a gay joins, you can quit and still talk to god or God.

  6. You’re a little late to the party, bud. A number of Christian denominations and many (if not most) modern Jewish congregations left God behind long ago. Exchanged Him for Social Justice, i.e., politics. Hard to find Him in a church or synagogue.

    1. I’d be delighted to live in a place run by Mormons. I like their missionaries. Just don’t ask me to join the Latter-Day Saints m’self.

  7. Darren, I left the Episcopal Church a year ago for similar reasons, though I was less involved in church affairs than you seem to have been. Long leaning “progressive”, the Episcopal Church and my diocese in South Carolina have thrown away the barriers and gone full-on Social Justice Warrior. Rather than a church, I tend to think of them as a political re-education center or an unaccredited subsidiary of the Democratic Party. My parting letter, which remains to this day unanswered, reminded them of the limits of non-profit political advocacy as codified in 26 USC §501(c)(3). The business of a church is to offer salvation through Christ, and to minister to the lost, needy and hurting, not to redesign society or advocate for any particular political philosophy. The Presiding Bishop and diocesan leadership of the Episcopal Church have forgotten about this. I’m sure they are trying, in their own minds, to be relevant and encouraging to diversity, but they are turning their diminishing parish congregations into echo chambers. Members with truly diverse opinions, such as myself, are throwing up their hands and leaving. The result is the Episcopal Church is becoming less diverse, due to the perversion of its historic mission. I am an admirer of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, but I believe many churchpeople have misunderstood his fatal collaboration with the German Widerstand in WWII. Bonhoeffer, like Niemoeller and others, recognized the Nazi regime as so monstrous in its crimes that their faith demanded action. There is NOTHING in present-day American society that is close to the horrors of National Socialism (or Stalinist repression) so such directed activism today (often with dubious partner organizations) merely detracts from the mission of the Church. Even with Trump in office, we are a long, long way from Germany in 1943.

    1. RogerJ, I left the Episcopal church back in 2003 when they elected Katherine Jefforts Shori as bishop- A wholly unqualified person to lead the church – selected because she was female and liberal. In addition she drove my priest out of the church in Vegas – a fledgling start up which was growing like crazy simply because she was jealous and vindictive. Miss the rites and rituals but not the hierarchy which seems to be contemptuous to parishioner’s concerns.

  8. Oh Darren! I found the same sorts of problems occurring in the ELCA division of the Lutheran Church. I wrote a letter to the pastor about the same sorts of things. Mine was not so nice. Initially I thought it was the city. Minneapolis I similar in political ideologically as Portland. I have close relatives that live in Portland that left the ELCA Church for the same reasons. My family and I have now joined a more charitable division of the Lutheran church. It might be more conservative, but not politically so. It also carries out the mission of charity, faith and hope that the ELCA once did.

    I’m really sorry that you experienced this in your church, too.

  9. Is the church age over?

    Satan will take his seat & rule as an angel of light. The devil will use “his” hand picked ministers of righteousness.

    The church age is over! It is finished. God commanded His people to come out of the churches and flee to the mountains:
    Matthew 24:15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)

    16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:
    The abomination of desolation is speaking of Satan. God loosed Satan and turned the churches over to him for destruction.

    The Holy Spirit has left all churches today because the man of sin (Satan) was given rule over them:
    2 Thessalonians 2:3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
    4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.

  10. Thank-you for a well written and informative article. I applaud you for following your conscience and leaving that church. It greatly saddens me to hear of any Christian church becoming politically active as you have described. I am Catholic and in total disagreement with Pope Francis’ stand on open borders. He can see how this has destroyed Western Europe, yet he continues to advocate for it. He is the leader of my church, but I am not required to agree with him. Many American Catholics are in complete disagreement with him. Fortunately we can choose which parish church we want to attend (this was not always the case). Some parish churches are becoming more conservative and traditional such as returning to the Latin Mass. I think there is a great need for Christianity to continue and thrive. Otherwise we have moral relativism or no morals at all. God bless you and I will pray that you find a church that is compatible with your beliefs.

    1. Roydenoral -I’m not sure if you and I read the same article. Unlike you, I cannot say that this was “well written!” I continually struggled with the lack of punctuation, poorly-worded phrases and incoherent sentences. Yikes!

      While I may support the resolution of a crisis of CONSCIENCE (NOT “conscious”!), I am hornswoggled to understand how this forum is the appropriate place to air his (Darren’s) grievances.

      He (Darren) decries what he feels is the current direction of his former church in the very first paragraph and lists a number of reasons for his feelings. I suggest that he is doing the exact thing he protests.

      Ugh!

      1. Hummmm. I was reading his article more for the content, not to critique his punctuation. This is a very political forum so it seems a great place for him to discuss his concerns. I have been a Christian my entire life. I have always believed that the Church is not the place for political discussions either from the right or the left. In my opinion we should focus on helping others in the community and following the teachings of Jesus. Every church community will have members from all political beliefs, and we know all too well how contentious this can become.

    2. ” I am Catholic and in total disagreement with Pope Francis’ stand on open borders.”

      The last time I was at the Vatican they had Swiss guards and walls.

      1. Interesting is it not? Many months ago Pope Francis went to one one the Greek islands to “rescue” some Muslim refugees. Christian refugees were not welcome. He took them back to Italy. I thought to be housed in the Vatican. No, they were sent to a refugee center in Rome. I do not know what is wrong with him. He calls for open borders in all of Europe and says security concerns should not be an issue. That is not sane. The years of sexual abuse of children is almost too horrible to contemplate. Sometimes I feel like we are back to pre-Reformation times and need another Martin Luther for Church leadership to see the error of its ways.

  11. Glad you exercised your free will, just like others who leave churches which promote conservative ideas they find offensive.

    My religious practice takes place totally within myself where I, like everyone else, carry a bit of the divine spark of god. No orthodoxy, no fights, no power struggles, no debates on policy or politics! It’s simply divine.

    1. Hardball,
      Do you miss being in a community of people aiming to uplift and serve one another, as well as others in the wider community?

      I am not quite Methodist, with my own beliefs and practices, so I, too, do not quite fit in, theologically-speaking, in my church.

  12. To Darren and others who felt the need to leave their church. I would recommend to them to not go alone, but instead find a church, although not perfect, that they feel comfortable in. We like to think of ourselves as individual, but in reality most human beings are very social and spiritual and are most productive and happy when we interact with people of similar values.

  13. Darren, I read this column and found it both informative and sad for Christians.

    I have no religion. I am, however, surrounded by christian family and friends that I (the agnostic type in the group) find myself outraged for when I hear the sneering demeaning message about them in the public square on any subject that is rooted in the divisive identity politics of today. I am an unintentional observer of christians because I am surrounded by them. We joke that I will be the ‘Schindler” for the Christians when ‘they come for them’ since no one would ever expect ME to be harboring church services in my basement. Though rather foreign to me, their faith is as much ‘who they are’ as the color of their eyes. I see this. I have observed them stretch to near breaking to try to accommodate social issues of the day that genuinely do not align with their faith and the scriptures they believe. The maligning of Christians is maddening to me. Only a few of them have a solid long-standing relationship with one church. Some seem to ‘church shop’ (in my opinion) and that makes more sense to me now after reading your story today.

    With that background in mind, in my observation of the smearing of christians around the world along with my do-gooder nature and recent natural disasters all over the world, I cannot help but notice that an organization like ‘Samaritan’s Purse’ (no idea if that is associated with a denomination of any kind) is a christian based organization that ‘walks the talk’. Am I wrong? It seems that no matter where in the world a natural disaster occurs, they are there quickly, first, and actually doing, giving, and in the thick of the heavy lifting. They are efficient and effective. I mean, from my heathen perch, I can’t help but notice and isn’t that a good thing?

    My question then for you is this: Is Franklin Graham (and his charitable organization) too ‘political’ ? I recall that he held town hall type gatherings in every State during the election season of 2016. Is this simply his ‘sharing the message of God’, which I believe all Christians are called to do? That ‘biblical message’ apparently is not popular with the ‘anything goes’ crowd thus it seems a nearly heroic thing to do these days. Was that instead politicizing religion too ?

    1. You know, for all your rhetoric about how people malign Christians, you are not above maligming non believers yourself. Your post is dripping with criticism and politicizing religion, putting every non Christian in the same boat. For example:

      –i find myself outraged for when I hear the sneering demeaning message about them in the public square on any subject that is rooted in the divisive identity politics of today.

      –The maligning of Christians is maddening to me.

      –in my observation of the smearing of christians around the world

      –That ‘biblical message’ apparently is not popular with the ‘anything goes’ crowd thus it seems a nearly heroic thing to do these days. Was that instead politicizing religion too?

      Aren’t you doing to “them” exactly what you are accusing them of doing to Christians? Yes everyone gets attacked by someone. I don’t see any concerted effort to malign Christians. I think you are feeling protective toward your family and the slightest criticism of their motives and actions has reached mammoth proportions in your mind.

      I have been in a similar position as you, being an atheist in the midst of true believers. But I see criticism on both sides of the aisle at similar intensity. I don’t see it as overwhelming as you do. We non-Christians do sometimes snipe at people who,seem to be hypocritical and acting “holier” than thou, but I see at least as much criticism coming from Christians aimed not only at atheists but atbany religious denomination that is different from theirs. They are hardly innocent victims. Neither I nor my atheist friends spend much time criticizing Christians. We have better things to do. The most often we do it is on blogs like this one. We would seldom criticize people to their faces the way you imply. Atheists especially have suffered the wrath of Christians for millennia, with no end in sight–and we’re not alone.

      Yes, many Christians do good works but it is especially annoying to see them doing it for eternal reward, and a way of saying, “We’re so much better than everyone else, just look at all the good we’re doing,” and it isn’t often possible to tell the difference between those who have ulterior motives and those who are genuinely charitable. When you see the oily televangelists on television demanding more and more money while leading wealthy, ostentatious lives, paid for by trusting people, yes, it does cause outrage. We see people being taken advantage of by their so called leaders. It isn’t always a matter of “politicizing religion”. More often than not it’s recignozing the real harm they are doing to their fellow believers. Criticism works both ways and non-Christians of all stripes have been under unrelenting attack from Christians for millennia. Christians are constantly saying they’re being oppressed while they are among the worst oppressors themselves. They are not the innocent, oppressed victims you paint them as being. I could go on much longer than this with examples of Christian oppression and their “holier than thou” attitudes, but I hope this response will at least give you a hint that it isn’t all one-sided. Non-Christians suffer the wrath and superiority of Christians every day.

    2. I can’t really make an informed answer to the Franklin Graham question for I haven’t paid him much attention. I’m not implying disapproval of his organization, I just haven’t found the interest to observe it. I can say however that from a political perspective churches should shun involving themselves in elections officially or at least from an administrative perspective. Cozying up to politicians, especially having photo ops with presidents as Billy Graham is know for, is not something I approve. Billy Graham did some remarkable evangelism in his day, but I have to wonder if seeking out political leaders was more about ambition than it was service.

    3. What your imagined “smearing of Christians” have to do with the subject of the post?

      This is to “let me tell my story on your blog” eaglet

  14. Churches that ignore what has is happening to people due to politics is failing the community. What’s the point of learning what Jesus said (which doesn’t include Exodus or Leviticus or other Old Testament books) and then to ignore the plight of people who are being oppressed by those in power?

    I’m sorry Darren has lost his church, but there are others more in tune with his beliefs. I went to many Protestant churches over the years. I finally decided that I didn’t need a church or a controlling pastor to describe or maintain my spirituality.

    I would be interested in knowing the name of the organization that Darrin thinks advocates the killing of police officers. There may be individual member of many organizations that have that belief but I find it hard to believe that any organization would carry that as a statement of principle.

    1. Not much is ‘happening to people do to politics’. Politicians are mostly notable for neglect, inertia, and repeatedly engaging in what they know rather than in what accomplishes something. And, no progtrash clergy and progtrash politicians have almost zero record or every recommending salutary policies.

      The vocation of the priest is to offer the sacraments; to teach, sanctify, and govern; to operate or organize his congregation to volunteer in corporal works of mercy. Above all, he is one who prays. Protestant congregations do not have valid sacraments, but they can perform other functions on that list. No other party can fulfill the clergy’s vocation, rightly understood. Cack-handed political commentators we certainly do not need.

    2. Bettykath,
      I am perplexed.

      “which doesn’t include Exodus or Leviticus or other Old Testament books”

      Of course it does. Jesus was a rabbi. Rabbis study the Torah/Pentateuch. They know the Tanakh. Jesus said many things that demonstrate his understanding of the Torah.

      https://jewsforjesus.org/answers/jesus-references-to-old-testament-scriptures/

      It is from the Torah that many concepts of not oppressing others or mistreating others can be derived, and it is expressed in what Jesus taught.

  15. It is always a deep internal struggle when what one believes is the purpose of one’s faith differs from the practice of leadership. Many here can clearly see the infusion of leftist politics into the clergy yet cannot see the same from the right.

    The so-called Religious Right has done backflips in recent years to support positions and candidates who seem far afield from their doctrines. I commend Darren for at least making the distinction between what an organization believes and what some of its members may. The same thing could be said about any organization. If having members saying or doing something meant the entire organization has no merit. Who would be left that one could support?

    I’m not arguing that what Darren has experienced isn’t happening exactly as he says although he may be seeing some things through a distorted prism. I submit that there are others experiencing similar things on the other side of the spectrum where they believe the church has abandoned its core beliefs for political goals.

    1. The so-called Religious Right has done backflips in recent years to support positions and candidates who seem far afield from their doctrines. I

      Which?

      1. Which doctrines, positions or candidates? I don’t want to answer the wrong question. Regarding candidates, I think that anyone who quotes from “Two Corinthians,” deserves a special look.

  16. Darren, Thanks for your heartfelt post. As I’m sure you know, there are many people like yourself, me among them. The criminal behavior of the Catholic Church turned me away. My faith in the Good Lord has not wavered. My adjustment was to pray more, and make a concerted effort to help people, one on one, the homeless being my focus, but others as well. I do small things like leaving generous tips to waitstaff. Seeing new employees @ a store struggling and being extra kind after someone has been rough on them. You can find religion in the world even better than a church. I believe strongly in God, I have little use for organized religion. My prayers are that you find your way through this. I am one person who can tell you that your faith can grow stronger outside the confines of a church.

    1. The criminal behavior of the Catholic Church turned me away.

      Who did you have in mind?

      1. Desperate, The myriad of rapist priests, enabling bishops, cardinals and popes, including the current pope who has given nothing but lip service to victims. But, if you want a poster boy, the despicable, disgusting, obese, sanctimonious, Cardinal Law, enjoying sanctuary in the Vatican from his felonies in Boston would be my choice.

        I worked a case back in the early 90’s of a priest who raped the 5 children[male and female] in a family. The mom was the parish secretary, the dad the maintenance man for the church and grammar school. I saw the disgusting enabling and protection of this predator all the way up the hierarchy. The abuses occurred in the 80’s.

        1. Desperate, The myriad of rapist priests, enabling bishops, cardinals and popes, including the current pope who has given nothing but lip service to victims. But, if you want a poster boy, the despicable, disgusting, obese, sanctimonious, Cardinal Law, enjoying sanctuary in the Vatican from his felonies in Boston would be my choice.

          The Holy See’s workforce – from the Pope to the janitors cleaning the toilets – is in the low four digits. The office reviewing the state of Catholic higher education in the United States had three employees. The Holy See did not have the manpower at any time in the last 70 years to police the clergy. If the diocesan bishops do not do it, it is not done. The one thing you could fault the Holy See on in this manner would be undermining with canon law decisions certain figures (Cdl. O’Boyle in Washington) and failing to depose certain bishops (Charles Grahmann in Dallas most notably).

          As for the bishops, you actually have to report misbehavior to them if you want something done about it. In the Diocese of Syracuse, nearly 60 people filed complaints to the effect that they were molested by clergy at some point during the period running from 1950 to 1979, but only about 5 complaints were actually made to the diocesan chancery during that span of years. About 49 priests were accused over a period of more than 50 years, but the accusations were so dated (25 years after the fact was about normal) that 13 of the 49 priests in question were dead. There was a prominent monsignor who had five accusations lobbed against him. The number filed prior to his retirement in 1991 was zero.

          Another person whose name was splashed all over the headlines was the diocesan vocations director. His accuser claimed Fr. Quinn used him as a catamite for 7 years (the man was born in 1952 and claimed the events in question took place from 1963 to 1970; he filed suit in 2003). Evidence of this other than the man’s say-so summed to about zero. How are you supposed to evaluate that?

          While we’re at it, there weren’t many accusations of rape. It was typically fondling. The accusers were predominantly adolescents at the time of the supposed incidents and not readily subject to forcible compulsion.

          Cdl. Law was not prosecuted because he was not a conspirator or an accessory to any crimes. He was just a lousy and irresponsible disciplinarian (and Cdl. Madeiros was in many respects worse; he just handled fewer ases). Not many of these cases could be prosecuted because criminal complaints were time-barred. The local authorities managed to find one case and just one in order to take John Geoghan to trial, and his accuser was a hopeless witness; Geoghan’s conviction was due to inverted jury-nullification.

          1. I guess some institutions are more pardonable for heinous crimes than others.
            Wish you’d apply the same logic to BO and his executive signing orders.
            Nah, you are too principled.
            All the numbers in the world you generate to some how validate your justifiable murders while fighting vehemently against murdering unborn children is despicable.

            1. I’m not a pacifist. Pacifists fall into three categories:

              1. Mennonites and Amish who withdraw from the world and are not afraid to die.

              2. Brethren and Quakers who are congenial enough but have no clue how to get from here to there.

              3. Practitioners of political recrimination, nearly all of whom are pig ignorant or intellectual and moral frauds.

              1. Yeah, there’s a lot of that intellectual and moral fraud going around right now.

                I’m glad you’re above it!

                Don’t forget to include the pigs in your Venn diagram.

          2. A bombastic Catholic apologist. What you lack in knowledge you make up for w/ BS. I worked cases. I was a background source for the Boston Globe team. Above all, you are sickeningly wrong about Law.

            Cardinal Bevilacqua. Discuss.

            1. Above all, you are sickeningly wrong about Law.

              Which provision of the Massachusetts penal code did he violate, and when?

          3. Desperate loves being a contrarian, and talking out of his ass..not always in that order.

            1. The term ‘talking out of his ass’ does not mean what you fancy it means.

              1. LOL! still got that chip on your shoulder, Desperate. And, you continue talking out of your ass by asserting I don’t know what that phrase means. YOU didn’t know what “chip on your shoulder” means and for some peculiar reason apparently don’t know that “talking out of ones ass” SIMPLY means talking about something you know little, or nothing, about. DAMN..you should know that one.

                Here’s your pathology here. Being a contrarian by nature, you read comments, do cursory research, and being our Cliff Caven then talk out of your ass. I see it on many topics but let most go. Actually, on some topics you are well versed, But, when you started talking out of your ass about Joe D, someone I know so much about, I needed to rip you a new a-hole[hopefully you know what that means].

                I know much more about Catholic Church abuse cases from personal and professional experiences. I’m not going to pretend I know what percentage of abuses involved fondling rather than rape. I don’t know, and doubt there is an accurate database. The aforementioned case I spoke about, the Church knew this predator anally raped several boys @ a Catholic HS. They sent him to their NM retreat and their “thinking:” after his release was for him to get a doctorate so he could teach on the collegiate level, where f@cking boys in the ass could be defended as consensual. But, while going to college he “helped out” @ a local church. He anally raped the 3 boys and vaginally and anally raped the 2 girls. A good friend of mine w/ whom I played college football was anally raped dozens of times as a 14/15 year old altar boy as were at least 15 other boys. This predator plead guilty to 20 counts of rape and was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

                  1. Prairie Rose, It was a plea deal. Some of the victims didn’t want the publicity.

          4. Can you name, geographically, the original seven sees of Catholicism? Some claim there were only five, so five will also do.

            Then, maybe, you could elucidate on the methods used by Rome (not the empire, obviously the see) to usurp them all; don’t forget the schism between east/west orthodoxy, development of canons, and methods of enforcement used by Roman Catholicism in having their canon reign supreme, at least west of the Dardanelles.

            1. The ancient patriarchates were in Alexandria, Jerusalem, Antioch, Constantinople, and Rome. Exactly what’s the point of this discussion in context?

        2. Classic, DSS, ask a valid question he has to answer and he leaves it blank like Dick Cheney. Nothing resolved so his point still stands.

            1. When I posted my response yours had not shown up on my screen. Check your comprehension skills and look at the time stamps. Twit.

              1. You’re incapable of making sense of a six paragraph post written in clear declarative sentences. That is your problem.

                1. What I’m saying is when I commented about your 11:34 comment you had not responded to NIck’s 3:24 post. So if you’d just chill out and think about it there is a good chance that when I first intimated my comment about you being RBC, maybe, just maybe your 6 paragraph drooling dreck fest may have not been viewable for me to review.
                  Chill Twit, Chill.

                2. I accept being Progtrash, and I am especially flattered to have Gelnn Greenwald as my 1st, 4th,5th, and 8th amendment guru while you despise him.

                  You need at accept the world has changed since 1962.

                  1. I find it interesting for someone like DSS uses so many numbers in statistical delivery vehicles actually holds so many in contempt for not believing in something he can’t produce one piece of data to support while insisting that they garner all knowledge thru his gelatinous empirical regurgitations.

  17. I left the Episcopal church for the same reason, Darren. My faith continues and I find quiet time daily to communicate directly with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It is sad when liberals take over and the whole church hierarchy becomes political. The reason for attending church is lost.

    1. beakie, You, myself, and enigma have disparate political viewpoints and see churches turning left and right. But we have empathy, and that binds our disparate ideologies, at least on this thread. We see a man struggling and do what we can to comfort. I have locked horns w/ enigma, but have also encouraged him to continue commenting because I see a goodness in him. I encouraged your for that same reason. I don’t want people commenting here w/ the same ideology. That’s an echo chamber which this place was when I arrived 5 years ago. I want good people w/ widely disparate viewpoints. You know, the opposite of how colleges operate!

Comments are closed.