Thursday, February 04, 2010


In 2004, CBS rejected an ad from the United Church of Christ, saying its message of inclusivity was "too controversial." Now CBS is planning to run a pro-life ad sponsored by Focus on the Family during the Super Bowl.

there's also this one too:

here i think we have the big ol' fallacy of "No True Scotsman." The UCC can't be Christian because we all know Christians are exclusive. They all are pro-life, conservative, and believe the same thing. WRONG!

Why then do some expressions of Christianity get more access than others? I keep coming up against the same objections to my theology time and time again, namely that it doesn't sound too "Christian." when pressed further, most ppl will articulate that i don't match up to the conservative Christian stance, since that is the percieved majority.

Funny thing is, the Pew Forum ran a survey that found
"the spiritual roots of the religious right and left to two broader faith communities. On the right, white evangelical Christians comprise 24% of the population and form a distinct group whose members share core religious beliefs as well as crystallized and consistently conservative political attitudes.

On the left, a larger share of the public (32%) identifies as "liberal or progressive Christians." But unlike evangelicals, progressive Christians come from different religious traditions and disagree almost as often as they agree on a number of key political and social issues."
Whoa?! Progressives outnumber evangelicals? Well, that doesn't make sense! Well, we know that every Christian believes the bible is the Word of God and reads it literally.

On matters of faith, fully 62% of white evangelicals say the Bible is the actual word of God, to be taken literally. In contrast, only 35% of the public including just 24% of Catholics and 17% of white mainline Protestants share this literal view of the scriptures, with most believing that although the Bible is God's word, not everything in it is literally true. (from the same survey)
Well butter my butt and call me biscut! The majority believes what I do, that the bible isn't COMPLETELY the word of God but contains it. As Karl Barth put it "when we read the bible we aren't reading THE word of God, we're reading FOR it." This is what it means when ppl answer that the Bible is the "Living Word of God." Much different than a static literal "Word of God." stance. This view has also been backed up last year as I and others in my class had to do church surveys for our "Church and the Human Sciences" class. Some took theological inventories as part of this survey, and they too found that churches largely view the bible like this... this comes from an American Baptist, two UCCers and a Methodist. My inlaws church also did a survey like this and they posted the results!

Well, we know all Christians are dogmatic and completely tribal, excluding all other faiths. The Pew Forum also found that"Many Americans Not Dogmatic About Religion" crap! They even found that Most Mainline Protestants Say Society Should Accept Homosexuality and that they believe "Other Faiths Can Lead to Eternal Life."

So why then, with all this "objective evidence" (HI SABIO ;-)) do these stereotypes still exist? Well, because of access to media thanks to morons like those at CBS who only want a pre-packaged "Pop" understanding of Christianity. Also because the more conservative segment of the religion would rather call the liberals "not Christian at all" as evidenced by this post by Shane Vander Hart. That argument makes me very very sad yet I hear it time and time again from the right seeking to pull the rug out from under their own brethren.

There is not just one view on Christianity, but multiple streams, theologies, views, denominations, and debates that have been going on since the founding of this religion. I like what a character in Defiance states about Judaism and what they traditionally do on Passover: "We will sit around and argue just has we have been doing for thousands of years." I like this idea! If you look closely enough, you'll find that every religion is doing this. That's one claim I can stand by. Even Islam, which claims that the Koran is the indisputible word of God has denominations, namely the Sunni and the Shi'ite. We can throw in the Sufi's as well, crazy mystics are always muddy'n the religious waters ;-)

I fit directly into a particular sense of what it means to be Christian. I'm a Mainline Protestant who used to be Catholic (largely Jesuit trained!). Science as always been held in high regard, the Bible has always contained stories... even though I once thought Jonah was literally swallowed by the whale. Now that I'm older I can use form criticism and see what is myth and what is not. I don't fit into a conservative understanding of Christianity nor do i have to, as it is not the only understanding out there.... so please stop acting like it is.


Coffeepastor said...

I was surprised about the evangelical/progressive stats, too. But the survey makes the point that the reason it seems like evangelicals are a larger group is because they're a more unified bloc, whereas progressives hail from a bunch of different traditions. That makes sense to me.

Yael said...

I hear you, Luke. Imagine in Judaism, 90% of us are NOT Orthodox, yet who is it always making the claims about who is Jewish and who is not? The Orthodox, or more accurately, the ultra-Orthodox. It's the same deal, whenever religious Jews are portrayed in the media it's always the black hatted nut jobs with their backwardness, isolationism, racism and sexism.

The rest of us are the majority. But, why are we not heard? Why are we not allowed to be called 'religious'? That part frustrates me to no end.

When I heard it was a UCC commercial that was turned down my first thought was "Hey, that's Luke!" Good for your team, even if it never aired.

Anyway, atheists do the same to me as they do to you. As soon as they realize I don't fit in the box they've reserved for Judaism, rather than reassessing that box, they just dismiss me as not really being Jewish. Or they'll pull out the oh so convenient 'Jewish friend' that everyone has who will disagree with me and thus prove I'm wrong of course.

Ah, the life of the liberal religious person is just too much fun. But, I think you're ignoring me since my Jesus post so...I'll end here. :)

Luke said...

Nope, not ignoring just had nothing further to say. That is where our theologies part not a big deal in my book.

Thank you for the commiseration! I just get very tired of the defensive posture one has to take when declaring oneself "religious." stereotypes are ugly things ;-)

Luke said...

I like your take Coffeepastor! My wife had a great insight about mega churches the other week. She stated that the mega churches have so many members because they are unified or concentrated whereas the mainlines are all competing and diverse. while there maybe more progressives, they are divided into an average of 5 to 7 churches in a statistically average suburban town. smart lady!

Al said...

Coming from the cons. evang. side of things, I wouldn't say there is a lot of unity in doctrine--at least there is a lot in-fighting. However, there is certainly the political block(head) reality.

Perhaps part of the media mentality is strictly the media's take on things. The media thinks Christians are ______ so the media decides how they will portray Christians. It wouldn't be the first time the media was out to lunch, but kept promoting their agenda! (And not just the right wing media is guilty.)

I love those commercials. Considering the fact that the media lives off of advertising, I'm surprised they wouldn't air them--there must be a conspiracy somewhere!

Boz said...

From an atheist perspective, the reason evangelicals, conservatives, fundamentalists and literalists receive the most criticism(attention), is that they are the ones trying to enforce their opinion upon others (science classrooms, abortion, stem cells, euthanasia, church/state, contraceptives, drugs, gambling, etc)

Rest assured though, on the issue of deities, we atheists believe that you are just as mistaken as your conservative friends. :p

Sabio Lantz said...

I think government falsely divides us sometimes more than religion. One cure for misunderstandings of many sorts is to make the reach of government smaller. Make it better at what it should do.

Government is used by others to enforce their own preferences.

When I start my blog I wrote this short essay on this.

Ooops, Yael, I gave away my politics.

Words divide us too, Luke. We get very attached to words, as if they belong to us. "Truth", "Christian".
Just keep adding those adjectives or make up new words. Don't let words trap you !

Anonymous said...

Great UCC ad! Funny, yet, gets the point across. Too bad it was banned.

Luke said...


that maybe true, but take time to listen to how either theist talks about God. Conservatives skew anthropomorphic, dude in the sky. Liberals may have some of that, but largely you can substitute "existence" any time you hear God. So the two greatest commandments then are "To love Existence and your neighbor as yourself." i think even an atheist might be able to get behind that claim.


i'm with you in that view about government. the Kin-dom of God as describe by Jesus and my tradition paint a picture of harmony where everyone is able to accept responsibility for their actions and looks out for their fellow. I like what the Pirate had to say about religions uniting and not dividing... and when they do, what do you call them? politics would be my answer ;-)

your last paragraph made me smile. ;-) Keirkegaard stated "when you label me, you miss me entirely."

Anonymous said...

Great blog! I think people need to know about the diversity of the Christian faith (and faith in general) and how religion is really something we all personally intake and make our own (in certain ways)...I'll bet no 2 people do religion exactly the same.

For Christianity, I chalk it up to the way the teachings are written - they are not exactly specific...we need to determine how they look and our thresholds.

For example, treat others how you want to be treated.

We need to define our personal thresholds and what we like to be treated as. Not everyone likes to be treated the same (I may like humor more than the next dude) - but we can come to some commmon place of concensus in our treatment of one another as people start to see our boundaries (and these differ from person to person). Respect is basically that...treating someone as they define treatment for themselves.

Our faith is divided by something rather obvious to me, the definitions are not truly given, nor the logistics, nor the personal thresholds. Of course faith is going to look different in many ways.

Cody said...

"Well butter my butt and call me biscut!"

I appreciated that.

Boz said...

luke said: ""To love Existence and your neighbor as yourself." i think even an atheist might be able to get behind that claim."

I agree with that!

(nitpicking/except existence is not a proper noun)

Luke said...

"except existence is not a proper noun" -Boz

crap! here i was thinking existence is what we make of it! back to the drawing board. ;-)

Sabio Lantz said...

Concerning "Existence"

(1) Defending Luke: In German, they capitalize all nouns. I like that and use it as my excuse for capitalizing poorly in English. Besides, it looks cool and emphasizes !

(2) As long as you keep Existence impersonal, I can work with that sometimes.

Concerning Love:

I don't think Atheists could get behind "Love your neighbor as your self" unless they believed it. Some atheists do, some don't. Hell, some Christians want to think they believe it. I think "love" takes faith. "Love" is one of the few things I do indeed have faith in. But that has nothing to do with being an atheist.

Anglican Boy (Registered Republican) said...

All that post wasted on a boring and awkward advertisement from the Tebow's. I really enjoyed reading the Pew Forum stuff, never heard of them before.