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Unless It's Value-Added, Religion's a Non-Starter These Days

BY RUSS WELLEN
03.23.2006 06:04 | DISPATCHES

Once upon a time people went to church to worship (and to make children restless and bore husbands). Now, however, traditional religions like the Protestant denominations of Lutheranism, Methodism, and Episcopalianism are dwindling. It seems worshippers are no longer content to take their religion straight anymore. They need a chaser. And that chaser is oppositional defiance.

Building a denomination or congregation today requires rallying it around the forces of evil - usually more imagined than real -- like abortion and homosexuality, both of which act as metaphors for how nervous people get when confronted with growth and choices.

In America, congregations are pitted against other segments of America, except for Jews, who often stand in opposition to the Middle East, where congregations are often pitted against all of America, not to mention Israel, and, of course, the entire West.

The only religions where most of the worshippers commune with a higher power as opposed to raging against sinners are the activist and monastic branches of Christianity and the meditative traditions of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam (Sufism).


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