June 5, 2012

When churches become more political than, well anything else

The Story of a Centrist is a great post (actually book excerpt) from Jonathan Merritt about his experience trying to address environmentalism from a Christian point of view.  You can read it, but it won't surprise you that at first he found great support from Southern Baptist circles.  But then the ERLC (Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission) found out and used what can be called "strong arm" tactics to try to silence the effort.

Some of this is the naiveté of someone who wanted to believe that churches were somehow different than other institutions.  I was certainly guilty of that.  I wanted to believe that because people used a language of faith that they operated from a different set of rules.  And to be fair, some groups do--both in and outside the church.

But the other part of this is the history of institutions.  At some point, the institution becomes more about protecting and defending the structure than anything approaching the ideas or goals they started with.  The Southern Baptists may have started as a group dedicated to religious liberty and the "autonomy of the local church," but they have become a de facto arm of the Republican party.  The same can be said of the Catholic church who are more about defending the structure than protecting kids, or punishing priests, or actually providing care for women.

1 comment:

leighton said...

Didn't the Southern Baptists split off from other Baptists at the time because they felt it was important to affirm slavery as Biblical? I am not so sure that the SBC's origins should be celebrated any more than its partisan present.