The Daily Chart: From Mainline to Sideline

Our contributor Lloyd Billingsley wrote a book back in 1990 about the leftwing politics of the National Council of Churches, From Mainline to Sideline: The Social Witness of the National Council of Churches, detailing how the mainline Protestant churches that compose the NCC had swung far left. Maybe time for an update, as recent surveys find that the long-term decline of mainline Protestant denominations in America has reduced the number of Americans affiliated with those denominations below 10 percent (from more than 50 percent back in the 1950s, according to older surveys):

Might be time for a second edition.

One of the most prophetic warnings about this trend came from Edward Norman, Dean of Peterhouse College, Cambridge, back in the late 1970s, in his slender but power-packed book, Christianity and the World Order, miraculously published by Oxford University Press (at least it would take divine intervention for Oxford to publish it today). Among his bracing but accurate charges:

Christianity today is preoccupied with social change throughout the world. But Christianity today is also notable for its lack of a distinctly Christian attitude towards the world it wishes to see changed. It has increasingly borrowed its political outlook and vocabulary, the issues it regards as most urgently requiring attention, and even its tests of moral virtue, from the progressive thinking of the surrounding secular culture.

Gee—I wonder if this has anything to do with membership and attendance in mainline Protestant denominations? Why bother sitting through a sermon on climate change or racism on Sunday when you can just pick up the Sunday New York Times (as philosopher William Barrett once wrote, “In our secular world the [Sunday] Times does for a sacrament. . .”

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