Secularism (typically liberalism) has molded many non-Catholic ecclesial communities. They have “progressed” away from Christ into updated, modern, non-Christian values. Traditional, orthodox (true) values are viewed as outdated. A “poster-child” for this are the Episcopalians, but most other mainline groups have been affected as well. Some have historically had orthodox/liberal internal splits.
Part of the attraction for such “evolution” is seen as meeting people where they are, inclusiveness and “not judging.” All good, except the problem is they do this at the expense of truth. To put it bluntly, they simply redefine truth to accommodate sin. So, how has this worked out for them? Spoiler: they are on the fast path to extinction.
Please consider this coming Sunday’s readings:
Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay everyone according to his conduct.
Alexander Griswold has written about this phenomenon recently for the Federalist:
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) was formed in 1987, when three Lutheran denominations merged to create the largest Lutheran church in America. For most of its history, gay men and women were permitted to be pastors, so long as they remained celibate. But in a narrow vote at its 2009 Churchwide Assembly, ordination was extended to gay men and women in “committed monogamous relationships.” In addition, the Assembly passed an amendment allowing churches “to recognize, support and hold publicly accountable life-long, monogamous, same-gender relationships.”
From ELCA’s formation in 1987 to 2009, the average decrease in membership each year was only 0.62 percent. But after the liberalization of the ELCA’s stance on sexuality, membership declined a whopping 5.95 percent in 2010 and 4.98 percent in 2011. Since 2009, more than 600 congregations abandoned the denomination, with almost two-thirds joining conservative Lutheran denominations like the North American Lutheran Church and Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ.
By the end of 2012, ELCA had lost 12.3 percent of its members in three years — nearly 600,000 people. If the present rate of defections holds steady, ELCA will cease to exist in less than two decades.
The United Church of Christ
The United Church of Christ (UCC) has long had a reputation for unfettered liberalism, sometimes bordering on the radical. In 2008, for example, the pastor of the largest UCC congregations in the country was one Rev. Jeremiah Wright. The UCC’s tendency for pushing traditional boundaries has led to unquestionably positive developments (such as the first African-American pastor as early as 1785) and the unquestionably silly (such as the first hymnal that refuses to call Jesus male). Needless to say, in 2005 UCC became the first U.S. mainline Protestant denomination to support same-sex marriage, and has been an outspoken voice in the gay marriage debate ever since.
While UCC has been bleeding members for decades, its decline rapidly accelerated after the gay marriage vote. Since 2005, UCC has lost 250,000 members, a decline of 20.4 percent over seven years. While an average of 39 congregations left UCC annually from 1990 to 2004, more than 350 congregations departed in the following three years. The UCC’s own pension board called the 2000’s decline “the worst decade among 25 reporting Protestant denominations,” and admitted that ..”.the rate of decline is accelerating.”
2013 marked a particularly grim milestone for the denomination, as membership finally fell below one million. If the post-2005 rate in membership losses doesn’t taper out, the denomination will cease to exist in 30 years.
More groups are covered in the piece, including Presbyterians and (of course) Episcopalians. The article concludes with a comparison to those who have not gone down this rabbit hole. Read the whole post: How to Shrink Your Church In One Easy Step.