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Between reading about the Methodist resistance to exclusivism based on sexuality and all the justice-oriented events our local UCC churches are participating in, I need to say a word about mainline Protestants.
1. We often talk about "the religious left" in terms of partisan politics, as a potential voting bloc to counter the Religious Right. But there's more to it than that.
2. The religious left exists in no small part on a state level in organizations like the local Council of Churches, advocating for things like gun control, poverty, hunger, homelessness. @tellthestories
@tellthestories 3. We need to be very careful in saying there that Councils of Churches are explicitly non-partisan, and don't even like to describe themselves in terms of left-right.
4. But if you look for religious groups advocating for those items on the national agenda that aren't Tax Cuts End Roe v. Wade Eternal War Adore Trump, that's who does it. Anything that involves some kind of compassion, the Council of Churches are right there in the mix.
5. And the religious left also exists in local churches that study and build capacity for inclusion, tolerance, diversity, social equality, however you want to term it.
6. Reading through church newsletters this weekend, I saw congregations involved in figuring out how to be welcoming of immigrants, the Doctrine of Discovery, racial diversity training so as to avoid implicit bias, the southern wall...
7. ...how to recognize and allow for the expression of the grief, hurt and shame that come along with sex abuse, the ecology, welcoming the LGBT community, and other topics I've forgotten.
8. These aren't necessarily churches in big metropolitan areas, either. They're in places like Green Bay, Oshkosh, Fond du Lac, Plymouth or Kiel. They're pushing the envelope.
9. But that's sort of the point. Wherever you find people pushing the envelope on social issues, you'll find people in the mainline tradition.
10. We may not always be exactly at the front, and no, not all Christians are so justice-oriented. But we're always there, and we're always building the capacity for people to talk about those issues.
11. That has real-world political consequences. It helps set the agenda, for one thing, and keeps politicians honest, for another.
12. But the GOP agenda is largely founded on a rejection of difference these days. As the white evangelical base exerts more and more control, conformity - racial and sexual - becomes a bigger demand of the party.
13. So to the extent that mainliners resist easy divisions, they implicitly resist the GOP agenda. Again, they're not doing it for partisan purposes, but that's the net effect.
14. To put things another way, mainline Protestants play a unique role in keeping open the social space for an alternative agenda to the extremism that threatens to take over the GOP.
15. Or, as some people do, you could read America's contemporary divisions as theological more than political, and the mainline comes down on a particular side of that division.
16. The mainline seems to be living into this identity these days. The calculation is increasingly, "Screw it, the conservatives are never going to be happy, let's just get on with things." That's what's happening in the Methodist church, among other places. @UMInsight
17. tldr; the mainline churches are behind a lot of the liberal agenda, whether or not it's identified in those terms, and they spark a lot of social change. Keep your eye on them.
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