Emblematic of the Religious Left’s melt-down is a recently vandalized “gay” Nativity scene at a Claremont, California United Methodist Church. This scene on the avant garde church lawn, under a star of Bethlehem, included an opposite sex couple, and two same-sex couples, with a sign declaring “Christ is Born.”
Naturally a protest against the vandalism was scheduled in what one indignant community member described as an otherwise “progressive college town.” According to The Los Angeles Times, Claremont United Methodist Church’s previous Nativity displays have not “shied away from controversial topics, including a scene of war in the Middle East, a mother and baby in prison and a depiction of the U.S./Mexico border fence.” Another Nativity scene portrayed a homeless family.
“Christ’s birth in a stable had a lot to do with poverty and being marginalized,” Pastor Sharon Rhodes-Wickett explained to The Times. “What this church has tried to do through these scenes is say, ‘What would that look like today?’”
Deconstructing the founding historical event of Christianity, at Christmas time no less, to advocate for various multiculturalist political causes is typical of today’s Religious Left. For it, the Incarnation of God in Jesus Christ is insufficient. So the significance must be amplified by an anti-war statement or a blast against U.S. immigration policy.
United Methodism in Claremont, California and throughout the West Coast, so faithfully progressive, has been imploding for over 40 years. All the radical inclusivity apparently got too boring even for true leftist believers. More significantly, the Religious Left has evinced a national melt-down over this last year that potentially bodes well for the future of American religion.
The rush to embrace Occupy Wall Street was ultimately discrediting to the Religious Left. Actual Occupiers nationally probably never numbered beyond the thousands or perhaps low ten thousands. It was primarily a fad for recent college graduates in between jobs, heralded by aging baby boomers in the media nostalgic over the now ancient protest movements of the 1960s. Protesters of 45 years ago at least had grand causes. The Occupiers offered only ennui and resentment. Ultimately, few Americans, especially church-going ones, identified with whiney complaints from bedraggled campers despoiling parks and disrupting traffic. But Religious Left elites, from Sojourners chief Jim Wallis to Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori, could not help themselves from spiritually blessing the Occupation as a virtual Second Coming.
The equally fervid embrace by religious elites of Big Government and the entitlement Welfare State during the Summer 2011 federal debt ceiling crisis will also prove discrediting. In July, representatives of the National Association of Evangelicals, National Council of Churches, Jim Wallis’ Sojourners and U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops formed a “Circle of Protection” ostensibly around the needy but actually around the engorged federal bureaucracy. They decried in the name of most American church members any limits on spending for social welfare or entitlement programs, by implication backing higher taxes and military cuts as the only morally acceptable remedy for burgeoning debt. Their meeting with President Obama clearly aligned them with the White House and against Congressional Republicans. Such partisanship aside, no realistic American believes the debt crisis can be addressed without serious limits on growth by entitlement and social welfare spending. Equating true faith with unlimited Big Government will be remembered unfavorably by history and by American church goers.
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