Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Does place really make a difference for the Church (Part 2 of an ongoing series)?

The Seattle Times is not a pillar of religion coverage, let alone journalism pertaining to Christian issues. However, one of today's lead stories speaks to both national religious issues and those particular to the Pacific Northwest. Conservative Evangelicals are indeed lacking strong national leadership, yet have strong local and regional presence in different areas of the country. What does that mean for the open religious market in the Northwest? This article begins to take on the discussion about what appears to be a religious vortex in the Pacific Northwest--that is, no one type of religious presence will dominate that PNW religious landscape at least for the next decade.

However, I agree with James Wellman's assessment that Conservative Evangelicals will continue to make gains in religious participation in the PNW, but it remains to be seen whether Conservative Evangelicals will gain influence in the PNW. While a prominent wave of Evangelical influence has affected national public discourse in recent memory, nothing seems to keep a lasting hold. The comment section on the Times article is brisk and speaks to a certain level of religious illiteracy, though religiosity does illicit emotional responses.

Reading the responses to the Times article also remind me of Bill Maher's implicit call to atheists (in Religulous) to engage in public religious discourse. Merely speaking against religion is not an ethical response. Maher believes the world hangs in the balance with religion part of the fulcrum with dynamite sitting below it. Religious literacy is important for religious discourse for people to have a positive influence in the world. I'm not trying to create a Unitarian mass conversion, but the level of religious ignorance is dangerous (and I could do better myself with that literacy). To merely attempt to debunk religion is publicly irresponsible.

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