The Most Important Religion Story
Christian pastor Brian McLaren wrote in part,
It was hardly reported. It didn't seem like news. But again this year, all around the world, people of faith kept serving God's cause of love and justice among the poor, forgotten, alienated, and needy.The full text of the pastor's comments is found here: McLaren.
Governments bailed out big banks, but pastors, social workers, community organizers, and volunteers bailed out hurting families. Governments propped up corporations that were too big to fail, but local churches, mosques, synagogues, and other faith communities came to the aid of homeless women and single moms who were too small for most people to notice....The most important news story of 2009? Sin abounded in all its forms - personal and social, sexual and financial, racial and religious, private and public. But grace abounded all the more. That, thank God, is good news for everyone.
Rabbi Brad Hirschfield wrote in part,
Americans are increasingly interested in the role faith plays in their lives, but not in how a specific doctrine or dogma directs them to vote or otherwise behave. So faith remains strong in this country even if religion as a set of rules is taking it on the chin. A new religious America is emerging. Or more accurately, we are witnessing the next stage in a process that has been unfolding for decades. That's the biggest story of '09.The full text of the rabbi's comments are here: Hirschfield.
More than ever, Americans reject rigid categories when it comes to faith, and an unprecedented number answer the question about the religion to which they belong with a single word, "none". Not only are the "nones" the fastest growing religious category in America, but they outrank every other group except for Catholics and Baptists.
But saying 'no' to our parents' religion, the one in which we may have been raised, or all religion as currently defined, does not necessarily mean saying 'no' to faith and/or to God. And woe to those who make that assumption, no matter how many statistics they use to prove their point....The American Religious Identity Survey actually confirms that. The results of the American Religious Identification Survey suggest that we live in a time of incredible spiritual ferment, one in which personal freedom and individual dignity is celebrated more than ever. As one whose own personal spiritual journey took beyond the forms and practices with which I was raised, I especially value this trend.
The renewed ferment of contemporary American faith is the story of the 2009, and it's a story filled with emergent promise even if nobody can be sure where it's heading. There's a great deal more to being a "none" than I think we can possibly appreciate just yet, but that's one of the stories to watch for in 2010.
I know that religion is communal and not merely personal. Yet, I think that the most important impact of religion in any given year is at the personal level, with individual lives changed by the power of God.
What do you think? How did religion impact 2009? What was the most important story?
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor