Monday, June 19, 2006

A Shift in the Making?

Just when I was packing to move to Canada, or Amsterdam, or Israel (notice the order), I read that the Southern Baptist Convention elected the Rev. Frank Page as the group's president at its meeting in Greensboro, N.C., and Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori is elected to lead the Episcopal Church USA. While too very different persons of faith, they share a broader vision that shifts (in the case of the Baptists) and maintains (in the case of the Episcopalians) the direction of these two denominations toward the left.

Now, don’t get too excited. Rev. Page and his Southern Baptists are not about to vote for gay marriage, something Bishop Schori supports, but the obsession of the religious right with bashing the liberal left may be waning.

Does this mean that the War on Christianity is over and the Civil War among Christians is underway? I doubt it. As American Jews know, feeling hated and oppressed is a great marketing tool. It is easier to raise money from followers who feel attacked, then from followers who feel victorious. So I doubt the War is over. But at least there may be a new front opening: more liberal (relative to the establishment) leaders are coming to the fore bringing the teachings of Jesus to bear on the issues that really mattered to him: poverty, injustice, exploitation of the common people by the religious and political elites, rather than abortion, gay marriage, and stem cell research.

I for one am heartened by these two elections. What Christianity, Islam, and Judaism need is their how Dalai Lama. We are no where near this at the moment, but maybe we moved a bit in that direction this past week. Let’s hope so.

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