June 13, 2017

"Like their congregants, religious leaders have sharply divided themselves along political lines."

"Leaders and congregants of Unitarian and African Methodist Episcopal churches are overwhelmingly Democratic, as are those of Reform and Conservative Jewish synagogues. Those of several Evangelical and Baptist churches are overwhelmingly Republican. If religious denominations were states, almost all of them would be considered 'Safely Democratic' or 'Safely Republican,' with relatively few swing states."

From a NYT piece (with informative graphs) on the party registration of the clerics* in various Christian and Jewish denominations and the corresponding party affiliation of their congregation.

I'd like to see some graphs showing the numbers of people who stay away from organized religion because it's too political or too much like politics. It's horrible to have to sit reverently and passively through a sermon that instructs you on the political issues of the day.

_____________________

* The NYT used the word "pastors" to refer generically to the priests, ministers, and rabbis, but that sounds Protestant-centric to me. I chose "clerics," even though that seems to be the go-to word only when speaking of Muslims, who aren't included in the study. The original meaning of "pastor" is shepherd, evoking Christianity. "Cleric" connotes scholarship; "pastor," tending to the flock. There's also "minister," connoting service.

68 comments:

Hagar said...

My ex-wife just told her pastor of many years that he is a wonderful person, but she can not listen to his Democrat sermons any longer, and she is out of there.

James K said...

The political affiliation of your pastor ought to be (and usually is) about as relevant as the political affiliation of your plumber or doctor. Granted there are exceptions, or issues like abortion where there is conflict, but in my experience competent religious leaders try not to be partisan, and are not focused on politics. But since it's the NY Times, this piece is likely written by someone who has little understanding of religion (or plumbing).

pdug said...

You watched the way congregants responded to Jeremiah Wright, right? What was passive? (What was reverent?)

A good sermon on "Why are we pro-life, exactly?" or "is this a Just War" or "shall we keep the sojourner within our gates out" or other major definitive issues is helpful to many. Not every political issue of "the day" needs to be sermonized.

Gahrie said...

Why do you think Islam was omitted from the study?

Static Ping said...

"Cleric" is the go-to word when there are undead that need smiting.

David Begley said...

As a Catholic, I am really bothered by the Pope's commands on global warming and open borders. I know he is wrong to interfere in our elections so I ignore him.

Quayle said...

No surprise. It is what happens in the late stages of every dispensation, when the preachers also become corrupt.

Or as someone famous once said:
"You hypocrites! Isaiah prophesied rightly about you when he said:
'This people honours me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me;
in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.'"

Ralph L said...

I don't think religious leaders should be swinging.

urbane legend said...

pdug said...

A good sermon on "Why are we pro-life, exactly?" or "is this a Just War" or "shall we keep the sojourner within our gates out" or other major definitive issues is helpful to many. Not every political issue of "the day" needs to be sermonized.

Indeed. Even a more general " Who are we as ______ , and why we believe what we believe, " should tell, or at least suggest, where members of a congregation should stand. My pastor has done this as a series of lessons.

Static Ping said...
"Cleric" is the go-to word when there are undead that need smiting.

Baptist pastors will strongly object. ( mildly tongue-in-cheek )

Ralph L said...

Let us separate State from Church. They can tell us how we should act, not how the government should.

Dave from Minnesota said...

I'm a refugee from the ELCA. Holy shxxxx has that place become left wing. For the most part that church has become a leftist social club with a religious theme.

As far as keeping up with the newest social trends...I'd rather belong to a church that is 500 years behind times than one that is 5 minutes behind the newest trends and huffing and puffing from trying to keep up.

Dave from Minnesota said...

Ralph......do you think Rev MLK church should have had its tax exempt status pulled due to its political activity?

MikeR said...

Orthodox Jews are pretty much a two-party state. "Modern" Orthodox, like Yeshiva University types, tend to be fairly liberal or moderate. Chareidi Orthodox (usually called "ultra"-Orthodox in the news for some reason), are far far more conservative, way over on the edge in those charts. It could be, though, that the authors didn't have that many Chareidi religious leaders to look at as some of them probably aren't signed up anywhere, or that some of them (some Chasidic Rebbis) have really huge followings.
The Chareidim are very conservative because (a) they think modern society is an immoral mess, and (b) they think modern society is becoming a real threat to persecute them. Something like Evangelical Christians, l'havdil elef havdalos.

lgv said...

I agree that the choice of cleric versus pastor is better. What they don't acknowledge is the shift in total numbers and leanings. Mainstream liberal protestantism is on a huge downward numbers slide. I can explain the why very easily, but won't bother. The other shift is that conservative Jewish congregants are starting to turn Republican, perhaps not in name, but in votes.

Dave from Minnesota said...

IGV, my take on old declining Protestant churches..... my theory is that there are three types of church goers (for the most part).

-Biblical Christians who are leaving liberal pop culture churches for more true Christian demoninations. I fall into this group.
-Lefties and hard liberals who view their church as a social club and also a means to push their political agendas. These people will soon get board with church and decide that its more fun to sleep in on Sunday mornings. Their kids will probably be Atheists. My liberal cousin and her family fall into this category.
-Old folks who aren't going to leave the church they've belonged to for decades, so put up with whatever comes. When this generation dies, the dollars to fund these churches dies also. My parents are part of this group.

Dave from Minnesota said...

I've wondered if one of the reasons American Jews are so liberal is that so much of the Jewish population in the US is in liberal urban areas. They reflect their neighborhoods. Kind of like why Lutheran churches in the Twin Cities frequently fly the homosexual rainbow flag outside their churches. Are Lutherans that obsessed with gay sex, or is it just a reflection of where they are.

Jeff said...

The plots show that in most denominations, the congregation is less partisan than the clerics. Maybe that's because the laity, to use the Catholic term, have more real-world experience and are more cynical than the clerics are.

Catholicism teaches that the Church has no special insight into political matters, and asks only that you vote your conscience. (In my youth I paid some attention to what the Southern Baptists were preaching, and as I recall they had an aversion to political involvements until Ronald Reagan came along.) Catholic bishops do take care to remind people that abortion is a grave sin, and urge voters to consider that along with other issues, but it's long been clear that American Catholic voters pay little heed to their advice.

Sebastian said...

"It's horrible to have to sit reverently and passively through a sermon that instructs you on the political issues of the day." Is it less horrible to sit "reverently and passively" through other sermons?

Otto said...

AA have you ever been a member of a church and for how long? How many sermons have you heard?
Most Jews are atheist, so religious association doesn't apply.
Now if you have not been a regular church goer your whole life , "It's horrible to have to sit reverently and passively through a sermon that instructs you on the political issues of the day. " is gossip from an old yenta.

Marc Puckett said...

We Catholics for many centuries have been familiar with 'cleric' and the word continues to be used to refer to those who are ordained but since the 60s the word 'pastor' and its adjective, for a number of reasons that I won't argue about here, has become the fashionable one. They have at least two different meanings, after all: one is ordained to the clerical state, one is a pastor, holds a pastoral office. Generally speaking, but not always, one is the former before one is the latter.

Big Mike said...

Unitarians have always been left-wing extremists and thoroughly proud of it.

Ann Althouse said...

"Why do you think Islam was omitted from the study?"

According to the study (linked at the NYT) "Given the highly decentralized nature of religion in the U.S., our list of denominations
(see Table 3) does not cover all religious congregations, but it does cover the largest umbrella groups among Christian and Jewish affiliates. Some missing denominations, like the Church of Latter Day Saints, are missing because online directories are not made available to the general public. Other denominations, like Muslim communities, are not listed in reliable centralized directories. "

Ann Althouse said...

"It's horrible to have to sit reverently and passively through a sermon that instructs you on the political issues of the day." Is it less horrible to sit "reverently and passively" through other sermons?"

If the preacher has scholarly knowledge of religious texts and is giving a serious interpretation, that is not horrible at all. If the preacher seems to have genuine religious inspiration and to be letting that flow to us, that would be great. Other combinations of those 2 things can be fine, especially if he keeps it short and is good with words.

chorister said...

The terminology in the article is problematic. Marc Puckett makes a good distinction between clerical state and pastoral office. The article -- not necessarily the study -- doesn't specify which is meant, although the references to congregations would imply pastoral office. Many of those who are ordained perform other religious roles than leading a congregation. This is perhaps particularly the case in Catholicism, which has many ordained teachers, professors, theologians, administrators, contemplatives, etc.

Also, cleric is not a neutral term, at least by etymology. The Greek word klerikos means, according to OED, "belonging to the Christian ministerial order."

tcrosse said...

Cleric is the root we use in Anticlerical.

Matthew Blaine said...

I'd like to see statistics of people who avoid their old congregations because they don't want to be led by a lesbian "cleric" or witness a homosexual "marriage."

Gahrie said...

Other denominations, like Muslim communities, are not listed in reliable centralized directories. "

Hmmm..I wonder why that might be?

Dave from Minnesota said...

If the preacher has scholarly knowledge of religious texts and is giving a serious interpretation, that is not horrible at all. If the preacher seems to have genuine religious inspiration and to be letting that flow to us, that would be great. Other combinations of those 2 things can be fine, especially if he keeps it short and is good with words.

See Rev MLK.

And some churches have become so watered down that most of their sermons are just reading parables from the Bible and talking about "God's love".

Freeman Hunt said...

The big political sermon near the last election that I "had to sit through" was about not becoming obsessed with politics and loving your neighbor no matter how he votes.

Dave from Minnesota said...

I'd like to see statistics of people who avoid their old congregations because they don't want to be led by a lesbian "cleric" or witness a homosexual "marriage."

The ELCA turned me into a Christmas-Easter only church goer. If they weren't so leftwing and socially very liberal, I would have joined a local ELCA church when I moved to the Twin Cities 15 years ago. I would have gone to services almost weekly and dropped some nice cash into the collection plate each week. Instead I've taken a few years to think about where to go.

There is an ELCA church one block from the Wisconsin state capital building. They put their sermons online. You should read the one from the Sunday after Trump was elected.

mockturtle said...

The big political sermon near the last election that I "had to sit through" was about not becoming obsessed with politics and loving your neighbor no matter how he votes.

Amen, Freeman! I haven't experienced any political preaching from the pulpit. Issues may be discussed, e.g., abortion, same-sex marriage but I've never heard a pastor endorse a candidate or even a party.

urbane legend said...

Ann Althouse said...
If the preacher has scholarly knowledge of religious texts and is giving a serious interpretation, that is not horrible at all. If the preacher seems to have genuine religious inspiration and to be letting that flow to us, that would be great. Other combinations of those 2 things can be fine, especially if he keeps it short and is good with words.

I always appreciate sermons like this.

Freeman Hunt said...

Long ago I went to a different church and the pastor/cleric/whatever had the nickname Reverend Mao around our house.

The Cracker Emcee said...

Individual churches are micro-polities and tend to reflect their communities rather than what the bishops are pushing. There's always people in the parish who will let a pastor or priest know that his sermons don't reflect the values of the community and the cleric will either take the hint or move on. Or the congregation will.
The worst clerics are those who have no real congregation. There's a good reason so many hospital and university chaplains are of the Lesbian Unitarian in Sandals mold.

mockturtle said...

The worst clerics are those who have no real congregation. There's a good reason so many hospital and university chaplains are of the Lesbian Unitarian in Sandals mold.

You've got that right, Cracker! And speaking of appropriation, let's call out 'churches' that don't believe in Christ as Lord and Savior for false advertising.

Char Char Binks said...

"Most Jews are atheist" [[Citation needed]]

Most Unitarian-Universalists are... not Christians, certainly not in a traditional sense, I'd venture to say. They even call their buildings "meeting houses" instead of churches, and their logo, so to speak, is a lamp that sorta kinda looks like a cross. They mostly seem to be leftists, or left-leaning liberals who still cling to the idea of a church, or something like it, but without any religious orthodoxy.

Dave from Minnesota said...

The worst clerics are those who have no real congregation. There's a good reason so many hospital and university chaplains are of the Lesbian Unitarian in Sandals mold.

That's funny as I know a hospital chaplain who is very liberal. For example, one of her favorite books was "Zealot", which is basically a book trying to convince people that everything you read in the New Testiment is wrong.

Chuck said...

I have found, that the people who think of religion as being highly political and partisan, are the people who have spent the least time in church. (Or synagoguges, mosques, temples, etc.)

When I go to church, here is what we do. We confess our sins. We pray for forgiveness, and to forgive others. We pray for the welfare of others. We sing hymns, generally to the glory of God. We honor the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who died for us. We collect money from the congregation to keep the church in repair and to do good works in the world. And we listen to a sermon, that 99.9999% of the time is about how to apply biblical wisdom in our daily lives.

I could be wrong; my own experience is steeped in being a protestant (United Methodist). Hillary Clinton is a United Methodist. Dick Cheney is a United Methodist. Elizabeth Warren is a United Methodist. Laura Bush is a United Methodist (and I think that she has drafted her husband George W. Bush into her faith as well). Beyonce' is a United Methodist. George McGovern was a United Methodist. Grover Norquist is a United Methodist. Dr. James Dobson is a United Methodist. Jim Comey is a United Methodist. Rush Limbaugh is a United Methodist.

I cannot remember -- it may have been during the Vietnam War, and before Watergate -- that I heard any sort of overtly political sermonizing during a Sunday service in a United Methodist church.

Sebastian said...

"If the preacher has scholarly knowledge . . ." etc. Sure, it may not be "horrible" to sit through such a sermon, though I can recall only one sermon of the kind from my religious years. But the relevant phrase was "reverently and passively." I have a hard time picturing Meade and Althouse not-horribly reverently and passively enduring even a well-crafted sermon. Apologies if I underestimated your capacity for reverence and passivity.

Chuck said...

By the way, I think I should add a caveat to my post about the United Methodist Church just above.

The reason that it is called "the United Methodist Church" is because before the Civil War, American Methodist churches were so profoundly split on the issue of slavery (the American anti-slavery movement was really centered in northern protestant churches), that they had a schism. And not until well into the 20th century was that schism healed, with all of them coming back together as the "United" Methodist Church.

This is true of most of the mainstream American protestant churches that you see bearing the word "United" in their names.

So yeah, there was some politics in the past.

YoungHegelian said...

It would be real interesting if the NYT did two graphs. One, the graph of the political breakdown by denomination that they published & two, a graph of the demographic projections for the various denominations.

What you'd see is that the conservative denominations are growing in number & the liberal ones are shrinking, often at an alarming rate.

YoungHegelian said...

@Dave,

I've wondered if one of the reasons American Jews are so liberal is that so much of the Jewish population in the US is in liberal urban areas

That's a very interesting sociological question. Take look at this. It's not like the Jewish community has figured out the answer to that question, either.

Edmund said...

@James K Granted there are exceptions, or issues like abortion where there is conflict, but in my experience competent religious leaders try not to be partisan, and are not focused on politics.

The AME churches are so partisan - having candidates from one particular party come and speak at services - that they have had warnings about losing tax exempt status. And the Southern Baptist churches are known to have the other party candidates come and speak. And there are some Roman Catholic groups inside the church that are pretty political, but they edge away from making any direct partisan statements.

Peter said...

"The NYT used the word "pastors" to refer generically to the priests, ministers, and rabbis, but that sounds Protestant-centric to me."

But asking the NYT to understand religion is perhaps asking more than can reasonably be expected?

"Pastor" does seem Christianity-centric as it's ultimately derived from the image of Christ as the Lamb of God (Agnus Dei), and by extension to clergy as shepherds ("keepers of the flock"). As well as numerous New Testament references (such as John 21:16, wherein Jesus asks Simon to "Take care of my sheep").

But (unlike "minister") the use of "pastor" historically has not been limited to Protestants, as there are plenty of historical references to Roman Catholic clergy (priests, bishops, etc.) as "pastors."

James Pawlak said...


The real differences is between amoral and moral persons.

Unknown said...

Not a surprise that the NYT ignored the Mormons.
We tend to be the most conservative, or close to it, of all major religious sects. Yet the Church is very strict about being neutral in politics. Every year we get a letter read that encourages us to vote, to seek out good candidates, but that the Church remains neutral and no politicking can be done inside our worship centers.

And that's that. Even in a room that's 98% Republican, we always stomp on religious discussions.

Until we get outside, of course. Now, we do have patriotic sermons sometimes, since one of our doctrines is that the Lord God raised up the United States and inspired the Constitution, but we try not to cheer political parties.

Getting pretty hard to justify any Mormon being a Democrat, though, in my personal opinion.

--Vance

Paddy O said...

I'm with Althouse on the topic of sermons. They can be very worthwhile, but my frustration in Protestant churches is we've turned them into a central element of the service, partially because clerics wrote the theology that bolsters their own roles in the church body. My frustration is that people who are not good speakers can in fact be very good pastors (shepherds) and we've co-opted the term pastor to mean "main speaker" in too many ways. Or, sometimes the sermon is so lacking in study or expression it can do more harm. Sermons can be wonderful steak dinners with a glass of fine wine or a pile of twinkies and diet Dr. Pepper. Making every church fill that dish with "something" isn't always helpful.

Chuck, your history of the UMC isn't quite complete. The U part comes from the 1968 merger of Methodists and (oddly enough) Brethrens. There was a reunification of sorts in the early 20th century between North and South Methodist conferences. I say of sorts because it wasn't anything near a healing of the schism that resulted from slavery. Both Free Methodists and The Wesleyan Church split off due in large part to Slavery in the mid-1800s and are now strong denominations on their own. The AME church split off much earlier over racism/slavery.

It's a big like saying the global Christian Church is unified because the schism between the Avignon and Roman Popes came to an end, ignoring the schisms of 1054 and 1517. It's not un-right to say the schism ended, but only as it has a very limited scope of meaning.

Dave D said...

"So yeah, there was some politics in the past."

The concept of owning another human being and/or killing unborn babies is not a political issue, right? THAT is the major problem for most on the conservative side of these issues. DEFINITELY not a political topic, but a moral one. Reducing it to politics is oversimplification, no? Fighting a war to end the former proves that. Churches splitting over an issue means it is much deeper than politics, right?

Sorry. One of my pet peeves.

Owen said...

Prof. A: "It's horrible to have to sit reverently and passively through a sermon that instructs you on the political issues of the day."

Yup. I've sat through a few of those. It definitely lowers my enthusiasm for going back to that church.

There is real wisdom behind the old rule for polite conversation, not to discuss religion, politics or ladies.

A female pastor ranting about gun control is a fatal three-fer...

Paddy O said...

Christianity is inherently political, but it should be pro-actively non-partisan. Christian congregations are easily co-opted by political parties, turned into predictable mouthpieces, rather than serving a prophetic role in each party. Both the Christian Right and the Christian Left are more co-opted now, each emphasizing elements of Christian social engagement, while each ignoring elements of corruption and distortions on their own partisan sides.

If a sermon is politically partisan in terms of current party politics, then the sermon has lost its saltiness. Jesus, after all, had elements of the pharisee, zealot, empire about various parts of his work, but he also critiqued each side and was ultimately rejected by each side. He refused to be co-opted, but instead highlighted strengths and weaknesses in each movement. But, his goal was certainly not political in terms of political leadership, but rather political as enacting a different way to live in society.

It didn't depend on top-down change, that came much much later in Christianity. Far too many assume that "top-down" the only way possible.

Lyle Smith said...

I was raised Catholic and have only ever attended one mass where the sermon was political. It was an anti-gay rant about Disneyworld having a gay pride event or some such for the first time. This was at a church I normally didn't attend.

YoungHegelian said...

@Paddy,

They can be very worthwhile, but my frustration in Protestant churches is we've turned them into a central element of the service,

But isn't the centrality of preaching one of the central "liturgical" tenets of Protestantism? For Luther, preaching is the "Word made manifest". It's almost eucharistic, & may have slipped that way if the Lutherans didn't retain a doctrine of the Real Presence.

But for the folks without the Real Presence doctrine? If you've got Jonathan Edwards or the Wesley boys, or George Whitfield a-preachin' THE RISEN JEEE-ZHUS! to ya, how can the sermon not be central?

I must admit that one thing I like about heavily liturgical traditions like the Orthodox or Roman Catholics or high-church Anglicans is that we're spared the over-long ramblings of the clergy. At least in mass. But there is a reason why the Dominicans have an O.P. after their names.

Paddy O said...

YH, you're exactly right about the reasoning/tradition.

It's definitely eucharistic. "Bringing the Word" is a common way of saying "preaching".

But, my Bible has passages about the Holy Spirit giving a variety of gifts to all people, so that in the expression of these we experience and express the Body of Christ.

Talking about the Holy Spirit mucks up the system in most churches, however.

YoungHegelian said...

Paddy,

Talking about the Holy Spirit mucks up the system in most churches, however.

Oh, oh, oh! I see a journal article in the making here:

"Democratizing the Charisms of the Spirit: Towards an Anarcho-Sydicalist Revolution in Parish Life".

By Prof Paddy O.
Holder of the Althouse Forum Endowed Chair in Modern Systematic Theology.

(Feel free to use this without attribution)

tcrosse said...

I was at Mass with my Mom in 1953 at a Catholic church in Northern New Jersey. Stalin has just died, so the priest asks that we pray for the repose of his soul. Mom grabs my 8-year-old hand, pulls me out of the pew, and we stride out of there. The priest was, in those days, the parish Enforcer, so he would give Mom a hard time in the confessional after that for her insubordination.

n.n said...

Principals before principles. Can't we just reconcile moral, natural, and personal imperatives?

That said, I am willing to convert to the Pro-Choice religion in exchange for a beachfront estate in Hawaii. Perhaps a timeshare with a deeply rooted prejudice. Are new acolytes required to sacrifice a baby on the barbie? Also, I'm not a fan of the twilight fringe. Will that be a problem? Elective wars, too?

YoungHegelian said...

@tcrosse,

The priest was, in those days, the parish Enforcer, so he would give Mom a hard time in the confessional after that for her insubordination.

I can only believe that, had your mother gone to the bishop over that appalling incident, the bishop would have dropped the hammer on that priest.

urbane legend said...

Chuck said...

I could be wrong; my own experience is steeped in being a protestant (United Methodist). Hillary Clinton is a United Methodist. Dick Cheney is a United Methodist. Elizabeth Warren is a United Methodist. Laura Bush is a United Methodist (and I think that she has drafted her husband George W. Bush into her faith as well). Beyonce' is a United Methodist. George McGovern was a United Methodist. Grover Norquist is a United Methodist. Dr. James Dobson is a United Methodist. Jim Comey is a United Methodist. Rush Limbaugh is a United Methodist.

Some of these things are most certainly not like the others. Several conclusions can be drawn from that, I think.

Paddy O said...

YH, I've already written that article! Though admittedly with a less satisfying title.

And I'd like to thank all the donors and supporters for the honor of the endowed chair. I shall be adding it to my letterhead and CV, and now I'm off to shop for a suitably tall hat and billowing robes to wear about town.

tcrosse said...

I can only believe that, had your mother gone to the bishop over that appalling incident, the bishop would have dropped the hammer on that priest.

Forget it. The Church in that time and place was similar in organization to that other North Jersey institution, the Mob.

orthodoc said...

"I'd like to see some graphs showing the numbers of people who stay away from organized religion because it's too political or too much like politics."

That would be me. Three kids got bar/bat mitzvah'ed in the local Reform synagogue. Then we pulled out, because I couldn't listen to that sanctimonious tikkun olam crap for one more day.

Here's a pro tip: demanding that other people pay more taxes isn't virtue.

Freeman Hunt said...

I went to a relative's baptism at a church out of town once. It was a Sunday service, so there was a sermon before the baptisms. The sermon was mostly about how terrible Glenn Beck was. Strangest sermon I've ever heard.

Dave from Minnesota said...

Ortho....someone above linked to a Commentary item on why are American Jews so liberal. Had 4 or 5 people write up there thoughts.

A couple of them said that as Jews have become more secular (I'd say atheist), they have replaced God as their religion with government.

Static Ping said...

I suppose I should mention that a religion or, for that matter, a denomination or even a particular church is supposed to believe in something and that something is not supposed to be questioned. It is called faith for a reason. When two factions in a denomination cannot agree on fundamental beliefs, it is unlikely they will remain unified for long because it defeats the whole point. If both factions believes the other is going to Hell, why continue with the charade?

We currently live in a time where many of the fundamental beliefs happen to coincide with politics. The Democratic Party has become, essentially, the anti-traditional Christian party. If you believe in traditional Christian beliefs, it is difficult to support the Democratic Party. It's not terribly surprising what is happening. The only true exceptions that would come to mind are the African-American churches, which are generally traditional but still support the Democratic Party essentially because the party refuses to touch them for the most part, and perhaps Islam for similar reasons except more extreme.

Tobias said...

I remember visiting a local church for a Christmas Eve service. My wife and I had just had triplets a couple of months previous, and were exhausted. We thought we would take refuge in a service across the street (close) where we had never attended (and anonymous). We knew the church was pretty liberal, but how bad could a candlelight Christmas Eve be?

We got an earful for half an hour about the danger of guns and the need for gun control. Didn't hear much about the Nativity, and we've never been back. Would have been equally offended if it was a conservative diatribe.

Nobody puts baby Jesus in a corner.

CR said...

Priest comes from presbyter, which means elder. All lay elders and ministers in Presbyterian churches are presbyters, and in an original sense of the word, they are also priests.

mockturtle said...

A neighbor told me she attended a funeral at Church 'X' and was surprised to hear [from the female pastor] God referred to as 'she'. [I'm reluctant to name the church because I don't know if this is standard procedure for that denomination].

YoungHegelian said...

A Jewish joke that all my Jewish friends really like:

How can you tell what kind of Jewish wedding you're at?

If it's an Orthodox wedding, the bride's mother is pregnant.
If it's a Conservative wedding, the bride is pregnant.
If it's a Reform wedding, the rabbi is pregnant.