News from the Progressive Christian front

May 10, 2011

First, what is being described as a “kerfuffle” (love that word) over the rejection of an ad by Sojourners Magazine. Sojourners is the vehicle of Jim Wallis, widely acclaimed as the country’s most prominent “progressive evangelical.” That is, theologically conservative but progressive on most political issues, especially those involving poverty and social justice. Sex and gender not so much. So when a group called “Believe Out Loud” attempted to place an ad in Sojourners calling on churches to welcome all kinds of family on Mothers’ Day, and the magazine rejected it, some observers professed not to be surprised at all.

Wallis wrote to defend the rejection as based not on any substantive disagreement with the cause of equality and inclusion but simply a desire not to get involved in a controversy “not… at the core of our calling.”  This of course inflamed matters further. Subscriptions are reportedly being cancelled, perhaps a significant number. Here are a few  comments gathered from cyberspace: these from Episcopal Cafe and Religion Dispatches reflect the sense of many progressive Christians that it was a mistake all along to let Wallis be perceived as their spokesman; while over on the Atheist side, Hemant Mehta speaks for those who see this as one more bit of proof that Christianity is just not worth trying to save.

Meanwhile: reports are being tweeted that the Presbyterian Church (USA) now has enough votes to ratify an amendment to their constitution deleting heteronormative language (“the requirement to live either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman… or chastity in singleness”) from the requirements for ministerial office. The necessary 87th vote – from the Twin Cities presbytery – apparently came in within the past hour or so. (There’s been a net shift of at least 15 presbyteries in favor, compared with previous votes on the question.)  It seems likely that there will be defections by more conservative elements in the denomination, as with the Episcopalians and ELCA, which will make the progressive/inclusive tendency even stronger among those who remain.

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