Sunday, August 12, 2012

Correlation and causation

I don't often wade into matters of religion, but I noticed this story this morning and it simply struck me as kind of sad that nobody seems to be able to put two and two together:

...the United Church of Canada also has to deal with a dramatic decline in membership: membership has dipped from more than a million in the mid-1960s to less than 500,000 now.

Retired United Church minister David Ewart estimates that by 2025 membership will drop to around 250,000.

"If the trend of the last 10 years does not change, then yes, indeed that would be the membership in 2025," Ewart said.

Even more strikingly, Ewart estimates that if current trends hold, by 2025 the United Church will be attracting zero new followers.

This sort of trend is what Mark Steyn refers to as a "demographic death spiral".  If a religion doesn't attract new members, it's done for.

Now...why do you suppose support for the United Church is dying?

...the denomination will delve into contentious political issues at its 41st General Council in Ottawa this week.

"An appropriate price put on carbon, such as a carbon tax, would penalize the use of fossil fuels and could generate revenue for sustainable energy," a group of high-ranking church officials from Toronto argues in its submission to delegates.

The 130 proposals up for debate also include a ban on oilsands expansion, opposing the Northern Gateway oil pipeline proposal and a partial boycott of Israeli products.

Other proposals call for improvement of the world's oceans through the transmission of "healing love to Creation" and for the inclusion of the gay rights activists' "rainbow symbol" in church offices and websites.

And the kicker?

Ewart acknowledges the only firm doctrine of his church is that "there is no such thing as a final statement of doctrine."

So, while the United Church calls people toward environmental activism, it doesn't call for personal salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.

"It's dropped off our agenda, I would say, and consequently membership declines," he admits.

Okay, so you've identified the correlation between declining membership and "liberal theology", and posited a causal relationship between the two.  But does your answer involve things like Jesus, God, or the Bible?  No, your answer is to improve the world's oceans through "the transmission of healing love to Creation."  Sorry, folks, but the Druids and Elizabeth May already have a lock on the hairy-legged Gaia-worshipping demographic.

Look, within the bounds of the Criminal Code any group of people can decide to support any array of causes they like.  It's a free country.  But religion used to be about...well, you know, RELIGION, not panoramic support for goofy leftist causes.  When your agenda boils down to supporting gay marriage and carbon taxes and boycotting Israel, and your church doctrine amounts to "there's no such thing as a final statement of doctrine", you're no longer a religion in any meaningful sense of the word.  And there's no longer any perceptible difference between you and the NDP, the #Occupy vandals, and the staff of the Winnipeg Free Press. 

At least in the United Church's case there are still some diehard grannies willing to underwrite the hierarchy's drivelling nonsense with free baked goods.

...the church has found 600 people to attend its week-long Ottawa meeting, with enough local volunteers to bake 50 dozen muffins and 100 dozen cookies for them daily.

Awesome. Wasn't it Pope John Paul II who once said, "Who needs a firm theological foundation based on two thousand years of doctrinal evolution tempered by understanding and compassion? We've got banana-nut muffins!"

"We Reach."