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Exodus: Why Americans are Fleeing Liberal Churches for Conservative Christianity

Overview

Why, in this age of moral relativism, are millions of people eager to adopt tougher and more traditional religious practices? Why are they fleeing denominations that focus on social justice rather than dogma, such as the Unitarians and Episcopalians? Why are they joining conservative churches like the Southern Baptists in record numbers?

Many articles have been written about the decline of mainstream Protestantism—especially since the Episcopal Church confirmed an openly gay ...

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Overview

Why, in this age of moral relativism, are millions of people eager to adopt tougher and more traditional religious practices? Why are they fleeing denominations that focus on social justice rather than dogma, such as the Unitarians and Episcopalians? Why are they joining conservative churches like the Southern Baptists in record numbers?

Many articles have been written about the decline of mainstream Protestantism—especially since the Episcopal Church confirmed an openly gay bishop, sparking a fierce debate among its own members. But no author has gone behind the scenes to interview the Americans, liberal and conservative, who are at the heart of this important shift.

Journalist Dave Shiflett reveals why liberal pastors have cast aside tradition and Christian belief as they remake their churches. He shows why there are so many refugees from the mainline denominations into Roman Catholic, evangelical, and Orthodox churches.

Exodus undermines several stereotypes about conservative believers, who are better educated, wealthier, and more worldly than we assume. Many of those who flock to conservative churches don't agree with all of their new churches' teachings on issues like abortion and divorce. They don't all believe that every word of the Bible is true. Yet they're tired of being told that nearly anything goes. They hunger for the traditional Christian message of hope.

This is a fascinating book that will shatter many myths about the "religious right."

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
We live, we are told frequently, in a secular age of moral relativism. Yet in the midst of this secularization, another trend is brewing. Millions of Americans are fleeing liberal denominations and joining conservative, evangelical sects. Dave Shiflett's Exodus examines the movement from sects that focus on social justice to those who focus on dogma and a traditional Christian message of hope. A myth-shattering book about faith in America.
Publishers Weekly
In this readable work of partisan reportage, conservative journalist Shiflett visits all the usual suspects in the denominational culture wars, with a few of his relatives and friends thrown in. His engaging accounts of interviews with figures like Chuck Colson, Southern Baptist Richard Land and Orthodox writer Frederica Mathewes-Green succeed in dispelling the idea that traditional Christians "have `retreated' into orthodox belief as a way of escaping the vicissitudes of modern life." The beliefs they embrace are intellectually rigorous and ethically demanding, hardly the stuff of retreat. Shiflett even allows a bit of nuance in his treatment of liberal Episcopal priests, giving a sympathetic hearing to a priest whose affirmation of gay sexuality coexists with her unflinching faith in the Resurrection. But Shiflett indulges all too often in dubious hyperbole ("Whenever they glance at a car bumper," conservative Christians "see one of those Darwin footed fish") and curious extrapolations (the chapter on evangelicals is almost entirely taken up with a narrative of the religious response to Columbine). He misidentifies a key figure in the Episcopalian/Anglican split and bungles the names of public figures, like Princeton philosopher Peter (not Paul) Singer and San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom (not Mark Newsome). In the end, Shiflett's strong writing and basically generous spirit cannot overcome these deficiencies, and this book will do little more than confirm well-worn prejudices on all sides. (June 2) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Journalist Shiflett tries to explain the demise of mainline Protestantism. Noting that evangelical churches are booming while membership in Presbyterian, Methodist and Episcopalian churches is on the decline, the author wants to know two things. Why have the mainline churches felt free to overthrow centuries of church teaching in favor of a liberal gospel that talks more about inclusion than about sin and redemption? And why have traditionalists failed to stem the mainline march to the left? Central to his investigation is the recent fracas over the Episcopal Church's ordination of a noncelibate, openly gay bishop. Gene Robinson's election to the episcopacy has caused major fissures in his church, Shiflett recounts, adding that the other mainline denominations are sure to have battles and possibly schisms over homosexuality in the next few years. The author interviews several "progressive" Episcopal priests, as well as disgruntled mainliners who have left Protestantism for Roman Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy. He also reviews the work of "celebrity heretic" John Shelby Spong, a retired Episcopal bishop who has made a name publishing books that deny the resurrection of Jesus Christ and a theistic conception of God. Shiflett, who describes himself as an "itinerant Presbyterian," seems relatively free of bias, though the progressives do come in for a bit more of his caustic wit than the conservatives. He describes the liberals' flabby God as "the Wee Deity," mocks the church bulletins that describe Palm Sunday parades merely as "fun," and accuses progressives of valuing tolerance above all else. Liberal Christian readers may feel they've been caricatured, whereas traditionalists are morelikely to recognize themselves in these pages. The author dips only scantily into scholarship; his argument would have benefited had he further availed himself of the many germane texts that sociologists of American religion have produced in recent years. Altogether, a breezy introduction to the fractures in contemporary American Christianity.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780641814174
  • Publisher: Sentinel
  • Publication date: 6/2/2005
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

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