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No one loves a common scold, and no one loves a know-it-all. So when a common scold who’s also a know-it-all slips up, hearts are joyful. Thus has USA Today‘s Cathy Grossman taken after GetReligion Pooh-Bah Terry Mattingly for jumping on a right-wing press release alleging that the United Church of Christ has lopped God the Father off the Trinity. And Dan (Pastordan) Schultz, the hinterland Voice of UCCdom, has gleefully stuck in his oar over at Religion Dispatches.

Grossman and Schultz point out that, contrary to Mattingly, his press release, and a clack of conservative religious bloggers, the national UCC has not taken the axe to God the Father. It has, in time-honored Reformed tradition, merely cleaned up some bureaucratic language–in this case, to make clear that it is not imposing gendered language for God on member congregations that choose not to use such. The very terminology that is substituted is “triune God”–not exactly a phrase you’d think would be employed by folks who are abandoning the Trinity in favor of, let’s say, a Binity.

Was Mattingly unaware of this? That’s hard to believe. He actually quotes the change, and he’s been on the religion beat way too long not to be familiar with the gender-neutral language issue. Then why does he think this ought to be a big story for the MSM–so much so that even after receiving critical comments on his post, he doubles down?

So, people would not be interested in a story with the headline:

Obama’s denomination drops God the father?

Or words to that effect?


Former Puritan flock drops, etc?

Hot debate. What do you think?

All this smacks of the usual imperative to drive traffic on your website–the blogospheric equivalent of scandal-mongering just to sell papers. “What do you think?” indeed. Feh.

By the by, I think it’s time to stop referring to the one-million-member UCC as “small” (Mattingly) or, even more, “tiny” (Grossman). Yes, the denomination has seen better numerical days. But in size it’s equal to the Greek Orthodox church, largest of America’s Eastern Orthodox branches–which reporters don’t make a habit of describing as either small or tiny. By American denominational standards, it’s medium-sized.

  • Note taken: 1-million member can stand without a qualifier.