• Michael Glass

    I’m not sure it quite works out that way in practice. Despite the higher birth rates of the fervent believers, people still tend to drop out, or at least move to less conservative congregations. This is particularly true of “cafeteria Catholics” and their equivalents in other religious traditions.

    Meanwhile, the other fast growing section of the community is that of the unbelievers. Once again, they are growing at the expense of the nominal adherents of the various faith traditions. In all, the religious minority and the largely secular majority are drawing apart.

    In a generation or two we might well see society divided into an increasingly secular mainstream and several fervent fundamentalist traditions. This could produce some interesting tensions between the various groups.

  • Rick Steinberg

    Jeff,

    As usual you erudition is evident and your points right on the money. But as I read your article and the things we ought to do – we are. God, Education, Family, Israel, responsibility – it is the core of my synagogue and many others. The biggest difference, as I see it, is that Christians and Orthodox offer something we don’t – they can save your soul. For Christians, if you believe in Jesus, you will be saved. If you are Jewish, obey the mitzvot you will be saved and have eternal life. I don’t mean it pejoratively at all – rather, I think it is wonderful, but it just isn’t what “liberal, non-fundamentalist” religions do. “Saving of souls” sells to put it bluntly. Why are their no mega-synagogue? I would argue the same answer.

  • samuel johnston

    ““Saving of souls”” sells, to put it bluntly.”
    Objective reality is harsh (survival of the fittest).
    Naturally, a kinder, gentler, alternative reality draws converts. Sadly, that changes reality not at all! Death (non existence) awaits the just and the unjust.

  • Liz Rolle

    As always, an interesting read. But I think there’s an item missing – probably from both the Evangelical Christian side and the Jewish side.

    Where is ‘community’ in all this? I think the sense of community in such active places is a very big draw in our time. Many people have difficulty finding a live, physical community and these congregations serve that purpose extremely well.

    Also, the first comments point to the issue of salvation. I might choose to express it slightly differently. I think it is the issue of certainty. Liberal religious denominations offer a lot of shades of grey but not much black and white.

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