Beliefs Institutions

Take your pick: Give mainline Protestants a new name

Dana Carvey as Church Lady on Saturday Night Live.
Dana Carvey as Church Lady on Saturday Night Live.

Photo courtesy Scene 360

Dana Carvey as Church Lady on Saturday Night Live.

Could re-branding rouse the dwindling mainline Protestant troops?

The dozen church groups under the mainline umbrella — including United Methodists, Episcopalians, Evangelical Lutherans, Presbyterians (USA) and American Baptists — have been flagging for years. Mainline Protestants  made up 18 percent of U.S. adults in 2008. Fifty years ago, its members were the church of the Establishment.

Scholar and Presbyterian pastor Carol Merritt recently suggested a new name might stem the slide, especially if it conveys the Mainline’s rising diversity and social justice leadership:

“I, for one, am tired of pretending that we want to hang out at the Country Club and eat cucumber sandwiches in fancy hats. We are not some sort of upper-crust elite society.”

So we wondered what a new name might be.

We have some ideas. Vote for your pick or tell us your suggestion below.

    If you tell us your suggestion, be original – "sidelined" and "deadlined" are already tired slurs, says scholar Diana Butler Bass, who sees plenty of vitality under the good old Mainline name.
This story is available for republication.

About the author

Cathy Lynn Grossman

Cathy Lynn Grossman specializes in stories drawn from research and statistics on religion, spirituality and ethics. She also writes frequently on biomedical ethics and end-of-life-issues

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