The PCUSA And The Big Sort

I’m a Christian.

Beyond that, I’m pretty committed to the Presbyterian church. Part of it is that the church traditionally favors ministers who give really good sermons; my dad was a speech teacher, and “giving speaker points” is kind of the family business. More importantly, I believe the Presbyterian book of worship puts less temporal fuzz between man and Christ than any other denomination.

And American democracy was influenced for the better by the Presbyterian church’s manner of temporal government.

But the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA), the largest Presbyterian denomination in the US, has been pulling *hard* to the left since I was in my twenties. They’ve dived deep into the “social justice” swamp; some congregations go out of their way to make it *extremely* uncomfortable to dissent with church leadership, not on matters of faith, but on matters of temporal government policy and social belief.

And it shows. The PCUSA is on track to disappear, demographically, by 2040 – worse than the Episcopals. Its membership is collapsing faster than the Cleveland Indians every June. It’s easier to find a closed PCUSA church than an operating one in most of the Twin Cities these days. And church leadership – the “General Assembly” – publicly calls this a feature, not a bug; they rejoice at all those dissenters leaving the PCUSA and going elsewhere. They are, in short, participating enthusiastically in tribalizing America – in pushing “The Big Sort” that is polarizing every facet of American life.

The hiring of a full-time gun control activist wrapped in an ecclesiastical costume is just a further nail in the PCUSA’s demographic coffin. I left the PCUSA 12 years ago; it’s a pity, because I’d leave them again if I could.

And I hate that – the fact that the PCUSA is driving people away from their spiritual home over matters that, in the eternal scheme of things, aren’t what the church is supposed to be into. Several of the most important, formative figures of my life are or were PCUSA pastors. Much of what I am today, at least the good stuff, is because of the influence that my church’s pastor and youth group leaders, and some of my Presbyterian-affiliated college faculty, had on me.

I don’t think that matters to the PCUSA anymore.

And when I say “ecclesiastical costume”, I’m being pretty charitable and neutral:

I expect resistance because when you talk about guns, you are tapping into the part of the brain that protects one’s identity. Guns and identity are linked for many people; that is why I have developed a spiritual practice that helps us shift our bodies from fight-or-flight mode and teaches us to welcome and hold with compassion all the sensations that arise in our bodies. When we connect with one another on the level of personal experience, it leads to empathy. Establishing empathy is key in peacemaking.


I’d be tempted to ask if she thinks that’d work with Nik Cruz, Dylan Roof, Omar Matteen and the like – but then, I’m pretty sure “dodging reality” is the reverend’s stock in trade.

If you’re a Presbyterian? There *are* options. I’ve moved to the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. The “Presbyterian Church in America” is also out there. I recommend you take a look at it, if you can.

By the way: “thoughts and prayers” – also known as reflection and rational thought – are *exactly* what is needed after a tragedy or atrocity – and nothing about thinking and praying rules out needed action. But thinking (and if you’re a believer, prayer/meditation/mindfulness) are nothing but a benefit when it comes to taking the *right* action.

And anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to logroll you…

…oh, yeah. Never mind.

13 thoughts on “The PCUSA And The Big Sort

  1. I see the same things going on in my boyhood church, the United Methodists. There is a really interesting thing going on where the churches that are managing to keep going are the rural ones that are more evangelical, even having evangelical pastors because the liberal seminaries aren’t cranking out enough liberals to fill those pulpits. I anticipate a split at the UMC in five years or less, or else there will be bankruptcy.

  2. I quit going to the Presbyterian/Methodist (united) church that I had joined when they called a pastor who also was on the planned parenthood board. While I can see an attendee having a different opinion on when life begins, I couldn’t reconcile that the pastor would.

  3. This post is why I consider myself non-denominational Christian, I think all Christian sects are massively flawed and not worth following. As a ex-Catholic (was raised Catholic but had zero say, left at 18 the second I graduated high school and have zero regrets) I see nothing good that comes from any off shoots of christianity that might have served a purpose at some point in history but dont now.

  4. …the church traditionally favors ministers who give really good sermons…

    Pffft. You haven’t heard a really good sermon until you’ve heard about the Hellfire that awaits sinners, from a pastor handing you a couple of cotton-mouth snakes, son.

    Pentecostal’s are the wave of the future.

  5. YES – great points …. and damn so sad; long-time Presbyterian here (still identify as such, but….) in Cincinnati. Grew up in fairly conservative neighborhood attending church with a great minister who was (I think it’s safe to say) generally a liberal with regard to social issues/ills but was firm on individual behavior when fdealing with questions of sin/right&wrong. I have watched with dismay over last bunch of years as PCUSA has gone hard left and often wonder how ‘my’ minister would fit in now (he retired 20-odd years ago and passed on 3+ years ago). My brother is now a Pres minister in a farming community on outskirts of city which is probably even more conservative than where we grew up. Haven’t asked how he deals with the dichotomy of Bible teachings vs current PCUSA organizational precepts ……. It sucks to have church which is/was a solid foundation in my life shifting like quicksand with the ‘times’ when I always assumed they would stand firm. I have begun attending United Methodist church closer to home

  6. I’m sorry to hear it, Mitch. It’s hard when your life-long religion leaves you behind for “progress.” I still have money automatically deducted from my bank account every month for donation but haven’t darkened their door in ages. Nobody has come knocking to ask why not.

  7. Joe that’s kind of funny. My situation is reversed, I don’t send them money, but they ask each year. They also have never asked why they don’t see me anymore.

  8. bike;

    I know what you mean about the Methodists. My dad’s side of the family, were German Methodists, in a farm town in SW Minnesota. They are all likely turning in their graves due to what their church has become. I work a fair amount with metro area churches and I believe that at least three UMCs in the Twin Cities are run by lesbian pastors, that are married to their partners.

  9. JD;

    The Catholic Church is the same way. They could give a rat’s ass about whether or not you attend mass or go to communion, just keep the money coming.

    Case in point. My mom passed away two years ago from dementia/Alzheimer’s. She was a parishioner of a Catholic Church in Richfield since 1956. Despite the fact that with six kids in the family, her and my dad were barely making ends meet, yet she always had her envelope when we went to church. My dad died unexpectedly at 44, making her a single mother of 4 ( I was in the Air Force and one of my brothers was living in Ohio working for the old Penn Central railroad), yet, she kept contributing. Even though she couldn’t recognize all of us, she never forgot her envelope, although for the last year of her life, it was empty. At least 90% of the church ladies and the pastor, knew of her condition. One of the ladies, who was a family friend, was our liaison for mom’s funeral mass. Bottom line, I received a letter from the church, addressed to her, at my address about three months ago asking why she stopped her gifts to the church. Needless to say, none of you would have wanted to be on the receiving end of the phone call that I made to the church’s financial officer.

  10. To any of you fellow Catholics that are disgusted with the Church, first let me say I’m with you.

    But if your interested in orthodox Catholicism, I suggest you visit St. Agnes on the East side of St. Paul.

    An authentic mass. Beautiful church. Gregorian chants in the Summer, full orchestra in the winter (they play Motzart’s Mass in C for Christmas) cannot be described.

    My kids are alums of the high school.

  11. My cousin and his husband recently posted photos of their son’s baptism. Because of all of these splits between different branches of various denominations I was curious about the affiliation of Lutheran church they were at. Gloria Dei does not list their affiliation on their website. The only place I found anything was from the pastor’s first person bio. He wrote,
    “I live in Minneapolis and think both cities have great charm and am glad to call both home. My husband, Darin, also an ELCA pastor,…”

    I would think that the specific affiliation of the church would be important to make known to prospective congregants. The Woke churches can’t allow themselves to be soiled by exposure to Deplorables.

  12. Well, I am a Catholic, and I’ve never heard a gun control screed at mass in my life and the church is right on abortion. I suppose I could complain about things around the periphery but F it – good enuff…

  13. I’m Catholic as well. Our parish has an excellent young pastor. The old guard is going away. Hope is returning.

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