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From Catholic to Orthodox, From (Nominal) Christian to Islam

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    http://www.canadafreepress.com/2007/scallon010607.htm From Catholic to Orthodox, From (Nominal) Christian to Islam - U.S. religious trends in the 21st Century
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 6, 2007

      From Catholic to Orthodox, From (Nominal)
      Christian to Islam - U.S. religious trends in the 21st Century

      By Sean Scallon

      Saturday, January 6, 2007

      Demographics is destiny and that's true not just
      in politics but business, education, sports,
      entertainment, culture and religion.

      Especially religion.

      That's because numbers and numbers of adherents
      determine whether or not your faith is taken
      seriously or is just another kooky cult.

      There are two demographic trends that may occur
      in the 21st Century inside the U.S. that could
      alter several faiths in the process. Those trends
      are from Catholic to Orthodox and from (nominal) Christian to Islam.

      We start with the Catholic Church. It's no secret
      the U.S. Catholic Church is in a deep crisis. The
      numerous sexual molestation scandals and the
      class action lawsuits that have followed are
      draining diocesan treasuries dry. Many such
      dioceses are selling off buildings like closed
      churches and schools and other real estate
      properties they own. On top of that, the shortage
      of priests and nuns in the U.S. mean more such
      closures are on the way. And because of that
      shortage, the Church's institutions, its
      colleges, hospitals and other charitable
      foundations, will become completely secularized
      within the next 20 years. The whole
      infrastructure of the Church within the U.S.
      could be almost gone by within that time period.

      The U.S. Catholic Church will survive however. It
      has faced worse challenges in its history and has
      always survived. But to survive means to adapt
      and adapting means change and the U.S. Catholic
      Church will be transformed by this process. The
      transformation will come demographically as what
      once was a European-ethnic church will become a
      predominantly Hispanic and Third World immigrant church.

      This is also a process that's going on world wide
      as well. Philip Jenkins, the Penn State
      University theology professor and writer for
      Chronicles, has documented this coming
      transformation of the Christian world thanks to
      demographics in numerous articles and books.
      Numbers mean power and such power within the
      Church will come from its Third World adherents.
      There's no doubt the next pope will be probably
      be from the Third World, perhaps Latin or South
      America first (with a bishop of European
      immigrant descent) followed by an African pope
      after that. We've already seen the Third World's
      power within the Anglican community already.
      Several Episcopal churches in the U.S. have left
      their local dioceses in schisms to align
      themselves with Anglican dioceses in Third World
      locations because their bishops are more
      traditional than their Western counterparts, who
      are ordaining women and homosexual bishops.

      What is fueling the change in the U.S. Catholic
      Church is immigration. More Hispanic immigrants
      and other Catholic immigrants from the Third
      World are filling the pews and in many cases what
      were once empty pews, especially in big cities.
      Now as immigration spreads from big cities and
      the coasts to small towns in the Midwest and
      South, such change will take place in churches in
      these locations as well. It's the Catholic Church
      that will absorb most of the new immigrants.
      Although a good chunk of Hispanic immigrants are
      Pentecostals, they tend to form their own
      churches separately. Hispanic Catholics are
      moving into existing communities and existing churches.

      All this leaves the European ethnic in a
      quandary. The term "Catholic" means universal and
      as such it should not matter what race or ethnic
      group anyone who calls themselves Catholic is.
      All are welcomed. Yet such churches were the
      anchors of previous ethnic communities. Such
      change can be quite jarring, especially when you
      add it onto change within the neighborhood,
      change in the business community and change
      within the schools thanks to unlimited
      immigration. It doesn't take long for one
      Hispanic mass to become all masses at some point.

      Because of this change, some European ethnic
      Catholics wish that the bishops would either take
      a stand against immigration or least not be noisy
      promoters of it like Los Angeles Archbishop Roger
      Mahoney. Unfortunately they are whistling past
      the graveyard. Not even the most conservative of
      bishops, like Omaha's Roman Bruskewitz, are going
      to oppose unlimited immigration nor will any be
      recalled by Rome for such support like Mahoney.
      The Catholic Church in the U.S. is an immigrant
      church. Always has been. Always will be. To its
      bishops and administrators, seeing one immigrant
      group coming into the church and overtaking
      another is simply the natural wave of history. It
      would be unthinkable of them to turn oppose
      immigration, especially when such immigrants and
      their money are going to be ones to keep the
      Church afloat during its time of transformation.
      Opponents of unlimited immigration must
      understand that is how the church thinks and
      operates and it perfectly fits with its history.
      It not a "Popish" plot to undermine the United
      States. This writer (and Catholic) nearly deleted
      VDARE.com from his list of favorite websites last
      year because some of its writers began waving the
      bloody shirt of "rum, Romanism and rebellion"
      until Peter Brimelow thankfully set them straight
      and also pointed out Protestantism's many
      contributions to our nation's immigration problems.

      But again the quandary for European ethnic
      Catholic remains. His numbers have been reduced
      by intermarriage, by the destruction of ethnic
      neighborhoods by urban renewal and the interstate
      highway system, by suburban sprawl, by the
      church's own problems and divisions within it and
      by his or her own laziness and sloth. If you
      don't show up for mass or to volunteer or be a
      part of the community, you will lose power and
      influence to those who do. Whoever said that life
      is all about showing up was dead on in this
      regard. So what to do? Join the Orthodox Church.

      The Orthodox Church has a number of appeals to
      the European ethnic Catholic. It is a church that
      is ethnically conscious and fuses the idea of the
      church to that of the nation and the culture.
      That's why there are Greek Orthodox churches,
      Russian Orthodox Churches, Romanian Orthodox
      churches and so forth. (Only the Polish Catholic
      Church and Uniate churches loyal to Rome are that
      way amongst Catholics). It is a decentralized
      church, which means its doctrines and practices
      of worship are not subject to the whims of a
      whole Vatican Council. It's a church that has
      avoided a lot of the doctrinal disputes that has
      divided the Catholic churches because it stays
      true to its traditions and doctrines which it
      traces back to the original Christian church. Its
      mass has gone unchanged forÊmany centuries and
      one doesn't have to worry about whether the new
      priest is going to allows guitars and drums
      during the worship service, disallows bells or
      kneeling or whatever fashion of mass is in vogue
      from the seminary. It's a church who's priests
      are married which means the problems the Catholic
      Church has had with homosexual priests (the one's
      that don't take their vows of celibacy seriously
      anyway) aren't a problem with the Orthodox. It is
      the Orthodox that is going to be more suspicious
      of mass immigration (especially immigration from
      Islamic nations) than other religions.

      Of course, if you are an Irish, Italian, French
      or German Catholic, you just can't pop into
      Serbian Orthodox Church and say "I'm a new
      convert!" unless you marry a Serb. It just
      doesn't work that way. To solve that problem, the
      Orthodox Church of America (OCA) exists. Formed
      in the early 1970s by the Russian Patriarchy and
      separate from it, the OCA is an Americanized
      version of the of the Russian Church with its
      services in English and with pews and so forth
      (the Orthodox church who's fall festival I
      annually attend in Clayton, Wisconsin, Holy
      Trinity, is part of the OCA.) Many of the
      churches are old Russian ones like Holy Trinity,
      but the OCA also incorporates other ethnic groups
      like Albanian and Romanian Orthodox that never
      had separate ethnic bishoprics like the Greeks or
      Serbs do. The OCA could very easily incorporate
      ethnic European Catholic refugees in their own
      churches. Right now the OCA has over 100 churches
      and a million members, slow but steady growth
      that I think could easily accelerate in the 21st
      Century. Conservative writer Rod Dreher of
      Crunchy Cons fame has already made the switch
      from Catholicism to Eastern Orthodoxy and I think others will to.

      The other trend that will take place will be
      those from nominal Christian backgrounds
      converting to Islam. Such conversions have taken
      place among African Americans for long time and
      famous ones like Lew Alcindor to Kareem
      Abdul-Jabbar and Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali.
      The Nation of Islam, an organization of Black
      Muslims, has dominated the Islamic discourse
      within U.S for many years. However, the NOI's
      racist rhetoric against whites has kept Islam's
      numbers in the U.S. down from what they could potentially be.

      This will change too in the 21st Century. Growth
      in Islam will come from Third World immigration
      of course. But it will also come from white
      converts as well and they will come from two sources of thought.

      Islam always has had an ideological appeal to
      those on the far left and right. To a cultural
      Marxist, Islam is the God that hasn't failed
      (unlike Communism), at least not yet. Its
      diverse, multicultural following and the fact
      that it is the religion of the Third Word i.e. it
      was founded there and expanded there outside of
      Europe and the West, makes it a perfect vehicle
      for cultural upheaval and egalitarianism. Marxism
      derided religion which limited its appeal while
      Islam is a religion and has mass appeal. And
      within an adversarial culture, converting to
      Islam becomes the perfect vehicle to shock one's
      parents and friends and peers. Indeed, Jean-Paul
      Sartre himself became more and more fascinated
      with Islam as the communist left declined in his
      later years. This has more of chance of happening
      with the nominal baptized or secular Christian
      than anyone else. Think of John Walker Lindh, the
      Marin County, California teenager who got fed up
      with empty secularist lifestyle of parents and
      neighbors and converted to Islam and joined the
      Taliban in Afghanistan, and you'll understand the
      type. Since 9-11 and since George Bush II give
      Islam his stamp of approval by calling it a
      "religion of peace," there's been a growing study
      of Islam within in the media and with others who
      are curious to know more about it. Such study, no
      doubt, will increase the size of the pool of converts for Islam within the U.S.

      On the other side, Nazis have always appreciated
      Islam's marshal spirit and ascetic, non-bourgeois
      lifestyle along with its ability to submit the
      will of the mass towards one deity or person.
      They found it far superior to Christian piety
      which they found to be nothing more than religion
      for wimps, not the supermen they were supposed to
      be. Those who are not inclined towards Nazism
      still find these same qualities admirable, along
      with Islam's male-dominated patriarchy. Women and
      men do not pray together. If you are a fellow who
      is unchurched right at the moment because you
      think the modern church in the U.S. is too female
      dominated and has no place for you, then Islam
      may be your scene. Think of guy who used to
      attend Promise Keeper rallies in football
      stadiums and spent his time crying on the
      shoulder of another guy while being told what an
      awful person he was. When he realized the whole
      thing was nothing more than a religious version
      of 1990s male bonding without the tom-tom drums,
      campfires and war paint and when he realized his
      wife and her friends were laughing their heads
      off at him down at the solon, then you'll know
      the kind of person I'm talking about. In fact the
      crisis of the maleless church has become such a
      concern that, according to religious news
      reports, that certain pastors have gotten to the
      point of parking Harley Davidson motorcycles out
      front of the entryways of their churches and
      putting on football uniforms and using football
      metaphors to attract males back into the pews
      again. But Islam's call may be more enticing than
      that just more passing Christian fads.

      Islam and Eastern Orthodoxy have never played
      major roles within the cultural, political or
      economic milieus of the United States largely
      because their numbers have never been large
      enough to do so, let alone attract any attention.
      But in this century, that could change as numbers
      and demography head in both faiths' direction.

      Sean Scallon is a writer and freelance journalist
      living in Arkansaw, Wisconsin. His weblog is
      Beating the Powers that Be at www.beatingthepowersthatbe.blogspot.com.
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