Forty years ago, 30 percent of believers belonged to mainline Protestant churches like the Methodists, Episcopalians, and liberal Presbyterians. Today mainline church attendance stands at about 10 percent of the nation’s total. Some suggest doctrinal weakness and liberalism as the reason for this decline.
Just a few years ago, the Boy Scouts buckled under pressure, some of it financial, to change their membership policies, permitting openly gay scouts and leaders and then girls to join the organization. The BSA had won a hard-fought battle in the Supreme Court affirming their right as a private association to chose their members and leaders, yet voluntarily reversed course soon after. The organization is now close to bankruptcy, and membership is dwindling.
Female sports are also under attack. Transgender women are allowed to compete in women’s athletic events and are dominating play in a dozen sports. In “Male Transjacking Will Ultimately End Women’s Sports,” Kaeley Haver cites more than a dozen examples where women are losing competitions and opportunities to transgender women, and she issues this call:
Women, girls, and the people who love them need to complain loudly and often whenever they’re faced with the prospect of having to compete against the men who would cheat them out of what is rightfully theirs.
Will such common sense prevail? I wouldn’t bet on it.
More recently, Chick-fil-A made headlines, first by announcing it would no longer donate funds to Christian organizations like the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Salvation Army. That slap was followed by a backhand when the “Eat Mor Chikin” company gave money to the anti-Christian, radical Southern Poverty Law Center. If the executives of Chick-fil-A thought this might silence their critics, they were wrong. Will Chick-fil-A also start losing some of its conservative customers?
And now it’s the Salvation Army’s turn.
Because gay presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg once participated in a Salvation Army Red Kettle Ring Off, he is now under fire from other progressives for his support for what critics call a homophobic organization. The Salvation Army, a worldwide Protestant Christian church known for its charities, adheres to the biblical doctrine that marriage is between a man and a woman. Hence, it sits squarely in the center of progressives’ cross hairs.
Never mind that the Salvation Army provides disaster relief, shelters, and meals for the homeless, as well as programs for youth. Never mind that it has issued a statement condemning homophobia or that it “will meet human needs without discrimination.” Never mind that they assist roughly 23 million Americans annually.
The church’s mission statement reads:
The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.
It’s Christian, its message is based on the Bible, and it preaches the gospel of Jesus Christ.
In the world we live in, that’s three strikes and you’re out.
The churches mentioned above, the Boy Scouts, women’s sports, and Chick-fil-A: all were pressured by political correctness, and all gave way to that pressure. For the moment, that same pressure is being applied to the Salvation Army. In today’s world, you either join the battalions marching in lockstep, or face accusations of discrimination and ongoing harassment.
In a scene from the movie “The Godfather” where the Five Families meet to reconcile differences and settle quarrels, Don Corleone asks, “How did things ever get so far?”
At any rate, whenever I see those Salvation Army bell ringers this Christmas season, I plan to do what I always do: throw some money in the Red Kettle.
[Image Credit: Flickr-Lorrie Shaull, CC BY-SA 2.0]
Jeff Minick lives in Front Royal, Virginia, and may be found online at jeffminick.com. He is the author of two novels, Amanda Bell and Dust on Their Wings, and two works of non-fiction, Learning as I Go and Movies Make the Man.