Imperial Religion Poisoning the Well of Spirituality?

(Getty Images / iStockphoto)
(Getty Images / iStockphoto)

A quote by scholar Elizabeth Drescher is making the rounds that explains the statistical “nones,” people who no longer affiliate with religion or never did: “Catholics who become nones are hurt. Evangelicals who become nones are angry. Mainline Protestants who become nones are bored.”

Most nones are not atheists, she says. They’re interested in spirituality and transcendence. But most come from a Christian background. Many are disillusioned, for all sorts of reasons.

Church-leaving evangelicals feel their leaders tricked them into foolish (and unnecessary) positions against science, evolution and the environment, she says.

Church-leaving Catholics include women who feel unaffirmed, lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender individuals who feel excluded, and many others who were shocked by the persistence of the sex-abuse scandal.

Church-leaving mainliners, meanwhile, got bored when congregations failed to do more than teach the Golden Rule during childhood.

Drescher says more in an informative interview at

Anger, hurt, boredom — three emotions stirred by distinctly different denominational conditions. Yet it seems to me they have something in common. They all occur when institutional faith puts its best instincts and integrity aside and allows something else to get in the way — something I’d call imperial religion.

Imperial religion embodies the values of secular power. That’s what nations, superpowers and empires do: display strength, claim divine favor, intimidate enemies, promote self-interest. They never admit doubt or fault. They believe in one thing — power — and resent sharing it with others.

When these values spill over into organized religion and shape worship and leadership, the spiritual well gets poisoned.

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SOURCE: The Tennessean
Ray Waddle

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