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After reading through the long thread Tundra Aries started ("More Americans say they have no religion"), it appears to me that most of the people on JL who identify themselves as Christians also tend to support a Biblical Genesis literal version of creation and a literal heaven and hell.

The USA is the "Western nation" with the highest percentage of those with such beliefs BUT that is NOT typical of ALL USA Chrisitians or even most of the world's Christians -- or even of most of the world's religions (Orthodox Jews do hold similar literal beliefs, other versions of Judaism do not.)

For example:
Beliefs elsewhere in the world:
Belief in creation science seems to be largely a U.S. phenomenon among countries the West. A British survey of 103 Roman Catholic priests, Anglican bishops and Protestant ministers/pastors, perhaps conducted in 1999 showed that:
97% do not believe the world was created in six days.
80% do not believe in the existence of Adam and Eve.

A belief in a literal (vs. symbolic) heaven and hell is held by a majority of Christians, much more so by those characterized as fundamentalist, born again, and so-called evangelicals but has been declining over the years.

(from http://www.religioustolerance.org/ev_publi.htm )

The link below also has pertinent findings:

http://pewforum.org/news/display.php?NewsID=16260

I'm an Episcopalian, drawn to that denomination in the 1950s because of its activism against racism and segregation and currently gratified by its stand to accept all people regardless of their sexual orientation. I believe whole-heartedly in evolution and that heaven and hell are symbolic or allegorical expressions. I do not think that Christianity is the only right or true faith -- I value all of the world's religions. Having grown up in the USA in the family and culture into which I was born, being Christian is more compatible to me than being Bhuddist, Muslim, Hindu, or some other faith.

Before joining the church, I used to think, "I get more inner peace and solace from watching a beautiful sunrise or sunset for an hour than in going to church for the same amount of time." But then I had to ask myself -- "How many times a year do I spend an hour a week contemplating a sunrise or sunset?" and realized the total was far less compared to the hours given by regular church attendance. And, I've found qualities of the service that provide equivalent gifts -- sometimes thought provoking sermons, usually beautiful music, friends with similar values and interests, opportunities to serve.

In 1988(?), about 10-12 of our parishoners (not me), all wearing T-shirts saying "St. David's", joined some members of other local churches in witnessing against the anti-gay, hate spewing signs carried by the local Phelps family and their Westboro Baptist Church. The T-shirts made our church clearly identifiable and so the Phelpses picketed our 10 AM service for a year, harassing our parishoners as they entered. Some of our members transferred to other Episcopal churches. Many counseled us to "turn the other cheek". Having an activist nature, I chafed at this and finally was given permission to speak at a service; I exhorted our members to take back our corner and their response was to stand up, clap and cheer. I had signs with simple messages ("God loves all", etc.) made and we occupied our corner, sidewalks and entrances earlier than the Phelps extended family. Members from churches of many denominations supported us by standing with us, carrying our signs; a few even came from 70 miles away. The Phelps countered this by also picketing our 8 AM service and so we countered them by serving a 6 AM breakfast and getting out ahead of them.

This went on for 4 years -- every Sunday + other services -- and was transformative: me from being a late night person to being an early morning person. Four members from our congregation who helped us witness during this time gave up their former careers, went to Episcopal seminaries, and became priests. (After 4 years, an injunction was obtained requiring them to be at least 50 ft. distant from our property.)

I mention this because, in 'my book,' it's not only the beliefs we have but what we do with them.

I'm quite sure that some of the born-again, fundamentalist Christians on our forum will look on my views as very misguided and hope that I'll see their incorrectness and revise them closer to their beliefs -- just as much as I also wish a similar kind of transformation for them.

George Carlin has a set piece on Christian fundamentalism (below) which does not affront my beliefs even the slightest.

I do suggest that it NOT BE WATCHED by those who object to or find offense in my Christianity -- they will be offended (as will those who object to 'street language'). But those who find my views acceptable may also find favor with Carlin's views as well.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MeSSwKffj9o


 

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Ruh-roh....hang on!!
 

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Thanks for sharing your thoughts and insight, Bob. I found that to be quite stimulating. I too tend to see God in nature, as that is where I feel most at peace. Shane and I would like to find a church to take our kids (when we decide to have any), and have been investigating the various organized faiths. We are very liberal, and beleive in equality among everyone...sexes, genders, races, personal beleifs/practices, etc...and I must admit the Episcopalian faith is one that really caught our attention. We would like something that fits in with our values, and helps to instill those values in our children.
 

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I think I may be one of those "fundamentalists" that you are talking about. However I don't take offense at your viewpoint. I disagree with you, but you are certainly entitled to your beliefs. As I said before we are not sock puppets.
As far as the Episcopal church's stance on racism and anti-gay bashing--I say hooray! I think you would be surprised at my Evangelical Southern Baptist Church. We are very diverse, with people of many races attending. There is also a Korean service that is held at our church every Sunday. We participate in Habitat for Humanity every year, reach out to the homeless, have sent engineers to dig wells in other parts of the world that have no water close to the village, and participate in numerous inter-denominational outreach programs. So we Baptists aren't slackers when it comes to embracing all parts of the community and the world.
 

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Not surprising - I have been doing budgets all day - the other side of my brain is yearning to be free.
 

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Open-Minded Christian = Cafeteria Style religion where you pick and choose what you want to believe. Bad!

Bible-Believing Christian = The Bible is the COMPLETE inspired word of God, without Error. Period. Good!

THERE!

Okay Sandy, I'm done, I feel MUCH better now :D
 
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