Progressive Christians Concerned About "Right Flight"
Is Orthodox Christianity taking the progressive movement backward?
It’s a quiet July morning in Detroit, Michigan. Outside the offices of New Faith Minstries, Inc., a flustered Pastor Bill Worthington is ready for another day of tending the flock. “It was a busy pride month,” Pastor Bill laments, as he lowers a rainbow flag from its pole and replaces it with the many-colored “progress” flag. “I’ve heard there’s a new flag they’re making now. I wonder how many more colors they can fit on this thing. I must be getting old. Hard to keep track. Would be nice if they could somehow update the flags via 5G or something.”
Attendance at New Faith Ministries has been down lately. Inflation is hitting hard, funds are drying up. Pastor Bill has heard the same story from other ministers on his weekly Zoom conference; there’s a change coming in, things are not the same.
Christians are flying to orthodoxy at a rapid rate and abandoning many modern churches. In spite of a track record for being difficult to understand, and full of arcane rituals and traditions, the orthodox churches of America have got seekers everywhere pounding down the doors. This surprising trend has got progressive Christians in a doctrinal uproar.
Faye Carson-Douglas, Christian Instagram influencer, issued a fiery tweet on the topic:
Taking an interest in Christianity as it was practiced in the time of Christ is clearly a gateway to the alt-right. Not a good look, bros. SMFH. STFU. 😜
In many contemporary Christian churches, the term “orthodox” (meaning “right doctrine”) is becoming synonymous with heresy. The trend of “right flight”, Christians abandoning their churches for orthodoxy, is causing much debate and some soul-searching.
“It’s a disturbing trend,” says Pastor Bill. “We’ve worked hard to wash away the remnants of the ancient church of Christ, and replace those rituals with diversity workshops, implicit bias training, and struggle sessions. Why would anyone want to go backward?”
In the lobby at New Faith Ministries, Pastor Bill proudly showed off pamphlets from a recent seminar. “We held a weekend retreat on dismantling structural racism in the church and problematizing white skin. We talked about historical injustices like redlining and segregation. It went off great. We had two tracks, one for white congregants and one for black. We even labelled which sanitary facilities and water fountains were for whites and which were designated for people of color. We spared no expense to make it a fun and engaging weekend.”
Kareem Salamani, an Egyptian immigrant, and member of New Faith Ministries, believes Pastor Bill is taking the ministry in strange directions. “I think discriminating against congregants on the basis of skin color is questionable at best. I haven’t felt so bad in a Christian church since that bomb went off at my wedding.”
Pastor Bill remains stalwart in his commitment to justice. “I see people on social media talk about joining the orthodox churches, and I just shake my head. The orthodox are way behind when it comes to critical race theory, queer theory, and the various justices. New Faith Ministries now has task forces for social justice, racial justice, climate justice, and sexual justice respectively.”
And yet, seekers seem to be looking elsewhere. “It was actually nice,” said Tammy Edwards, a first-time visitor to an orthodox church in Roanoke, Virginia. “I was invited by some friends. I thought it was going to be very strict, but it kind of felt like coming home. The liturgy is very God-centered. I didn’t feel like I was performing. It’s very ‘come as you are.’”
Back at New Faith Ministries, Pastor Bill struggles to find his Bible in a side closet of his office. At last, stuck between boxes of Ibram X. Kendi books, Pastor Bill recovers the dusty tome. “I seem to remember this book saying something about dealing with change. I just can’t remember where.”
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