by Michael Snyder, End of The American Dream:
If you want as many people to attend your church as possible, why limit yourself to just Christians? All over America, “radically inclusive” churches that embrace all religions and all lifestyles are starting to pop up. Church services that incorporate elements of Hinduism, Islam, native American religions and even Wicca are becoming increasingly common. And even if you don’t believe anything at all, that is okay with these churches too. In fact, as you will see below, one Presbyterian minister in Oregon is even inviting people to “bring their own god” to church. But if these churches don’t really stand for anything at all, what is their purpose? And what does the popularity of these churches say about the future of religion in America?
One such church that has gotten quite a bit of attention lately is led by D.E. Paulk. The son of Earl Paulk, he was once considered to be the “heir apparent” at one of the largest megachurches in America. But these days he leads worship at a church that recognizes “all gods and prophets, including Mohammed“…
The Spirit and Truth Sanctuary, which D.E. founded in 2012, welcomes everyone from Wiccans to atheists, Hindus to Muslims, recognizing all gods and prophets, including Mohammed.
‘[Scandal] has a way of wiping out the things that keep you from being authentic,’ he said.
‘All you have left is who you are. The games are gone… If there was anything I wanted to say I thought would be unacceptable to the church, now is the time to say it.’
After much soul searching, D.E. established his church based around one principle: ‘Christ cannot be, and will not be, restricted to Christianity‘.
Paulk insists that there is “no hell except what one creates with one’s own actions“, and he is very proud of the diverse group of people that currently attends his services…
Today, the church is a rarity on many levels: interfaith, interracial, a mosaic of people deep in the Bible Belt where many churches remain segregated. The church has gay couples, college students, agnostics, some Muslims and even a Wiccan priest. Pictures of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi adorn the walls.
A stained glass window looming over the pulpit captures the spirit of the church. It’s a design that contains a Christian cross, ringed by symbols from Judaism, Islam and Hinduism. In the middle is a dove, which symbolizes the spirit of peace that binds them all together.
A CNN reporter visited one of Paulk’s recent services, and it was definitely far different from what Earl Paulk’s services would have looked like in the old days…
The service then started to feel like a Pentecostal tent-revival but with an unusual twist.
A group of singers took to the stage and opened with a hypnotic Tibetan Buddhist chant that evoked the spirit of compassion: “Om Mani Padme Hum.”
The chant segued into “Shanti, Shanti Om,” a Hindu prayer for peace. Then as the chanting grew louder, the drums and bass kicked in as the singers switched to a Muslim chant about the sovereignty of God: “La ilaha, Il Allah.”
And of course D.E. Paulk is far from alone.
All over America there are ministers that are going out of their way to be more “inclusive”.
As I mentioned above, there is even one Presbyterian minister out in Oregon that wants people to “bring their own god” to church…
A Presbyterian USA minister in Oregon who says that he doesn’t believe in God—and doesn’t require his members to believe either–remarked in a recent article that he is offended by those who assert that he is not a Christian.
“Someone quipped that my congregation is BYOG: Bring Your Own God. I use that and invite people to ‘bring their own God’—or none at all,” wrote John Shuck of Beaverton’s Southminster Presbyterian Church in a guest post for Patheos last week. “While the symbol ‘God’ is part of our cultural tradition, you can take it or leave it or redefine it to your liking.”
Even though Shuck has publicly acknowledged that he does not believe in God, he insists that he is “still a proud minister”, and he gets offended when people try to tell him that he is not a Christian…
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