The liberal denominations and their seminaries, by betraying the poor, especially people of color, in a desperate bid to stay financially solvent, are making themselves obsolete.
Chris Hedges, Truthdig
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The chapel of The General Theological Seminary in New York City. The seminary, founded in 1817, sold much of its property to developers in recent years. (Julie Jacobson / AP)
Jan 24, 2016 | Paul Tillich wrote that all institutions, including the church, are inherently demonic. Reinhold Niebuhr asserted that no institution could ever achieve the morality of the individual. Institutions, he warned, to extend their lives when confronted with collapse, will swiftly betray the stances that ostensibly define them. Only individual men and women have the strength to hold fast to virtue when faced with the threat of death. And decaying institutions, including the church, when consumed by fear, swiftly push those endowed with this moral courage and radicalism from their ranks, rendering themselves obsolete.
The wisdom of Tillich and Niebuhr has been borne out in the precipitous decline of the liberal church and the seminaries and divinity schools that train religious scholars and clergy. Faced with shrinking or nonexistent endowments, mounting debts, dwindling memberships, a lack of employment for their graduates and growing irrelevancy in a society that has little use for tepid church piety and the smug arrogance that comes with it, these institutions have fallen into physical and moral decay.
Chris Hedges, a weekly columnist for Truthdig, is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who has reported from more than 50 countries, specializing in American politics and society.
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