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Americans underestimate Protestant population
Get Religion ^ | 9/23/2012

Posted on 09/23/2012 1:11:04 PM PDT by markomalley

A few months ago we looked at a survey that showed that the vast majority of Americans have no idea whatsoever what percentage of the population is gay.

Mainstream studies indicate that percentage is somewhere in the low single digits, but Americans believed — on average — that 25 percent of the population is gay. Yes, 25 percent. This includes data showing that 35 percent of Americans think that more than 25 percent of the population is gay.

I’ve long wondered why it is that Americans are so wrong on this, but I can’t help but think that the mainstream media plays a significant role.

I was reminded of that study when I read this Religion News Service report showing that Americans are way off when estimating the percentage of Americans who belong to various religious groups:

The typical American underestimates how many Protestants there are in the U.S., and vastly overestimates the number of religious minorities such as Mormons, Muslims, and atheist/agnostics, according to a new study.

Grey Matter Research and Consulting asked 747 U.S. adults to guess what proportion of the American population belongs to each of eight major religious groups: Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Mormon, Muslim, atheist/agnostic, believe in God or a higher power but have no particular religious preference, and any other religious group.

The average response was that 24 percent of Americans are Catholic, 20 percent are Protestant, 19 percent are unaffiliated, 8 percent are Jewish, 9 percent are atheist or agnostic, 7 percent are Muslim, 7 percent are Mormon and 5 percent identify with all other religious groups.

Respondents were correct on Catholics — 24 percent of the country is Catholic. But according to the 2008 U.S. Religious Landscape Survey from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, 51 percent are Protestant, 12 percent are unaffiliated, 2 percent are Jewish, 4 percent are Atheist/Agnostic, less than 1 percent are Muslim, 2 percent are Mormon and 4 percent identify with all other religious groups.

The article quotes Ron Sellers, the president of the research firm, theorizing that the word “Protestant” might have thrown people off. But this was the part that got me interested:

Sellers also mentioned that with Mitt Romney running for president as a Mormon and the current emphasis on Islamic-American relations, “smaller faith groups also may be getting disproportionate media coverage.”

This is undoubtedly true. But do we take this to an extreme? No one would claim that Mormonism and Islam or various tiny religious groups shouldn’t get disproportionate coverage at times — but I am sometimes surprised at the lack of good reporting on the majority of religious adherents in the coverage. If the coverage is disproportionate to the point that it is negatively affecting people’s understanding of the real world, that might be an argument for a bit more evenly distributed religious news coverage. Particularly since there are gobs of stories that go under-reported as it is.


TOPICS: Mainline Protestant
KEYWORDS: christendom; christians
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1 posted on 09/23/2012 1:11:07 PM PDT by markomalley
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To: markomalley

Look at New England. I live in Massachusetts. It’s practically a wasteland. I had to change churches a few years ago — an elderly, and very Christian pastor retired and was replaced by a left-wing, green, lesbian who clearly did not see Christ as a Savior. Took us months to find a new church with a Bible-centered mission.


2 posted on 09/23/2012 1:16:20 PM PDT by ClearCase_guy (ua)
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To: markomalley
....I am sometimes surprised at the lack of good reporting on the majority of religious adherents in the coverage. If the coverage is disproportionate to the point that it is negatively affecting people’s understanding of the real world, that might be an argument for a bit more evenly distributed religious news coverage. Particularly since there are gobs of stories that go under-reported as it is.

Maybe the Catholics could post a few more stories about Protestants to the Religion Forum :)

3 posted on 09/23/2012 1:20:35 PM PDT by Alex Murphy
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To: markomalley
...but Americans believed — on average — that 25 percent of the population is gay.

That's because they do 25% of the talking. :)

4 posted on 09/23/2012 1:20:59 PM PDT by Mr. Jeeves (CTRL-GALT-DELETE)
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To: markomalley

Misleading...I don’t see the God haters and heathens representing the Democrat party and Muslims here....


5 posted on 09/23/2012 1:22:03 PM PDT by Gaffer
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To: Alex Murphy
Maybe the Catholics could post a few more stories about Protestants to the Religion Forum :)

Hope you don't regard it as a slam. I thought it was pretty interesting.

6 posted on 09/23/2012 1:23:20 PM PDT by markomalley (Nothing emboldens the wicked so greatly as the lack of courage on the part of the good -- Leo XIII)
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To: Mr. Jeeves

Tagline.....mui coolio.....


7 posted on 09/23/2012 1:23:44 PM PDT by Gaffer
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To: markomalley

I grew up in Manhattan in the mid-60s. My family was Catholic and we knew a lot of Jewish people. I was aware of this religious difference mostly because of some kids getting days off from Public School because of the Jewish Holidays.

When I was in second grade (in Catholic school) we read in our social studies book that most Americans were Protestant. This was disturbing news to me because I had never heard that word before.

Imagine, learning that MOST of your fellow citizens were something you’d never even heard of.

When we got out of school that day I asked my mom “What’s a Protestant?” And she looked at me shocked and said “You don’t know?!?!?”

Oooh boy, I was really up the creek on this Protestant thing!

Then she said “Oh, of course you don’t know, there aren’t anymore Protestants around here any more.” Then she sort of explained it to me. A few years later my friend introduced me to the tales of Henry VIII and the history started to fall into place.

I had to laugh seeing this thread, I’ll never forget that day. Aside from the day JFK was killed that was pretty much the most confused I’d been up to that point in my life.


8 posted on 09/23/2012 1:31:21 PM PDT by jocon307
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To: markomalley
All of the different denominations probably confuse people.

I notice that somewhere between 20 and 30 percent of the population consider themselves to be evangelical (another hard to define term) and that may be what people are picking up on when they estimate the percentage of Protestants to be in that range.

Or they may be thinking of the number of mainline, non-evangelical protestants which is roughly the same, though it declines as the Evangelical and unbelieving populations increase.

Add the Evangelicals and the other, mainstream Protestants together and you get the total Protestant population.

FWIW, I notice your map doesn't count Mormons as Protestants. I suppose that's true doctrinally, though those who don't belong to either group sometimes have a different impression.

9 posted on 09/23/2012 1:31:54 PM PDT by x
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To: ClearCase_guy
Look at New England. I live in Massachusetts. It’s practically a wasteland. I had to change churches a few years ago — an elderly, and very Christian pastor retired and was replaced by a left-wing, green, lesbian who clearly did not see Christ as a Savior. Took us months to find a new church with a Bible-centered mission.

Look at the names in the legend to the map. Take out the Baptists and the LCMS, and the rest are apostate IMO:

American Baptist Churches in the USA
Assemblies of God
Christian Churches and Churches of Christ
Episcopal Church
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Southern Baptist Convention
United Church of Christ
United Methodist Church
Other

I think the pollsters have overestimated the Protestant population, myself.

10 posted on 09/23/2012 1:33:20 PM PDT by Alex Murphy
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To: x
FWIW, I notice your map doesn't count Mormons as Protestants. I suppose that's true doctrinally, though those who don't belong to either group sometimes have a different impression.

The map was posted at Get Religion.

11 posted on 09/23/2012 1:34:09 PM PDT by markomalley (Nothing emboldens the wicked so greatly as the lack of courage on the part of the good -- Leo XIII)
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To: x
FWIW, I notice your map doesn't count Mormons as Protestants.

Mormons are not Christians. Of course they are not Protestants,

12 posted on 09/23/2012 1:36:20 PM PDT by ClearCase_guy (ua)
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To: x

Mormons are Mormons.

The writings of their own founders indicate that Mormons did not consider themselves part of any Protestant church. They regarded Protestants in the same light as they regarded Catholicism, which is to say very negatively. Mormons wanted no part of either and regarded both Protestant and Catholic as being in serious error.


13 posted on 09/23/2012 1:45:08 PM PDT by RegulatorCountry
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To: markomalley

In all fairness, leftists are very adept at joining organizations with the intent of subverting their purpose to the leftist agenda. Any organization and every organization.

They have successfully done this in most religions in the US, and only after years are finally now being countered by religious schism, by the faithful in those religions rejecting the infiltration and the agenda, who split off from the religion and take their money and resources and faith with them for a reformed version.

But at the same time, this creates the impression that there are far more *believing* faithful than there actually are.

Call them PINOs if you like, Protestants In Name Only.

But their faith is not in religion but in the leftist agenda, so they truly neither believe in their articles of their denomination, or even in God for that matter. They continually afford to pretend that the doctrines of their church are identical to those of the left, despite all evidence and history to the contrary.

So how many *real* Protestants, Catholics and Jews are there in the US? Good question. But I suspect the real number may be closer to the “underestimation” than not.


14 posted on 09/23/2012 1:51:16 PM PDT by yefragetuwrabrumuy (DIY Bumper Sticker: "THREE TIMES,/ DEMOCRATS/ REJECTED GOD")
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To: markomalley
My little county is brown for Christian Churches and etc.

It is 75% horse and buggy Old Order Amish. The surrounding counties are heavily Mennonite and other versions of Old Order Amish. You can tell by the pattern of the dresses on the women and the hats on the men.

15 posted on 09/23/2012 1:55:51 PM PDT by Battle Axe (Repent, for the coming of the Lord is nigh.)
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To: markomalley; PJBankard; scottjewell; ebb tide; Sirius Lee; lilycicero; MaryLou1; glock rocks; ...
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Please ping me to note-worthy Pro-Life or Catholic threads, or other threads of general interest.


16 posted on 09/23/2012 1:58:59 PM PDT by narses
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To: Alex Murphy

Well, looking at polling data and voting patterns, better than half of the Catholic population is apostate as well. We can’t expect non-Christians to be able to make a distinction between the two if we don’t ourselves.

I look at that sea of red in Missouri and have hope that McCaskill will be ousted, despite the efforts of certain Republicans to undermine or even destroy her opponent.

I look at that sea of red and know where the startling numbers turning out for CFA day can be primarily attributed, even in largely liberal states. Look at California. There’s a large red coastal county right by the Bay Area.

Heck, look at Utah.

I look at that map and know why Sarah Palin had such an upwelling of support in 2008, too. All other criticisms aside, she spoke their language and walked the walk.


17 posted on 09/23/2012 1:59:32 PM PDT by RegulatorCountry
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To: markomalley

Every TV show has a token gay person on it now, so it’s easy to presume that 20% of the population is gay if one is getting one’s impression of the world through watching TV.


18 posted on 09/23/2012 2:06:30 PM PDT by Truthsearcher
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To: RegulatorCountry
Well, looking at polling data and voting patterns, better than half of the Catholic population is apostate as well.

I wouldn't argue with that. I think the number of observant trinitarian believers, of all stripes, has steadily dropped over the last 100 years across this country.

We can’t expect non-Christians to be able to make a distinction between the two if we don’t ourselves.

You make an awesome point. Thank you!

19 posted on 09/23/2012 2:06:52 PM PDT by Alex Murphy
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To: Mr. Jeeves
That's because they do 25% of the talking. :)

Seems like that might also be the case for the Jews and Mormons (2% Jews & Mormons as well).

20 posted on 09/23/2012 2:09:53 PM PDT by what's up
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To: markomalley
So as not to allow any such misinterpretation to stand unchallenged, I should like to point out that the predominance of red does not represent an advancement of the SBC but rather a collapse of the Methodist population. I am surprised at the red presence in Hawaii and Alaska, however.
21 posted on 09/23/2012 2:18:23 PM PDT by Brass Lamp
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To: jocon307

My late father-in-law had a tired old joke he’d pull out whenever he passed a cross walk marked “Pedestrian Crossing”. He’d always ask, “Why do the Presbyterians get their own crossing? Where are the crossings for the Lutherans and the Catholics?”


22 posted on 09/23/2012 2:19:49 PM PDT by afraidfortherepublic (Joe Biden is reported to be seeking asylum in a foreign country so he does not have to debate Ryan.)
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To: Brass Lamp

Also, Baptists aren’t even Protestant.


23 posted on 09/23/2012 2:20:23 PM PDT by Brass Lamp
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To: markomalley

Very interesting. I’m surprised that there aren’t more Southern counties with a majority of United Methodist congregants.


24 posted on 09/23/2012 2:21:02 PM PDT by Tax-chick ("In the kingdom of the blind, sight is a crime and mentioning what you see is a gaffe.")
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To: Alex Murphy

I think the article’s mention of a problem with asking about “protestant” is valid, but it might also affect some of the respondents who belong to certain churches.

If memory serves, some object t the “Protestant” label. I think some Baptist don’t regard themselves as technically deserving the name?


25 posted on 09/23/2012 2:22:34 PM PDT by D-fendr (Deus non alligatur sacramentis sed nos alligamur.)
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To: afraidfortherepublic
My late father-in-law had a tired old joke he’d pull out whenever he passed a cross walk marked “Pedestrian Crossing”. He’d always ask, “Why do the Presbyterians get their own crossing? Where are the crossings for the Lutherans and the Catholics?”

ROTFL!

26 posted on 09/23/2012 2:22:45 PM PDT by Alex Murphy
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To: afraidfortherepublic

LOL, that’s pretty bad.

As I said on another thread an Episcopal Bishop once told my brother that Presbyterians are “the secret force”.

I’m just glad my Presbyterian mom-in-law did not live to see the whole magilla at the Chrystal Cathedral, that would have broken her heart.


27 posted on 09/23/2012 2:24:01 PM PDT by jocon307
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To: Alex Murphy
>> Look at the names in the legend to the map. Take out the Baptists and the LCMS, and the rest are apostate IMO: I think the pollsters have overestimated the Protestant population, myself. <<

Who declares which protestant denominations are "apostate"? You?

And odd you should lump all the "Baptists" in together as "non-apostate", there are many different Baptist denominations in America and they run the spectrum from very conservative to very liberal Christian theology. Not all are SBC. You even have nutty groups out there that are Baptist in name only, like Westboro Baptist Church. I'm pretty sure every Christian would consider Fred Phelps to be "apostate"

28 posted on 09/23/2012 2:27:26 PM PDT by BillyBoy ( Impeach Obama? Yes We Can!)
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To: Tax-chick

Same here. I would have thought the Methodist would be much larger and the Baptist much smaller.

I read recently that Methodists were the largest group in, I believe it was, the early 19th century.

As most know, Methodism was an off-shoot of Anglican.


29 posted on 09/23/2012 2:28:42 PM PDT by D-fendr (Deus non alligatur sacramentis sed nos alligamur.)
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To: Brass Lamp

“Also, Baptists aren’t even Protestant.”

Thank you for pointing that out. Baptists were around way before Martin Luther who started the Protestant movement.


30 posted on 09/23/2012 2:39:04 PM PDT by MayflowerMadam
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To: ClearCase_guy

Might I ask, what church were you able to find bible teaching?


31 posted on 09/23/2012 2:45:29 PM PDT by zerosix (Native sunflower)
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To: ClearCase_guy

Might I ask, what church were you able to find bible teaching?


32 posted on 09/23/2012 2:45:29 PM PDT by zerosix (Native sunflower)
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To: x
The "hard to define word" evangelical simply means those who adhere to the biblical command from Matthew 28:18-20, "And Jesus came and spoke to them saying, 'All authority has been given to me in heaven and earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age.'"
33 posted on 09/23/2012 3:10:45 PM PDT by zerosix (Native sunflower)
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To: x
The "hard to define word" evangelical simply means those who adhere to the biblical command from Matthew 28:18-20, "And Jesus came and spoke to them saying, 'All authority has been given to me in heaven and earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age.'"
34 posted on 09/23/2012 3:10:52 PM PDT by zerosix (Native sunflower)
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To: D-fendr

Iirc, Southern Baptist is the biggest Protestant denomination nationwide, but I’m surprised that on the county level there aren’t more Methodist majorities. Around here (south-central NC) the oldest congregations are usually Methodist. I love visiting their cemeteries! We toured one during our recent vacation that included a Revolutionary War veteran who was a frontier Methodist pastor.


35 posted on 09/23/2012 3:59:23 PM PDT by Tax-chick ("In the kingdom of the blind, sight is a crime and mentioning what you see is a gaffe.")
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To: MayflowerMadam

sorry .. I thought you were serious for a second.


36 posted on 09/23/2012 4:11:56 PM PDT by Walkingfeather
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To: Tax-chick

NC was as Anglican colony, I’m guessing that helps explain it’s deep Methodism.

I’m in Texas and I would guess that Baptist/Methodist are near co-equal in a great number of counties.

They truly were an integral part of our religious history, particularly on the fronteir. The circuit-riding Methodist minister... what an incredible American history!

thanks for your reply.


37 posted on 09/23/2012 4:31:22 PM PDT by D-fendr (Deus non alligatur sacramentis sed nos alligamur.)
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To: Brass Lamp

Baptists are Protestants. Many of them just aren’t either intelligent enough to know it or honest enough to admit it.


38 posted on 09/23/2012 4:56:46 PM PDT by vladimir998
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To: Battle Axe

I’ll bet life is peaceful and quiet in your little county.

My county is too. Almost totally Protestant. Mostly Baptist and Church of Christ. A few Lutherans (German). It is also pretty peaceful.

The town I live in is about 600 people and we have 3 Baptist Churches.

Entire county population is about 5,000 people.


39 posted on 09/23/2012 4:57:17 PM PDT by Texas Fossil (Government, even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one)
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To: zerosix

Evangelical Free Church of America. As an institution, it is not overly doctrinal, and while different congregations may be either very good or somewhat less good, with a good pastor, it can fulfill a mission of using Bible words to promote Biblical teaching and the doing of Biblical works.


40 posted on 09/23/2012 5:38:36 PM PDT by ClearCase_guy (ua)
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To: Alex Murphy

The rest are the ones who also happen to be in communion with the Roman Catholic church


41 posted on 09/23/2012 10:16:18 PM PDT by Lera (Proverbs 29:2)
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To: x; markomalley
The term "Protestant" is too vague. Some Baptists for instance insist that they are not Protestant. Other folks put Mormons or Jehovah's Witnesses as Protestant

Then, where does one put the Oneness Pentecostals who do not believe in the Trinity? Or the various Jewish Christians or others?

It would be simpler to call all of these as non-Catholic or even to use the Freerepublic Religion Forum categories :)

42 posted on 09/23/2012 11:54:13 PM PDT by Cronos (**Marriage is about commitment, cohabitation is about convenience.**)
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To: Alex Murphy; xzins; ClearCase_guy

The UMC are not apostate. Xzins has corrected me in the past for that wrong perception. From what I understand, they are still fighting with the liberals in their church. As conservatives — whether Catholic or Methodist or Baptist — we need to support the fellow conservatives in the UMC and not dump them in the same group as the liberals in their denomination


43 posted on 09/23/2012 11:55:55 PM PDT by Cronos (**Marriage is about commitment, cohabitation is about convenience.**)
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To: RegulatorCountry
Interestingly one can see the progression (or rather regression) in the ages in which "the great apostasy" happened -- the first reformers believed the church went off track in the middle ages. Then the Baptist groups in the US believed this to be around Chalcedon or earlier

And Joseph Smith, took this idea and pushed it back even further in his teachings to apostolic times.

44 posted on 09/23/2012 11:57:48 PM PDT by Cronos (**Marriage is about commitment, cohabitation is about convenience.**)
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To: RegulatorCountry
my drawing line is support of abortion -- anyone who openly supports this can't be Christian. Yes, that's an absolute. If someone says that they don't want to comment, but won't support abortion, just not do anything, that's still bad, still bad Christian, but not as awful as one who would support killing of babies just to control the population
45 posted on 09/24/2012 12:00:53 AM PDT by Cronos (**Marriage is about commitment, cohabitation is about convenience.**)
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To: Brass Lamp; Mr Rogers

that depends on which Baptist you speak to. I believe it’s not restricted to a particular Baptist group but certain Baptist individuals believe they are not Protestants and others don’t. It’s down to the individual


46 posted on 09/24/2012 12:01:55 AM PDT by Cronos (**Marriage is about commitment, cohabitation is about convenience.**)
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To: MayflowerMadam
not really, the history of the Baptists is from the church of John SMyth in Amsterdan in 1609. These were an offshoot of the initial Protestant reformers

The concept of Baptist successionism wrongly ascribes Albigensians or paulicians or Montanists of having the same beliefs as modern-day Baptists

However Montanists seemed more like modern day pentecostals, and had female bishops and heavily believed in ongoing prophecy

paulicians were adoptionists in their belief that Jesus was adopted by God and they believed that Satan was equally powerful as God, not as mainstream Christians do

Albigensians/Cathari were Gnostics who took that dualism one step further and believed that the created world is maya or an illusion created by a false god and Jesus came to take us away from this false world to the higher god.

Baptists do NOT have any of these beliefs (or at least the Baptists that I know).

47 posted on 09/24/2012 12:08:40 AM PDT by Cronos (**Marriage is about commitment, cohabitation is about convenience.**)
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To: Cronos; xzins; ClearCase_guy; RegulatorCountry
The UMC are not apostate. Xzins has corrected me in the past for that wrong perception. From what I understand, they are still fighting with the liberals in their church. As conservatives — whether Catholic or Methodist or Baptist — we need to support the fellow conservatives in the UMC and not dump them in the same group as the liberals in their denomination....

....my drawing line is support of abortion -- anyone who openly supports this can't be Christian. Yes, that's an absolute. If someone says that they don't want to comment, but won't support abortion, just not do anything, that's still bad, still bad Christian, but not as awful as one who would support killing of babies just to control the population

Our belief in the sanctity of unborn human life makes us reluctant to approve abortion. But we are equally bound to respect the sacredness of the life and well-being of the mother, for whom devastating damage may result from an unacceptable pregnancy. In continuity with past Christian teaching, we recognize tragic conflicts of life with life that may justify abortion, and in such cases we support the legal option of abortion under proper medical procedures. We cannot affirm abortion as an acceptable means of birth control, and we unconditionally reject it as a means of gender selection.

-- The United Methodist Church's official statement on "Social Principles - Abortion

You can read the history of this changing statement at First Things. Meanwhile, the OPC's official position on abortion is found in their 38th and 39th General Assemblies. That position is summarized as follows:
Abortion. The 1971 Assembly—two years before the infamous Roe v. Wade decision of the U.S. Supreme Court—denounced the practice of voluntary abortion except possibly for the purpose of saving the mother's life.
It would be appreciated if you would support conservatives in the OPC, EPC, PCA, and other Presbyterian denominations, and not dump them in the same group as the liberals in the PC(USA).
48 posted on 09/24/2012 2:40:22 AM PDT by Alex Murphy
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To: Alex Murphy
It would be appreciated if you would support conservatives in the OPC, EPC, PCA, and other Presbyterian denominations, and not dump them in the same group as the liberals in the PC(USA).

Why don't you practise what you preach first and then lecture?

49 posted on 09/24/2012 3:01:43 AM PDT by Cronos (**Marriage is about commitment, cohabitation is about convenience.**)
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To: Alex Murphy

It’s fine talk coming from a poster whose posts constantly say “Catholics — go vote for the Democrats” — that’s treasonous talk on FR and shouldn’t be allowed. While conservative Catholics, Methodists, Baptists etc. are trying hard within their own groups and reaching out to help conservatives else, it’s really strange to have a poster constantly post such articles over and over again.


50 posted on 09/24/2012 4:33:52 AM PDT by Cronos (**Marriage is about commitment, cohabitation is about convenience.**)
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