Thursday 13 January 2011

The Missouri Schism and UCG

I was still but a pup when the Missouri Synod exploded under the leadership of the loathsome "Chairman Jao" (J.A.O. Preus II, son of a former Republican Governor of Minnesota.) The "civil war" saw the moderates leave and the hardline fundamentalists remain firmly in control of a depleted denomination which, despite the bally-hoo and bravado, then slowly headed into a period of irreversible decline. Anything to learn here? Well yes, if the preface from James Burkee's new study is anything to go by. It's not so much about religious beliefs as about political worldview.

Power, Politics, and the Missouri Synod: A Conflict That Changed American Christianity is about to be published by Fortress Press. In the preface he relates a tour of Lutheran churches in Milwaukee prior to the 2004 election. Two speakers each presented a Christian perspective on supporting one of the two main parties. In Missouri Synod churches the Democrat presenter was treated abysmally, while in ELCA congregations the Republican advocate got a hard time. Politics and religion are intertwined, even by those who loudly call for their separation. And of course, you don't have to vote to have a political worldview.

The current situation in the Armstrong enclaves seems a world away, but I suggest the same political dynamics are a factor. I know of a few "closet Democrats" in the UCG/independent factions, but it's hard to imagine that any could survive for long in the more fascist factions (thinking of Pack and Flurry.) As for the latest eruption, it's no coincidence that the tactics of the departing been compared to those of the Tea Party. There has always been a right-leaning Republican skew to the Churches of God, but all things are relative, and the newly formed sect will clearly be more 'conservative' - doctrine has always been a side issue.

The split in UCG, like that in the Missouri Synod long ago, is as much about the culture wars in the surrounding society as anything else.


  1. Most people don't know the absolute truth of Pyramidology -- it is the secret of the Universe and all true religions today employ it. The winners of the Missouri Synod split understand this ancient eschatology well and use it.

    Yes, the Armstrongists use it too. We know that Herbert Armstrong believed in Pyramidology and it was the secret of his success.

    Of course, when we say "Pyramidology" we are not talking about the silly idea that the Great Pyramid built by Job or whoever is the key to prophecy. It's not like that.

    Pyramidology is all about Multi Level Marketing with bullies in charge.

  2. My political views were quite conservative when growing up in and later being an adult member of the church.

    Now that I'm out of christianity I'm finding my political views to be much more what many would label progressive. And just as I find parts of christianity hypocritical, I also find much of conservative politics quite hypocritical.