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March 26, 2006

Understanding MegaChurches

To some urban progressives, megachurches represent not only an alien phenomenon, but a large, threatening citadel of conservative cultural and political views. To help separate myth from reality on this subject, the DLC and Third Way cosponsored a forum on Capitol Hill last week on "The Rise of the Megachurches," the third in a series of "values forums" aimed especially at congressional staff.

Huh? Church? State? Separation?

Ring a bell with anyone?

And what the heck is the DLC doing, sponsoring "values forums" anyhow? I don't trust them and I don't trust what they might pick as the "values" of importance.

Beyond that, all I gathered was that these "MegaChurches" aren't so much about religion as they are about socializing. These are for people who don't really care that much about what the religion stands for, they just want the trappings in their lives. With a rec center for the kids.

Many people in new suburbs not only don't know their neighbors; they don't know their own neighborhood.... Loudon County, Virginia, had 6,000 new homes built last year. One year, 6,000 new families, with no roots in their neighborhood. So they're going to find a supermarket the first week because you got to feed the kids. But soon they're going to find a church, because they need sports teams for the kids, they need child care, they have all sorts of voids that megachurches are filling.

He has a point. People have socialization and recreation needs and there's no centralized way to offer and/or identify these in a new community outside the schools or, if you're so inclined, a church.

[...] a vast menu of social, educational, recreational, and social-services activities.

Sort of like a government. Only, you know, no taxes, not much in the way of regulations, and no voters.

Many Democrats have characterized megachurches as "belonging to the Republicans," when it fact they belong to God.

Not so much, according to this guy:

[People attending megachurches] couldn't quote you the tenets of their denomination; they don't know and don't care

Or maybe it's just another step in the decentralization of religion that started with Martin Luther?

The megachurch is really a sociological phenomenon.... You have sprawling metropolitan areas and a destination culture in which highly transient, highly mobile people go where their needs are met. So they shop for churches. If you got what I want, I'm going to be there; there's no allegiance to AME, Catholic, Baptist or any other denomination...

It's religion of convenience.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:23 AM


I can certainly see how the DLC would find the megachurches of strategic importance: for better or worse they are a sociological and political phenomenon of some significance.

I would find it interesting to see surveys of "mainstream" churches which asked the same kind of questions about members' knowledge of tenets, etc.

Posted by: Ahistoricality at March 26, 2006 08:53 PM

Heh. I actually thought that, but I really wasn't trying to diss religion, so I left it out. I found the article interesting and it really did explain (at least to me) quite a lot of the appeal they have for some people.

Posted by: Anne at March 27, 2006 07:15 PM