When did people’s souls become less important to religious leaders?

Two stories in today’s news—one about my state’s new Episcopalian bishop and the other about Pope Francis—impressed me because neither article had anything to do with bringing people closer to God. Instead, both were entirely concerned with issues near and dear to the leftist agenda: Racism and climate change. Perhaps both these faith leaders believe that their obligation to bring God to their parishioners goes without saying, but I thought His failure to be central to their thinking was telling.

The first story was about South Carolina’s new Episcopalian bishop, a woman named Ruth Woodliff-Stanley. She is notable for being South Carolina’s first female Episcopalian bishop in the state’s long history. She will lead 31 churches in the eastern half of South Carolina.

What’s so striking to me is that there isn’t a single mention in the article about Woodliff-Stanley’s role as a spiritual leader. Instead, the entire essay is about her plan to address racism.

The article opens by saying that her office has a large picture of Nelson Mandela. True, he fought against South Africa’s morally wrong apartheid system, but he was also a communist, which makes him an odd figure to be in a bishop’s office. Martin Luther King, after all, also fought against America’s apartheid system but he did so based upon his deeply held belief that all humans are children of God and are equal in His eyes.

But for Woodliff-Stanley, that picture embodies what she sees as her primary mission as bishop: “promoting justice and racial reconciliation in a state where many African American Episcopal congregations are still working to overcome legacies of discrimination. [snip] Her vision is to make the church more inclusive. She wants to uplift the voices of the diocese’s Black congregations and begin reaching out to Native American communities.”

Those are laudable goals but, if you’re a bishop, shouldn’t they arise from MLK’s “children of God” principle rather than from social justice? And no, I’m not imagining Woodliff-Stanley’s closer ties to socialism than to religion. There’s this line: “Among her work in social justice includes helping establish Denver’s Black Lives Matter chapter while serving in ministry in Colorado.”

God seemingly doesn’t figure in her activism. Indeed, in the article, the only time Woodliff-Stanley makes any reference to religion is her hope that an upcoming hearing sees the Episcopalian Church regain control of real property after 29 parishes broke from the Church over its increasingly leftist policies. “‘We pray the court upholds the 2017 decision,’ Woodliff-Stanley said. ‘Jesus is going to lead us forward no matter what happens in any legal proceedings.’”

Meanwhile, Pope Francis continues to obsess about climate change:

Pope Francis on Saturday called on lawmakers worldwide to overcome “the narrow confines” of partisan politics to quickly reach consensus on fighting climate change.

[snip]

“To meet this challenge, everyone has a role to play,” Francis told the visiting lawmakers from many countries. “That of political and government leaders is especially important, and indeed crucial.”

“This demanding change of direction will require great wisdom, foresight and concern for the common good: in a word, the fundamental virtues of good politics,” Francis said.

One would think that Francis would recognize that climate change has become a competing religion, one that has abandoned God and has as its central figure of worship the Earth itself. It is a return to animism, untethered to the unique moral teachings of the Judeo-Christian faith.

Judeo-Christian moral teachings are focused on man’s relationship to God and man’s relationship to man. The Church of Climate Change, by contrast, has reverted to a pagan rules-based system that is focused entirely on trying to placate the climate. There is no larger moral compass; there are just endless steps for appeasing Earth.

Americans, we’re told, are becoming less religious. I’m not surprised. If their churches (and synagogues) revolve around the identical issues preached on their TV news, in Congress, and in the White House, why sacrifice parts of their weekend to hear these same messages again? And if the most important Higher Being for people’s survival is Mother Earth, who can only be placated through ritualized steps such as driving an electric car, rejecting plastic shopping bags, or recycling cans, who really needs to do the hard work of spiritual betterment that traditional faiths demand?

Image: Bishop Woodliff-Stanley and Pope Francis. Both from YouTube screen grabs.

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