That call & response cheerleading may be a contributing factor to why the Charlotte Observer says this a.m. that the Southern Baptists have awakened to a perceptible decline in their numbers. Writes Yonat Shimron:
Having pushed out moderates and liberals during its decades-long revolution, the convention, which gathers in Louisville, Ky., on Tuesday, is finding itself losing members and performing fewer baptisms.
Although the losses are not dramatic -- membership in the SBC fell by 38,482 people, about 0.2 percent, in 2008 -- they are particularly painful for a denomination whose singular reason for being is to make converts.
In other words, if you're a Baptist and not nailing new pelts to the cabin walls, you're certainly a failure if not something of a disgrace. At least that's what they used to tell us kids in Sunday School. (So I'd march right out and try -- unsuccessfully -- to convert my nearest neighbor, who bought her likker from my own bootlegging great-aunt. I never attempted to convert that aunt, given the odds ... and the personal hazard.)
Anyway, reporter Shimron works the margins of the whole big problem of a major American religious organization getting itself so thoroughly associated with a now failed politics, and what the fall-out from that association might end up being.