Mainline Protestants and News Narratives of Declension

J. Terry Todd

in The Oxford Handbook of Religion and the American News Media

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780195395068
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Mainline Protestants and News Narratives of Declension

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In a 1993 Newsweek article, Methodist theologian Stanley Hauerwas of Duke Divinity School was quoted as saying that “God is killing mainline Protestantism in America.” What is particularly notable about religion news coverage from the late 1960s to the present is how the demographic realities of mainline Protestantism are woven into a highly politicized narrative of decline. Media reports of the decline of mainline Protestantism coincided with the media's growing awareness of the cultural power of other Protestants, especially evangelicals. The closeness between certain Protestant leaders and mainstream media power brokers is nowhere more evident than in the career of Henry Luce, founder of the Time-Life empire. Of all the issue-related battles that have raged within and across mainline Protestant denominations since 1970, none has been as protracted or as bitter as the struggle over homosexuality. In no other denomination has the battle over homosexuality been as protracted as in the United Methodist Church (UMC), the largest of the mainline denominations.

Keywords: mainline Protestantism; religion news; evangelicals; homosexuality; narrative; United Methodist Church; Henry Luce

Article.  6711 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Religious Studies ; Christianity

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