There was a time when the Massachusetts Bible Society provided a real service to all Christians. With its roots in providing Bibles to sailors, for most of its 197 years the society has spread the Word of God, as part of the larger American Bible Society and International Bible Society, in nearly every language on the planet to anyone who wanted.
In fact, I own several copies of Bibles printed by the ABS, various esoteric translations that could not be easily had in other forms. And in general those Bibles were very inexpensive, almost just the cost of printing them.
But now the Mass. Bible Society is shifting its focus to “embrace the Internet era.” Fewer people were stopping by their storefronts and it is selling off four of its five stores, including a five-story on Bromfield Street in Boston (in other words, making big bucks on the sale) and moving into an office suite.
They are also shifting their focus unfortunately. Like so many other Protestants in Massachusetts, they have taken a decidedly liberal turn.
The Bible Society is placing a renewed emphasis on its educational programs, which include a variety of lectures and workshops and study groups about theological issues aimed at clergy and laypeople, and is hoping to move some of its programs online.
And, more significantly, after decades as a manifestation of the staid religious establishment, the society is now articulating a theological stance, adopting a new slogan, “a voice for progressive Christianity,” and attempting to position itself as an alternative to what it describes as the “religious right.”
Ah yes, politics. How wonderful for them. At one time their mission was to spread the Word of God, quite literally, making it available in every language known to man, a noble goal outside of politics. But they are now abandoning that mission. I wonder if it’s that the Internet has really co-opted that mission, as they claim, or if the leadership simply wanted a vehicle for their anti-Religious Right ambitions.
On the other hand, they’ve evidently become confused about what the Word of God is. In recent years they started distributing copies of the Koran.
Ironically, the head of the society’s board who is taking it in this new liberal political activist direction is a Catholic.
“We would like to see some new blood, some younger blood, that talks the current language and that’s familiar with iPods,” said Cathy Minkevich, the first Catholic and the second woman to head the society’s board. “What the society is trying to do now is to be a counterpoint to the religious right as far as interpretation of Scripture, to hear the hidden voices, to hear the voices of the downtrod ; where there is resistance to tyranny and empire, to be a voice for peace and justice, all based on scriptural grounding.”
The implication is that the religious right doesn’t care about the downtrodden and is on the side of tyranny and empire.
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