200 Years of United Methodism
An Illustrated History

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American Methodism at 200

The United Methodist Church in the 1970s grappled with two of the key questions of the twentieth century: Big Brother and Fading Faith. The fading of faith was predicted in 1927 by Sigmund Freud who said religion was an illusion without a future. Much that has happened has seemed to bear out Freud's prediction. Collection of colorful delegates' badges for the United Methodist General Conference, Portland, Oregon, 1976.Not the least of the evidence being the fact that while the people of the United States grew by 11.4 percent during the 1970s, the members of The United Methodist Church declined by 9.8 percent, with United Methodists now representing 4.2 percent of the population.

While this membership loss was being charted, loyal critics of the church wondered whether George Orwell had not been right in 1948 when he predicted that by 1984 Big Brother would stand astride the world. By Big Brother, Orwell meant that all human thinking, speaking, and acting would be controlled by a dictator. To an extent Orwell saw clearly. Dictators have tramped over our times, and bigness in any organization tends to force individuals to trim their thoughts, words, and deeds to fit the organizational mold.

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