Aaron Renn from The Urbanophile recently had an article reposted at NewGeography that a friend passed along to me. The article, “Religion and the City,” traces the importance of religion in urban contexts from a sociological perspective outside of the Christian sphere. It is an insightful read calling for religion to be taken seriously in urban contexts and studies. Renn references Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan (see my post of Keller’s video from the Lausanne movement: “God’s Global Urban Mission”), who is a major influencer within contemporary Christianity for urban mission. Redeemer’s “City to City” initiative is hugely influential.
What are your thoughts on Renn’s article? Is Christianity important in cities? Is religion really that vital for urban contexts?
Here is an excerpt of the article:
The religious in the US are often associated with the political right and conservative stances on social issues – just the type of people who don’t like cities or city dwellers much, and vice versa….
Yet urbanists should take religion much more seriously than they often do. That’s because it plays a much bigger role in the city and civic health than currently believed, and because many urban congregations have mastered the art of outreach and conversion in a way that transit and density advocates can only dream out….
Churches have always been important institutions in cities. Even today, the only reason many families with children are confident enough to stay in the city is because they can enroll their kids in Catholic or other religious schools. I can only imagine what a place like Chicago would look like if its religious school network wasn’t there. Religious institutions are also heavily involved in poor relief and other social service activities that help reduce the tax burden. And regardless of what you personally think about any particular religion, if someone is able to use faith to help them get over serious personal dysfunction like criminal behavior or alcoholism, more power to them. [Read the entire article here]