Recently there wasÂ alarm exressedÂ aboutÂ wealthy benefactors within establishedÂ religious denominationsÂ funding liberal versions of theology.Â Â Conservative factions within these denominations expressed outrage that liberals would do such a thing.
Â Conservatives have done this as well.Â The founder of Domino’s Pizza funded lots ofÂ conservative projects within the Catholic Church and now is trying to establish a conservative town and University.
I know personally about wealthy atheists and gays funding liberal projects.Â Some of the new atheist billboard activity is funded by an annonomous atheist.
But, the war of the wealthies can only go so far.Â The direction of religious belief and participation has always been, and continues to be, in the street level marketplace of religion.
Here, people put money in the collection plate.Â They contribute only if they likeÂ what they hear.Â IfÂ not, they move to another church.Â Some churches survive, others do not.Â In this way, the theology preachedÂ from the pulpet is written by the faithful sitting in the pews.
I’ve read thatÂ what is unique today, compared to times past, is the tendency of people to change churches.Â So, not only is the deity people worship an invisible one, the entire enterprise is guided by what Adam Smith called, “the invisible hand”.Â
While the percentage of our population that isÂ atheist continues to rise, the percentage of church people falls.Â Â The marketplaceÂ treats us well.Â Â Twenty years ago, economistÂ Robert Heilbronner wrote, “Trying to stop changes inÂ the marketplaceÂ is like putting toothpicks in front of a bulldozer.”