Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Unimportant History Lesson of the Day

Yeah, it gives me a headache, too.

These are the days when I wish I was on Facebook.

Charlie Pierce sez:

[GOP nominee David Brat] got his undergraduate degree at Hope College in Michigan, which is run by the Reformed Church in the United States, a conservative evangelical wing of the United Church Of Christ.

The confusion starts with two similar sounding churches:  the Reformed Church in America and the Reformed Church in the United States.  The latter merged with the the Evangelical Synod in North America in 1934, forming the Evangelical and Reformed Church, which in 1957 merged with the Congregational Church to form the United Church of Christ.

Confused yet?  Wait, there's more.

A breakaway section of the Reformed Church in the U.S. (RCUS) didn't join the 1934 merger and formed the "Continuing RCUS," which became (and still is) the RCUS.  But Hope College has no connection to that church, either.

Hope College was founded "with help" from the Reformed Church in America.  The RCA traces its roots to the Netherlands, and to a church service in New York City in 1628; which is quite a bit before the RCUS got started, as even in Germany the original Reformed Church which became the RCUS didn't get started until the 18th century.

So there's no connection between the UCC and Hope College except the word "Reformed," which merely refers to the Calvinist side, v. Lutheran, of Protestantism.

I hope this clears things up.  And it's still not worth signing onto Facebook over.


  1. An odd error for someone with a Jesuit education to make. I can't say I take issue with the rest of his thesis, though.

  2. Correcting historical accuracy is never unimportant. It was important enough to Charlie Pierce to make the mistake, after all. But, no, nothing is worth singing your privacy over to Facebook for. I won't even do that to spy on my nieces, though I tease them about the possibility of me asking for them to friend me in disguise. Their cousins blab everything, anyway.

  3. A not unpopular view from inside the Roman Catholic Church: All Protestant churches look alike to me.

  4. Mimi--

    I rewrote this post three or four times trying to get the names right.

  5. As my daughter always says immediately before or after she says something offensive: "no offense" ... but I cannot help but reading this post and thinking of the Judean People's Front

    Of course, my religion is indeed famously fractious: there is after all the old joke about the Jewish Robinson Crusoe who built on his desert island two shuls: "why two?" "I pray in one shul. The other, I wouldn't step foot in". Indeed my family and I walk past four synagogues on our walk to our synagogue, two other synagogues are more or less on our way (even if we don't walk directly in front of them on our usual route) and who knows how many shtibles (small, one-room synagogues, sometimes in people's homes) we pass.

    I guess from a Catholic's point of view, this is a bit confusing. But then again, I know various Catholics who don't necessarily go to the church in their home parish because they like the homilies the priest gives at one church or the music they tend to use at another church.

    So I guess it's human nature. Still, if you find yourself writing something like "a conservative evangelical wing of the United Church Of Christ", you should probably check your sources/reading materials to make sure you understood who's associated with whom a little better.

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  7. Alberich--

    Like I said; it's a small thing. And I agree with geor3ge, the rest of Pierce's analysis is sound, this minor problem doesn't really affect it.

    But still....

    Of course, I still haven't figured out how monsignors differ from bishops differ from archbishops differ from cardinals, or where prelates fit in. And don't get me started on Anglican vicars and priests and the other categories of clergy I've come across in British fiction.

    It all makes my head spin, at some point.