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Mega-churches on the march

Next weekend in Houston, the Lakewood church, by most accounts the largest church in America with 30,000-members, will be opening the new Lakewood Church Central Campus, with a 17,000 seat sanctuary transforming the Compact Center, former home of the NBA Houston Rockets.
 
 
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Yes, we are in a prime news moment with the hot spotlight finally on Karl Rove, with the reverberations still being felt from the the London bombings, and with Rehnquist maybe not resigning afterall, leaving the O'Connor replacement at the center of the battle for the soul of the Supreme Court.

Yes, these are all important events, and no mere distractions. But we are constantly fighting defensive battles. How are we building infrastructure and movement to a point where we might have the political power to halt the many political disasters happening today and far into the future?

The conservatives and the religious fundamentalists are not skipping a beat on the ground, organizing and building with great speed. For example, next weekend in Houston, the Lakewood church, by most accounts the largest church in America, with 30,000-members, will be opening the new Lakewood Church Central Campus. The church has taken over the Compact Center, former home of the Houston Rockets basketball team, and transformed it into a 17.000 seat church, with programs on Saturday night, and several on Sunday.

Joel Osteen, Lakewood Church Senior Pastor,has aweekly television show which airs on dozens of channels nationwide, and his optimistic message has made him one of the country's most popular preachers. Meanwhile, media from around the globe will be converging on Houston next weekend to help spread the glorious work of Osteen and Lakewood.

As the church explains on their web site "The scope of the project has been unlike anything ever done before - A church with no limits...and no boundaries...an outreach that stretches the imagination and opens doors to the power of God to change millions around the world."

Lakewood is but one of a number of successful giant ministries, some more political, others with even more potent international media reach, all of them seemingly very successful at recruiting people who feel they need to belong to something bigger than themselves that will give them a sense of protection. The whole relentless enterprise reminds me of the Neil Young line: "rust never sleeps."

Don Hazen is the executive editor of AlterNet.