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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

False Christianity

A good friend sent me a link to an excellent follow-up article to my last post "Who is a Christian?" The piece was written by Edwin Lyngar and appears at Salon.com at this address: http://www.salon.com/2015/08/17/i_was_betrayed_by_republican_religion_what_my_years_as_a_christian_fundamentalist_taught_be_about_right_wing_faith/

Lyngar points out some of the glaring contradictions between the Religious Right's self-identification as Christian and their political behavior/positions on issues. In writing about his own religious experiences, he said: "Like many self-identified American Christians, I grew up calling myself such while adhering to few of the precepts and never going to church." Sound familiar? How many right wing politicians have we heard espouse family values while they are personally working on their second, third or fourth marriage? How many right wing politicians have we heard denouncing the women who get an abortion while advocating a slash in support of public funding to poor families? How many right wing politicians have we heard condemning illegal immigrants and ignoring Christ's statement that he appeared in the guise of a stranger whom his true followers welcomed into their homes?

Lyngar wrote: "The political version of Christianity is first and foremost a media construct, like so much of our lives these days. It’s championed by Fox News, the 700 Club and a parade of has-beens and never weres, selling the “prosperity gospel” like so much snake oil. It’s a powerful and toxic stew that is as relevant to Jesus as professional wrestling or a discarded Playboy. Conservative Christianity in America is less a religion and more of a secret handshake, a group signifier of exclusion and moral superiority. Its swaggering and masculine cruelty is at once its greatest weakness and most attractive feature for working class white people who have seen their lifestyles and power eroded."

While I concur with Lyngar's characterization of conservative hypocrisy, we should not fall into the same trap that many of these folks on the Right have stumbled into. As I've said before, God is not a Republican or a Democrat. God is not a Capitalist or a Socialist. God is not a Conservative or a Liberal. Self-righteousness can and does afflict those on the Left too! How can you ignore all of the scriptures that require the poor to work for the food and support they receive? How can you talk about raising taxes to pay for government programs while doing everything in your power to reduce your own tax burden? How can you advocate for an end to the death penalty while showing complete disregard for the life of a fetus? See how this works both ways?

That's why it's so dangerous to say things like: "If you support the Supreme Court's decision on Gay marriage or abortion, you can't be a Christian!" Brethren, whether you support or oppose a Supreme Court decision says absolutely NOTHING about whether or not you're a Christian! Do you love your neighbors, brothers and sisters as yourself? Do you treat other folks the way that you would like to be treated? Do you do your acts of kindness and charity to demonstrate your love for God and Christ? From where I'm sitting, these are the pertinent questions in determining whether or not you're living your profession of faith. What does your own conscience tell you? In the words of another friend, is there enough evidence to convict you of being a Christian?