Christian wrong

So, originally, I was just going to include this Bill Ayers excerpt in quick hits, but then I realized I came across two other good posts on the topic this week.  Anyway, Ayers has a really really good take on Trumps profoundly mis-guided and profoundly immoral zero-sum universe.  But he concludes, by bringing it around to the failure of American conservative Christianity, in this regard:

The direction of the Christian gospel is pretty clear on this point. “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” “Love one another as I have loved you.” “Blessed are the merciful, for they will have mercy.” “Do not resist an evildoer. If anyone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other also.” “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

The list goes on and on, of course. Even “us first” nationalism is difficult to sustain in the face of Scripture. At the beginnings of the Abrahamic story God promises that “in you all nations of the earth will be blessed”, and Peter understood that “God shows no partiality”.

I keep being confronted with the same question: for those of us who claim to be Christians, do we take this stuff seriously or don’t we? Forget the Supreme Court, or LGBT rights, or abortion, or any of the other issues that Christians sometimes hold up as being “the” issue that justifies their choices. All of this is under Screwtape’s “Christianity and…” – things we attach to God that become God. They are idols.

To view the world as Us vs. Them, to reduce every human interaction and every issue to a struggle to produce winners and losers, is an utter and complete repudiation of the Gospel of Christ. To follow a man who walks that path is to reject the injunction of Jesus’ own prayer to God: Thy will be done. God’s will is not for a world of conflict and strife. Why would we follow someone who wants to make it more so?

Amen!

Meanwhile, I also enjoyed the take from avowed atheist, Kevin Drum:

But it actually goes further than this. One of the things Donald Trump taught us last year is the ultimate hollowness of the Christian right. Trump is the most obviously unreligious person to run for president in—well, probably forever. He doesn’t go to church. He hasn’t read the Bible. His lifestyle would make Hugh Hefner blush. He doesn’t pray. He doesn’t ask forgiveness from God for his sins. He’s not born again. There is literally nothing in his 70 years on this earth that suggests he’s anything but a stone atheist…

The Christian right has never been about actual faith. Like any other interest group, they just want what they want: abortion restrictions, money for private schools, opposition to gays, and so forth. As long as you’re on board, they don’t care what’s in your heart. They never have, and that’s why the suggestion that Democrats need to be more publicly devout has always been so misguided. Faith doesn’t matter. Empathy for people of faith doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is supporting the Christian right’s retrograde social views, and Democrats were never going to do that.

And, finally, a Divinity graduate friend, shared this progressive Christian take:

For the last few years Christians have been singing worship songs that include lyrics like “ keep my eyes above the waves, when oceans rise …” and yet have rejected refugees who’ve seen loved ones die beneath waves, who themselves have literally struggled to keep from drowning in oceans. Those American Christians — particularly white evangelicals — continue to sing the words: “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders …” but fail to realize the shameful irony that they’re largely responsible for refusing shelter and opportunity to some of the world’s most helpless and oppressed people.

This represents a predominant theme of Westernized Christendom: proclaiming Christian rhetoric while actively — or passively — practicing the opposite in reality.

Because while the gospels instruct followers of Christ to help the poor, oppressed, maligned, mistreated, sick, and those most in need of help, Christians in America have largely supported measures that have rejected refugees, refused aid to immigrants, cut social services to the poor, diminished help for the sick, fueled xenophobia, reinforced misogyny, ignored racism, stoked hatred, reinforced corruption, and largely increased inequality, prejudice, and fear.

If Christians refuse to help and actually use their political advocacy and opinions to further hurt refugees, immigrants, women, foreigners, minorities, the poor, the oppressed, the persecuted, the sick, the LGBTQ community — and aren’t abiding by the golden rule of loving their neighbors as themselves, then who exactly are Christians supposedly loving?

What benefit are Christians providing their communities, and what good are they contributing to the world around them? Because in America, it appears that the sole purpose of Christianity is to selfishly protect people’s own self-interests instead of sacrificially serving others.

The election of President Donald Trump has proven that numerous Christians are more worried about power, influence, and control than the gospel messages of humility, generosity, ministering to others, and love.

Of course there are exceptions, but it should be sobering for Christians to realize that that many who claim to follow the Prince of Peace, the Healer, the Light of the World, supported policies that are bringing darkness and pain to so many people.

Amen, again.  And, just so I don’t have to do a separate post, here’s today’s NYT story about the refugees (who put their lives at dramatic risk for the American military) who are currently being detained and denied entry to the U.S.  I’m sure that’s just what Jesus would have wanted.

 

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About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

5 Responses to Christian wrong

  1. R. Jenrette says:

    How many votes do you think a candidate who runs on the principles embodied in the Sermon on the Mount get?
    I’m not optimistic about that candidate’s chances of winning.
    To think that Christianity was once an underground movement. It has come so far. So far that Russia’s prime attraction for our President and his close associates may be its whiteness and its presumed Christianity.

  2. rgbact says:

    I don’t think because a parent insists on their child following rules and living up to standards…makes them wicked and that they hate their child. Thats my perspective on the Christian morality of being a conservative and why sometimes you gotta be a meany..Now, explaining how that ties into Trump…..that I have no clue

    • R. Jenrette says:

      Codifying religious beliefs into law is pretty dangerous. It can work when there is widespread agreement among the population on issues like murder. But there’s some slack in the rest of the Ten Commandments and lots of disagreements on other issues.
      Parents are going to teach values to their children whether consciously or not, society as well.
      When some laws are seen as encroaching on the rights and/or beliefs of others, things get sticky.
      Religiously speaking, humans were given free will. Law makers, in order for a society to work, have to avoid over regulation in human behavior just as much as in business. Compromise must not be a bad word.

    • Steve Greene says:

      Me either. And I’m a liberal Christian.

  3. itchy says:

    Wow, that Stephen Mattson link is powerful.

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