The struggle to define America, often referred to as the “Culture Wars,” continues today as it has since before the nation’s founding. Throughout our history, conservative Christians have been the primary opposition to every single advance in equal rights and equal justice. In each battle – over slavery, women’s suffrage, segregation and Jim Crow laws, and so on – once public opinion has turned completely in favor of progress, it is conveniently forgotten where that opposition came from. And the same arguments, based on tradition and religious beliefs, are then recycled in the next battle.
If we are to define America by its loftiest ideals as a nation where everyone is given equal protection rather than one defined by Christian privilege to assert dominance over everyone else, it will only be because we have managed to limit the influence of the Christian right over legislatures and the courts.
Question! I have a question! A recent survey showed that 68% of white evangelicals believe ‘torture of suspected terrorists’ can be ‘often’ or ‘somewhat’ justified. Of those who said they had ‘no religion,’ only 41 percent said torture of suspects is often or somewhat justified. Please help me understand this. Anyone?
At every step, we were told our goals were misguided or too ambitious; that we would crush jobs and explode deficits. Instead, we’ve seen the fastest economic growth in over a decade, our deficits cut by two-thirds, a stock market that has doubled, and health-care inflation at its lowest rate in 50 years. This is good news, people.
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The “culture wars” have been going on since before the founding of America – the Civil War, women’s suffrage, prohibition, desegregation/civil rights, religion in school, voting rights, abortion/reproductive rights, science versus faith, gay rights and more. In each of these there is/was a battle between tradition/faith (always in part justified by the Bible and conservative theology) and rationality/social progress. It’s a constant struggle over the meaning of America.
For those of you out there who didn’t grow up in the evangelical culture, you may not be aware of this.
Did you know that there are many, many fundamentalist Christians who believe that God is basically pulling the wool over our eyes, planting phony evidence for carbon-dated fossils, geological formations, DNA-based evolutionary relationships, and redshifts from galaxies that indicate that they are far older than the 6,000 years of existence accounted for by biblical creation?
Seriously. The belief is that God, in his infinite wisdom, decided to not only not provide a stitch of evidence for the propositions laid out in his special book – he also decided to plant evidence that actually contradicts these assertions.
And why does this make my stomach a little queazy? It’s because this kind of thinking – that what we can see and experience and prove and test (let’s call this “science”) takes a back seat to what people want to believe – can lead to tragedy, destruction and death. Does that sound over the top? Maybe.
But here’s what’s happening: Greedy corporate interests and unscrupulous politicians are exploiting the anti-science attitudes imbedded in popular religion in order to suppress scientific results on issues of global importance – issues that threaten the generations of humanity that will follow ours. And then people get to do the “I don’t want to believe in human-induced climate change, so I don’t” thing, and get away with it…to the detriment of our planet and to our descendants. Their religion, egged on by corporations who benefit financially from destroying our planet, allows them to ignore unequivocal evidence, put their hands over their ears and shout “la, la, la, la, la, la, la – I can’t hear you!” while the world burns up. This makes my stomach feel a little oozie.
I don’t usually blog about blogs, but something stirred inside me today as I read Benjamin Corey’s latest entry to his fantastic “Formerly Fundie” blog. He writes about the top 5 issues he wrote about in 2014 that have received the most hate mail from Christians. You can read the whole article HERE. But here’s a quick summary, with a few choice quotes.
#5. Questioning hell.
“Christians today sure do love them some hell.”
He says that “too many Christians are absolutely, positively unwilling to consider that the Bible might actually teach something other than the horrible view of hell they grew up with. We’re supposed to believe what our pastors and parents told us, and not question or go the Bible for answers – anything less will get you sent to the place you no longer believe in.”
#4. Speaking out against racism.
“I found it extremely disturbing that so much of Christian America is resistant to this discussion and to considering the plight of minorities in America. From hateful racist tweets, to comments and emails, speaking out against racism got me called every name in the book during 2014.”
#3. Speaking up for our LGBTQ brothers and sisters.
“It doesn’t matter how delicately you approach it – for too many Christians, the slightest sign of love and non-judgement toward our LGBTQ brothers and sisters will earn one a quick and fiery condemnation to be tortured for all of eternity.”
#2. Suggesting that we should love our enemies.
“The number 2 reason why fellow Christians sent me hate mail in 2014 is actually because I have suggested that we love our enemies. Seriously. With the comments, tweets and messages in my inbox, every piece I write on enemy love makes one thing clear: The majority of Christians in America find this idea appalling. As a result, they will bend the Bible into a pretzel to find a loophole on this issue – one of the few things that Jesus actually drew a hard line on. This grieves me like little else.”
#1. Suggesting that God, not America, should be the object or our exclusive loyalty.
“The other things on this list don’t surprise me- but this one did, both because of the quantity of the mail and the level of hatred and intolerance contained in them. I’ve pointed out where America has behaved with depraved indifference toward our fellow humans, spoken out against the slaughtering of lives at our hands, and invited my fellow Christians to resist the idolatry of nationalism. This, I have learned, is infuriating to people. I’ve been called disgusting, told to leave the country, called weak, told I hate America, told I should die, and more.”
“This should be a wake up call: The most hate I’ve received hasn’t been through deviating from orthodox theology or questioning traditional interpretations of scripture, but because I have questioned our loyalty to country. That’s a problem – if Christians are more concerned with loving country than they are concerned with loving their fellow human beings, that “love of country” becomes functionally anti-Christ.”
Most of the greatest evils that man has afflicted upon man have come through people feeling quite certain about something which, in fact, was false. Few things are more dangerous than people who think they’re in possession of absolute truth. Honest inquiry with sincere questions and an open mind rarely contribute to the misery of the world.
From the Francis:
In ideologies there is not Jesus: in his tenderness, his love, his meekness. And ideologies are rigid, always. Of every sign: rigid. And when a Christian becomes a disciple of the ideology, he has lost the faith: he is no longer a disciple of Jesus, he is a disciple of this attitude of thought. The knowledge of Jesus is transformed into an ideological and moralistic knowledge, because these close the door with many requirements. The faith becomes ideology and ideology frightens, ideology chases away the people and distances the people. It is a serious illness, this of ideological Christians. It is an illness, but it is not new, eh?