Friday, February 28, 2014

Today's Wild and Dangerous Distortion of Christianity

Let’s let it be said that too much of Christian religious talk and action today is a wild distortion of what we have traditionally understood Christianity to be.

This fear driven, hostile, endlessly close-minded Christianity of today is a vulgar mishandling of faith. It is a treacherous attack not on liberalism, socialism, atheism. Its target is humanity. And with unscrupulous ferocity it is deadening the spirits of its followers, and, it is literally destroying any possibility of cooperative problem solving in this country.

The institutional Church, whatever Christian form it currently takes—Protestant or Catholic, Liberal or Fundamentalist, Strip Mall setting or giant Multiplex Citadel—is in danger of total irrelevance simply because of the grotesque arrogance of today’s far right radical, strident, offensive Christians and their pervasive attacks on people they dislike. They’re not picky. They’re after anyone who does not walk in lock step with their extremism.

This rowdy, headline producing, media loved crowd is frighteningly inescapable. They have gobbled up our political system and left us a Congress so damaged by divisiveness that it no longer functions in any useful way. And they now use politics and attempt to use the law to promote their cruel withering prejudice against gays, their loathing of the undocumented, their disrespect for women, their cold hearted indifference to national health care, and their maniacal berserk revenge against Democrats. They have taken over the media and though they once were being exploited by the Fox network, now they run the show; now Fox has to do their bidding in order to keep the cash flow streaming. They have ruined our educational system with their home schooling nonsense, their hatred of public education, their disdain for teachers, and their total disregard for not just poor children, disabled children, at risk children, but all children who do not belong to families in complete agreement with their deviant angry Christian authoritarianism. And their sick romance with the gun industry, with the fanatics in the NRA, has now married Christianity to weapons, has given God’s blessing on gun toting believers ready to kill in the name of Christ, in the name of freedom, in the name of patriotism, anyone who has even the appearance of threat to their pure ideology, their demand for the unlimited rule of society.

This is not exaggeration. This is not hype. This stuff is real. This pestilence is growing. And it ought to trouble every living one of us because it concerns all of us in this country.

Of course there are exceptions. Yes, there are wonderful Christian individuals, ministers, congregations, organizations who are doing good work and attempting with courage and determination to live out the teachings of Jesus in authentic and transformative ways. But we don’t hear about these people. And their influence is being completely overshadowed by the gang of Christian bullies who with no denial or veto from anyone, rudely trounce upon and distort the historical mysteries and virtues and teachings of Christianity and its basic message of love, redemption, grace, and healing.

Where is the outrage of good hearts today?

I think of the famous agnostic Robert Ingersoll’s comment about Christians, “With their backs to the sunrise they worship the night.” Is this what Christianity has come to?

Camus, the brilliant French philosopher said, “The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart.” There was a time when Christianity guided us in that struggle. But today’s twisted version that gallops out of control across the land has no interest in the higher ground. They grab whomever they can and drag them into a terrible darkness of anger, indifference and contempt.

Putting some abysmal religious interpretation ahead of humanity and its fundamental needs ought to be an obvious and grievous error for thinking people and certainly Christians. If Jesus never taught us anything else he surely taught there is nothing more sacred than individual human beings. Despite its noisy protests of abortion and liberalism and so forth, today’s radical Christianity has clearly abandoned this truth. Belief is now plainly more important than people. And what unsettling consequences that brings to all of us, believer or not.

© 2014 Timothy Moody

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