Saturday, September 17, 2016

To Be a Conservative Christian Today...

You know, sometimes I seriously question my religion. But then I think about it and I decide that it's more so conservative Christians that I question, until I ponder it all a little more and find myself at a place where I'm not only suspect of conservative Christians but I'm back to questioning my religion as well because of the influence a conservative agenda has had on Christianity. And today, conservatives are enjoying tremendous influence on the church.

My faith is strong, in that, I believe in a higher power but the tenants of my religion are very much in doubt.

I was in a Facebook discussion a couple nights ago with a friend I used to work with. He was talking about Obama and how before his term is up "He is going to declare martial law, because of an economic crisis that he orchestrated." He then went on to talk about a CNN report about a financial meltdown that was going to happen on 9/27/2016. (It was actually a bogus CNN report that's since been taken down but those on the right seem to eat this stuff up.) He was throwing out a bunch of biblical scripture related to being prepared against the enemy and blah blah blah. His assertions were some of the more ridiculous I'd read in a while but they were coming from a normal, rational guy who used to control planes alongside me and someone who is no doubt a conservative Christian.

I asked him what he thought about President Obama to which he replied "snip...He is the worst President in history, and his record will prove it out, wait and see."

I see this sort of talk a lot from those who identify as conservative Christians and who quite likely lap up an unhealthy amount of right-wing radio and Fox News. They're able to somehow wipe away the past of 8 years ago when our country was on the brink of economic ruin, involved in an incredibly expensive and ill-conceived war in Iraq and led there based on lies foisted on us by the Bush/Cheney administration. Yet the man who presided over the collapse of our economy and the destabilization of the Middle East (George W. Bush) is a good and honorable man to them while they have nothing but scorn for Obama, the one who was handed this bag of shit and expected to fix it while republicans sat on the sidelines and obstructed him in ways not seen since the days of Harry Truman and the do-nothing Congress of the late 1940s. I will never for the life of me understand how people can be so divorced from reality.

So what does this have to do with my religion? I'm getting there—stay with me, please.

To be a conservative Christian today, you have to believe that the Affordable Care Act (Obama-care) must be repealed and have no concern whatsoever for those with preexisting conditions who were previously uninsurable.

To be a conservative Christian today you have to stand against LGBTQ people and deny them any role in serving God in your church. It matters nothing at all that others in the church are allowed to blatantly flaunt their lavish lifestyles of excess and idolatry—they just can't be gay.

To be a conservative Christian today you're probably an ardent supporter of our 2nd Amendment right to bear arms—something I just don't see Jesus being in support of.

To be a conservative Christian today you need to believe that Christmas is under attack because others would rather take Jesus out of this celebration and make it the pagan holiday it started out as. Never mind that Jesus most surely is abhorred by the way we celebrate him in an obscenely materialistic way.

To be a conservative Christian today you likely have a vitriolic hatred in the core of your being for both President Obama and Hillary Clinton. You just do. There's no rational reason for this hatred other than the fact that conservative media has most likely instilled it in you. Just know that you're among good company feeling this way as you congregate on Sunday mornings to talk about loving one another in a display of full-on cognitive dissonance.

To be a conservative Christian today you had to have been totally aghast at President Clinton for straying outside his marriage while championing those who had him impeached yet you're fine with supporting Trump who has at least as bad a track record as Bill when it comes to infidelity.

To be a conservative Christian today you have to strongly oppose allowing some of the most desperate and innocent people in our world safe refuge within our land as they wash up on distant shores having fled war with nothing to their names in search of safety and a new life. You don't care that Jesus would never, ever act in this cruelest way as you turn your backs on them and return to your life of countless blessings.

To be a conservative Christian today you have to believe in war. You have to be able to sit in church on Sunday and learn about the lessons Jesus taught us about loving our enemies but abandon his most basic fundamental teaching and rush headlong into war with little or no thought given as to why.

To be a conservative Christian today you most likely have a very distorted view of Muslims. Terrorists parading as Muslims no more represent Islam than do members of the KKK represent Christianity. It makes no sense in my view that you're accepting of 33,000 lives lost each year due to gun violence but your real fear lies with terrorism that takes on average less than a half dozen lives in the US each year.

This list could be longer but I've made my point. To be a mainstream Christian today you need to act in a way that is antithetical to the teachings of Jesus and makes a mockery of who he was and what he stood for.

And this is why I'm struggling with all I've been taught by the church. What can I truly believe after seeing how the message of Jesus has been so thoroughly corrupted by those who identify as mainstream Christians today? This course the church is on was not the one charted by Jesus. We are so lost at sea and the boat is full of people who are furiously paddling in a totally wrong direction, myself included.

Is it possible that the men who wrote and assembled the bible were men with an agenda much like the men today who guide the church while cozying up to corrupt politicians to further their agenda? Did God really think it was right for a rape victim to be required to marry her rapist or was that just the way Moses felt life should be? Did God really think it was okay to wipe out scores of people because they didn't believe in the writings of Moses but I'm to believe that God and Jesus are one and the same and that Jesus now wants us to love our enemies? The Trinity: there's no mention of it in the bible but try and refute it in a mainstream Christian church and you'd likely be given a sideways glance and possibly labeled a heretic.

The early church was one where believers would sooner die for Jesus than to fight in his name but then along came Emperor Constantine in 323 AD who changed the church's thinking, and people were now killing in the name of Jesus. Are we any better today?

This religion of mine really is a mess when you start questioning it and I'm growing weary of trying to reconcile the teachings of Jesus with the actions of his followers—especially those who proudly claim the mantel of conservative Christian—those who make up the vast majority of believers in the US.

So when I see the stuff my friend was putting out there on Facebook the other night and knowing that his sentiments are those of too many others in the church along with so much other lunacy being embraced by conservatives today, I just want to throw my hands up and say fuck it! What's the point? If this is what it means to be a Christian you can count me out. I've got my belief in a higher power—maybe it's Jesus—maybe it's not. I really don't know what to believe anymore thanks in large measure to those who have distorted beyond recognition this thing we call Christianity.

All I know is that I don't have all the answers and looking at those who have attained positions of leadership in the church and their followers who march lockstep behind them while they collectively rebuke our current president and those of us who disagree with them, I can see that neither do they.


Unknown said...

If you'll take some wisdom from an old pagan:

What you are seeing is Christian Brand Behavior. It has everything to do with tribalism and almost nothing to do with Jesus. It is problematic at best, actively harmful much of the time and occasionally murderous (see the Ugandan "Kill the Gays" law, created in response to American evangelicals)

Never stop questioning and learning. This is how we grow. The Jews view their faith as an ongoing argument with God. It's a healthier view than the unquestioning obedience.

"He has shown you, o man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To love mercy, to do justly and to walk humbly with your god." Micah 3:8
If you can do that (and follow Kipling's dictum to keep your head when all around are losing theirs), your god and faith will work itself out.

I have found if you are on the right path, nothing can sway you from it. If you are on the wrong path, nothing can keep you there. Walk humbly, love mercy, do justly. If Jesus is the right god for you, he will let you know.

And may I suggest the Slactivist blog at patheos? Fred wrestles with the questions often.

Kevin Gilmore said...

Thank you, Angelia for your comment. A friend commented on Facebook in regard to my blog post with a quote by Brennan Manning: "The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable."

None of us are born with all of the knowledge we need and if we're still hanging on to the beliefs we held in our youth, are we really growing and trying to learn or are we just going along? It wasn't all that long ago that I was the conservative Christian I wrote about in this blog piece. I'm happy to have grown from that experience.

Beth said...

Kevin, you said everything that I have thought for a long time. When I see posts from people I know who are "good" Christians, even pastors, that go against everything I've been taught about Jesus, I wonder if I've ever really known them.

My sister and I haven't questioned our own faith, we're secure in that, but we have both said we are tired of religion. We are finding that it's harder to associate and fellowship with Christians who have become so intolerant than to just keep to ourselves.

I could go on. Just wanted you to know that you aren't alone in feeling like you do. Thanks for saying what I, and I'm sure others, have been thinking but are too afraid to say it!

Kevin Gilmore said...

Thanks for your kind words, Beth. This has been a post I've touched on in the past but never really fully put it out there. I needed to make mention of where I am in my life today with respect to all of this. I know there will be many who will read my words and strongly disagree and that's fine. I was once in their shoes as well and I understand.

Unknown said...

Well said Kevin. I gave up on organized religion many years ago. Follow your heart, your higher power will guide you.

Kevin Gilmore said...

Thank you, Mona. That's the plan.