I’m afraid that much of what passes for Christianity in this country not only has nothing to do with anything that Jesus said or did, but also in that it has become a conservative political force that actually could cheer Texas Governor Rick Perry’s abysmal record of executions – a record that only one other man alive has come close to. That man would be former Texas Governor and Presidential nightmare George W. Bush.
Let me be quite clear. No legitimate spirituality endorses killing.
There is no small amount of irony in the fact that the only concern of Christians today would seem be for preborn life. Once you are born, you are an expendable commodity, despite that fact that every religious system – including Roman Catholic Christianity – has had periods in its history when it was NOT opposed to abortion. Despite that historical truth, Christians today seem to feel it is completely appropriate to kill others once they are born. They do so overtly in State sanctioned executions and in war, and they do so covertly by refusing to fund healthcare and the safety net.
The truth is that inviting a Christian into your home even for a short visit may well subject your family to the company of someone who will love and support them only until your family might fall upon hard times. Once that happens, apparently oblivious to the story of the Good Samaritan in the teachings of Jesus, not only are they likely to cross the street to avoid you but they may also decide to kill you either overtly by executing you for offenses real or imagined or covertly by refusing you medical care. Actor Craig T. Nelson perhaps summed up their attitude best when he said, “I was on welfare and food stamps, and nobody helped me!” What?!?
Even among allegedly more progressive Christians like the UCC’s Lillian Daniel, the picture is dismal. In a roundly criticized piece published last week, Daniel castigated the “spiritual but not religious” as boring and stupid. Writing from her position of White Privilege and Ivy League education, Daniel attacked spiritual but not religious people as being simple-minded and inventing their own God. Writing not like someone who at all understands that Jesus himself was opposed to religious establishment types and in favor of actually showing a preferential option for the poor, Daniel advocates for keeping her country-club Church free of the problematic people who don’t see the world as she does.
Conservative or progressive, it would seem there is no shortage of judgment and an almost total absence of compassion. Have they not heard of a guy named Jesus?
Oh, they’ve heard of him. They just find him inconvenient, and so pay very selective attention to him. They either ignore him completely or try to pasteurize him into some sort of effete lover of the status quo and the lowest common denominator. If they read their Bible at all, they read it through the lens of carefully written conservative study Bible notes that eviscerate anything and everything of significance that Jesus had to say.
Please don’t call me Christian. I’m a follower of Jesus. For me, following Jesus means following his example, which includes a preferential option for the poor and love for my neighbor. It includes questioning the status quo and challenging the religious authorities of my day. It includes speaking the truth to power and taking powerful stances to challenge injustice. If you are thinking that none of that sounds much like contemporary Christianity, you are correct.