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Francis Vs American Christianity: Is He Going To Win?

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Our hero! by CBS News

Francis OK's Evolution
Francis Condemns Capital Punishment
Francis Welcomes Gays and the Divorced

Way to go, Francis! by Rev. Dan Vojir

America's Christian Right - often casting itself as "True Christianity" - has been having convulsions over Pope Francis' statements these last several weeks, the latest being:
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God is not some sort of wizard, said Francis, but rather "the Creator who brought all things into being." The origin of the world derives directly "from a supreme Principle of creative love," he added.
"Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve."

The above is a quote from a Breitbart article, of all places, the focus of which was Francis' statement that the "Big Bang" theory "doesn't contradict the intervention of a divine Creator, but demands it, because the beginning of the world is not the work of chaos."

This may seem to some to be a peon to some creationists, but literal creationists - the kind that make up many American Evangelicals - aren't having it.

While they haven't really said anything yet (they might be too flabbergasted), Evangelicals will certainly make a "don't believe that wimpy Catholic" statement in their churches. And while they might focus on the evolution aspect in their sermons, they will quietly bristle at the statement that God is "not a magician with a magic wand," laying waste the image of God they have so assiduously created through years of controlling the "flock."

He's on our side. by Rev. Dan Vojir

It Won't Go Well In Texas

Rick Perry should now officially go on record as hating Francis' guts:
"All Christians and men of good faith are therefore called upon today to fight, not only for the abolition of the death penalty--whether it is legal or illegal, and in all its forms--but also to improve the conditions of incarceration to ensure that the human dignity of those deprived of their freedom is respected.
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"And this, for me, is linked to life sentences. For a short time now, these no longer exist in the Vatican penal code. A sentence of life (without parole) is a hidden death penalty."
Rick Perry, of course, is Texas Christianity personified, proud of his number of executions, a point which he might make during his next presidential bid. He will certainly be mobilizing against the Vatican (with guns supplied free by the NRA) before then.

All jests aside, Evangelical Christianity has some softening up to do, and Francis is giving it a push in the right direction: the pro-life movement can no longer afford to be the pro-death-penalty movement as well. Francis stresses compassion on all levels, the kind of compassion that pundits like Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity abhor, linking it to a softening socialism and welfare: criminals need to know punishments are HARSH and righteous justice unyielding.

He .welcomes., bishops say .no deal. by Rev. Dan Vojir

Welcoming Gays - NOT

Pope Francis appeared on Saturday night to have lost out to powerful conservatives in the Roman Catholic church after bishops scrapped language that had been hailed as a historic warming of attitudes towards gay people.

The synod was supposed to be about families: Francis' first draft, which included "welcoming homosexuals" was at first watered down, then vetoed (scrapped) by the synod. There were arguments about the wording, but in the end, the message was clear: no real acceptance of gays or their relationships. Conservative Catholic Bishops had won this round.

But not the fight. Francis' kinder attitude towards homosexuality is starting to wear off: Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission President, Russell Moore, denounced ex-gay therapy (ala "pray-away-the-gay") as harmful and un-Christian:

Moore: "The idea that one is simply the sum of one's sexual identity is something that is psychologically harmful ultimately, And I think also we have a situation where gay and lesbian people have been treated really, really badly. The response is not shunning, putting them out on the street. The answer is loving your child."

Considering that 30 years ago, during the Age of AIDS, Southern Baptists were foremost in evicting gay people with AIDS - while they were sick and dying - this is indeed a radical departure from traditional Southern Baptist ideology.

The Future's Hero

When it comes to compassion and social justice, Francis has proven that he is not a meek soul, but a fierce advocate. His voice is making a dent in American Christianity and even our politics. People like Paul Ryan, who call him naive risk underestimating the power a kind soul can have.

I think he's on our side, thank God.


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Rev. Dan Vojir is has been writing/blogging on religion and politics for the better part of ten years. A former radio talk show host (Strictly Books €" Talk America Radio Network) and book publisher, Dan has connected with some of the most (more...)

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