It is time for true Christians to stand up and say enough is enough. With each passing day we see the normalization of the extreme Christian right as the voice of Christ in latter day America. For years we only had to deal with the Jerry Falwell's of the world claiming they were the mantle of modern day Christianity. They would say something bizarre and we would all shake our heads realizing that with each increasingly inane comment, they would lose more and more credibility. Pat Robertson would seemingly forget the Ten Commandments and call for the assassination of a world leader but we all knew that ole Pat hasn't been dealing with a full deck for some time now. Anne Coulter says something insane about bombing people and converting them to Christianity but we all know she is 100% political, 0% Christian. The lunatic fringe as I like to call them have always been able to be taken for what they are, lunatics. The fact that they claim to come in the name of Christ, while unseemly, was always transparent.
Recently however, we see that the opponents of the right have been trying their best to "mainstream" the lunatic fringe as the voice of Christianity. In their zeal to speak out against the most corrupt administration in modern history, they have actually loaned credibility to the incredulous. Let's set the record straight. President Bush ran to the Christian right and a great portion of them bought the package. Of course in this country, where we can only muster two coherent lines of political thought, they did not have much choice. The republicans and their media machine did a masterful job of boiling all of Christianity down to two social issues, abortion and gay marriage. The logic that followed is that any committed Christian could not possibly vote for a pro-choice, pro-gay candidate. They grabbed the mantle of "family values" and spoke to a heartland that longed for a simpler time in America. They packaged their man, prepped him, and sold him. Bush was born again after all. Forget the alcohol abuse, cocaine usage, and covering up his "youth." He found Jesus. Now, as a born again believer myself, I would never question someone's salvation. That is not my place. The Bible does tell us though that "by their fruit you shall know them." Essentially God is instructing us that if you truly want to see the heart of a man, see what he bears in his life. Any fair analysis of the presidency of George W. Bush would have to conclude that he has not borne fruit that would be pleasing to God. Yes, he can tell us that Jesus is his "favorite philosopher" but that means little in the real world and as it says in the Book of James, "faith without works is dead." Maybe the philosophical statement is more of an insight into how Bush actually views Christ, in more theoretical terms as opposed to deeds.
You must understand that the Christians in this country were probably just happy to have any candidate willing to say the name Jesus, let alone actually follow his teachings. They saw a man who swore he would tell us the truth, bring reform, and restore civility to what was a tumultuous atmosphere in Washington. They saw he took a stand on the two social issues, so they bought the whole package. Unfortunately, because of the trappings of the two party system in this country, they bought more than they were willing to pay for. In order to buy the pro-life and pro-family candidate, they also bought the pro-poverty and pro-war candidate. The ironic thing is that the one thing that God speaks about the most in the Bible is protecting "widows and orphans", or the neediest in society. While abortion is a blight upon humanity for most Christians, aborting people at the age of 21 in the deserts of Iraq is not a moral victory. In a time when we have the richest and most progressive society, 30,000 children die every day for lack of clean drinking water or food in this world. Widows and orphans.
On the other side, war is not a Christian venture. Promising poor youth a way to college when you know only 15% of them ever get their degrees and most will end up killing other human beings or being killed themselves, is not a Christian venture. Breaking over 750 laws is not a Christian venture. Destroying the planet God blessed us with is not a Christian venture. Allowing the Pentagon to have access to all the records of school age children to market the armed forces to them so the war machine keeps getting fed, is not a Christian venture. Lying to go to war is not a Christian venture. Trying to eliminate the social security system is not a Christian venture. Asking for 70 billion on tax breaks for the rich while in the same breath demanding 50 billion in cuts to services for the poor, is not a Christian venture. Doing all of this in the name of Christ however, is a venture that is devoid of values.
Is it surprising to hear such talk from a born again Christian? If you think so, it is only because you keep listening to the wrong ones. I know many people out there that feel the way I do. They write me emails every day bemoaning the fact that they have no voice. I wrote an article several months ago about the birth of the Red Letter Christian movement:
The concept was that so many people discussing Christ and Christian values on both sides needed to simply get back to the red letters in the Bible, the words of Jesus. In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us who will be blessed. They include the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and the merciful. Jesus did not mention the republicans, the democrats, the conservatives or the liberals. Jesus did not do politics. Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and unto God, what is God's.
In this country we like to mix the two. The republican machine has done a brilliant job of using the Christian base for its own ends but the democrats seemingly do nothing to challenge it. Instead, they climb on their soapbox, angry with the self righteousness they do not have a right to posses and demonize anything that walks or talks like a Christian. They liken pastors, who try and save souls for the kingdom of God, as whores. They take the most extreme, insane rantings of the lunatic fringe of Christianity and apply a broad brush stroke across the foreheads of anyone who simply claims that they have been saved by the King of Kings. Suddenly, Christians are branded as sheep, unable to think for themselves. They are relegated to being labeled brainwashed, or having drunk the Kool-Aid. The simple acknowledgement of a higher authority that just might know better than us is marked as being simplistic; not realizing it takes far more wisdom to recognize the failings of man than to assume moral superiority based on nothingness. It is far easier to pick up a gun then surrender your will.
Anne Coulter does not represent Christianity. Neither does Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, or George W. Bush. My Pastor does not, nor do I pretend to either. Only Christ can represent Christ. Only the Bible can represent Christ the man, not the philosopher. Only through His Gospel, the red letters, can you be saved. All I can do is tell you what He said and what He has done for me. The rest of this is just window dressing. The powers that be want you debating abortion and gay rights so they can sell you their wars and poverty. The lunatic fringe wants to sell you the notion that gays are responsible for your lot in life. They want you to believe God would approve of this war. That God, who created all mankind, would approve of the random slaying of 100,000 people for nothing more than a fairy tale about WMD. They would have you believe that the party that brought you Jack Abramoff and Tom Delay represent Christian values. But we know better than that. CHRISTIANS know better than that. Christians know who Christ was and what He stood for. They know what the lunatic fringe is and what they stand for.
I saw a comment once that summed it up pretty well for me. Republicans are very good at protecting you at birth and at death; they are just not that good with what lies between. If you really think about it though, that is what Jesus came to earth to instruct us on. Once you believe on Him, you already have eternal life so his teachings all revolved around what to do with this life we have been gifted with. His message was not one of hate. It was not one of war. It was not one of self-righteousness because without Christ, we have no righteousness. He was both liberal and conservative and also neither, all at the same time. He was the Alpha and Omega, beginning and the end, the way, the truth and the life.
In the last days, many will be deceived. It is bad enough that we have to hear the insane ravings of the lunatic fringe of Christianity. To then have those people who should know better lend them credibility by bestowing upon them the mantle of Christianity is beyond the pale. This is a call to action for the progressive movement in this country. Christians know right from wrong. They even know right from left. Stop muddying the issue by normalizing the lunatic fringe and you just may find true Christians lining up at your side. Maybe not on every issue. Maybe not for all time. But certainly long enough to unite this country again. Certainly long enough to believe in America again. Certainly long enough to push the lunatics away from the microphones and push the red letters back into focus.