Sometime back, if you rode the subways in New York city you might have seen an ad campaign promoting Atheism. The slogan was “One million New Yorker’s are good without God. Are you?” I think I know the first response of most religious people. But let’s look a bit deeper. We know that organized religion is on the wane; particularly with young people. I want to explore why this is happening.
I received a clue from a bumper sticker I saw in Washington, D.C. It said, “I like your Christ – I don’t like your Christians.” We know that misguided Christians get the most news coverage. Remember Reverend Wright, of the famous “God damn America” for one. The late Reverend Falwell, who blamed natural disasters on abortionists and homosexuals. There were also more obscure people like, Pastor Steven L. Anderson in Tempe, AZ, who prayed for the death of President Obama, in a sermon titled “Why I Hate Barack Obama.” And Pastor Wiley Drake of Buena Park, CA., said, “I’d like to see him (Obama) die, like Ted Kennedy, of brain cancer.”
While these are not exactly Christ-like sentiments, they do make great headlines. But I don’t blame the news media. After all, who would read an article about a minister who preached about loving your neighbor. That’s not news. So who do I blame? I blame the true Christians who remain silent. Their silence is allowing Christianity to be politicized, commercialized, and generally maligned to conform to another agenda.
Whose agenda? A well-funded war on modern culture agenda, that has organized to “take our country back” from someone. I’m not sure who. It’s interesting to me that many Americans who fear the Muslim extremists, condemn peace-loving Muslims for not speaking out against the insanity done in their name. But Christians have the same problem. Maybe we are not being threatened by Christian Terrorists, unless of course, you are a physician who performs abortions. But the issue is the same.
The silent majority is allowing the vocal minority to distort Christianity. Silence can be interpreted as agreement. Just as in the case of the Muslims who simply practice their religious beliefs in spite of the horrors committed in the name of Islam. I’m afraid that two millennium of politically-based human revisionism has caused a pernicious Christian neurosis that is now coming into full bloom in some segments of society. Our politicians have been infiltrated by this neurosis – as if they needed any help to be more neurotic. And now we have a twisted knot of revisionist Christian propaganda inserted into our public discourse.
Is it any wonder that many young people are not buying into this nonsense. The most revealing story I’ve read in a long time came from the liberal Christian website, Sojourner. A blogger tells a story of a German Rotarian visiting America who said, “My friends back home do not believe me when I tell them you need police to manage the heavy traffic entering and leaving churches on Sunday mornings.” The Rotarians’ buttons were popping from their shirts with pride, until he added, “but I don’t see what difference it makes in your society.” Ouch!
Christianity in America is getting a reputation for being filled with hate mongers. And I think that some so-called Christians deserve it. But the overwhelming majority are good people – good, but silent. If nothing else, turning to Atheism relieves one of the neurosis that “politicized Christianity” has become.
Take a lesson from history. The Enlightenment era of the 18th century brought with it a new appreciation for human reasoning and a diminution or our dependence on “the official truth” in our holy texts. I think it’s time we start reasoning again. And I don’t think that Atheists have cornered the market on that. There is room in Christianity for faith and reason. Christian apologetics is an example of a reasoned approach whether you buy its arguments or not.
When you read about this rhetoric of hate, use your reasoning abilities. Does it truly reflect Christ’s teachings? Or is it from carefully selected Biblical excerpts, taken out of context, to justify a hate-filled and neurotic attack on another human being? One is true Christianity. The other is a reflection of a deeper character flaw in the perpetrator.
Christianity can be good for good people and bad for bad people, independent of, in Thomas Jefferson’s words about Christ’s teachings, “The most sublime and benevolent code of morals which has ever been offered to man.”