The thing about Christians
March 16, 2012 § 2 Comments
I was actually hard at work on a piece that had absolutely nothing to do with any religious topic at all — that’s code for I wasn’t going to obsess about Christianity — but then a letter to the editor last week made me wonder about the truth.
Am I obsessed with Christianity?
The easiest way to find out, I thought, was to look over my columns.
Since 2012 began, there have been only a couple that focused exclusively on Christianity.
I wrote about legislating decency on television, about the dangers of consumer culture, about music and movie piracy, about some failures of the Democrats, about mass hysteria, about Apple and China, about Whitney Houston.
Looking over the past year, I would suggest my obsession is less with Christianity and more with the entertainment industry’s assault on our culture via anti-piracy efforts and tightening of copyright law. So far, no lawyers from Disney have written miffed letters to the editor about that.
When I did write about Christianity, it was almost entirely related political pull via its relationship with the Republican Party. This includes one last week about Mormonism, though I do note that plenty of Christians do not consider Mormonism a Christian religion, partly because it’s apparently just a made up religion and partly because its rituals are weird.
Feel free to insert a sarcastic comment here yourself.
For the sake of argument, let’s say that I am obsessed with Christianity. The real question is why that is, not whether I am.
Why would I be so vigorous in attacking those spiritual people, quietly being devotional in their houses of worship and living the dream of godly tolerance and kindness?
The quick answer is, I’m not — at least in regard to the Christians I just described.
They can do whatever they want and it doesn’t bother me. It only takes a casual follower of the news to notice that those Christians are not necessarily the problem.
The problem is the extremist Christians who have commandeered the Republican Party and control policy. That group’s purpose is to impose their religious views on the secular of us, as well as the moderate Christian, the Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Buddhist or Wiccan of us.
You cannot talk about the Republican Party without including extremist Christian motivation in the discussion — it is at the center of the platform.
One thing I can say is that I am not the one who put his religious beliefs at the center of political rhetoric, and so I reserve the right to treat that religion as a central issue in my political dialogue so long as other people insist on doing the same. Christians do not get to have it both ways — they can’t push their belief as motivation for laws and then whine that anyone who touches it is out of line.
Since Republican talking points never seem to link to the doctrines of Shintoism or Buddhism or Hinduism, I’ve not felt it necessary to dissect those religious beliefs in a newspaper column.
In the last letter to the editor I saw on this topic, the writer claimed to not know any Christian who talked about the topic as much as I do. I can’t say I find that very encouraging. In fact, I think that might be part of the problem.
For me, one of the big disappointments of the last 12 years has been the lack of action on the part of moderate Christians against the extremists. Too often I see the issue brushed aside because the extremists are not representative of “real” Christian values.
But I don’t think ignoring it and waiting for to go away is enough. If the love, tolerance and charity of Christ is in your heart, then you’d best do something about the political pirates who have hijacked your spirituality for the purposes of control, because they are the ones defining doctrine these days.
I, and many others, would love to see a movement of non-extremist Christians, as organized and prominent in the culture as any of the conservative evangelicals, who see the core values of their faith as something really worth fighting for. I keep hearing about all the liberal Christians, but I’ve not noticed any major actions from them.
We atheists and agnostics and non-Christian believers can’t do it without your help.
And it’s only with your help that we can bring our country back to the place where discussion of the validity of the Bible is relegated to drunken late-night intellectual musings between like-minded people, and not the center of political discussion in our newspapers.
Believe me, I’d much rather devote more space to funny news items from Sweden — hopefully some day the political climate of our country will allow me to do that more often.