Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Christians vs. "Christians"

An Amish church

One of the most offensive aspects of Evangelical Christianity, as it is practiced in the United States, is the propensity of some of its leaders to advocate war and hatred. Consider these gems:
  • But you've got to kill the terrorists before the killing stops. And I'm for the president to chase them all over the world. If it takes 10 years, blow them all away in the name of the Lord. - Jerry Falwell, decomposing corpse, in November, 2004. Read the entire article here.
  • There will never be world peace until God's house and God's people are given their rightful place of leadership at the top of the world. - Pat Robertson, demagogue, in his book New World Order.
Compare the sentiments expressed above, with these expressed by members of a Pennsylvania Amish community, where a deranged gunman had murdered five young girls:
  • In my heart, yes, through God's help. - Enos Miller, grandfather of two of the victims, when asked if he had forgiven the killer.
  • We're really strongly taught to forgive like Jesus did. We forgive the way Christ forgives us. - Katie Weaver, an Amish woman connected to the Pennsylvania community
Clearly, the sentiments expressed by the members of the Amish community would seem to agree with the teachings of Christ:
  • If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. - Matthew 5:39
  • Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. - Matthew 5:7
  • Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. - Matthew 5:9
  • But I tell you, Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who revile you, and persecute you; - Matthew 5:44
Alas, the creed of the majority of Christians in the United States today seems to align more with sentiments expressed by charlatans like Robertson and Falwell than with the Amish people, who are viewed as anachronistic curiosities. The Amish people lead humble lives; they reject material wealth; they worship in humble churches.

Evangelical "Christians" however, seem to revel in material wealth. They worship in megachurches; they drive big, gas-guzzling SUVs; they shake their fists at the terrorists and rationalize the injustices done in the name of their "freedom." Love thy neighbor? Not in this lifetime!
A Christian megachurch

Of course, hypocrisy is nothing new to right-wing Evangelicals, as we have learned, time and again through such teachers as Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, and most-recently, Ted Haggard. Sinclair Lewis wrote brilliantly about it in his horrifying 1927 classic, Elmer Gantry. When it comes to glitch, wealth, and especially power, the bigger the better, as far as these "Christians" are concerned.
Evangelical Christians will continually fall in line behind any charlatan that mouths pious validation of their pre-existing prejudices and bigotry, whether it be homophobia, Islamophobia, or moral ambiguity. (Note that it is largely white evangelical males that continue to support Junior Bush, even as the public at large has finally caught on to him.)

The pathos is palpable. In their perpetual misery, desperate people, frightened by the world around them, cling to their material belongings as the only measure of their worth. They look to cynical leaders to protect them, to validate them, to assure them that they are pious and righteous.

It's not that deep in their hearts they don't know better. It's that they're cowards. It's that they don't have the guts to give what Christ was asking:

Do not Lay up treasures for yourselves on earth, where moth and rust corrupt, and where thieves break in and steal:
But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust corrupts, and where thieves do not break in nor steal:
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
- Matthew 6:20-21

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
- Matthew 6:24

So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
- Luke 14:33

Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.
- Matthew 19:24


Ridwan said...

My first comment on your blog is below in your post about travelling.

Great thoughts here.

If you figure in the evangelicals in contemporary Africa I ca about bust a vein.

These folks really preach hate. Nothing has changed. They were agents of colonialism ... bible in one hand and a knife in the other.

Thanks for writing on this topic!

Peace and struggle,

Heather Ann said...

Great verses you chose! These hypocritical pastors really remind me of the description in Revelation of a beast who looked like a lamb (they appear Christian) but speak as a dragon (spewing hate.) It is so painful to watch!