"I like your Christ; I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." -- Mahatma Gandhi
Maybe it is because I am getting old and my ability to just blow things off takes more energy then I have or it may be because Mahatma Gandhi’s observation of Christianity is right on the mark. Sadly in this day to call oneself a Christian has become embarrassing in the world we find ourselves living.
So if this blog today seems like a rant, maybe it is. However, I would like to think it is a call to those in the Christian faith who see the teaching of Jesus as far more important than the institution of the church, to start speaking loudly and clearly, as it seems the extremists now own the faith. I really think it is due time for those who follow the teaching of Jesus to take back the conversation rather then letting the extremists destroy us.
I find it curious that the extremists in the Christian faith can judge the actions of a few extremists in another faith who do acts of terrorism and label the entire belief system and everyone within it as part of a terroristic faith.
Yet, when some extremist coming from the Christian faith does an act of terrorism it is labeled as an act of a mad man or some fringe element and it is never thought of as the entire faith that we need protection from. Yet, the way our brand of Christianity gets played out we are no better than those we blame for all the terrorism in the world.
Take for example the heinous tragedy in Norway… Many of the extremist commenter’s from the political and Christian right have been quick to point out this was a lunatic, a mad man. Really?
According to an article published by the ADL,
“Breivik's focus on "left-wing" multiculturalists destroying white European culture in favor of minority cultures such as the Muslim community is common among the far-right and the groups that straddle the far-right and conservative worlds in the U.S. They blame the government, universities, and the media for promoting diversity and minority cultures over European or American culture and accuse them of undermining "Western civilization" or European-American values.”
Damn, that sounds like the same bile being spewed forth by our own Christian extremists.
If this wasn’t so damn serious and deadly it would be laughable that these wing nuts from the Christian right actually set this kind of stuff up with their rhetoric and then act all shocked at how someone can be so extreme.
The anti-choice crowd has always found a home in the extreme Right’s worldview through the church. The results? One look no further than “Anti-abortion violence in Wikipedia”:
“According to statistics gathered by the National Abortion Federation (NAF), an organization of abortion providers, since 1977 in the United States and Canada, there have been 17 attempted murders, 383 death threats, 153 incidents of assault or battery, and 3 kidnappings committed against abortion providers.
According to NAF, since 1977 in the United States and Canada, property crimes committed against abortion providers have included 41 bombings, 173 arsons, 91 attempted bombings or arsons, 619 bomb threats, 1630 incidents of trespassing, 1264 incidents of vandalism, and 100 attacks with butyric acid ("stink bombs"). The New York Times also cites over one hundred clinic bombings and incidents of arson, over three hundred invasions, and over four hundred incidents of vandalism between 1978 and 1993. The first clinic arson occurred in Oregon in March 1976 and the first bombing occurred in February 1978 in Ohio.
The threat of anthrax: The first hoax letters claiming to contain anthrax were mailed to U.S. clinics in October 1998, a few days after the Slepian shooting; since then, there have been 655 such bioterrorists threats made against abortion providers. None of the "anthrax" in these cases was real.
Some of those opposed to abortion have sometimes resorted to very public demonstrations of violence in an effort to achieve their objective of curbing the termination of pregnancy. Those who engage in or support such actions defend the use of force—as justifiable homicide or defense of others—in the interest of protecting the life of the fetus.”
I would also point out the vast majority of people in these affected clinics were there for something other than the termination of a pregnancy.
Type “Christian terrorism” into google and the list is mind-boggling and heart breaking.
Here is some of what I found:
Salem witch trials – Christian (while tradition has this about burning witches this is not historically correct as a dozen plus were hung and one was crushed to death), Waco Texas – Christian, Timothy McVeigh – Christian, Jones Town – Christian, KKK – Christian, Nazism – Christians, Adolph Hitler – Catholic, Serbians – Christian, IRA (Irish Republican Army) – Christian, Iron Guard – Christian, Irish Republican Army – Christian, Christian Patriot movement, Christian Identity Movement (According to Chester L. Quarles, professor of criminal justice at the University of Mississippi, some of the Christian Identity movement's followers hold that non-Caucasian peoples have no souls, and can therefore never earn God's favor or be saved. Believers in the theology affirm that Jesus Christ paid only for the sins of the House of Israel and the House of Judah and that salvation must be received through both redemption and race.)
By the way let us not forget the emotional terrorism that is played out by the faithful and churches, which say “believe the way we say to believe or burn in hell for all eternity”!
We need to look no further then Rev. Fred Phelps and the Westboro folks.
For those who are going to argue that true Christianity does not advocate violence and the Quran does, I would refer you back to Gandhi’s observation.
For while the founder of the Christian movement certainly did not advocate violence and even is quoted at one point saying to a follower, “if they are not against us, then they are for us”, many of those who have followed have been anything but passive, forgiving and loving. In fact if one reads the words of Jesus closely we do very little of what he advocated and we do a whole lot of stuff which he preached and taught against.
Jesus clearly removed “capital punishment” as an option yet the State of Georgia pays no attention to the teaching and continues to execute people at an alarming rate. Even when there is a better than even chance they didn’t do it or the mental capacity was so diminished as to be considered “mentally handicapped”.
Jesus taught to turn the other cheek, but good Christian politicians want to put a gun into the hand of everyone.
Jesus taught for us to be merciful, but mercy is sorely lacking.
Jesus never addressed the issue of being LGBT, but those in the church have spent lifetimes trying to cure us and if that fails, kill us.
In fact the institutional church pays very little attention to some of his strongest teaching:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”(Matthew 5:3-10)
I wonder how much different our world would be if we became more intentional about just these two teachings of Jesus? I wonder if the bulk of our time, energy and efforts went into seeing that just these two teaching became the norm rather than the exception if we could say, “No Mr. Gandhi we are not there yet but we are really trying”.
When he finally arrives, blazing in beauty and all his angels with him, the Son of Humanity will take his place on his glorious throne. Then all the nations will be arranged before him and he will sort the people out, much as a shepherd sorts out sheep and goats, putting sheep to his right and goats to his left.Matthew 25:31-40
Then the King will say to those on his right, "Enter, you who are blessed by my God! Take what's coming to you in this kingdom. It's been ready for you since the world's foundation. And here's why:
I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me."
Then those 'sheep' are going to say, "Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?" Then the King will say, "I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me — you did it to me."
When the Pharisees heard how he had bested the Sadducees, they gathered their forces for an assault. One of their religion scholars spoke for them, posing a question they hoped would show him up: "Teacher, which command in God's Law is the most important?"Matthew 22:34-40
Jesus said, "Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence." This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: "Love others as well as you love yourself." These two commands are pegs; everything in God's Law and the Prophets hangs from them.