Monday, November 02, 2015

Michael Gerson to Conservative Christians: Get Over It

As the world and America evolve and the nation's demographics change, evangelical Christians - those whom I call the Christofascists - are fighting an increasingly hysterical rear guard action against anything that threatens their fairy tale image of "Christian America" and white privilege - the two go hand in hand.  Indeed, they are battling against modernity itself, especially scientific knowledge that is increasingly proving that the myths of the Bible are not based in fact but rather the tales of ignorant, uneducated nomadic goat herders. (Islam is having its own battle against modernity which challenges the purported writings of a historical figure who likely suffered from mental illness, but that's the subject of another post).  In today's Washington Post conservative columnist Michael Gerson has a message for the Christofascists: get over it and move on.  Here are column highlights:

[C]onservative Christians have been lately pondering their relationship to American culture. And not just those who are hysterical for a living. When the court rejected traditional sexual ethics as a permissible basis for laws defining marriage, many conservative believers felt a cultural milestone had been reached. 

It had once been plausible — though not necessary accurate — for conservative Christians to regard themselves as part of a “moral majority” in which traditional Judeo-Christian views were broadly shared. That is no longer minimally credible on issues of the family and sexual ethics. And the change in self-perception among some believers has been jarring. 

In an essay in Christianity Today, “The Power of Our Weakness,” my co-author, Peter Wehner, and I explore this altered landscape. The manner in which conservative Christians navigate their journey away from outdated notions of a “Christian America” will have much to say about the quality of our public life in the actual America.

The cultural, legal and theological arguments of the essay might be summarized as: Snap out of it. There is, as legal scholar John Inazu told us, “an insecurity caused by a rapidly lost social position,” leading some to a “growing bitterness and despair.” But this reaction is not particularly constructive or religiously serious.  

But this set of legal challenges does not translate into social apocalypse. By many (though not nearly all) indicators, American culture is getting better. Divorce rates and abortion rates have declined in recent decades. Rates of violent crime and homicide are down dramatically from historical highs. Many religious conservatives mistake alarming legal trends for across-the-board cultural decay. 

[R]eversing the Supreme Court decision on marriage — which is rooted in long-term cultural changes that emerged in the context of heterosexual relationships — is not a realistic political goal. This means that religious conservatives must learn to operate in a same-sex marriage world.

This is not moral compromise; it is the normal practice of democracy. Beyond issues of sexuality, there is a broad agenda for which the building of coalitions is essential: the global fight against HIV/AIDS and sexual trafficking, the reform of foster care and the criminal justice system, the building of safe, healthy, child-friendly communities. 

 Pulling back from the practical, religious conservatives will need to recover some perspective. For most of the past 2,000 years, Christians have lived in societies that did not reflect their sexual ethics.  And sexual ethics is not the sum total of Christian ethics, which, at its best, affirms the priority of the person and the defense of human rights, well-being and dignity. 
I disagree with other parts of the column that suggest the changing face of the nation may be a time of opportunity for Christianity.  With every passing date, science and knowledge further undermines the myths on which Christianity is based, including the myth that Adam and Eve and :The Fall" were all real.  They were not real and the Genesis story is a myth and, hence the whole story line begins to crumble.  The hatred and bigotry towards others that now defines conservative Christians is not the only reason the younger generations are walking away from religion.   Increasingly, they simply do not buy the story line.

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