Sunday, April 09, 2017

Why “Christian” Has Become Synonymous with Hate and Hypocrisy

As I have lamented many times, there are many "good Christians" in America, but sadly, they are very much like the "good Germans" of 1930's Germany.  While they do not support the hatred of others and lies that are now the hallmarks of fundamentalist Christians and evangelical Christians that increasingly define to base of the Republican Party, they sit silently most of the time and allow their foul co-religionists by default to define the entire faith.  Silence and lack of confrontation ultimately equate to complicity whether these "good Christians" like it or not.  Indeed, the foulness of the "conservative" Christians and the spinelessness of the "liberal" Christians leave me with no desire to be labeled by the term Christian whatsoever.  When I hear that someone is a "devout Christian" nowadays, my reflex reaction is to assume that they are not a nice and decent person and prefer to have nothing to do with them given the hate. hypocrisy and lies that dominate the "Christians" most often depicted in the news media.  An op-ed column in the New York Times looks at the phenomenon and, in my view, remains to positive towards those who need to be shunned by decent people.  Here are column highlights:
Here it is nearly Easter, and for the first time in my life I don’t want anyone to know I’m a believer. To many, “Christian” has become synonymous with angry white voters in red hats, personally responsible for handcuffing all those undocumented mothers and wrenching them out of their sobbing children’s arms.
[A]s with a lot of people, including secular liberals, the way Christians behave as human beings can be completely at odds with the way they vote. Decades ago, when I was still a teenager in Alabama, I heard my grandmother refer to some new neighbors as the Tallyho Boys. Turns out a gay couple had bought or inherited a farm just down the road from her. The good ladies of that rural community welcomed the couple with poundcakes and homemade jelly, but would they have voted for a political candidate who supported marriage equality? Not a chance.
Tribal bonds have always been a challenge for our species. What’s new is how baldly the 2016 election exposed the collision between basic Christian values and Republican Party loyalty. By any conceivable definition, the sitting president of the United States is the utter antithesis of Christian values — a misogynist who disdains refugees, persecutes immigrants, condones torture and is energetically working to dismantle the safety net that protects our most vulnerable neighbors. Watching Christians put him in the White House has completely broken my heart.
Belonging to a community, feeling at home in the liturgy, carrying on a long family tradition — all these intangibles made it easy enough, before the election, to ignore much of what the church gets wrong and concentrate on what it gets right: supporting open immigration, welcoming refugees, opposing capital punishment, housing the homeless, feeding the hungry, caring for the sick and the aged and the lonely. Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” All the rest is window dressing.
But this is the part of Christ’s message that most conservative Christians ignore when they step into the voting booth. In part that’s because abortion has become the ultimate border wall for Southern believers. I can’t count the number of Christians I know who are one-plank voters: They’d put Vladimir Putin in the White House if he promised to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Republicans now have what they’ve long wanted: the chance to turn this into a Christian nation. But what’s being planned in Washington will hit my fellow Southerners harder than almost anyone else. Where are the immigrants? Mostly in the South. Which states execute more prisoners? The Southern states. Which region has the highest poverty rates? The South. Where are you most likely to drink poisoned water? Right here in the South. Where is affordable health care hardest to find? You guessed it. My people are among the least prepared to survive a Trump presidency, but the “Christian” president they elected is about to demonstrate exactly what betrayal really looks like — and for a lot more than 30 pieces of silver.
I have never felt lonelier than I feel in Donald Trump’s America.
But I also believe in resurrection. Every day brings word of a new Trump-inflicted human-rights calamity, and every day a resistance is growing that I would not have imagined possible, a coalition of people on the left and the right who have never before seen themselves as allies. In working together, I hope we’ll end up with something that looks a lot like a Christian nation — not in doctrine but in practice, caring for the least among us and loving our neighbors as ourselves.
I hope the author's hope is realized.  If it is, it will not be due to anything done by the "conservative" Christians who put this train wreck inn motion by placing hatred of others, racism, and misogyny ahead of the Gospel message.  The myth that Christians are good people or a net good for society needs to be recognized as a lie. The sooner, the better. 

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