Sunday, November 12, 2017

Evangelical Christianity Has Become Sociopathic

With evangelical Christians having risen to support Donald Trump in the last presidential election despite his moral depravity, their continuing support for Trump, and now seemingly steadfast support of Roy Moore, one has to wonder what has happened to those who claim to be Christian yet seem to utterly ignore that Gospel social message, not to mention the message to love others.  Conservative Christianity now seems best defined by who is hated - and the targets of hatred is lengthy indeed - a levels of hypocrisy that would have embarrassed the Pharisees of the Bible.  A piece originally published in Huffington Post and reprinted in the  British organization Church and State which supports the separation of church and state in the United Kingdom raises the question of whether or not evangelical Christianity has become sociopathic.  My answers is a resounding "yes," especially when studies have found that atheists and agnostics (i) know more about the Bible than Bible thumpers and (ii) display far more empathy than the "godly folk."  Indeed one study noted in a past blog found that children raised in fundamentalist Christian homes to be the most likely to exhibit cruelty towards others.   Here are article highlights:
Since Evangelical Christianity began infiltrating politics, officially in the late 1970s, there has been a disturbing trend to limit or remove rights from those who don’t meet the conservative idea of an American. Many of these initiatives come in the form of “religious freedom” laws, which empower discrimination, while other legislation targets immigrants who believe differently. The result has been a sharp division in American culture, and the redefinition of Christian theology.
Evangelical speaker, author, and university professor, Tony Campolo, said Christianity was redefined in the mid-70s by positions of “pro-life” and opposing gay marriage. “Suddenly theology fell to the background,” he said. And somewhere in the middle of all the change, Evangelical Christianity crossed the line of faith and belief to hatred and abuse. 
Is it fair to call it sociopathic?
Psychology Today listed sixteen characteristics of sociopathic behaviors, which include: Untruthfulness and insincerity, superficial charm and good intelligence, lack of remorse or shame, poor judgment and failure to learn by experience, pathologic egocentricity and incapacity for love, unresponsiveness in general interpersonal relations, specific loss of insight, and general poverty in major affective reactions (in other words, appropriate emotional responses).
We see examples of these kinds of behaviors in church leaders and followers. Franklin Graham, for example, stated that immigration was “not a Bible issue.” His stand fits well with his conservative politics and vocal support of Donald Trump, but his callousness toward immigrants and those seeking asylum in the United States goes against everything he says he believes (Lev. 19:33-34, Mark 12:30-31). Yet, Graham doesn’t see one bit of irony between his political stance and his religious belief. Nor does he seem to notice the horrific casualties in war-torn countries these immigrants are desperately trying to flee.
Pastor Roger Jimenez of Verity Baptist Church in Sacramento said after the Orlando, Florida terrorist attack on a gay nightclub, “The tragedy is that more of them didn’t die. The tragedy is — I’m kind of upset that he didn’t finish the job!” This “minister of God” showed no compassion for the families of the men and women who died.  And recently, Kim Higginbotham, a minister’s wife and teacher with a master’s degree in special education, according to her website, wrote a public blog called “Giving Your Child to the Devil.” She claimed, “Being a disciple of Jesus demands our relationship to him be greater than our relationship to our own family, even our own children.” . . . . In a self-righteous, self-aggrandizing, martyr’s rant, she claims her son turned his back on God, and she was left with no other option but to abandon him.
The 2016 election demonstrated an especially high level of insincerity, shamelessness, poor judgment and pathological egocentricity among Christian evangelicals. 
The evangelical Christian message is loud and clear. They care for no one but themselves. Their devotion is to the version of Christianity they have created, which calls for ruthless abandonment of immigrants, women, children – even their own – and anyone else who doesn’t fall inline with their message. Social justice, which is mentioned in Bible verses over two thousand times, has been replaced with hardline political ideology. Principle over people. Indifference over involvement. Judgment over generosity.

Between the misogynistic aspects of my Catholic upbringing and what evangelicals have turned Christianity into, I truly do not want to be labeled as "Christian" if it means being lumped with such people.  Yet, despite this revulsion, I adhere to the social message of Christ far more than the self-congratulatory "godly folk."  Victoria Cobb, president of The Family Foundation - a hate group in all but formal designation - has called me a "godless homosexualist" yet I, not Ms. Cobb support government social programs for the poor and children, equality under the law, oppose de facto re-institution of the Jim Crow era, oppose the disenfranchisement of racial minorities, and oppose religious based discrimination.  Which of us more closely follows Jesus' gospel message?   

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