Saturday, April 2, 2016
I Love Jesus, Too Bad He's Got It All Wrong
Cloud Cuckoo Land
From the Religion and Ethics Newsweekly April 2 episode:
The chairman of the Notre Dame Political Science Department, David Campbell states that, "What we find is, one of, if not the primary cause, for the stunning rise in the percentage of Americans, especially young Americans, who now say they have no religion, one of the primary causes is an allergic reaction to the mixture of religion and politics. And specifically to the mixture of religion and conservative politics. And we see that very clearly in our data, and in the work of other scholars."
(He and Robert Putnam recently published a book, American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us, which reflects this research.)
Later in the program he went on to say, "The insertion of religion into American politics, that's not new. That's been around for a long time. What's different about our current era is the injection of religion into partisan politics. It takes a very partisan tone."
Another author, John Danforth, who wrote The Relevance of Religion: How Faithful People Can Change Politics, struck a similar note. He said, "My book is about the tone of politics rather than specific issues."
He believes that God is not a partisan. Ideology and politics are not His concerns. He says instead that the real point of religion is that you are not the center of the universe, therefore compromise is necessary. It seems to me that he is saying that while you may believe you are 100 percent absolutely, perfectly correct about religion, you need to realize that the other fellow believes this as well. Thus, the need for compromise in our civil government.
He adds, "And it's important for people in office to make it clear by word and by deed the people on the other side of the issue are not demonic. They are not bad people. (Religion) is the place where, when is functioning as it should, Where different people come together with all different ideas, different backgrounds, and they are all children of God."
I would add to this, that it should be clear to even the most extreme individual that our government is not a religion, neither Congress nor the White House are churches, and that freedom of religion means that your doctrine cannot be forced to become mine by law.
Historically, the situation is very complex. While it is true that the anti-evolution forces attained a great victory in the Scopes trial, in which the conviction was only overturned on a technicality, many observers have noted that the fundamentalist, evangelical community was horrified by the intensity of their humiliation as the entire world laughed at their beliefs. They did retain control over schools and government in general within their states, but they also tended to withdraw from world. They developed their own special summer camps for their children, their own Bible study organizations, and tended to socially aggregate only with those who shared their belief system.
This all began to change with the rise of groups like the Campus Crusade for Christ, primarily during the 60s and 70s. The Republican Party tapped into this powerful resource to create a new base, the base of religious believers who are absolutist and who insist that they, and they alone, know the correct interpretation of the Scriptures and of God's will. After years of being marginalized and sneered at, this was heady wine.
The Republican Party told these individuals who felt marginalized and suppressed they were the Silent Majority. That they should rule America. That God wanted it to be so.
It was irresistible. Fundamentalist evangelical ministers lept in, unable to resist the power and, sometimes, the money that came along with turning into politicians. As the years went by the Republican Party became more and more a religion and less and less a political party. It began expelling those were not doctrinally pure, declaring them to be RINOS. At the same time, the church became more and more worldly, it became less and less religious and more and more a political party.
That which was once preached to the willing believers, as Christ directed, was instead to be forced upon everyone else in direct defiance of Christ 's teaching. This is how the evangelical church today has been turned into something which, while endlessly commenting on how much they love Jesus, nevertheless deny his teachings at every opportunity. Once merely in the world, they have become of the world, and it has corrupted them.
They are evangelical because they believe it is their duty to reach out to the world and spread the gospel. Instead, because of their political greed and lust for power, they have done exactly the opposite. They have turned off an entire generation to a concept of religion, especially organized religion. They have accomplished the opposite of their goal, because they did not follow the blueprint that had been given to them.
Let me end with two quotes.
The first is a repeat from the beginning of this post. "What we find is, one of, if not the primary cause, for the stunning rise in the percentage of Americans, especially young Americans, who now say they have no religion, one of the primary causes is an allergic reaction to the mixture of religion and politics. And specifically to the mixture of religion and conservative politics. And we see that very clearly in our data, and in the work of other scholars."
The second is a clear message from the Gospels which those who claim to love Jesus so very much and to believe in every single word of the Bible, especially those of the Gospels, have ignored completely. Evangelicals believe that they have an obligation to force their religion upon the entire nation, even upon the entire world. But what did Jesus say about those who did not wish to hear the Word? He said this: "And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town." Matthew 10:14
So the evangelicals are wrong on all counts. Politically, they have confused our shared government with their personal church. Religiously they lusted after power and ignored Christ's teachings. Just how wrong can you get?