Sunday, December 04, 2005

So, to recap: the right, blaming the left, launched their annual high-profile campaign to “save Christmas.” But if Bill O'Reilly, Jerry Falwell, and Fox News are truly representative of American Christianity these days, the ones Christmas most needs saving from are these so-called Christians themselves.

But can it be true that these loudmouths with their noxious, fear-filled, hate-fueled agenda are really representative of America’s Christians? I refuse to believe it. Faith is something deeply personal to most people, not something they crow about, preening in public, pointing out the sins of others, and preaching a gospel of divisiveness at the top of their lungs at the least provocation. They can call themselves whatever they like, I call them political opportunists, pure and simple.

Many good Christians believe that they can practice their faith best in a secular society, not one that mandates certain beliefs and practices for them, or others. And many of us who grew up Christian have watched in dismay as the highly politicized right wing has hijacked the label of “Christian” for what certainly seems to be an un-Christian, if not anti-Christian agenda, one that extols materialism over poverty, fawning on the haves and have-mores while scorning the poor. Again, call it what you will, I call it hypocrisy.

Recently I happened upon a self-proclaimed Christian website that purported to have instant answers to 73,403 Bible Questions. Everything that’s wrong with this counterfeit Christianity could be found on the site, starting with the claim of instant answers. Christ himself spoke in parables, suggesting the answers are never easy, much less instant. Most conscientious folks, whatever their creed, do indeed think deeply about the vital questions religion seeks to address.

One of the website’s FAQs was "Are we to love the sinner but hate the sin?" The counterfeit-Christian answer, in part: "The difference between us and God in regard to loving and hating is vast…. God can [love and hate] perfectly well, because He is God! God can hate without any sinful intent at all. Therefore, he can hate the sin and the sinner in a perfectly holy way!" QED. So “God is hate.” Call it what you will, I call it twisted.

This complete co-opting of Christianity by the right is something Christians of a liberal or humanist bent are hard-pressed to know how to react to. No reasonable soul wants to dignify such doggerel with a thoughtful rebuttal. But reasonable people of all faiths should pay closer attention to the growing radicalism of the right. We need to think seriously and deeply about the social, political and economic forces that have given rise to religious radicalism in this country, especially with our domestic and foreign policies being set by those who subscribe to such skewed belief systems. Until moderates speak up and confront these fakes and bullies they will continue to poison our public discourse. Say what you will, but I say enough.

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