I learned about the love of Jesus, the rock of ages and old rugged cross, from going to church with my grandparents.
When I was a little boy in the '70s, attending Sunday school at the Bible Baptist Church in Jett, Kan. (pop. 4,000), you never EVER heard about politics mixing with religion. It wasn't done. People respected that essential line that separated church from state, preserving the purity of both and preventing each from corrupting the other.
A person's politics were one thing and religion was something else. A Democrat could sit next to a Republican in the same adult Sunday school class and it didn't matter. Nobody gave thought to it because politics didn't matter. That was part of civic life, something apart from one's church life. People didn't get into divisions over politics the way they do today. To my grandparents' generation, the important thing was just to vote and exercise one's Constitutional right.
Nowadays, the words "Christian" and "Republican" are considered
interchangeable. If you're Christian, you have to be Republican, right? When I was a kid, the Republican party was the party of Rotarian-Babbitt styled businessmen, not the self-righteous standard bearer of "traditional values."
It is highly unfortunate that sincere Christians have bought into the manipulative rhetoric of glory-seeking politicians and worldly, politically meddling celebrity clergymen. They have failed to see that just because someone talks a good game about being a Christian, it doesn't mean that person possesses that sterling character, becoming of a Christian.
In fact, the people who make the most noise about what great Christians they are show the least amount of Christ-like love and humility. It is a sad waste, the way so many church-goers have abdicated their God given powers to think and reason. They can't recognize a pharisee when they see one.
I've read the Gospels. Stuff like "Love thy neighbor," "He who is without sin, cast the first stone," (The Golden Rule) "Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them," "Whosoever would be first among you, shall be servant of all."
Jesus did things like feed the poor and hungry, heal the sick and diseased and hang out with the outcasts of society -- thieves, prostitutes, tax collectors, lepers, the poor. He gave hope to those whom society rejected. On the other hand, he was severely critical of those who make a show of piety, the respected religious leaders who "lord it over," who love their power and authority.
Is Jesus not the antithesis of the Religious Right today? Isn't this right-wing element that has hijacked and poisoned our churches the spitting image of first century Pharisees? Yet so many who call themselves Christians today flock toward mean-spirited, judgmental, hate-spewing media figures and websites. And the more hateful they are, the more "conservative Christians" love them.
They don't see that Fox "News" heads like Hannity and Steve Doocey (who I'm embarrassed to say is from my home state of Kansas) are smug and arrogant. It's even in their facial expressions. How can people not see? Are they the same way?
The fb page Christian, Conservative, Patriot and Not Afraid contains images of handguns and assault rifles. It "likes" what I guess are like-minded pages, one of which has as its profile picture an image of Pres. Obama with a noose around his neck. There are "likes" for militia groups.
Those are the fruits of their beliefs.
When I was a kid, Christianity had a good name. The word "Christian" called to mind someone kind and loving, possessing those qualities Paul talked about in the book of Galatians. Nowadays, say "Christian" and it has connotations of bullying and arrogance.
This counterfeit Christianity in the mainstream today, I don't get it. This is not the faith I remember.
music from my mom's record collection.