Saturday, May 5, 2012

Politics is killing American Christianity.

I'm 99% sure of that.

My cousin texted me today, telling me that she's reluctant to get involved with her church because she knows she's going to run into that "Republican Wall" (my words)...any Christian who doesn't bleed GOP red has run into it. It's deeper than just a disagreement and it casts a shadow long before you run into it. It's the reason that, every Thanksgiving and Christmas, I see people posting on the Facebook wall of the Christian Left, asking for ways to cope with their relatives' political assaults or prejudicial talk.

It's the speculation that comes when you hear someone say "I'm a Christian." It's the mistrust of the Ichthus fish on the back of a car. It's that feeling that eventually, if you continue to create deeper relationships without your church buddies, that you'll be faced with someone assuming you're a staunch Republican because you own a Bible. As my cousin said "It means I can never share my life with them." It's deeper than just political differences because, from what I've found, precious few on either side choose to draw distinction whatsoever between their political leanings and their faith. I'm not one to believe that one's faith is meant to be 100% separate from the way you vote, but I do believe that certainty about where God lies in the political system is arrogance in one of its ugliest forms and an affront to the body of Christ. Yes, both sides are guilty, but I have to say I see many more infractions from the Right. I dread any conversation turning political. Any mention of President Obama. Any talk of guns. Because then the relationship stops progressing down a path of revelation and turns to one of conflict and unlikely resolution.

Newest member of club Kindle.

I've had this beef for a probably struck me hardest though, not when a woman bounced jauntily into Bible study with a Tea Party sign after a rally in 2007, but instead when talking about the US population and imigrants, another lady remarked "They're starting to out number us. We have to do something about it." What struck me most about that, is that she thought to even make the comment to me in the first place. It was a conversation between the two of us, so it wasn't a case of "oops, didn't realize there was a minority present". The first thing I thought was "This woman has absolutely no concern for me as an individual, because if she had, she would hold her tongue at the possibility that I were an immigrant or even for the sake that I'm a minority period."

It disturbs me...the whole thing...and I didn't realize how deeply ingrained it was in me. A while back at the gym, I ran into a guy. He constantly berates homosexuals in whispered tones to guys he knows won't object. I've heard his son doing the same thing. I immediately assumed him to be Christian, because, well, hateful speech at that level seems to have become the norm for conservative members of the church.

Then I found out he was an athiest. I was confused. I stereotype atheists as being open-minded and at least, tolerant (something that is quite untrue). It hit me then, how deeply some experiences had shaped my opinion of the conservative Christian. Don't get me wrong, I have conservative Christian friends who are great people and don't need politics to define themselves. They are special people though, whose personal stumbling blocks don't seem to be bigotry and apathy toward other humans.

It all makes me wonder if we can get past this, both as a country, and more importantly, as a faith. I saw again last night how deeply it affects me when I prayed for these people and it was hard.

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