August 1, 2006

Conservatives, America, and faith

It feels like we have been talking about this since the blog began. And before that. The central problem appears to be people who can't tell where their loyalty to America ends and their allegiance to God begins. And, speaking from my perspective, many of them can't tell where their Republican loyalties differ from their Christian ones.

That is why it is nice to see this story: Disowning Conservative Politics, Evangelical Pastor Rattles Flock - New York Times.


The requests came from church members and visitors alike: Would he please announce a rally against gay marriage during services? Would he introduce a politician from the pulpit? Could members set up a table in the lobby promoting their anti-abortion work? Would the church distribute “voters’ guides” that all but endorsed Republican candidates? And with the country at war, please couldn’t the church hang an American flag in the sanctuary?

After refusing each time, Mr. Boyd finally became fed up, he said. Before the last presidential election, he preached six sermons called “The Cross and the Sword” in which he said the church should steer clear of politics, give up moralizing on sexual issues, stop claiming the United States as a “Christian nation” and stop glorifying American military campaigns.

“When the church wins the culture wars, it inevitably loses,” Mr. Boyd preached. “When it conquers the world, it becomes the world. When you put your trust in the sword, you lose the cross.”

Exactly, and that is what the Rod Parseley's of the world don't understand. Once you become part of the establishment, you lose the prophetic edge. And once you endorse the sword, you become just like every other point of view in the world: "we are right, and we will kill you."

“Most of my friends are believers,” said Shannon Staiger, a psychotherapist and church member, “and they think if you’re a believer, you’ll vote for Bush. And it’s scary to go against that.”

--snip--

“When we joined years ago, Greg was a conservative speaker,” said William Berggren, a lawyer who joined the church with his wife six years ago. “But we totally disagreed with him on this. You can’t be a Christian and ignore actions that you feel are wrong. A case in point is the abortion issue. If the church were awake when abortion was passed in the 70’s, it wouldn’t have happened. But the church was asleep.”
And I understand. One of the false arguments, however, is that separation of church state types (like me) don't want christians involved in politics or society. And that is exactly wrong. I have been clammoring on this blog for Christians to assert some moral voice--just over more than gays and abortion. And it is a mistake to assume that political action=turning the church into a chapter of a particular party. I think, personally, that churches are obligated to engage in the broader moral questions of our day--environment, poverty, global poverty, terrorism, racism, sexism, etc.--but not necessarily as a partisan hack. And that is what the evangelical church has done--they have become chapters of the Republican party--and have abdicated any moral voice on anything other than sex.

Oh, and patriotism. Damn, have they endorsed patriotism.

He [Boyd] said he first became alarmed while visiting another megachurch’s worship service on a Fourth of July years ago. The service finished with the chorus singing “God Bless America” and a video of fighter jets flying over a hill silhouetted with crosses.

“I thought to myself, ‘What just happened? Fighter jets mixed up with the cross?’ ” he said in an interview.
And that should scare the shit out of every Jesus-follower in the world. Who would Jesus Bomb? Oh, right, others.

“America wasn’t founded as a theocracy,” he said. “America was founded by people trying to escape theocracies. Never in history have we had a Christian theocracy where it wasn’t bloody and barbaric. That’s why our Constitution wisely put in a separation of church and state.

“I am sorry to tell you,” he continued, “that America is not the light of the world and the hope of the world. The light of the world and the hope of the world is Jesus Christ.”

These sermons had a cost among the Republican faithful.

Mary Van Sickle, the family pastor at Woodland Hills, said she lost 20 volunteers who had been the backbone of the church’s Sunday school.

“They said, ‘You’re not doing what the church is supposed to be doing, which is supporting the Republican way,’ ” she said. “It was some of my best volunteers.”

Most evangelicals I know don't see their faith as entwined with GOP politics, but if pressed, can easily answer the same way one of Nathan's commenter's did:

Moral Contradictions: Words we need to hear: "Logical words but you still haven't made your caes why ther Democratic Party is more 'Christian' or Christian supporting than the GOP. There are rules and regulations on everything we do and its based on the Ten Commendments. Three major religions are based on these rules. Which party bases its party platform on this? If you are a fundamentalist Christian which party agrees with your personal beliefs? If you are an evangelical Christian would you be welcomed at a Hollywood party? Show me exactly where in the Constitution it says'seperation of Church and State'? If your moral beliefs are against gay rights, abortion,etc, why are we excluded from campaigning against those that support such? "
Translation: Republican party not Christianity, but more Christian than Dems.

Sigh.

2 comments:

Greek Shadow said...

About time the news media realizes that not all preachers are clones of Jerry Falwell

Karma Girl said...

They were big into politics at West Bank Cathedral, the church I was raised in. Republicans were touched by God and Democrats were all homosexual commies sent by the devil to destroy us.