Friday, October 3, 2008

The Christian Right is Not Right and May Not Be Christian

This is tough to say and I don’t know if I’m strong enough to say it; yet I feel commanded to do so!
by Charlie Leck

I read an article this morning about the huge bucks Sarah Palin is pulling in for the McCain Campaign from Christian evangelical fundamentalists. Bill Berkowitz and Mike Reynolds, from The Nation Institute point out how Palin changed McCain’s fund raising overnight (the night she was endorsed by the RNC convention). [Read the full article here!]

“Overnight the culture warriors, who'd been grumbling about McCain from the sidelines, were back in play. The Council for National Policy, one of the Christian right's most secretive strategy bodies, immediately endorsed the "values"-enhanced McCain ticket, triggering a $10 million infusion of campaign donations from evangelicals and their associates on the hard right. In this volatile race for the White House, they may yet make the difference. Call it the Palin Payoff.”
And that was only the beginning.

These groups stooped very low in their attacks on the Democratic candidates in these few weeks since the convention – very low. Berkowitz and Reynolds site this example:

“On September 15 Born Alive Truth, a 527 out of Mokena, Illinois, launched a $338,000 TV ad blitz in Ohio and New Mexico tarring Obama as a supporter of infanticide. The 30-second ad featured a Nashville abortion survivor, Gianna Jessen. Born Alive Truth is fronted by former nurse and Christian right player Jill Stanek. Stanek, a one-time operator with Concerned Women for America, advocates against "partial birth" abortion and fought access to Plan B, the emergency contraception pill, by saying it would become a tool of "rapists and male sexual predators." Now a columnist for the ultra-right website WorldNetDaily. Stanek is known for repeating bogus claims that the Chinese dine on human fetuses and that Terri Schiavo was fully cognizant at the time her feeding tube was removed. In one classic column, Stanek equated Parkinson's victim Michael J. Fox with Hitler for his support of embryonic stem-cell research…”
Does this sound Christian to you? I have friends, who claim to be “born again” and “saved by Jesus” who repeatedly, over and over again, keep sending crap like this to me via email. I see the lists of other people they send these things to (because they don’t know how to hide those names) and sometimes they amount to more than a hundred names. Recently one friend sent me stuff she claimed was written by a staffer on the Billy Graham Evangelical Association. Wrong! A quick fact check showed it was a bogus email. I pointed it out to her and suggested she email all the folks she sent it to and apologize. She didn’t do that. She claims to be on a fast track to heaven because she is saved. In fact, I don’t think she really knows Jesus, and I don’t think she has encountered Christ, and I don’t think she has taken up the heavy mantel of discipleship.

What these silly, and often repugnant, people don’t know is that it is tough to be a Christian! It doesn’t come easy. You don’t get there by claiming to be saved. And you don’t get there by claiming to be born again.

“Follow me,” our Lord said. Even a very cursory reading of the gospels will reveal what a difficult task that would be.

You cannot spew lies and hatred and then claim to be a Christian. I’m pretty comfortable in saying that.

You cannot pick up a gun and shoot an abortion doctor and then tell me you are a born-again Christian. You are not!

The Christian Right is Wrong!
The Christian Right doesn’t understand the grand complexity of our faith. They don’t understand the paradoxes in the gospel. They don’t understand the challenges that come from Jesus and Saint Paul. They fail to comprehend the glorious messages of the epistles of John and Peter.

Several of these so-called Christian groups have played with a quotation from Obama. They put it on the air-waves this way (it’s also been sent to me as an email this way):

“…whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian nation.”
Do you want to take that to the bank? Or would you like to read the quotation in its proper context:

“Given the increasing diversity of America's population, the dangers of sectarianism have never been greater. Whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian nation; at least not just. We are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers.” [Emphasis is mine!]
The former is a lie! The latter is the truth! What happened to the words “not just” anyway? These petty, so-called Christians are ever so afraid of the truth; yet the gospels tell us: “The truth shall make you free!” (John 8:32) Full disclosure: below is the full context of the quotation.

“If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
“If you continue in my word….” That gives the statement some depth. That is how we know the truth! In the same message, Jesus goes on to say the following:

“Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word [the truth]. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” [John 8:43-44]
It is impossible for me to listen to those who claim to be Christians and yet spew such lies, and then not conclude that they do not know Christ and never have. They are liars “and the father of lies.”

It is difficult to be a Christian. It requires great responsibility. It is irresponsible to lie in a manner that brings harm to someone – to seek victory by cheating and stealing?

Tough talk, but I think it is gospel!

Many years ago I decided to accept Christ as my Lord! It was not an easy thing to do. I never dreamed how difficult it would be to follow him in discipleship. I slip often from the very narrow path he trods and I need to pull myself up and back together over and over again. I call forward to him and beg his forgiveness. He barely looks back. He just waves his arm to me, beckoning me to come along after him.

“Keep on keeping on!”

I have never once in my life said that I am saved, or that I am destined to be with him in eternity. That I will leave up to him. In the meantime, I just try to “work out my own salvation with fear and trembling.”

Saint Paul wrote:
"Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain." [Philippians 2:12-16]

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