I’ve been thinking about evangelicals. They are a strong political force within the conservative movement and while I have no problem with the expression of deep faith, I am always a little confused by the contradiction between their pageantry and Matthew 6:1: “Take heed that ye give not your alms before men, to be seen of them.”
Where religion is concerned I seek humility and my world view is non-exclusionary, allowing for all religious and non-religious people, to “follow their bliss.”
That phrase was coined by the late mythologist, Joseph Campbell, who believed that all world religions contain the same fundamental, transcendent truths. My problem with modern evangelicals is the fact that they’re so…evangelical, and aggressive righteousness leaves no room for “inclusion.”
The original movement in the 17th century rose from Lutheranism to de-emphasize ritual and ceremony in the Church and to instead focus on pietism. They were, in fact, non-conformists.
Today, however, “evangelicalism” has come to mean strict social conservatism, devout adherence to Scripture and a clear establishment of Christian doctrine in politics. It is zealotry that leads many to anti-scientific theory and anti-intellectual conformity that can compromise solutions to real world problems. That, in my opinion, is dangerous.
A poll by the Public Religion Research Institute and Religion News Service, questioned respondents about God and natural disasters, and it revealed that 60% of the evangelicals polled believe that natural disasters are signs from God.
Other denominations hovered around 30 to 40% but that is still a staggering number of people who feel that solutions, even the ones within our human grasp, may be as simple, and as exclusionary, as piety.
Right after the Newtown massacre former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee came onto Fox News and opined, “We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we’ve systematically removed God from our schools.”
A columnist wrote in a Texas paper that “their deaths could be attributed to God’s displeasure with our culture’s moral collapse.”
I was reminded of a person I saw interviewed before the Republican convention in 2012 who shared his belief that Hurricane Isaac was descending on the Republican Convention because, “God is flexing his might to remind us that we have turned our backs on Him.”
An email is circulating with hundreds of names attached, which states that we are “suffering because we are becoming a Godless nation.”
My first thought is that this idea betrays the very nature of God. I never thought of Him as a Father that would resort to playground tactics and exact revenge on those who don’t follow. I have children and when they ignore me (which is most of the time), I hardly wish for them to perish in a flood.
Then I thought…..
What if…this fundamentalist Christian notion is all wrong? I mean, what if, in fact, it is exactly wrong?”
What if God is angry at the Christians inside His church who pose as followers when, in fact, they betray His doctrine? What if God is angered by those who recited the Gospel yet went to work and pillaged the credit of the less fortunate and plundered the investments of his hard working flock?
What if He is appalled at the trusted servants of a major Christian denomination who would first choose to protect themselves before innocent children?
Maybe God is angry at the Christians who want to repeal health care reform that can help over 30 million of His children to have more security in their lives.
Maybe God is less insulted by those who would remove prayer in schools, than He is by those who cannot separate religion from the laws of men.
Maybe…God gets upset with those who would deny civil rights to others who wish to show their love and devotion through marriage.
Maybe God is fed up with those who manipulate His divinity into messages of smite and exclusion.
Or what if…God is how we measure our compassion for others and His word represents the responsibility we have to care for one another and for this planet?
What if…natural disasters are just that, natural, and solutions to the problems we face depend on how we accept each other, as we are, and not whether or not we share the same piety?
My faith contends that our collective thoughts can bring us answers.