Monday, March 22, 2010

Why I am not a Conservative Christian


On the eve of this historic vote that passed healthcare reform in our nation (once Obama signs the bill into law), I am hearing very polarized responses on Facebook among my friends. Some say we are all "doomed." Others are rejoicing. I'm with those rejoicing. It's not perfect, but it is historic, and it begins to bring our country's citizens, myself included, beneficial much-needed change. It will help ordinary citizens to not get crippled with debt from corrupt and greedy health insurance companies who drop them at their whim. It prevents them from rejecting kids and adults due to pre-existing conditions. And it ultimately will reduce the deficit over the long haul (20 years). But with all the Republican opposition to this, I just wanted to share a few articles/commentaries I've read from a Christian perspective that have some interesting food for thought.

They reflect in part my own thoughts and really answer the question of why I am not a "conservative" Christian but proudly a progressive, liberal, whatever youw ant to call me Christian. I don't fit squarely in the liberal box, and I don't like the way conservatives peg "liberals" (especially the likes of the Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter - but I give most conservative Christians a bit more credit then those outspoken and mean-spirited hypocrites). Frankly, I don't understand in any part of my mind, soul or heart how the Republican party has come to be the party of most Christians. It in so many ways opposes the fundamental teachings of Jesus. Here are a few articles that reflect my reasons why. I'd be very interested in your thoughts on these, especially knowing what those who are politically conservative Christians think after you read them.

A MUST-READ for Christians: "Why Conservative Christians So Often Fail the Common Good (Part 2)" by Richard T. Hughes a Religion Professor at Messiah College. ~ Quite simply this is a brilliant and important essay about the Christian faith. Not just important but must-read for anyone who calls themself a Christian, in my opinion, in the modern world! And here's part 1.

Another - "I can't think of one religious reason against health care reform. can you?" Great piece by Paul Raushenbush, an American Baptist minister, Editor of the Huffington Post's Religion section

But I'm going to give a bit more thought to this one which doesn't have to do with healthcare but with Glenn Beck and his not-so-long-ago tirade against churches promoting social justice. Glenn Beck Vs. God: The Bible Speaks For Itself by Christian ethicist Dr. David Gushee.

Gushee posts several Bible verses on justice in contrast to Glenn Beck's tirade against churches that preach about social justice. He includes one of my all-time favorite verses, "What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" (Micah 6:8)" As Gushee says, "There really is no theme more central to biblical faith than the matter of justice." Although I would argue grace would be most central, he's right that when it comes to what Jesus actually preached and taught, I agree.

I have often wondered myself why Christians - or churches for that matter - so often fail to actually teach and preach what Jesus did in terms of vocal opposition to hypocritical religious leaders. No one wants to call a spade a spade, but Jesus had no qualms with it. Instead certain religious leaders lambast those outside the faith with differing beliefs, or lump "liberals" into one category (a bad one), while almost always ignoring the vile hypocrisy spouted in the name of Christianity at times (it's been up to the atheists to notice and discuss it, and that has given them great ammunition against the Christian faith). Now I'm not criticizing all Christianity, and certainly not Jesus and the Bible, or I wouldn't be a Christian. I have seen great depths of love coming from the Christian church aka the body of believers and it's why I love this faith now more than ever. Things that come to mind - Christian radio (KSBJ), Beth Moore, Women of Faith, Philip Yancey, Anne Lamott, and my own personal church all promote and practice brotherly and selfless love, kindness, mercy, and self-reflection.

At any rate, Gushee highlights 4 ways that Jesus confronted injustice (with key passages):

  1. Jesus confronted the injustice of greed and gross economic exploitation and unfairness. He demanded/invited justice for the poor and hungry (Luke 16:19-31).

  2. Jesus confronted the injustice of domination and bullying and demanded/invited his followers to exercise power in the form of mutual servanthood (Mt. 20:25-26).

  3. Jesus confronted the injustice of violent killing and demanded/invited peacemaking (Mt. 23:37-39).

  4. Jesus confronted the injustice of exclusion from community and demanded/invited into existence a new kind of community in which everyone has a place at the table. (Luke 5:27-32).


And just for kicks, here's just another great resource, Politifact.com,which won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize. It's slogan is "Sorting out the truth in politics."

6 comments:

CrazyCris said...

very true!
and thoughtful, thx for the interesting read!

Iain said...

Hi, Wendee,

I have noticed before that there is a marked avoidance of social action among evangelical "conservative" Christians. When I was at the University Christian Union I attempted to start up a little group doing work in the community. I tried to promote it in the CU lunches we had every Sunday, but it got quashed by the to College Reps, who both went to expensive private schools (one of them to Eton, no less), and told "don't be a pain". Because it wasn't directly to do with "spreading the gospel" they weren't interested.

P A said...

This may sound a little harsh but i equate Conservative Christians as modern day Pharisees. They seen to be not interested in what Jesus said and did but in their own self promotion. Ultimeately i hope this is only a small portion of the general group, with the majority getting on the bandwagon.

WENDEE HOLTCAMP said...

PA not harsh at all I completely agree and think you're right on the money. Of course I would not lump all Conservative Christians in there, but like you say it tends to be a few leaders and the rest of the sheep follow. And being Pharisaical, they also condemn the other side as "socialist" or "Marxist" or "ungodly" or any number of other labels to scare the true believers off of seeing the truth - God is love, Jesus is grace!

Sus said...

There was a special on CNN recently called, "And her name was Steve" and it was about a guy who realised he wanted a sex change to fit with how he felt inside...just so happened that he was the city manager for a Florida town. At the city council meeting citizens came to voice their opinions on his decision and one guy came to the microphone and said, "I can promise you that if Jesus were here, he would say that you sir need to be killed."

Sad...truly truly sad.

WENDEE HOLTCAMP said...

That makes me so mad Sus! It so distorts the message of Jesus Christ. What did he do to the woman caught in adultery who they wanted to stone? Did he condemn her, like this man condemned that person? No, he loved her and forgave her. Whether or not what that person did was a "sin" the man who condemned was the one who needs to understand that by the measure with which we judge, we will be judged... we only need to look in the mirror to see that we are all flawed.