Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Conservative Christianity - A Noble Venture Derailed

There are things that Christians do that we should all emulate whether or not you believe in God. Things like giving food to the hungry, providing medical care for the sick, building housing for the homeless and countless other acts of charity large and small. Indeed, one of the things that led me to adopt Christianity was Christianity’s healthy dissatisfaction with human suffering. I was inspired by the four Mary Knoll lay workers who gave their lives in El Salvador. I was inspired by a the priest at my own church who flew into El Salvador to deliver medical supplies one week after that country’s government murdered six other priests who were tracking human rights abuses. These are the things that give Christianity a good name.

But there are also things that give Christianity a well deserved black eye. The pastor at my Church was lamenting the fact that Americans only give about $750 million to foreign missions annually, an amount comparable to what we spend on pet food. Foreign missions do things like drilling wells for fresh water, providing housing, giving medical care, and building schools. As we saw earlier, spending on Focus on the Family and Coral Ridge Ministries alone adds up to almost $200 million annually. Much of this is not spent on drilling wells and building housing, much of it is simply spent on politics.

I was reading a web site called Theocracy Watch (a site I know too little about to endorse just yet) and this is what they had to say about the Religious Right in America:

This movement values guns and the death penalty. It values the rich at the expense of the poor. It favors corporations at the expense of individuals. It seeks to eliminate virtually all regulations that protect the environment, worker safety, and public health. And in an effort to fulfill the dominionist belief in the manifest destiny of "Christian" nations, it values an aggressive foreign policy. It is possessed of absolute moral righteousness. It tolerates no dissent. And now it has extraordinary power in the U.S. government, with two branches solidly in its pocket and the third, the judiciary, just a couple of retirements away.

I wish I could say that this was not really the case. However, while you may or may not hear the above statements from the pulpit on Sunday morning you will hear this from the folks in the pews. Judging by my junk mail (which I receive less frequently since becoming a registered Democrat and ACLU member) the above description is all too appropriate.

I was attracted to Christianity by the values of Mother Teresa but have found a movement increasingly dominated by the agenda of the Republican National Committee. My suspicion is that Political Conservatives have learned that confronting gays and rending their garments over abortion is a small price to pay for a devoted political base. In return, Christians appear to have sold out the most vulnerable elements in our society, the very people they are called to serve.

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