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Friday, June 22, 2012

The War against Christianity's fundamentals

Today's church is going medieval on society through legalism and its insistence that government legislate biblical law. When they don't get their way, they scream 'War against Christianity' and 'War against Faith'. Yet, the real 'War against Christianity' is the one in which 'fundamentalist' churches have hijacked the message of Jesus and turned him into a selfish, money-hungry bigot.

These sensationalist allegations of 'war against the church' are being made by fundamentalist Christian groups and aimed squarely at President Obama and others who dare to have the temerity to allow for diversity in our society. 

Below is a short summary of some of the issues and quick response to each:
  • welfare 
    to deny welfare or sharing of wealth, some Christians focus on the verse in Matthew 26:11, in which Jesus says 'For you have the poor will you always ... '. However, this verse is out of context because the second part of it reads '... but Me you do not always have'. Jesus was telling the disciples that He, as the Son of God, should be their priority; He wasn't saying to ignore the poor. There are over 2,000 scriptures saying to care for the poor unconditionally, including the original scripture that Jesus was referencing, which is found in Deuteronomy 15:11, 'for the poor will never cease from the land; therefore, I command you, saying 'You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land' '. None of this 'give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a life time' maxim which is not biblical and is often used to justify not giving to the poor at all. God commands us to give food, drink, clothes, shelter and money to the poor and needy. If we can help the poor by giving them jobs and careers that is good, but don't ignore their immediate needs with misquoted scripture and clever sayings.
  • refugees and asylum seekers
    the media reports the constant attack by conservatives and the religious right on asylum seekers, refugees and most often on the 'queue jumper' - boat people - those who decide  that their lives are more important than protocol. Yet Christians want to crucify them. The bible tells us to care for the stranger. For instance, Matthew 25:34-35, '
     ... for I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you visited me; I was in prison and you came to Me.'  Ironically, Joseph and Mary fled to Egypt in order to save the life of the baby Jesus. If Joseph and Mary weren't 'queue jumpers', then Jesus wouldn't have lived and there would be no Christianity.
  • multiculturalism 
    (importantly, non-Christians) since when is western society the exclusive domain of white Christians?
  • removal of military insignia from bibles sold to US servicemen bibles are still available, just not with an insignia.
  • universal health-care 
    why shouldn't everyone be entitled to access free health care. It works fine in countries such as Australia, so why isn't it good enough for the USA? Oh, that's right. It is part of an evil Socialist Agenda!
  • big government 
    read 'big government' to mean any government that taxes people, provides welfare and tries to govern for the betterment of society. Of course, if the government is giving tax concessions and hand-outs to big business then that is ok! Ironically, these same Christian groups wants the government to enforce their religious rules through legislation, but don't want to pay tax to fund their increasingly political activities.
  • war
    apparently, the church is quite happy to wage war, but then again it does have a history of it. Crusades anyone? Matthew 5:9, ' blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God '.
  • same sex marriage
     any relationship is the business of the two people concerned. It is not the business of the church to say who can or cannot marry. Yet some Christian groups and churches have campaigned for legislation against, or preventing legislating of, same sex marriage. The argument that gay people are just indulging in their lusts shows a complete lack of understanding of the basic building block of a long-term, committed relationship: love. It is most convenient for some Christians to ignore the basic biological fact that people are born gay. For an in-depth study of biblical scripture regarding homosexuality, refer to this article: 'Adam & Eve meet Adam & Steve'
  • abortion 
    regardless of the moral argument over this, some groups use the issue to vehemently, and sometimes violently, promote a religious agenda. Forcing Christianity onto non-Christians and telling them what to do is not acceptable. Additionally, many of those same groups cease to care about people once they are born, instead they condemn welfare for the poor. If human life is so sacred to them, then they should be caring for people from conception to the grave.

Of course these are just a few of the issues that some Christian groups claim are undermining the church and are part of the 'War against Christianity'. Yet, not one of these issues directly affects Christianity, nor weakens the church as a religious organisation. The church's priority should be salvation, not enforcing rules. Religious groups have taken a retrograde step through such legalistic positions. Today's church is going medieval. As with the medieval church, the legalism is not about salvation or helping society, but about political power, and this we see with the rise of religious political parties. 

If fundamentalist churches and religious groups wish to engage in political activity, then they should pay tax. At the moment, they do not contribute financially to government through taxes, but want to dictate how government is run and the decisions it makes.

The true 'war against faith' is that in which Christianity is being hijacked and it's faithful being manipulated into believing that 'real' Christians support right-wing parties, support war, support capitalist greed while opposing 'socialist' initiatives such as assistance for the poor, the down-trodden, the widow, the refugee.

Any attempt by government to assist the poor, or for that matter everyone, through the provision of universal health-care, welfare, jobs programs and daring to suggest that the wealthy pay more tax, results in the rabid religious right screaming that it is a 'war on faith', a 'war on Christianity', that it is 'socialism'.

Well, guess what? Jesus was a socialist AND he told us to pay our taxes. But, I guess we shouldn't say that too loud, it might upset those Christians who are chasing the great American Dream: to get as wealthy as possible with the blessing of God (I'm not sure what scripture actually says that God wants us to accumulate wealth at the expense of others - I can name a few that say to get rid of your wealth and share it with the poor - but that would be socialism!).

Just a few scriptures:
  • Matthew 25:34-36 'for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you took me in, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to Me'
  • Matthew 25:45 'inasmuch as you did not do it to the least of these, you did not do it to me'
  • Acts 4:34-35 'Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need'

Fundamentalist Christians fervently supported the invasion of Iraq regardless of the illegality of it, regardless of the fact that Iraq had been the playground of the United States for years and its people suffered, as did many others around the world, as the USA spread its evil, capitalistic greed and power-hungry hegemony over the globe. Hussein was funded by the USA. As was Osama Bin Laden and the Mujahideen during the Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, resulting in Al Qaeda and the Taliban respectively. 

Yet some Christian groups expect us to continue to support this war-mongering in the name of Christ because the USA is seen as some sort of bastion of Christianity. These people seem to not understand that the founding fathers took pains to ensure that the USA was a secular nation by separating church and state. God is not mentioned in the Constitution and the First Amendment specifically states that 'Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion ...'. 

Remember, Jesus telling us to 'turn the other cheek'? We wouldn't have to turn any cheek if it wasn't for the aggression of the USA and blood-thirsty screams for vengeance from 'fundamentalist' Christians every time someone dares to question or fight against US aggression.

War against Christianity? War against Faith? Damn, right there is a war. 

It is the War against Truth, the War against Love, the War against the Beatitudes, the War against the Poor, the War being waged by the those who have reinvented Jesus as a war-mongering, homophobic, capitalist bigot. The war is against fundamentalism, not the right-wing reinvention of fundamentalism, but the true fundamentals of Christianity, namely the messages of love, grace and forgiveness which Jesus preached and which Christianity is founded on.

That is the real War against Christianity.

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