Looking Back – U.S. Christianity

For this Sunday’s Look Back let’s look at the MAGA/Evangelical cult.

I never would have dreamed that U.S. Christianity would have taken the fatal hit it has when I wrote the above words five years ago. Yeah, we had the Tea Party back then that was identified as a radical right fringe but for the most part they were not identified as a primarily Christian organization.

The phrase “Make America Great Again” and “Evangelical” are now combined into MAGA/Evangelical and are irrefutably joined at the hip. I’m sure the roots of today’s cult were from the Tea Party but it is now on steroids!

I am glad that I had the opportunity to spend five years between 2008 and 2014 blogging about Christianity at my blog RedLetterLiving. It was an awakening experience for me. Even though the words I put there eventually got me kicked out of a congregation I helped build, I would not take back any of those 600 posts I put there. It is amazing that RLL still gets a hundred or so views a month.

I did attempt a resurrection of sorts of RLL in early 2019, but my heart was just not in it. There was just too much damage even by then. The affiliation between the Republican Party and Christianity has perhaps put a fatal stain of Jesus’ church going forward. It is sad to see that again, a small minority can bring down a once noble organization. But, in a way it is their own fault. If the majority had the guts to stand up against the actions of the MAGA/Evangelicals they might have some credibility, but like the Republicans in the recent impeachment hearing they have simply lost that chance.

Favorites Sunday – About The Pope

This “Looking Back” post is about Pope Francis and how American Catholics saw him, but maybe more importantly how they might differ from the MAGA/Evangelicals who have moved to the extreme right in American culture.

Here are the words from the post five years ago with my highlights that I will talk about here:

When I wrote these words, Pope Francis had been pope for less than two years and was just getting his footing in the papacy. Five years later, it seems obvious that at least some US Catholics see him an un-Pope in the same way as I see the #CO3 (Current Oval Office Occupant) as the un-president.

Pope Francis has certainly shaken up the Catholic Church in many ways. To my mind he has bravely attempted to take it into the 21st century. Others see him as destroying the traditions of the church, and to them, traditions are probably more important than even the wordsf of Jesus. I just wonder how many of the conservative American Catholics side with him or the GOP?

To try to discover where US Catholics stand in the current US political field I found a rather enlightening article. Click here to see that source. According to the header at the top of this post it is split where about 40% will vote for him and 50% will not. (The grey bars are Catholics while the red bars are all voters including Evangelicals.) That is significantly better than the 85% of Evangelicals who totally align with his radical right stands. Since the majority of world Catholics are people of color, I wonder how the US split is among white Catholics and Catholics of color?

Personally, as an ex-Catholic (but maybe now I am really an in-my -heart Catholic) I see Pope Francis as fighting to take the church back to its roots in the words of Jesus. After having experienced the Protestant version of religion and their radical right political swing, if I do ever return to religion it will likely be the Roman Catholic version. At least Pope Francis’s version of it.

White Christian Nationalism — Not Secularism — Is Destroying America

One of the biggest tragedies of this early 21st century is how Jesus’ church has morphed into something very contrary to his teachings.

I thank Minnesota Pastor Stephen Mattson and Sojourners Magazine for helping me to realize that fact.

American Christianity brought us to this point. It preached nationalism and sanctified American imperialism — promoting Manifest Destiny as ordained by God. The prosperity gospel baptized capitalistic greed, its preachers vilified the poor, and its theologians manipulated scripture to rationalize global colonialism. Salvation was no longer personified through Jesus, but was redesigned to be a political machine, fueled by its ability to control branches of government. This methodology was packaged as “Christianity,” and the gospel became a message of gaining social power and control rather than a call to follow Jesus’ life of selfless service and sacrifice.

Source: Sojourners – Stephen Mattson

Christianity used to be our nation’s conscience but now it is becoming our tool of destruction. Christianity helped us look backward as well as forwards follow Jesus’ words about “brother keeper”, and “the least of these…” Now is it used to promote things very contrary to those teachings.

The “Evangelical” who like to call themselves Christians have tainted that label beyond recognition. They say those who believe in the humanity of man, otherwise called secular humanists are destroying America. That very proclamation is about like Hitler saying “I am doing what I am doing for the good of Judaism”.

Tragically, there are far too many who might otherwise have come to Jesus are running as fast as they can away from it because of “white Christian Nationalists”. Has the Christian brand been permanently destroyed by these very misdirected folks? Why can’t they even begin to fathom the damage they are doing?

There is a battle going on in the Christian Church now for its heart and soul. That battle is between Progressive Christians, aligned with the Catholic Church, and the Evangelical movement who is determined to take over the label of Jesus and in the process destroy his teachings and legacy. We simply cannot allow that to happen any more than we can allow a second term for the current Oval Office occupant.

Quote from Sojourners Magazine Oct 2018