“We are very rapidly moving towards the criminalization of Christianity.”
“Democrats hate Christianity. They view Christianity as an evil majority. They hate what they believe to be the limitations of it, the judgmentalism, the suredness, the faith aspect.”
“The war on Christmas is really the tip of the iceberg when it comes to a greater battle that is brewing. And that battle is those who want to take God out of our society, out of our culture.”
“The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were drafted on the knees of the founding fathers through prayer.”
Dominionism: A political and religious philosophy that seeks to make the U.S. government a Christian theocracy.
Benjamin Franklin noted that life offers just two guarantees: death and taxes. Let me add two more sure bets: (1) The swallows will return every March to build nests in the San Juan Capistrano mission in California; and (2) at Christmastime, right-wing television personalities and their political allies will issue dire warnings about the war on Christmas — and Christianity.
A war on Christianity is, in fact, being waged, but I have a different take on who is waging that war. The people waging that war are the ones putting Christianity in a bad light by purporting to be Christians while exhibiting decidedly un-Christian behavior. Where do I begin?
Well, let’s start with spotlight-seeking media personalities who claim to speak for Christians and Christianity, such as Mike Huckabee ( hawked a questionable diabetes cure and other iffy products on television), Rush Limbaugh (a foul-mouthed, four-time married former drug addict) and Sarah Palin (Google some of her hateful, divisive, un-Christian pronouncements).
And let’s continue with megachurch preachers and televangelists who’ve amassed fortunes on the backs of their gullible flocks. Take Joel Osteen … please. This pastor of a Houston megachurch, whose estate is worth $10.5 million and assets exceed $40 million, once said, “You don’t have to apologize for God’s goodness. Wear your blessings well.”
And then there’s long-time televangelist Pat Robertson of the 700 Club who regularly spews out cringe-worthy tripe. One example: His recommendation that men with “rebellious” wives live where wife-beating is legal.
And consider the self-serving politicians who cherry-pick the Bible to justify their political stands against abortion and same-sex marriage, yet ignore lessons about caring for the poor, feeding the hungry, healing the sick, tending to the planet and being our brother’s keeper, in every sense of the term. These same politicians have no problem with the Catholic Church’s stand on same-sex marriage and abortion, but they’re deeply troubled when Pope Francis speaks out about income inequality or the need to address climate change or to live in peace.
Let’s end with the Koch brothers, who epitomize what’s wrong with politics (and religion) in America today. Between them they’re worth more than $100 billion, and they’ve spent hundreds of millions to advance their conservative agenda, which amounts to cutting taxes and reducing government regulations. While they claim to be libertarian and live-and-let-live on social issues (such as same-sex marriage), they’ve heavily supported Christian evangelical organizations in order to increase their own power and wealth.
Not a pretty picture. Yes, millions of sincere Christians do good work every day throughout the year without fanfare or recognition. But in my humble opinion, the concept of Christianity is too often being distorted and misused by people to advance narrow, greedy, power-seeking agendas.
Would Jesus Christ warmly embrace the philosophies and behaviors of people such as Limbaugh, Palin, Robertson, Ted Cruz and the Koch brothers? If he were in government today, would he be fighting hard to lower taxes on the rich, deny health care to the masses, increase the military budget and ignore the elderly?
Maybe Matthew 19:21 (the King James version) can shed some light on this discussion: “If you want to be complete, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.”
A bumper sticker comes to mind: “Jesus called. He wants his religion back.”
David Treadwell of Brunswick is a writer specializing in communications materials and alumni magazine articles for schools and colleges around the country. He is a regular contributor to the Coastal Journal and the Times Record (in Brunswick).