MyNotes: Christians Against Christanity


This is a post sure to turn off education/edtech readers. Sorry.

Today, we must realize that schools are under attack by Christian Nationalists that are doing their best to control and destroy democracy in the United States of America. They have launched their attack and democracy can't count on a few well-placed Democrats in the White House to do it all. 

It is clear that many Americans have been swayed by the pseudo-religious, pseudo-Christian babble spouted by so-called evangelists. Like the author, I have complained to my wife and others that they are in the spirit of the antichrist. Heresies and blasphemies. It seems the contradictions between the Gospel and what is said to be of the Gospel reveal ignorance or willful deception.

That's why I'm sharing my notes on reading Christians Against Christianity: How Right-Wing Evangelicals Are Destroying Our Nation and Our Faith by Obery Hendricks. Hendricks does a fantastic job refuting from a Christian perspective all the terrible garbage, the "rotten fruit" of right-wing evangelicals pushing Christian nationalism. 

As I read his book, I found myself asking myself a few questions:
  • Is power and wealth such a powerful inducement to pervert the Gospel message?
  • Have believers lost hope in the Gospel that they want temporal power people like Trump and his sycophants have to offer?
  • What ignorant believers have swallowed these lies in their churches?
  • How many who might have believed in Christ will fall away or turn away because of this?
If you believe in the Adversary working to trick people into turning away from a Supreme Being, then you have stumbled into the dystopian reality that is America, perhaps from as far back as 1619.

See Wes Fryer's post on Mastodon in the Fediverse



It is disappointing stuff. In the last few months, I have often asked myself, would we be better off without the influence of Christian believers? So much so that these words come to mind (well, they came to mind after I saw them in a tweet):
“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful.” 
-Attributed to Seneca, but may be a rewrite of the words of Edward Gibbon (1776)(Chapter II: The Internal Prosperity In The Age Of The Antonines.—Part I. Second Paragraph
Well, it doesn't matter who said it or when. It is a bit cynical but accurate, wouldn't you agree?

"God doesn't need our belief to ensure His reign," I've thought of late as I see Republicans scrambling to do just that. 
The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries. 
-James Madison, 1803

Well, it had to end some time. :-(

 

MyNotes

This is a powerful book, and here are a few select quotes. You'll want to read the entire text yourself, but these are quotes that were stunning and/or affirmed the problem we're in now. I found Hendricks organization of the text as a powerful way to debunk ideas that have entered popular culture. 

I confess the abortion chapter set my own beliefs straight on the matter. My position has shifted from when I was seventeen years old and I was taught abortion was murder. 

My daughter put it to me as, "Abortion is a healthcare issue and shouldn't be denied to women." No matter what crazy examples you find (e.g. 10 year old girl being forced to travel from Ohio to Indiana to have an abortion because she was raped but Ohio law prohibits her from having an abortion), a part of me will always see abortion as problematic. 

Human life is precious, even unborn. But, it's not my decision to make. If a women must have an abortion, then let that be her decision and God, if He so chooses, may hold her accountable. I'd rather not get involved in that decision. Hendricks makes some powerful points on this topic.

I have only included a few quotes that I wanted to revisit in the future. You will definitely want to read the entire book to better see the case he makes for each topic. 
  1. Dominion Over America
    1. "In a November 2016 post on the Billy Graham Association website, Franklin Graham maintained that there is a divine call for a “Christian revolution in America” that will place control ...in the hands of right-wing evangelical Christians...Pat Robertson declared outright that “God’s plan for His people . . . is to take dominion...Lordship. He wants His people to reign and rule with Him.”"
  2. Repulsive Religion
    1. The abolitionist Frederick Douglass, in “What to a Slave Is the Fourth of July?,” his famous July 5, 1852, oration at Corinthian Hall in Rochester, New York, indicted the Christian church of his day: 
    2. “These ministers . . . strip the love of God of its beauty, and leave the throng of religion a huge, horrible, repulsive form. It is a religion for oppressors, tyrants, man-stealers, and thugs. It is not that ‘pure and undefiled religion’ which is from above.” 
  3. Racist
    1. Bob Jones University argued that separation of the races was God’s will, and thus it should be allowed to continue its “God ordained” segregationist ways without government penalty. The school became a cause célèbre for right-wing evangelicals, and its defiance against the government’s ruling a defining moment for the movement.
    2. Despite its claim to be guided by divine will, in actuality Bob Jones University was a virulently racist institution and an active proponent of white supremacist practices.
    3. For [Jerry] Falwell, integration was “the work of the devil.” “The true negro,” he contended, “does not want integration. He realizes his potential is far better among his own race.”
    4. At Tea Party rallies, Obama was burned in effigy hanging from a noose, depicted as an “African witch doctor” replete with a bone in his nose and as a mugger holding Uncle Sam in a chokehold, and told to “go home to Kenya” in handheld sign after sign. Even his wife and daughters were subjected to racial slurs and insults. The air at Tea Party gatherings was thick with chants of “We want our country back!” and “Give us our country back!”—as if America had been overrun by a foreign invader. Tea Party doyenne and former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin epitomized those sentiments with her charge that Obama “is not one of us.”26 Black members of Congress were even spat upon and called derisive racial epithets at Tea Party rallies.27
    5. Trump’s evangelicals carried a pernicious message directly counter to the faith they profess: that it is acceptable to commit transgressions of virtually any kind against other human beings simply because their skin bears a different hue or they speak in unfamiliar tongues.
  4. Dogmatism
    1. Right-wing evangelicals’ complicity in Trump’s debasement of American society shamefully paints the Christian Gospel of light, love, and egalitarian justice as an ugly, loveless, exclusionary ideology of domination. Jesus said that each of us will be known by the fruit of our acts and attitudes. The rot of the unholy fruit of Trump’s evangelical supporters and apologists has spread across the length and breadth of this nation, portraying evil as good and good as evil. That is their vile and blasphemous harvest. 
    2. for evangelicals, anyone who does not condemn same-gender-loving people, oppose a woman’s right of sovereignty over her own body, or reject the government’s responsibility to care for the welfare of those in need is not a worthy person. 
    3. Yet nowhere did Jesus suggest dogmatic religious litmus tests as necessary requirements for following him, or even for going to heaven; not once in his Gospel pronouncements does he say that God would judge anyone based upon adherence to any particular creed. In fact, in the entirety of the gospels he says virtually nothing about what to believe. What he did teach were ethical precepts about serving and honoring God by treating our neighbors in ways consistent with the just and loving will of God or, as I have articulated it elsewhere, treating the people’s needs as holy.
  5. Idol State
    1. right-wing evangelicals have chosen to make an idol of the American state. They chose to elevate to near-messianic status an immoral, dishonest, functionally non-Christian man as president of the United States. In doing so, right-wing evangelicals have militated against the foundational social justice imperative of the very Bible they claim to hold so dear.
  6. On Homosexuality:
    1. Nowhere in the four gospels does Jesus speak of homosexuality or make any statement that can even be construed as alluding to it. And when Paul’s few apparent references to homosexuality are examined in their original koine Greek language and for their function in Paul’s theology and call to discipleship, exactly what he has in mind is not clear. The same with the handful of Old Testament passages that seem to prescribe death for all men everywhere and in every age who engage in homosexual relations.
    2. we have considered every passage in the Bible that is used to condemn same-sex intimacy as a sin. But no matter how one understands this handful of passages, no matter what they believe, nothing gives anyone the right to make gay men and women objects of hatred, ridicule, violence, and exclusion. Such mistreatment of anyone, no matter who they might be, violates to its very depths the Gospel’s call to love and care for one another. That is to say that no one can demonize homosexual people and follow the teachings of Jesus Christ too. The two are mutually exclusive.
  7. On Immigration
    1. Because of right-wing evangelicals’ professed regard for the Bible, with its ubiquity of admonitions to support immigrants, one would expect them to be immigrants’ greatest champions. Instead, they are among immigrants’ greatest foes. Despite their faith claims and supposed fidelity to the Bible, the reality is that with few exceptions right-wing evangelical elites and their followers overwhelmingly support the US government’s inhospitable, inhumane treatment of immigrants that is being waged on a monstrous scale. Apparently, evangelicals’ disdain for people of color and religious “others” trumps even the authority of the Bible.
  8. Abortion
    1. by strategically interpreting the Bible to define fetuses as actual children, evangelical leaders have managed to recast legalized abortion from a theological issue mainly of significance to those who share their beliefs into a looming political issue they characterize as the government-sanctioned murder of children. 
    2. The biblical penalty for causing a pregnant woman to abort a fetus, albeit involuntarily, is a monetary fine, as long as she is otherwise unharmed. But if the woman is seriously injured, the punishment is lex talionis, “eye for eye, tooth for tooth” (Exodus 21:24). 
    3. No matter the claims to the contrary by “pro-life” evangelicals, the difference is indisputable: the lone biblical passage that addresses aborting a fetus states that unborn fetuses and living human beings are to be valued differently. 
    4. In other words, it says that the life of a pregnant woman is more valuable than what is in her womb. Those who argue against abortion even when a woman’s health is at stake seem to overlook this. 
    5. The bottom line is that right-wing evangelicals really are not at all “pro-life” in any large sense. They simply are abortion obsessed.
  9. Guns
    1. Since 1968, more than 1.5 million Americans have died in gun-related incidents; this is a higher death count than Americans killed in all US wars combined.
    2. Not only do evangelicals wrongly cite the words of Jesus in support of gun ownership, they also ignore scriptural passages that express the divine desire for fewer deadly weapons. 
    3. Some are so hell-bent on using the biblical witness to support their thirst for guns that they portray Jesus in ridiculous ways to associate his teachings with deadly firearms, as in a popular bumper sticker: “Jesus would still be alive if he’d had an AR-15.”
  10. Work and Unions
    1. Right-wing evangelicals continue to play a major role in the perpetuation of the vast chasm between the rich and the poor by their identification of Christianity with libertarianism, their virtually nonexistent criticism of corporate abuse, and their never-ending attempts to unravel the social safety net that is so crucial to a semblance of decent life for so many. 
    2. In large part, evangelicals’ unwavering support of the Trump administration furthered the corporate onslaught against unions by scrapping numerous job safety regulations and killing a ruling that extended overtime pay to millions of workers.
    3. right-wing evangelicals support an unjust status quo of vast disparities between America’s rich and its poor. This is anathema to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and destructive to the fabric of our nation.

Reflection

As I read Hendrick's book, I am struck again by these words below:
It was long the case that men would grovel upon the earth,
crushed beneath the weight of Superstition whose head
loomed in the heavens, glaring down with her dreadful visage
until Epicurus of Greece dared to look up and confront her,
taking a stand against the fables and myths of the gods . . .
As shown here

The simplest explanation? "A disease born of fear and a source of untold misery to the human race." It is a tool to control the masses, to fool them. We have never seen it so plain as we do today, watching Trump, Right-Wing Evangelicals, and Republicans do what they do. All these acts they seek to, and do, perpetrate on human beings is bad enough. But then, they wrap it in the story of Jesus to sanctify it...as if that story were a common fairy tale.

Perhaps it is. Hendricks book makes it plain that right-wing evangelicals story is a false one, rotten fruit, and we would do best to cut the tree down and burn it all.
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. (Matthew 7:15-20)

As I reflect on when I first accepted Christ as a young man in the Student Baptist Union (SBU) in Wichita Falls, Texas, just off the campus of Midwestern State University,  I realize that I did so with the hope that good flowed from a supernatural source. The impersonal nature of Catholic Church rituals seemed less certain to believe in than the warmth of the SBU's interactions.

Now, I realize I was really but a boy alone, looking for companionship and friends. In the end, it is in my nature to be alone, to find my own way. For me, God and the Holy Spirit were not to be wielded as sharp swords and axes to decapitate and maim others like LGBTQ+, women seeking abortion, or people being people, making mistakes and sinning. 

It is for that reason that when someone says, "God wills it," I know s/he is a liar trying to use God to make money and profit off others' ignorant beliefs and views. 

This is a powerful book. Every believer should read it and meditate on it. Non-believers may also find it of interest, an explanation of the fantasies men construct nightmares from.

As for me, I'm firmly in the James Madison camp of separating church and state. The former should never be mixed with the latter.


Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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