On Pseudo-Christianity

I have long said that if a person cannot, will not, or does not follow the words of Jesus, then that person cannot call oneself a Christian. As Christians, we are called to imitate the way Jesus lived and to follow his words. Short of doing that, a “religious” person who attends a Christian church cannot claim to be a Christian. At best, he or she is a church-goer.

The president this week “disagreed” with Jesus’ lesson to us to “love our enemies,” and he doubted the faith of those who say they pray for their enemies. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trumps-politicization-of-the-national-prayer-breakfast-is-unholy-and-immoral/2020/02/06/529518e4-4931-11ea-bdbf-1dfb23249293_story.html) Jesus said for us to do that, most starkly in the Sermon on the Mount. Yet, the president rejected the words and teaching of Jesus as his “enemies” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Republican Senator Mitt Romney listened,

It has been interesting to listen to people marvel at African Americans voice forgiveness for the persons who have killed their loved ones. The most recent example of a black person forgiving someone was Brandt Jean, who publicly forgave the white police officer who shot and killed his brother as he sat in his own apartment. (https://www.npr.org/2019/10/03/766866875/brandt-jeans-act-of-grace-toward-his-brother-s-killer-sparks-a-debate-over-forgi) His act did not endear him to many; in fact, many Christians – black especially but others as well – have scoffed at Jesus’ directives to forgive, to “turn the other cheek,” and to treat enemies with respect.

But if the truth be told, had not the words of Jesus been pounded into the psyches of black people, we as a people would have been long gone. We did not have any support for our lives and our rights – not from white people, not from the system, including Congress and the US Supreme Court, and we did not have the same access to weapons as did white people. Nonviolence saved protesters on the street; struggling to “do” the words of Jesus saved the souls and spirits of protesters as they continued to fight their enemies on a daily basis.

In a book I wrote some years ago, Forgive WHO? The Struggle to Obey God’s Awful Command, I examined this directive given to us by Jesus. It is as distasteful as it is difficult. It makes one feel weak because the natural human inclination is to fight stones with stones, and yet when the playing field is so uneven, it is a given that the powerful have more stones they can access, and therefore to wipe out their opposition.

The power of Jesus’ words is their ability to empower and strengthen people, who show a weird love – the love of God – and stand in front of their oppressors in spite of their pain and anger. It is doubtful that anyone “forgives” his or her enemies right away; that seems humanly impossible, but the words of Jesus become seeds in bruised souls and begin to sprout even as the victim of evil works to breathe through their pain. The act of forgiving first helps the one who has suffered an attack or affront from any number of sources. It is the highest, most supreme show of strength one can exhibit.

Those who do not, cannot, or will not forgive display what hatred and anger and resentment does to one’s spirit. The president is an example. He only wants revenge; the desire is eating at him, so intense that even in a “prayer breakfast,” where supposedly devout Christians have gathered to honor God, he cannot hold his pain within him, and he openly disavowed the words of Jesus the Christ.

And the Christians-in-name-only applauded him and laughed, which says at least to me that something is awry in their souls as well.

There is much confusion about forgiveness. Forgiving doesn’t mean you become best friends with the one who hurt you (no need to set up a time for “tea and crumpets), but it does mean that you lose the visceral reaction you experience when you even think of what the person has done to you. It frees you even as your abuser drowns in bitterness and anger.

What we have seen this week in this president and in the religious nationalists is a love of power, not of Jesus. We have heard – and will continue to hear and see – his words of anger and contempt for those who he deems as being his enemies, and he will spew his venom all over this country and everything he touches.

He and others might claim to be “Christian,” but they cannot be. They adhere to something that can only be called “pseudo Christianity,” something which has no foundation and teaches nothing about how to be one’s best self in the face of abject evil and attacks.

Those who fight with fists claim that they are strong. Dictators, who cannot stand to be criticized or challenged, and who kill and/or destroy anyone who does either, also claim to be strong,  But their quest for absolute power, and their willingness to put God and the instructions for life given by Jesus the Christ on the periphery of their lives, makes them the weakest people of all.

A  candid observation.

The Moral Bankruptcy of White Supremacy

One of the lessons taught to me was that “God don’t like ugly.” When we would screw up our faces and frown, or pout, or say mean things to or about each other, she would admonish us, reminding us that God saw and heard everything and that God didn’t like …ugly. Continue reading “The Moral Bankruptcy of White Supremacy”

The God of the Religious Right a Divine Fraud?

Whenever there has been a tragedy or natural disaster which affects people of color especially, but others as well, I have held my breath, waiting for the Religious Right to give its pronouncement on why said disaster or tragedy happened. When Hurricane Katrina hit, some religious fundamentalists said the storm was the wrath of God, who was displeased with the lifestyle of people in New Orleans and in this country in general; some said the God’s wrath had come because of abortion and homosexuality.

When the earthquake hit Haiti, killing more than 100,000 people, Pat Robertson said it had come from God as retribution, because the Haitian people had “made a pact with the devil” when they fought the French for their freedom in 1804, and won. When the horrific tragedy at Sandy Hook happened, the religious right said it was a judgement from God who was angry that “America had turned its back on God.” Alabama Judge Roy Moore and Focus on the Family’s James Dobson said the shooter had killed little children because of abortion and the tolerance of gay marriage.

The recent shooting in Las Vegas happened, said the religious right, because America is a wicked nation. (http://www.rightwingwatch.org/post/dave-daubenmire-vegas-shooting-was-the-wrath-of-god-being-revealed-on-a-wicked-nation/ )

Strangely, the religious right sees evil and wickedness in homosexuality and in the fact that abortion is legal, but their God sees nothing wrong with sexism and racism. Their God has been silent through the years as white supremacy has wreaked havoc on the lives of innocent people because of their race, their ethnicity, their religion and their sex and sexual preference.

Wealthy white people, including men who have molested children, never get “the pronouncement.” I have never heard anyone from the Right say that God has been displeased with what members of the white elite have done over time.

While before this president, accusations of acts of sexual impropriety would have been the end for any political run, the religious Right is actually urging support of him, lifting up the Christian principles of love and forgiveness, as reasons to give him a pass. Conservatives are saying that what the president said about Haiti, El Salvador and many African nations was true and that he should be defended. (https://www.advocate.com/media/2018/1/12/right-wing-pundits-defend-trumps-shithole-countries-remark )

They have been virtually silent about the wildfires, excessive rain and mudslides in an affluent part of California; I have heard no statement about the suffering of those people happening because of America being a wicked nation.

The god of the religious Right is an elite deity. Their god causes people to suffer for only the things the Right have deemed to be wrong; their god is a god of culture, not needing for people to be “righteous,” i.e.. “in right relationship with God.” Their god has allowed injustice to be meted out to black people for literally generations; their god has sanctioned lynching and the lack of “due process” for people of color. Their god allows horrific poverty in this, the most wealthy nation in the world. Their god has allowed domestic terrorism in this country, while allowing them to denounce foreign terrorism. Their god thinks nothing of the effort now to deport illegal immigrants, destroying their families like phenomenon of slavery allowed and in fact pushed during that period of time. Their god apparently does not think that poverty caused by unjust economic policies is a bad thing; their god thinks that the sexual harassment of women is acceptable.

Their god has celebrated the “rightness” of white supremacy. It is said that when the very racist film The Birth of  Nation  came out that President Woodrow Wilson said watching it was a “religious experience.” Their god apparently turns his head (and I am sure their god is only masculine) on racial violence; their god allowed police officers to pick up the known white assassin of innocent people shot in a church in South Carolina without incident, though they knew he was armed and had been the lone shooter in that massacred, and take him to get something to eat at a Burger King before taking him in to be processed for his crime. This is the same god that apparently thinks it’s ok for police officers to gun down innocent and unarmed black youth like Tamir Rice and Ty’re King.

It is only abortion, homosexuality and same-sex marriage that their god is concerned about. Their god is fully all right with racism and sexism and any violence that comes with those “isms.”

Who is this god?  It is a god of an elite few. It is a god who I, for one, cannot and do not respect. This god seems to be a fraud, a cultural but not biblical deity which exists to support bias, bigotry, hatred and racial violence. This god is not my god, nor is it the god of the masses. It cannot be, not according to the God we have learned about in the Bible.

A candid observation …

God, Waiting

In spite of the vitriol of the president-elect, and the bubbling anger and rage that can be felt in our land, it is a fact that we as people are not wired to hate.

We are wired to care for others; we are wired for compassion; we are wired to be in community with each other.

Inside all of us is a place I call the “God-spot.” It is that place where we love each other, where we lose hatred and the desire for vengeance. It is that place that God put in all of us.

The problem is, we hide it and run from it. In our society, there is pressure to give into hatred and prejudice in the quest for power and popularity. We see it early, as in elementary schools, bullies taunt classmates and too many people remain bystanders, in agony over what they are seeing, but afraid to say anything, because they want to belong.

I said in a presentation that I gave recently that I was appalled not at Donald Trump; he has shown us who he is and that is just the reality.

What has bothered me is that so many people have gravitated toward him, even those who are embarrassed and bothered by what he has said. Politicians have lost all semblance of honesty and morals and self-respect because they want to “belong.”

As much as that bothers me, I still think that God has wired us all to care for each other. The “God-spot” can move people from hatred to agape love, from racism and sexism to a spirit of inclusion. The “God-spot” is a power within us that few acknowledge or perhaps even know is there, and it is a power that we stifle because it is frightening.

It is frightening because acknowledging and employing the “God-spot” sets us up to attacks from those who would rather sit in hatred, bigotry and worse. It sets us up to be called “weak,” and “loser,” and worse.

In a seminary where I spoke last week, a woman said that the election of Donald Trump might be good for the country. Perhaps. If he gets people jobs, that will be good for the country.

The issue is that he has moved people so far from the “God-spot,” including and especially Christian Evangelicals, who seemingly rejected the principles of God and chose instead to act on …other feelings.

I leave you, the reader, to define and examine and admit what those “feelings” are and were.

But in the midst of this turbulent time, a time when racists and sexists are coming out boldly to “make America great again,” something special is being ignored.

It is that “God-spot,” being replaced and pushed back by anger based on race, sex, class and economics.

America is in for some rough times, as people rely on their ideologies and leave the theology of a God who seeks justice behind.

But sooner or later, my hope is that those who acknowledge the “God-spot” within themselves, weeping as God’s people tear each other apart, will step forward and desire to “belong” to a beloved community, rather than a community so fractured that it threatens to implode before our very eyes.

God is waiting, I think.

A candid observation …