Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Linked by Embarrassment

It is a well documented trend. The religious landscaping of the United States is changing. There is the major political and social change. The United States is no longer going to be a Christian dominated country. We are fast becoming a multi-national, multi-cultural, and multi-religious country. Like the rising sea levels, it is happening whether certain sections of the society wanted it to happen. It will happen despite the major opposition by a segment of society.



The religious landscape is also changing with more and more people declaring themselves to be "spiritual but not religious." The change may well be in part due to the actions of those who refuse to accept the first reality. The nastiness, the oppressive actions, the insensitive comments by the religious agencies may make a lot of people want to disassociate themselves with religious groups.



I must confess that I am one of those who is so appalled, so insulted, so depressed by what is being done in the name of Christianity that I am more and more hesitant to admit to being a Presbyterian minister. When the KKK comes out and proclaims that they are a Christian group, when Franklin Graham comes out and suggests that our President is not a Christian, when there are suggestions that Muslims should be shot or deported, then I do not want my name in any way connected with that kind of Christianity. Yet it is almost impossible to make that distinction visible. "Once the water in the well has been poisoned, it is not possible to get safe water from that well." Like a small number of others that I have seen, we may go back to some earlier names like " People of the Way," "Followers of Jesus."



The Fundamental, right wing Christian zealots who are currently fighting the changing religious landscape, who are resisting same sex marriages, who are demanding their morals for women, who are pushing for their interpretation of U.S. History in the class rooms are a great embarrassment for me and others. The Tea Party, The KKK, the Westboro Baptist Church, the shooting of Muslims over a parking space, just are so depressing to me that I try to hide the fact that I once claimed the name as a Christian.



The positive side of this is that I have a great sympathy for the majority of Muslims who must live with the same kind of conflict. ISIS for them is the same as the KKK is for me. Their fundamentalists, Sharia imposing, ancient artifact destroying, beheading rebels are as much of a problem to the majority of Muslims as the Westboro Baptist is to most mainline Baptist. We know what it is to have the treasures that we believe, the creeds that we hold special and sacred to be distorted, twisted, abused and condemned by the public because of the actions of this splinter group. There should be real bond of understanding between those Christians who feel their name has been stolen and Muslims who feel their faith has been hijacked.



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