Right-Wing Hatemongering Fueled by Christianity?
Continued from previous page
Two "Threads" In Religion
As I argue in my new book the choice between the absolutist secular fundamentalism of the New Atheism and the authoritarianism of James Dobson's-type of "Christianity" is no choice at all. The better alternative is to understand that there are two main threads running all through almost all religions including Christianity:
1) an open, inclusive and questioning thread
2) a closed and exclusionary thread.
The more open thread is not some modern phenomenon developed by "liberal thinking." As I explain in Patience With God this "thread" can be found in the earliest Christianity and Judaism.
If you look around and see good results from Christianity, say from the invention of modern hospitals, which have their roots in religious groups or the music of JS Bach, you're looking at the fruits of the best of the open tradition and thread. When you see a group of scared racist white people like Joe Wilson in Washington DC screaming "liar" or "Obama is a socialist" or "Obama wasn't born in America" you're seeing the madness of the other thread: fundamentalism that wants absolute certainty about everything, and forces its followers to live in a narrower and narrower field of existence.
Christianity is worth saving from the Christians for two reasons. First, because as moral and spiritual beings religion should feed our souls rather then strip out our humanity. Second, because whether we like it or not, religion is here to stay. Better to shape it rather than to simply denounce it.
I may be an idealist but I believe that if others will step forward and add to what I have tried to begin with my new book together we can give good answers to both the extremes of the New Atheists and to the hate of the Evangelical fundamentalists. Join me to build a better vision. We might actually be able to change the conversation in America about religion.
Is that important? Yes, like it or not religion will not go away. It motivates the worst in the American psyche and some of the best too. It is Joe Wilson's religion of hate but it also motivated Martin Luther King Jr.
Perhaps a generation from now the image of a typical Christian won't be a hate-monger like James Dobson but rather a lover of peace such as Bishop Desmond Tutu, or a literary giant like John Updike, and yes, a President Obama.
The only real answer to the hijacking of Christianity by the Religious Right, the longevity of religion-based racism, and the backward and inward looking movement we now call "American Christianity" is not to talk everyone out a having faith but rather to fight for the humane and ancient thread found within the Christian tradition. Blaming everything on race is too easy.
If you get the chance to read Patience With God please let me know what you think of it. I'm asking one big question in the book: Can Christianity be rescued from the Christians? You tell me.
Frank Schaeffer is a writer and author of Crazy for God: How I Grew Up As One Of The Elect, Helped Found The Religious Right, And Lived To Take All (Or Almost All) Of It Back.