Can Jesus be at the Rally?
I was saved at the age of 16. After contemplating suicide, I took a walk to say goodbye to this cold world and during my walk I saw a building that read, "Light of The World Christian Center." I didn't know that it was a church. I though that it was a center, some sort of community building that might have youth in it and even someone to talk to. When I walked in, I was greeted and fed and one of the older ministers said, "There's a reason why you're here." My life would change forever. I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and savior.
I attended church every Sunday without exception. Every Tuesday and Thursday night I was at Bible Study. I would even lead Bible studies at church and school. I've read the entire New Testament about four times and was even a youth minister that sometimes preached in front of 100 people at different churches through out Northern California.
At 18, I decided that I wanted to become a pastor and I enrolled at a Bible School. I was there for close to a year when I realized that Christianity was not for me. I observed a doctrine that sometimes didn't go parallel with the Holy Bible and when it didn't, it was oppressive, judgmental and even hateful.
We would have prayer circles and pray for the U.S soldiers in Afghanistan, but never about the Afghanis. Slogans like "God Bless America" were considered righteous, and the good ol' American values were somehow Christian. During a class lecture a professor told us that the guerillas in Central America were wrong for using the name of God to justify their war, as a Salvadorian I objected and asked, "What's the difference between what the guerillas did and what the Marines are doing now?" I got no response and the professor's face turned red. I left Christianity and I never returned to church again. Although this was only one institutions' perspective of Christianity, it was enough for me to walk away.
Leaving the Church was pretty difficult. I felt guilty that I had let people down, especially my youth group, as I would tell the youth about Jesus and then I decided to leave the Church. I struggled with it for a few months until I didn't feel the guilt anymore.
Although I am not a Christian now, I still have much respect for Christianity just like any other religion, because Christianity -- just like anything else -- is about humans searching for something greater than themselves, something that makes life worth living, and something that can give them the strength and will to keep living. And just like anything else, Christianity also has its flaws. People always point at Christianity as being fanatical, but other groups are often accused as being extremist. How is that any different? Ã‚Â
I left the church out of a political understanding, which also brought me to the leftist political circles. What I have observed in the past few years is that many of these circles lack any sort of respect for Christianity.
Many times people that lack such respect haven't even read the Bible in depth. If they did, they would know that Jesus was someone that stood for nothing but justice for all people. The Bible is a beautiful book that speaks on exploitation, corruption, greed, and oppression. It seems that in every circle gathering pertaining to political organizing, Christianity is not welcomed. People talk about conquistadors and slavery and how Christianity was behind it all. Although Christians did enslave, conquer and did shape the world as a whole, I doubt that such things were faith-driven. Rather, they were driven by other forces like greed, power, and riches -- things that some Christian European rulers had. I also doubt that the world was a peaceful place before Christianity came along.
Whenever there are events that are put together by leftist groups, they have every type of spiritual ceremony except for Christian. There's the Aztec dancing, indigenous prayers, spiritual healings, drum circles, incense burning, but there is never room for a Christian prayer. Ã‚Â
It seems that this occurs only in this country. It seems that the ability to denounce a Christian God is a privilege that can only truly manifest in a privileged nation such as this one, often committed by activists privileged enough to do so. Throughout Latin America (including El Salvador, where I am from), people use Christianity as the frontline for their movements. Even in this country during the civil rights era, people were gathering in churches and using Christian values to fight for equality. And today, in the most ghetto hoods of America, people are gathering in churches for political means.
In the 60's, the hippie era took effect and greatly sculpted our current left political landscape. That movement wasn't founded on a human struggle, but rather a "consciousness" that took place in rich schools like Berkeley where people were encouraged to walk away from church. I am not suggesting that church is where people needed to be, but after this, people seemed to have forgotten that just a few years prior African Americans lead the civil rights movement that would change the course of this country forever. The people that lead it were Christians.
Church wasn't for me, but I could still understand and respect Christianity. Some people need Jesus. I know that my starving people of El Salvador did.