Friday, August 27, 2004

Closet Christians

I circulate in a strictly Blue State circle. I'm culturally pretty Blue State myself, except for the fact that I profess Christianity and attend church regularly. I have a number of progressive (new word for liberal) friends who alienate me with their anti-Christian ideology-- and are part of the reason I feel myself ideologically at sea. Islam, Tibetan Buddhism, and whatever other religion, seem to get a free pass from criticism, but Christians suffer smackdown after smackdown. These are people who pride themselves on sensitivity to cultural difference-- just try to blame Islam for the current terrorism crisis (of course I don't, either).

A priest once asked in a sermon, "If Christianity were a crime, would the government have enough evidence to convict you?" I know that it's my responsibility, but I tend to keep the fact that I am a practicing Christian to myself, while every allusion to my homosexuality wins me progressive props. Even when I mention something Christian-related, I find myself saying, "Don't worry, I'm Episcopalian. We have an openly gay bishop, and the Archbishop of Canterbury likes 'The Simpsons,' and wants to be on the show."

One problem is that many progressives are ignorant of the diversity (a word they like) of both theology and social beliefs among Christians. Even leaders like the Pope, with whom I have major problems regarding sexuality and Church over lay power, share chunks of the leftist agenda, including critique of developed nations' responsibility for developing nations' poverty, war (including Iraq), and the death penalty. In addition, this Pope has named a huge number of developing nation cardinals to jobs in the Vatican, not to mention naming the first indigenous saint in Latin America.

And don't even get me started on the latent class snobbery that makes fundamentalists fair game for mockery. I believe that for the most part, people should treat the beliefs of even fundamentalist and evangelical Christians with respect and as part of the beautiful mosaic that is this country (strike up "This Land Is your Land").

Criticism of Christians, I believe, is appropriate when Christians try to implement their beliefs and values in the public sphere-- the schools, abortion, homosexuality, prayer in publicly funded institutions, those silly granite Ten Commandments in Alabama. I think that Christian political candidates and public officials, however, can speak out about their faith and values, so long as they are careful to sincerely celebrate religious pluralism. Surely progressives would jump up and down with glee at a Christian religious leader who denounced the war, called for social policy to reduce the gap between rich and poor, and advocated gay marriage? What would the intelligensia-- left and right do? And the electorate? Maybe rethink what is a perception bound to make the Democrats the perpetual minority party-- that it is unfriendly to out Christians.

Plenty of us are quite liberal. There is a great amount of theological diversity and debate in the Church-- even at least one bishop who questions the Virgin birth and the Resurrection. Many Episcopalians and other Christian sects are opposed to the Iraq war, pro-government social services spending, pro-gay, pro-choice, etc., etc., although there is debate in almost every denomination. But progressives are supposed to be in favor of vigorous debate of ideas, right?

A great blog that is quite eloquent on this subject is GetReligion, which doesn't seem to come from a particular religious perspective. Read the post that got me fired up here and here.

Visit the Center for Progessive Christianity site for even more enlightenment.


Blogger PeaceBang said...

YEA BABY!! Tell it, brother.

September 18, 2005 at 8:34 PM  

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