I don’t care much about getting into the details of this, but for sometime now the one and only Tony Jones has been held up as someone important in progressive/emergent circles, so much so that you’ll see him on various UMC blogs (this, I guess, counters the use of Mark Driscoll by UMC pastors). In fact, the emergents are usually idolized as the ideal “Christian.”
The problem is that Tony Jones is an abusive person. Rodney has covered his appropriation (something more common in progressive circles than you’d imagine) before. However, something else that is little known is his previous (and real) marriage to Julie McMahon. He is currently involved in another “marriage,” one that gives him “street cred,” no doubt. Anyway, she is currently very open about how Tony uses religion, his religion (sans orthodoxy, by the way) to control, abuse, and harm others. She is also accusing other well-known emergents of supporting Tony, and by supporting Tony, I mean enabling him to continue his abuse.
This is not uncommon, actually. This is how cults are formed. When one person leaves the fold to follow his/her/hen own “heart” they have declared themselves correct and unchallengeable. We can call this fundamentalism, although it is pathological (as David Howard identifies). It allows the person to do what they will, regardless of question, because that person is right. That person is God’s mouthpiece. That person is god.
Be careful. Tony and Mark Driscoll aren’t that far apart in theological practice. When you admire them, without hesitation, then it may be that you have a certain pathological issue within yourself.
I find it odd that Google/Wikipedia lists Tony Jones as an American Dudebro. “Dudebro/Dude Bro” is a slang term, and not one of endearment.
The price to pay for being a former Pentecostal preacher is often high and it comes in all sorts of currencies. People often look upon you as “a little of that, but not much of that other” as in “too Pentecostal for the Calvinist and too Calvinist for the Pentecostal”, a phrase that causes a few to laugh but that it is a huge roadblock if one wants to change his image into a reasonable and well balanced Christian. Bearing in mind that if you are a Christian many will find you unreasonable anyway is not something that soothes the pain of being stuck with a label that is not only slanderous but it is also an impediment for any progress in the denominational circles in America Evangeliville. There is one softer side, however, which often assuages one’s ire of such unfair state of affairs, though: That’s when people still look upon you as a superstitious Pentecostal (if there is any other kind…), and when they meet you in a public place, as a restaurant, for example, they feel that they should come to you and tell stories upon stories that are completely insane, to say the least, that cannot be substantiated, that, if true, the whole world would have known, believers and unbelievers alike, the latter, a kind that would be nothing but extinct if these stories could have been validated and authenticated. Indulge me in presenting to you a recent event and the way it ended so, perhaps, I can contribute to your day laughing quota.
Here it goes:
I am sitting in this rather popular restaurant chain and all of sudden I am reminded of what a teacher told me once about undesired encounters: “You turn on the lights and you won’t be able to control what kind of bug crawls or flies in.” A person who recognized me as a former Pentecostal preacher, but who knows how diametrically opposed I have become on the superstitious nature of Pentecostal/Charismatic faith and felt that they have to “witness” to me a few things that are happening in their hallucinating world. Needing a few inward laughs in that busy and hard day, I gave ears to the story about a certain preacher whose name I will leave off the story, in whose services God is doing something that unquestionably He is capable of doing, but one can hardly find a purpose for Him to doing it and also the results whereof, should He have really done it. “Oh, and God is filling tooth cavities in those services; the anointing (as they call not knowing that references to “anointing” in the Bible are references to the Anointed One), is so heavy that some people had their cavities filled! Isn’t that wonderful? (Expecting me to respond…) Since my silent is deadly, they continue: “Oh, and there was a diamond rain in the service! The Lord poured down a rain of diamonds in that service”. What a wonderful thing the Lord is doing through the ministry of (names the person). Now, at this point it is useful to mention that the person relating these purported Godly feats to me is doing so as if “it” was there in person (I don’t want to reveal whether “it” was a man or a woman); in other words, I was made, by the emphasis and detailed exposition of the facts that this person was there and saw the tooth fillings and the diamond rain, perhaps having picked up some gems, and all the other miracles that “it” mentioned to me and that I don’t mention here because they are common in Pentecostal/Charismatic conversations.
The Truth Comes Out
Well, still being warm-hearted to this person, I preamble a question and then asked it as so: Wow, how interesting. Listen I write in a blog in the Internet with a certain degree of readership and it wouldn’t be wonderful if I could meet some of these people with tooth fillings, obviously with their dentist records that the tooth was unfilled so as to avoid the mockery of skeptics (heh heh), and interview them, and also have someone show me one of those heavenly diamond rocks, or dust, or whatever, and photograph it since I think it would be such a blast to have these great things published and allow the public to know of them and of your preacher?. Silence! Total silence! One can expect the other to be in awe at these stories or object to them, but, ASKING EVIDENCE??? O, no, that is unusual and in the Pentecostal/Charismatic circles it is the same as “persecution and unbelief”. After all you don’t question miracles do you? Well, I don’t question miracles; I just want evidence because the miracles in the Bible had evidence that others, including unbelievers could verify!
Then, after the silence, the truth comes out: O, brother, I am sorry if I gave you the impression that I was there… that was related to me my so, and so, daughter. Okay, I continue my pursuit of authentication, and say: My I have an address, a name that I can search of this person so I can verify these miracles and publish them? A few seconds of the same silence as before and then… “Well, I don’t know if “their” daughter was there, I think someone who was there told her. But why in the world do you want to publish this?” Well, beloved, (see I am nice), don’t you think that if God is doing these things today they shouldn’t be in the papers, on TV, on Bill O’Reilly, Oprah, so the world could know what a mighty God we serve (alluding to one of their chorus)? Don’t you think that would be good for people seeking God to “seek him even harder”? (I am NOT entrapping anyone… I am looking for authentication). O, brother, (here we go again), unfortunately I can’t tell you because it is something that I heard from a very good person who is really a powerful sister in the Lord… (and then the illogical challenge): “Why do you want to see proof anyway; don’t you believe that God is capable of doing these things?” I have a prepared answer for this kind of question that I used to Mormons when they ask me if I doubt that Jesus had power to come to the Americas and present the Gospel to natives): “O, I believe He has all the power, He is all powerful, including the power to end the world right now and kill us right now, but, is He doing it or has He done it already?” Usually I get silence, but what I got was a shift on the conversation to the political situation in this country…
How it spreads and become believable?
What I am trying to relate here is a true fact. People will relate these things to others of the same like faith (or what they call faith) and it will spread as uphill fire or and downhill water, just as fast and deadly. People who believe as this person does will never challenge anything and will hurry in relating to others the same story and always presenting it as if they were physically in the place where these events took place. As such, these stories spread and the breath, width, heights that they go are now damaged by something involving the name of God and the faith of Christians that cannot be substantiated by facts and not supported by evidence. What they really want, as all sycophants want, is to convey the idea of familiarity with the minister in whose services these things are happening and find a social acceptance among those who believe the same way they do… As dogs sniffing the other dogs backside, these people use these stories to find their pack (no offense to the dogs).
How it ended?
I could finish my meal with the certainty that such person would go home and reflect on the meaning of evidence as I enjoyed my so much needed inward laugh aware that I was laughing at a tragedy and not at a comedy; the tragedy of misplaced faith and the deceitfulness in the ministry; I was also aware that I was mocking and mocking is a often a sin and took the opportunity to pray for that person, asked forgiveness for mocking, as I thanked Him for exclusively by His Grace, removing from the circles where people think that God needs to endear Himself with miracles so people can believe Him, and that the message of the Gospel, in its less adorned and sugarcoated way is not enough for Him to do His work in saving those whom He will save, and that I am no better than that person other than the Grace that God bestowed upon me saving me when I was a disgraceful sinner occupying His pulpit! While I chewed another bite of a baked salmon, since God doesn’t mind me speaking with my mouth full, I prayed for the story teller in front of me and I prayed for me that I would never feel compelled, by any situation in my life to go back to the vomit of Pentecostal/Charismatic superstitions.
Laughed with me?
If I really contributed to your laughing quota of the day, I have also contributed to your need to pray for yourself as it happened to me; so use this post as an opportunity to do so.
In the thick of the street festival, some demonstrators used the occasion to get their message out. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I have heard about your dilemma. Trust me, I have. You’re sick and tired of hearing about how you can’t criticize your senior pastor, because “Touch not my annointed.” Every Sunday you feel like you want to leave, but you can’t. Once you make the decision to leave, this open letter will be for you. So, here’s a few pieces of (unsolicited) advice for when you make the drastic move.
Fundamentalist churches rely on closed cultures. Not only do fundamentalists believe that their religious beliefs are absolutely true, they believe that the surrounding culture is evidence of those beliefs, for better or worse. Cultural hegemony is a part of fundamentalist religions, whether they be Christianity or atheism. The best way to resist the idolization of culture, say the dominant cultural norms in the U.S., for example is to learn to appreciate diversity. Many seekers who desire to leave evangelicalism/fundamentalism will begin to see a whole new world open to them, but unfortunately it will not be from a cross-cultural perspective. My advice would be to seek out friendships not just with persons who look like you, but also persons who you probably despised as a fundamentalist. Take risks, reject the cultural boundaries and the racist stereotypes you heard about from congregants, and not only become friends with Persons of Color. Listen to our concerns, fellowship with us in our communities. Consider perhaps the more nuanced perspective that the problem with fundamentalism was not just about much of the legalism that goes on, but also the promoting of American empire that goes with it.
As an aspiring pastor someday, I understand the need for both self-care and pastoral care in people’s lives. So I am not going to take it lightly when I say this: if you feel that you need to take a break from attending institutional church services, then do it. A number of persons who leave fundamentalism is because of the spiritual and sexual abuse found within the culture of fundamentalist churches. If the local churches in your surrounding area are not likely to be safe places for you to seek the LORD, I would suggest going the organic church route. Be sure that you stay in a spiritual community, because we can’t do it alone. No one can. Find at least one person you believe you can confide in. If this is a case of abuse, I would recommend contacting the local authorities.
The thing to remember is that if you are a person searching for an escape out of fundamentalist bondage, is that you are never alone. There are thousands of persons like you with a similar story. That being said, be discerning in who you read after you have “officially” arrived in PostEvangelical Land. When it comes to millenials especially, there is not ONE person who represents or speaks for us. Not. One. A number of postevangelical leaders see themselves as the future of Christianity. Having a blog and a couple of book deals, or speaking at a few conferences does not entitle anyone to having a monopoly on what it means to be an ex-fundamentalist. There are many ways to be in community with others without having to adopt labels like “missional” or “emergent” etc. Evaluate all of your options, but don’t pat yourself on the back for it. Learn. Grow. Move on.
There are a number of toxic communities that hate-watch Christianity. Do not be a part of them. Your healing does not need to rely on hating the very person you once were. The key is to accept a nuanced and critical view of yourself in the past, and not to live there. You don’t want to be shamed into hating your former life, and therefore shaming your probable family members/friends who are still caught up in fundamentalist culture.
Fifth, I would ask that you give peace a chance. Given the fact that fundamentalism requires a culture of violence, and sometimes even pronounced admiration for warfare, the traditional nonviolent ethics first embraced by the early Church and on through the centuries is a valid alternative to fundamentalism’s violence, epistemological, or other.
Lastly, go to a library. Google. Research. Study the early church. Learn Hebrew or Greek. Know that your story of leaving fundamentalism is more than about you. It’s about recognizing that Christianity is a centuries old tradition that was birthed out of Judaism. The story of Christ and his work is much larger than we can ever express or imagine. God is bigger than our idols.
Everyone repeats the same line: Sunday is the most segregated day of the week, and remains so. Why does some Christians fight so hard for racial justice, and others do not? This is a question that has been going through my mind a lot recently. God made all human beings in God’s image, the Imago Dei. Every person is of invaluable worth. This is an enduring truth of Christian tradition passed on for centuries. Racism is a denial of not only the Imago Dei in every human being, but also, a denial of Christ’s resurrection. In order for racism to be a persistent force in U.S. American politics, systems of death targeting specific populations (primarily People of Color) must take root as the norm. When they go unchallenged by the Church, that is a denial of the Gospel, the Good News of Christ’s victory of sin, Satan, and death, and God’s work of reconciling us to each other.
One of the many sins that Christians refuse to repent of is that of the genocide of First Nations persons. These wars and injustices are relegated to the past, as professor Andrea Smith points out, rather than instances of the present as well. Smith puts it this way, “One possible reason that the “exception” of Native genocide is not fully explored is that it is relegated to the past. That is, Omi and Winant argue that the United States has shifted from a racial dictatorship characterised by “the mass murder and expulsion of indigenous peoples” to a racial democracy in which “the balance of coercion began to change”.9 Essentially, the problem of Native genocide and settler colonialism today disappears.” for more see : Indigeneity, Settler Colonialism, White Supremacy. The laws in which our First Nations sisters and brothers live under were made under the presumption that, #1, Native Americans were not Christian, and therefore not American, and #2, that First Nations people were not competent enough to rule themselves. Unfortunately, Christians in the past as well as today are far more invested in the nation-state than they were/are in the Gospel. What we as the Church need is a commitment to the Gospel of the Unsettling God who calls us to oppose the White Supremacist nation-state for the cause of justice, and to work towards a more just and loving community.
Have you seen the video, with the apocryphal ending (like Job or Esther) that makes it better?
This is what she said,
“I just want to encourage every one of us to realize when we obey God, we’re not doing it for God—I mean, that’s one way to look at it—we’re doing it for ourselves, because God takes pleasure when we’re happy. That’s the thing that gives Him the greatest joy. So, I want you to know this morning: Just do good for your own self. Do good because God wants you to be happy. When you come to church, when you worship Him, you’re not doing it for God really. You’re doing it for yourself, because that’s what makes God happy. Amen?”
Yes, it is a heresy, stupid, and wrong. But, so is the Arianism of liberal Christianity, the gnosticism (rejection of the good of the material world) of fundamentalism, and the denial of the Trinity of oneness folks. This is simply American Christianity.
Why are we judging her for speaking power to what too many people believe is the truth? She’s not at fault; we are. Recent studies have shown that pastors would rather be successful than preach Christian orthodoxy. People would rather be told the world revolves around them. Americans are laughed at because we often have this air around us that nothing outside this border matters. What Victoria said is exactly what too many people believe already. She is simply being the pastor many want.
Don’t blame her. Blame those who don’t teach orthodoxy, who don’t want to hear it — blame those who want to give an hour a week to God and expect him to pay out money in return. Blame civic religion.
By now everyone knows and many have participated in the so called “Ice Bucket Challenge” with the intent to help charity.
It is absolutely wonderful that someone helps charities and, often, the motivations and ulterior motives for one doing so, are ignored on behalf of the end result of an act of charity, regardless as to whether such act is sincere or just a stunt.
One of the greatest marketing campaign in my opinion, in the field of charity as a skillful way to make people publicly demonstrate their charity by using the proverbial “blowing the trumpet” through getting an icy self inflicted shower, this cleverly planned campaign made people who otherwise are not attracted to charitable giving finally show some interest in altruism.
Now, even if one for the gift sake, or the cause it benefits, may ignore the fact that self-serving, opportunistic giving is not “real” giving, I really can’t say that the benefits of genuine Christian charity can be ascribed, to those who participated in such a public manner. Jesus told us to practice our charity in private. As God privately rewards those who pray in private, He will reward those who give in private; as men reward with accolades and recognition those who do it all in public, no reward will be left to those who find public approval and acceptance.
I know that, for many the Bible is a book to be questioned, ant it is only a part of other sources of religious authority, but, if these apologists of plurality of Christian authoritarian teaching could tell me, I would like to see any of their own para-sources of authority that teaches that our charitable acts should be practiced in public… Oh, but it is all for fun, intended to combine charity with fun… I’d say that I own a company, inactive at this moment, called “FunRaisers” whose slogan is “We put the FUN on FUND RAISING”, so, I am for having fun in giving, but, when the fun of giving becomes a buffoonish way of being ostentatious about your giving and attracting the attention to you more than to the cause you’re giving, then, YES, giving can become and exercise in the futile violation of Matthew 6.
Am I splitting hairs? Am I being demanding and legalistic? Well, saints, the little foxes spoil the vines, and often the things that we consider to be unimportant, and faddish, perhaps even innocent, but massively practiced, are the ones that will ultimately water down and dissolve good and traditional Christian teaching and trivialize the cause of those who truly depend on charitable donations. It will be not so far fetched for me to say that henceforth it will be very hard to motivate people to give to a great cause without somehow affording them some type of public recognition even if it includes something as innocent and clownish as wasting cold water! It is already happening! People get naked in the streets for the protection of animals, radio stations offer donations for each cockroach one can eat (as it happened in So. America) etc. So, where is the good old secret and worshipful giving?
I congratulate all of those who risked so much with a bucked of iced water being poured over their bodies, specially in summer, who sacrificed so much for the cause of charity. I give you my recognition and so do many Facebook and Tweet readers and the overwhelming majority of the population. Now with mine and the world’s recognition, plus the thrill of the cold water suddenly changing your body temperature, “you have received your reward”; expect none other!
I struggled to publish this here, but this is from the 90’s when I used to be a TV translator, lip-synchronizer and dubber. The face is familiar, but ONLY THE VOICE is mine! It was viewed and heard by circa 100 million people around the world, 40 million in Brazil alone. Today is still viewed in Portuguese speaking countries still with my voice!
Of course, today, because I am a Calvinist (since the late 90’s) I decided this no longer to be appropriate to me for my own financial and professional loss. If you can stand it, wait until he starts weeping and see “how good” I really was at it!!!! Therapy for me, SICKNESS for you… perhaps!
We Protestants, giving honor to our name protest against relics, the preservation of statues and statuettes (the statues wives), shrines, or anything that remotely resembles idolatry or the glorification of men. Why then are we so outraged, enraged, fuming furious, about the destruction of… relics statues, statuettes (again, the statues wives) and shrines perpetrated by I.S.I.S in Iraq? This Calvinist believes in preserving history, but how can we preserve relics, and historical monuments without crossing the line of idolatry? Calvin also said this in relation to the same issue: “Everyone of us is, from his mother’s womb, a master craftsman of idols!”
If the article linked is true there will be many interesting and rather unexpected results. The immediate one is that some black churches will be hurt the most as they are the ones who invite candidates that not necessarily share their faith, but promise (and never fulfill) to fight for what African Americans consider to be their issues. However, if this becomes a manner in which Pastors will dedicate their very short time with their congregation to the exposition if the Gospel exclusively, it may not be such a bad thing. The problem is that most pastors who resort to political speech from their pulpits often choose to do so because of their lack of theological preparation to do anything other than to rant on Sunday mornings against issues that are not exactly leading to “eternal life”, and do not pertain to “life and Godliness”.
The poster of the article on Facebook, makes the following pertinent comment, to which I agree:
“This whole article is based on the assumption that 501c3 is even necessary for churches. As the author noted but didn’t fully explain, churches are automatically tax exempt. But they don’t need to file for 501c3 status. The disadvantages are they there is not certain “liabilities protection” that come with the 501c3 status since they would not be a “non profit organization.” The other disadvantage is there is no “tax exempt number” to allow the churches to not have to pay sales tax on purchases. Everything else is the same including the right for congregants to deduct their tithes and offerings if they qualify for itemizing on their annual tax returns.”
I decided that my church that I pastored in the past would not apply for a 501(C3) because I felt that the government has no right to “recognize” an organization as a church when the people who congregate together calls their congregation a church; I also believe that the only motivation for a Christian to give to the work of the ministry must be exclusively the love and interest for the work of the ministry. Do not give to my church expecting a tax exempted letter at the end of the fiscal year. I also believe that it is not the role of the government or the I.R.S., or through the I.R.S. or any other governmental organism to police and censor what is said by a group when they decide to assemble enjoying the constitutional right to assemble. So, I have mixed feelings about this measure (if proven true, again I say) since I think that God prompts men to enact certain laws and rules when He feels that it is necessary to keep His people within the boundaries of that which they are called to do. Not everything that man does that appears evil is evil resulting… remember the story of Joseph… but let’s wait and see. What thinketh Thou?
The left-wing in this country has been very clever in creating what I call “buzzwords” whose purpose is to intimidate people from voicing opinion on almost anything. For example we have the “R” word so that when one voices any opinion of disagreement with the White House, the left automatically raises the “R” word for racism, meaning that, if you keep disagreeing with the most disagreeable policies of the man who occupies the White House, then you will be labeled, zeroed in, attacked, slandered and ultimately ostracized as a racist only by being so bold as to speaking out your conscience.
The same is done with the “H” word, or homophobic even if you accept the legal right for gays to marry in the legal system but you oppose their intolerant persistence in destroying those people whose professions involve a service that, once performed, implies a personal endorsement of the persons or events in which the services will be used, such as photographers and bakers, oh, if you say that these professionals should be left alone, along with churches and ministers who prefer not to bless a gay marriage, and that there are plenty of ministers and churches that would, then you are labeled with the “H” word, and then all the process used for the “buzzwords”, that is, labeling, zeroing in, slandered and ostracizing, commences.
How about the P.C. (political correctness) buzzword for any attempt to point out that which is, in your opinion, an opportunity for societal revision? Try that one and you would suffer the same process of influence murder (because this is what it is) even if you present the most reasonable of all reasons. After all there is nothing you can explain to people who refuse to understand. Well, Christians, since it has worked so well for the left-wing, decided to take a stab on creating a buzzword of their own, and they decided that perhaps, because of all the historical implications, the past examples, and recent events in the Middle East, the word “persecuted” with its initial “P” would be a great idea and cause the same deadly impact of the left-wing buzzwords. So, if anyone levels even any childish opposition to any of the, so called, Christian symbols, as Santa Claus, for example, Christians will immediately scream “bloody persecution”, and label the opponent as a “persecutor” because, after all, Christians in America are persecuted.
Trust me here, but He didn’t mean persecution by having your opinions and childish symbols questioned in the public arena, but that you would be persecuted by being in the arena with ravenous animals.
Fellow Christians, allow me to point a few things to you so you would veer off the path of using the left wing method of influence murder:
First, The Man to whom you credit for founding that which you call Christianity, told you that, by following Him, which supposedly is what the word Christian should mean, you would be persecuted. Trust me here, but He didn’t mean persecution by having your opinions and childish symbols questioned in the public arena, but that you would be persecuted by being in the arena with ravenous animals. Even if some of the claims that this ever happened in great scale may be doubtful, but if they are true, having your neighborhood oppose to your Christmas decoration, having a rock with the Ten Commandments removed from a Court House, having pundits mocking you on television, having the government interfere with the free practice of your religion, is far, far, far, may I say, far, better than to be martyred and genuinely persecuted, whether it be in the Roman Arena or in some town in the Middle East. There is a Brazilian saying, obviously inherited from our Portuguese ancestors that says that “hot pepper in the other fellow’s eyes, refreshes the eye of the beholder.” That means, in other words, someone else’s suffering and agony can often make us feel comfortable and blessed! Yes, Christians today should look upon genuine cases of persecution and martyrdom and quit the stupidity and the laughable use of the “P” word and enjoy their very real peace they have in America.
Second, I have said many times, I believe that those who are opposing to what is labeled Christian symbols today are unknowingly doing God’s work because it is past the time that Christians would stop cheapening the message of the Gospel attempting to tell its story with nothing but nursery rhymes as if everyone was in the toddler Sunday School class of a small church where the Sunday School teachers are as trained in what they do as the toddlers they teach. Christianity should stop developing public displays of faith so as to replace their inability to reasonably do what one of their leaders of the past said that they should do which is “be prepared to give an answer for the hope that is in you”.
Oh, Christians today have had it easy in America; no one for ages questioned them “Christian what you believe?” The overwhelming majority of Christians cannot provide a public profession of faith that will give them some credit for thinking and believing the way they do. The opposition to high Christian education is rampant among some Christian circles, the opposition and the name calling of theologians who attempt to train Christians and to equip them with “intellectual ammo” (to parody a known Christian Web Site), is so fierce that, a few theologians of whom I know will refuse invitations to speak in Churches, which is the very place they should be! So, you are not being persecuted; you are just not being persuasive enough about your faith.
Well, I know that many will disagree with me and say that Christians do not have to explain anything, that this is the role of something questionable called “apologetic” and that I am saying the things that I say because I am myself a liberal (thus labeling me and drawing slanderous conclusions abut me as well), therefore I think the way I think and write these things here. I know that persecution must come for the reason I mentioned above, namely, Jesus Christ said they would! But we are far from there yet! We are still feeling that sense of comfort as we gaze upon the visual effects available in art which depict the real result of persecution in the past. It is not because one is liberal or conservative that they will call balderdash the exaggeration of that which Christians call persecution; it is because, simply, by the “standards” of persecution, no one yet is being persecuted!
Perhaps, at this point, to be fair, I should say that I am fully aware when things go against my ways and the ways of those who write mocking, or fairly warning, Christians for their persecution complex, we will raise the same banner of the “P” word, but until then, allow me to create my own “P” word, but rather than persecution, let that “P” word be a few other good “P” words: Perseverance, Persuasion, and Patience.
What motivated to write this? Well, there is a movie, supposedly a Christian movie (what is a Christian movie anyway?) called “Persecuted” a name that, for the reasons expounded in this piece, I refuse to go see! From this right-wing perspective Christians should be imitators of Christ and not imitators of the methods of those who prefer to shut the opposition up by emphasizing words whose purpose is none other than to shut up open and salutary discourse.
Reason has more than one side. That which is reasonable and fair has to have other considerations than simply an “imposition” which is what “reasonable” is when it is one sided. A very poor constructed sentence, but it depicts exactly the mistake many are making today when they claim that “modern changes in societal rules and even laws” cannot be challenged by those who have benefited for centuries by the old ways even if it has been proven for centuries that the old ways have worked well and may not require changes.
Christians, and all kinds of conservatives, or other derogatory names one wants to use for this group not only have the right, but the duty to, and in fact, are doing society a favor, when they contest, protest and manifest against the rapid changes in society today because some of these changes have no track record of benefiting humanity. It seems that scholars and scientists will always appeal to history, evidence and a track record of fact to ascertain that whatever issue they are attempting to establish is feasible and that its implementation will be of a benefit to all. Except when it comes to issues where religion and/or tradition is involved. Then, who needs evidence, who needs history, who needs facts? It is almost as if they have made up their minds: “If it is religiously or traditionally prescribed, then it is wrong; let us change it”, even when in fact, there is history, a time span as old as history itself, that the old ways have worked so far.
No, this is not to say that we should not change and modernize society and make if fairer and comfortable to all! This is simply to say that it is fair for Christians and all kinds of conservatives to struggle with the idea of change for “change’s sake” in that which they perceive to be a threat to what they have known as the best for humanity in general. Not always stating that something is wrong is purely a religious exercise. Although I acknowledge that more frequent than not it is a religious exercise, some are sincerely concerned whether the recent changes in society, such as marriages, rules about “respecting other cultures to the point of surrendering to them” may not be solely basing their concerns on religion. People can protest for other reasons and it is fair and good that they do so when changes are in the process of proving itself as useful to society as it is for a group within that society, who, because of factors beyond our understanding, decided to impose their view of society upon all others.
I am a firm believer that one cannot legislate religious beliefs, no matter how well intended they are. Equally, I am a firm believe that one, or a group, cannot legislate their religious unbelief on others. In both counts protest is fair and acceptable. A great scholar is all over social media spreading the notion that Christians are attempting to legislate their beliefs upon society. Well, the facts belie such a scholar, who is not and cannot be a scholar in predicting the future consequences of changing society on society itself! Non-Christians are indeed imposing their beliefs, rather, their unbelief upon Christians with the aggravating circumstance that they practice such imposition against the will of the people of the community they choose to impose their unbelief. I am fully aware that we have to check if an acceptable degree of legal fairness is being afforded to all citizens and not only those who would prefer that tradition would remain as it has been for ages. However it is not by winning in courts that the imposition occurs; the imposition occurs when business, people who exercise their individual conscience, religious or not, have to comply with the peripherals of their victory and now have to act totally contrary to what they have held as truth functioning and comfortable to their own life styles all these years. So, by imposing, forcing, people to comply with their wins, those who win by the act of a single often non-elected office of the court, with his own biases and prejudices, reverse the issue of unfairness and begin themselves to act unfairly. Again, the facts have proven that Christians and other conservatives are adapting to the world that now surround them, but they should not have to live as a blind man by the road side taking whatever others dish out to them; they can rightfully establish limits. Certain services and profession when exercised to a person or group imply endorsement of that group or person. If you do not understand that you have never been in business, and your position is fully understandable. The refusal, however, of a businessman to provide services that automatically imply his endorsement and participation in that which he does not agree should be expected and understood and such understanding would be reasonable!
By now most presume to know that about which I am talking. No, for your surprise it is not only the issue of gays; it is also the celebration of America, American values, supposedly Christian symbols (that are not really Christian), and those that are indeed genuine Christian symbols, the liberation of drugs, and now some ridiculous rulings, which are too ridiculous to mention. People of faith and out of faith who want to preserve a certain heritage without waiving, who love to wear shirts that extol the quality of their military relatives, American Flags, etc. who feel threatened by lawsuits and other artifices of the “indignation industry”, and yes, those who do not agree with abortions and the gay issue, should not now, all of a sudden, be forced to comply or else. What is reasonable? If we want a fair society, then lets offer fairness rather than demanding it and in the process progress in an environment without hostility and division, and such environment is not a fertile ground for corrupt politicians, but not having corrupt politicians coming out of every sewerage is a fringe benefit of this new world of fairness! That is expected and reasonable!