Happy Sunday: How Christians Are Getting More Public Anger and Disrespect

Is this a dawn or is it a sunset? See answer at the end of this post.

 

 

Dr John Scanzoni wrote this article in 1980, and the words that he wrote resonate even more today. The Christian religion in America has been ripped apart by a patchwork of fundamentalist sects led by those who want to set themselves above, in control of, and in acts of  “purifying” the churches.

The problem is that the most extreme fundamentalist sects and powerful churches want to control the rest of society and especially the government processes that enact and enforce the laws that apply to all.

 

While it is sometimes at odds with society, the church is not inherently suspicious of it, nor is the church viewed with intrinsic mistrust. Above all, this institution is flexible and open to changes in the larger society. Moreover, it seeks to adapt to and with those changes; and it may sometimes seek to precipitate change.

—John Scanzoni “Resurgent Fundamentalism: Marching Backward into the ‘80s?”

 

We are living through a national crisis that we knew was going to happen no matter how many times we turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to what was going on.

As the Bush Administration stole and redistributed the nation’s treasure to its cronies and backers; lied to start two intractable wars; and corrupted institution after institution, the American voter stood by and allowed it all to happen.

Spokesmen and women for the opposing party sat down and gave up the fight, speaking in the most useless and minimizing of terms. With such statements as “It is a little bit off the mark.” and “We could be going in the wrong direction.”, the Democrats, Greens, Communists and more managed to talk too much while saying nothing about the things that were happening.

When the liberals capitulate and the criminals destroy, it is difficult to name one civilization that has not been taken over and brought to a horrible and ultimate demise by right-wing extremists who invest in the perversion of fundamentalist religions.

Christian opportunists, crooks, schemers, crazies and scam artists detected a great weakness in their opposition. They saw a gaping hole in the fabric of society. They smelled different air, and that indicated a massive crack in the protective shield against right-wing extremist sects that seek to oppose anyone who disagrees with them. These elements flowed through those cracks and gaping holes in our defenses, secretly financed by the shady and sinister recipients of the nation’s treasure. They want to impose their will through the passage of laws. They want to influence the government.

 

In contrast, according to Troeltsch, the Sect rejects cooperation with society. It is in constant tension with society, viewing it with suspicion and mistrust. Furthermore, since the sect identifies the church with society, it sees itself in conflict with the church as well. Criticizing the church for having left some earlier pristine state, the sect calls for a return to that state.

—John Scanzoni “Resurgent Fundamentalism: Marching Backward into the ‘80s?”

 

The worst elements of our society have rushed forward, full of hate, loud and perverse, lying through their teeth, and by the tens of thousands to give American Christianity its worst name since the slave era. These elements have redefined reality to fit their desires. They were caught in lie after lie, yet never take responsibility or apologize to their victims or to the nation. They have committed crimes and threatened to do great harm, qualifying themselves as traitors and terrorists, yet they stubbornly cling to their self awarded rights to do as they please.

Here is an example of such behavioral patterns.

Condoleeza Rice attempted to go on news talk shows and to take credit for the capture and killing of Osama Bin Laden. Yet she whined and gave great offense that she was not treated with the honor and recognition that she had assigned to herself and her cronies. In textbook fashion, Rice demonstrated a strategy of stubbornly ignoring the truth while aggressively and repeatedly pushing the lie. Leaders of Christian and other religious sects are masters of using the same strategies to reap personal and political rewards.

As a result, it is now more likely to hear and read expressions of hatred toward Christians than it is to hear or read expressions of hatred toward any other religion. Christians are described as being venal, dogmatic, irritating, annoying, infuriating, hateful, hypocritical, intolerant, dangerous and ignorant. Yet Jews, Muslims and others who show the same basic human flaws are nowhere near as excoriated.

Americans know better than to paint the whole group based on the detrimental actions of a few, or they would certainly hate Jews and Muslims as much as they hate Christians. No religion is overwhelmingly populated by a consensus of saints.

But it is Christians who are seen as the loudest, the most opportunistic, the most persistent, the most powerful, the most well-connected, the most hateful, and the most reviled.  Christian sects are feared.  Some Christian sects deserve the chastisement for doing and saying all the wrong things, again and again, in the public forum.

It is the Christian opposition, the church described in the opening paragraph, and the members of such churches, who must start to prevent their own religion from being dragged further into destructive and extremist territory.

 

As Barr and others describe it, that mind-set is nothing more than sheer arrogance — the dogma that “we have all the answers which we must disseminate.” Genuine dialogue, leaving  the possibility of mutual change, is by definition unknown to fundamentalists. “We will talk to you, but never actually with you.” It is that incipient sect mentality that has tended to plague evangelicalism, and which has often kept it from building bridges with mainstream Christianity.

—John Scanzoni “Resurgent Fundamentalism: Marching Backward into the ‘80s?”

 

Is this a dawn or is it a sunset? See the answer at the end of the post.

 

 

 

There is always a disconnect and a battle between science and religion, both being essential social entities that claim to “…have all of the answers which we must disseminate”.  It is impossible to find a government that has managed to cut religion completely from society. Even China recognizes that many religions will continue to thrive there, even under the most oppressive of laws. And, of course, no government can cut science from society.

Government succeeds with a balanced arrangement with the most powerful leaders in science and religion. Science provides essential technology and religion gives a stable and compliant citizenry.  Humans need both science and religion. Science settles the answerable questions and religion settles the mind when there are unanswerable questions. This is why the often opposing forces of science and religion are used by any government that wants to stay in business.

So how do Christians resist the movements toward sects, lies and videotape that is going on today?

It will help to remember that Jesus sacrificed for us with horrible suffering, and he was greatly disrespected for his sacrifice. The New Testament and his teachings are known  for a reason. He said nothing about Gays. He said “do unto others as you would have done to yourself”. He was not a racist, sexist or supporter of the things as they are. He spoke out against corrupted  laws of religion and government. He gave us a good foundation for our churches and for living in any society.

If  we just stand by and watch that foundation being corrupted, as our ancestors stood by and watched the foundations of Christianity corrupted again and again, then we deserve the outcomes of failing to learn from past mistakes.

We must fight the diversion and walk out.  Give that church no more money. Direct any moneys to the services that the churches give to the community and not to the enrichment and empowerment of those who are leading their flocks astray in this declining world.

We can choose to reject discordant, divisive, deviant, dysfunctional and destructive religious movements. We have strong enough minds to know what is wrong and what is right.

 

Evangels want to replace the spirit of sect hostility and conflict (so evident in Brown’s article) with a spirit of cooperation vis-à-vis mainstream Christians. They want to bring whatever insights they have to the common task that faces all Christians of “glorifying God” and of assisting humankind to “enjoy God forever.” Evangels recognize that first and foremost the Scriptures describe a God of love and justice, and that all Christians must shape their theology and practice upon these dynamic potter’s wheels. By comparison, all of the rigidity and vitriolic disputes that inevitably pervade a sect-type institution (fundamentalism/evangelicalism) pale into insignificance.

 

We are the faces, minds and hearts of our religion. Let us go forward as Christians, ready to fight for separation of church and state. Let us oppose churches that attempt to take control of society with laws that are neither tolerable nor legal. Let us get up and walk away from the vitriol, the rigidity and the hate speech. We can stop ourselves from being manipulated and dragged into worshiping at places that are more about the business of money and political power than they are about the business of proper spiritual and religious guidance.

 

Happy Sunday and Happy New Year.

 

 

Both photos were taken at dawn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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