Methodist missionary E. Stanley Jones had a conversation with Mohandas K. Gandhi in the first decades of the 20th century. During this tete-a-tete, he inquired of Gandhi, “Mr. Gandhi, though you quote the words of Christ often, why is it that you appear to so adamantly reject becoming his follower?” Gandhi ever so candidly replied, “Oh, I don’t reject Christ. I love Christ. It’s just that so many of you Christians are so unlike Christ.”
In the course of my life and experiences with the church, I have found Gandhi’s words to be disturbingly accurate. Especially since 2004, I have been increasingly critical of the church, of people who identify as “Christians” and their words and actions. If Mohandas Gandhi noted this dichotomy between Christ and Christians almost 100 years ago, just imagine what things are like now!
2012 presidential GOP candidate Michele Bachmann, a self-avowed Christian, has on numerous occasions supported the use of torture techniques against detainees in this nation’s “War on Terror.” If I’m not mistaken, Christ directed us to love our enemies, not torture them. Bachmann doesn’t see waterboarding as torture though, not having experienced the procedure herself, she refers to it as an “enhanced interrogation technique,” as if changing the words will soften the act. I expand on this in the article “Michele’s Maleficence.”
In the past few years, I have also become far more politically-oriented. One of the causes near and dear to me is that of working to secure equal rights for the LGBT community. The resistance to this cause from organised religion is downright scary at times! I have personally been cursed at, belittled and denigrated for my stance on Marriage Equality and LGBT rights by people claiming to be “Christians” and citing Bible passages in the same messages as disparaging words towards me. This isn’t surprising though, as I have also noted an overt agenda of control by the religious right, which includes political lobbying and a decades-old, anti-LGBT propaganda effort. For instance:
If you ask any serious Christian in the 21st century why Sodom and Gommorah were destroyed, the immediate answer that you will get is one of several variations on the word “homosexuality.” This is due to the fact (and I also remember being taught this!) that Christians focus specifically on Genesis 19:5, which reads:
Genesis 19:5 – “Who crying vnto Lot said to him, Where are the men, which came to thee this night? bring them out vnto vs that we may knowe them.” (1560 Geneva Translation.)
What is excluded (to the loss of the Christian, because I know several that display these traits) is the wider message on the detriments of sinfulness, found in Ezekiel 16:49-50. Here, the MAN HIMSELF explains the true reason for the downfall of Sodom and Gommorah:
Ezekiel 16:49 – “Beholde, this was the iniquitie of thy sister Sodom, Pride, fulnesse of bread (“Gluttony“), and aboundance of idlenesse (“Sloth“) was in her, and in her daughters: neither did shee strengthen the hande of the poore and needie.” (“Greed“) [16:50] – “But they were hautie, and committed abomination before mee: therefore I tooke them away, as pleased me.” (1560 Geneva. Yes, I’ve developed a love for the early “Englyshe!”)
What the “abomination” was that S&G committed, he doesn’t say. However, coupled with the Genesis account we have a pretty good idea, and I am willing to take that on a bit of faith. The important thing here is to know that Sodom and Gommorah were destroyed because of a culmination of things; because of their overall decline and not simply due to the one thing that people keep zeroing in on. The problem with any propaganda effort is that other important information is excluded, and in this case the lack of info has resulted in many Christians across the board embracing the very things that S&G were destroyed for.
This propaganda effort is just part of a growing trend within Fundamental Christianity, fast becoming known throughout the blogosphere as “Dominionism.” Simply put, Dominionism is the active involvement of the church in the formation of policy and the politics of the state. One has no further to look than to groups such as the Parents Television Council, the Parents Music Resource Center and the American Families Association to see Dominionism in action. Even churches outside of the mainstream are taking part in this disturbing attempt to control our freedom to choose. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was instrumental in the recent passage of California’s Proposition 8, a ballot measure that’s only purpose was to deny the LGBT community equal rights under the law.
The Catholic Church has been involved in state politics, almost since its inception. In keeping with those fine (italicised for sarcasm) traditions, bishops in the Catholic Church in the U.S. are collaborating on their own political agenda for the 2012 elections. According to the Catholics, the purpose for this active involvement in politics is to “safeguard religious freedom.” Ah, yes. Safeguard it for whom? In my not-so-humble opinion, the Vatican needs to extricate itself from our political arse, and fix their own issues first.(1)
I have a friend who used to be a pastor. As a matter of fact, he was the pastor of the very church that sits next to my parents’ house, Madera Avenue Bible Church. It was during his tenure as pastor of this church that he lost his faith. As he states it, he became acutely aware of an underlying “meanness” in everything from the Genesis account of the “Fall of Man” to the final battle of Armageddon in the book of Revelation. He, like myself no longer identifies as “Christian,” in fact he is having more of a tough time accepting any form of deism than I!
A few months ago, I wrote another blog article on Faith and Religion, and how each denomination and church seems to think that they have the monopoly on God and salvation. If you ask me, no one is right anymore. Churches have become big business, focused on the same things that have the Occupy Movement so pissed off at Wall Street. This was not what Jesus Christ meant the church to be. During Christ’s time, he taught! People could, if they had a question, raise their hand in the middle of services and say, “But wait, rabbi! Doesn’t the book say….?” If you try doing this in church in the 21st century, you’ll more than likely find yourself being escorted out the door by the deacons!
Ladies and gentlemen, I no longer go to church. I go to God. I have become so disenfranchised, disgusted and disdainful of the rampant hypocrisy in the “Body of Christ,” that I no longer want any part of it. No, I haven’t lost my faith. I still believe in the Trinity, in salvation, in the concepts of the Bible and other basic tenets of the Protestant Reformation, that’s why I identify as “Spiritual” these days. I do not however, believe in the doctrine of Dominionism, the premise that it’s our job to keep people from sinning and save them by force of will.
Since at least the late eighties and my experiences with my wife’s church, there has been something churning in my gut. This sense that things are not as “rosy” as they appear on the surface. For at least the last fifteen years, I’ve been actively questioning the state of things so that I could more readily identify what that “something” could possibly be, and how to reconcile it. I’ve never been one to simply accept the word of authority, or be satisfied that, “that’s just the way it is.” No, there has to be a reason behind everything in this existence, because that’s how God made it. Gandhi knew this, and also saw a hundred years ago what I see now. God rest his spirit, Gandhi was right.