Weeds of the Field: The Choking of the Lilies.
I've found two websites that are precisely those kinds of Christian advocacies most needed for these times. These sites
are doing the kind of work Mr. Dobson and Mr. Falwell should have been doing all along - long before Americans would be required
to vote based on religious dogma and political agenda parading as moral values.
Since such a high moral action was beyond messers Dobson, Falwell, Robertson, LaHaye, Land, and the many others of the
same ilk, we are left do cope with them wearing their firmest and bloodiest mantle - the same mantle as the Pharisees of old.
In a recent article, Dr. Teresa Whitehurst, founder of Jesusonthefamily.org, wrote:
“My, what a brave new Christianity we have here in Bush's America!”
When the Abu Graib scandal first broke, President Bush declared forcefully that such activities do not reflect America’s
To those who insist that America is - regardless of its cultural diversity - a “Christian Nation,” those core
values must then logically be directly connected to Christ’s teachings. In previous articles I have contrasted the fundamentals
of those teachings with the sort of theological rationale we have heard from the self-appointed movers and shakers of right-wing
fundamentalist Christian politics.
Jesus won’t go away on this one.
In the same sense that political leaders and parties do not have a monopoly on defining patriotism in this country, neither
do the biggest mouths and loudest voices have a monopoly on what constitutes Christian thinking, doctrine and beliefs.
Dr. Whitehurst writes further,
“You can't argue a person out of his or her identity. As most of us have learned the hard way, you should never try
to convince a Republican that he's a Democrat, a pacifist that she's pro-war, or a hard worker that he's a lazy bum …
'I can surrender my opinions if your argument is effective and I'm in a receptive mood, but I'll fight to the death for
This is what antiwar Americans must keep in mind about Bush/war supporters – they may seem indifferent to suffering
and uninterested in the facts, but what really prevents them from hearing what you say is fear, the fear of losing their manufactured
identity. Everywhere they look, they sense danger – not so much of terrorism, but of straying from the herd and thereby
suffering rejection, even hatred, from others.”
I would also propose that this unfortunate circumstance is not primarily the fault of President Bush. No, someone else
is at fault for this circumstance where the rugged idealistic American - possessor of ethical and moral goodness -
“has been transformed in just three years to a fearful child who's willing to apply peer pressure to silence
critics (even those in his or her own family) in order to avoid personal and collective punishment” [Whitehurst].
President Bush and his political team have captitalized on that circumstance and therein lies the real fault. That "someone
else" includes all those who years ago decided that rendering unto Caesar and rendering unto God should become one and the
same. Entry into the political process began with preaching at first. But then - with popularity exploding into the notoriety
- coercion through fear, shame and guilt has put before us self-constructed images of righteous crusading knights slaying
dragons of evil. Now these Pharisee’s insist that they speak for all of us and many let them do it at the price of their
own spiritual integrity. In this regard, personal religion has been dragged out from the personal to the public for all of
Attempt to discuss religion and the old adage about not talking about religion and politics is brought forth as a shield
to protect the sheep who have voted to look the other way while Jesus has been co-opted as a political bumper sticker rather
than the redeeming and forgiving Son of the God of compassion.
Christian Crusaders historically were never heroic so long as they fought military battles in the name of Christ, thrusting
with their swords through the bodies of men, women and children, all the time pretending to themselves that they believed
their religious leaders who insisted that God approved.
There is nothing heroic in these times about hiding in congregations and voting as a block according to demagoguery where
the pseudo-Christian generals out front make mountains out of moral molehills and themselves ignore a call to their own conscience.
That is not the courage of conviction, not the courage of Christ so eloquently portrayed in Gibson’s movie, not the
courage of the martyrs killed by Roman persecution nor the courage of the victims of inquisitions. It is the ignorant moral
cowardice of the Salem witch trials, gay and minority-bashing by sons and daughters of American Christian parents who for
too long failed to teach the gospel of peace because they themselves perhaps were not taught it. It is the cowardly righteous
indignation that behaves as if abortion, gay-rights, school prayer, and a “war” on Christmas are all more vital
to the pursuit of goodness in humanity than any prayerful study of the Sermon, The Good Samaritan, The Prodigal Son and “neither
do I condemn you, go your way and sin no more.”
Fear and cowardice are not the same things except when fear leads to cowardice. Which is the harder choice, living a lifetime
of quiet desperation and the uneasy conscious-stricken restlessness of having to look the other way as one’s identity
gets grouped among those responsible for war, murder and human destruction? Or having to actively, mentally and spiritually
question the integrity of one’s identity in order to keep it sanctified?
You don’t have to be a theological scholar to understand the depth of moral shame and anti-Christ behavior to which
many American Christians have given their assent.
If you must leave a congregation that leaves you uneasy inside then leave it. There are still lilies in the field arrayed
in all their glory. Religion remains at its most powerful in the individual Christian life and at it’s weakest and most
harmful in the blind submissive behavior of massed Christian irrational anger. There is a better way - the oldest way.
Prior to the election, tens of thousands of Christians - members of believing congregations - yet spiritually independent
and in charge of their own lives, signed and published a petition in USA-Today. That petition reads as follows:
Confessing Christ in a World of Violence
Our world is wracked with violence and war. But Jesus said: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the
children of God" (Matt. 5:9). Innocent people, at home and abroad, are increasingly threatened by terrorist attacks. But Jesus
said: "Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you" (Matt. 5:44). These words, which have never been easy, seem all
the more difficult today.
Nevertheless, a time comes when silence is betrayal. How many churches have heard sermons on these texts since the terrorist
atrocities of September 11? Where is the serious debate about what it means to confess Christ in a world of violence? Does
Christian "realism" mean resigning ourselves to an endless future of "pre-emptive wars"? Does it mean turning a blind eye
to torture and massive civilian casualties? Does it mean acting out of fear and resentment rather than intelligence and restraint?
Faithfully confessing Christ is the church's task, and never more so than when its confession is co-opted by militarism
- A "theology of war," emanating from the highest circles of American government, is seeping into our churches as well.
- The language of "righteous empire" is employed with growing frequency.
- The roles of God, church, and nation are confused by talk of an American "mission" and "divine appointment" to "rid the
world of evil."
The security issues before our nation allow no easy solutions. No one has a monopoly on the truth. But a policy that rejects
the wisdom of international consultation should not be baptized by religiosity. The danger today is political idolatry exacerbated
by the politics of fear.
In this time of crisis, we need a new confession of Christ.
1. Jesus Christ, as attested in Holy Scripture, knows no national boundaries. Those who confess his name
are found throughout the earth. Our allegiance to Christ takes priority over national identity. Whenever Christianity compromises
with empire, the gospel of Christ is discredited.
We reject the false teaching that any nation-state can ever be described with the words, "the light shines in the darkness
and the darkness has not overcome it." These words, used in scripture, apply only to Christ. No political or religious leader
has the right to twist them in the service of war.
2. Christ commits Christians to a strong presumption against war. The wanton destructiveness of modern warfare strengthens
this obligation. Standing in the shadow of the Cross, Christians have a responsibility to count the cost, speak out for the
victims, and explore every alternative before a nation goes to war. We are committed to international cooperation rather than
We reject the false teaching that a war on terrorism takes precedence over ethical and legal norms. Some things ought never
be done - torture, the deliberate bombing of civilians, the use of indiscriminate weapons of mass destruction - regardless
of the consequences.
3. Christ commands us to see not only the splinter in our adversary's eye, but also the beam in our own. The distinction
between good and evil does not run between one nation and another, or one group and another. It runs straight through every
We reject the false teaching that America is a "Christian nation," representing only virtue, while its adversaries are
nothing but vicious. We reject the belief that America has nothing to repent of, even as we reject that it represents most
of the world's evil. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23).
4. Christ shows us that enemy-love is the heart of the gospel. While we were yet enemies, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8,
10). We are to show love to our enemies even as we believe God in Christ has shown love to us and the whole world. Enemy-love
does not mean capitulating to hostile agendas or domination. It does mean refusing to demonize any human being created in
We reject the false teaching that any human being can be defined as outside the law's protection. We reject the demonization
of perceived enemies, which only paves the way to abuse; and we reject the mistreatment of prisoners, regardless of supposed
benefits to their captors.
5. Christ teaches us that humility is the virtue befitting forgiven sinners. It tempers all political disagreements, and
it allows that our own political perceptions, in a complex world, may be wrong.
We reject the false teaching that those who are not for the United States politically are against it or that those who
fundamentally question American policies must be with the "evil-doers." Such crude distinctions, especially when used by Christians,
are expressions of the Manichean heresy, in which the world is divided into forces of absolute good and absolute evil.
The Lord Jesus Christ is either authoritative for Christians, or he is not. His Lordship cannot be set aside by any earthly
power. His words may not be distorted for propagandistic purposes. No nation-state may usurp the place of God.
We believe that acknowledging these truths is indispensable for followers of Christ. We urge them to remember these principles
in making their decisions as citizens. Peacemaking is central to our vocation in a troubled world where Christ is Lord. “
Those knights at the front of support for needless killing very much need for Jesus to stand back and shut up.
They cannot tolerate being reminded of the wisdom of His teachings.
Could you seriously see Christ being interviewed on Fox News endorsing and justifying what the President, his administration
and it’s religious and neocon supporters have set in motion? Can you truly imagine what a Parable of the War President
and the Pharisees might be about?
In closing, let me quote Dr. Whitehurst one more time:
“Without Jesus as its anchor, Christianity loses its moral center. Moral relativism, wherein it's not okay to kill
Americans but it's perfectly okay to kill ‘those people,’ is the result. Christians must resist this downward
spiral – the process that evangelical preachers call ‘backsliding.’
For pro-war diehards, a renewed sense of vindication and power is letting loose a lot of scary things that had, prior to
the election, been held in check. Now more than ever, people of conscience need to stand up for the ‘Christ’ in
‘Christianity,’ refuting the lie that when it comes to war, terrorism and other man-made evils, his teachings
As the Confession affirms, "a time comes when silence is betrayal."