What Does It Mean to be Christian in America?

Arthur's Journal on God & Politics
What Does It Mean to be Christian in America?
A God of War
Apocalypse & End Times
Biblical Literalism
Christ Path
Conformity & Orthodoxy
Fear, Shame & Guilt
God & Politics
Goodness, Morality & Sin
Heresy & Heretics
History, Mystery & Doubt
Kindergarten Religion
Mental Spiritual Constructs
Mystical Christianity
Mythical Proportions
Passion of The Christ ...
Someone Else's Magic

What E're Thou Art Act Well Thy Part

Churches shooting field mice with elephant guns
They're surely out there this morning trying to get the hell out of things, places and people ... you can count on that.

So what exactly is our yearning when we seek the spiritual within the walls of our local chapels?

Better asked perhaps ...  Just what is it that our Christian congregations offer in their communities when someone outside the circle comes seeking light and knowledge?

Does the traditional pastoral offering have a real potential of satisfying the needs or hungers of those looking through the doors and windows of America's chapels and mega-churches?

Do our new adult children with our grandchildren in tow find something useful - something of much more worth than the literal-minded silliness of Jesus Camp?

The enduring power of religion is not as a social club or political/moral sign-waving publicity stump.  Rather, it ought to lie within the realm of a human need for meaning and purpose in living. The venue in life that seems to require endurance is more in the perceptive realm of mind and spirit and certainly not best served with the traditional literal-minded approach of moralizing.

When our non-physiological internal hungers flare up the void to be filled is not satisfied by lasagna, a hot bath or a good night's sleep. These kinds of internal hungers and dissatisfactions reflect not a lack of consumable organics, but a powerful uneasiness ... a restlessness with life. Our thoughts truly form who we are - what has and continues to form us.

When we think we are just worried about things, wanting things we don't have, dissatisfied with work, with marriage, with friends, our community, the economy or the government - even our favorite pro team that's never going to win a championship - we are thinking thoughts that are part of what forms us and recreates anew who we are every day.

Christianity as a valid 21st Century spirituality must offer something more than Sunday group and conformity-dominated worship with its hand-waving sighs of "Jesus" as the single important mantra. Families must be offered more than potluck suppers and the clichéd generalities  that create feelings of acceptance and belonging to the mega-church in-crowd that flocks together in pious self-congratulation every Sunday.

Further,  it should be no surprise that a hunger for something more powerful arouses not just laity, but the clergy as well. If being Christian means more than just going through weekly motions and repeating worn out slogans, then what ought to be offered is something responsive to that internal hunger. It's a hunger that cries out for something of substance and not rigid god and bible talk. It's a hunger for an experience that is barely verbal but more powerfully prompted from within by something Holy Spiritual (wholly spiritual).

And satisfying that hunger is possible. The means are there, within each of us. We do not need anyone standing at a pulpit or pacing back and forth on a stage to throw the book at us.

Satisfying that hunger involves one simple concept.

Take ownership of your spirituality just as you take ownership and responsibility to provide for yourself and your family.

Responsible citizens do not run to something external like a government for food and shelter dependency. Nor should citizens run to the local house of worship to for spiritual feeding and shelter - creating a dependency that is only a single step away from the fear, shame and guilt of the cult.

This is not what is obtained by splashing in the shallow waters of mega-church biblically-literal spirituality that, when all is said and done, shackles itself to the limits of literal-minded moral whining; to pretended "prosperity theology" that masquerades as the teaching of Jesus the Master.

Literalist church members who constantly imbibe in that inerrant Bible stuff wind up - you guessed it - "litarded."

The power behind our beliefs is not our ability to become educated in what the Bible SAYS, thereby permitting us opportunities to publicly display how well we can read or memorize verses. Power lies in what scripture, prayer, tradition and reason prompt within.

I'm not talking about being prompted to obey, conform and donate.

An un-spoken communal experience of what is divine both inside and outside our perception lies within the potential of every Christian congregation. It does however remain powerfully elusive - even perhaps hidden - while the emphasis on social behavior, conformity and financial contribution lies behind the flashing lights and cloying praise-songs.

Political liberals and religious liberals ... two peas in a pod.

Christian scriptures teach two things.

  • God's thoughts are higher than humans think.
  • Believe in God and love each other.

Everthing else you are taught from the Bible is 6000 years of private interpretations.

John Danforth, in a NY Times Op-Ed 6/17/05 wrote:

It would be an oversimplification to say that America's culture wars are now between people of faith and nonbelievers.

A year and a half later, a more accurate rendering of Danforth's thought might be that the culture war is more than ever between liberal and rigid fundamentalist Christians in the same way as political liberals and conservatives differ.

In both regards, the growing contrast is moralistic  because republican political hypocrisy  has on every occasion been a betrayal of those believing Christians who had earlier entered into the political arena more fully and voted Republican.

Despite what O'Reilly, Limbaugh, Hannity and the rest of the Keystone Reflublicans tell us, the real elitists are political conservatives and literalist religious fundamentalists.

6000 years of private interpretations of the Bible are all we can make of what is written. To construct theological formulas out of a collection of historical narratives relating how earlier human beings perceived and related to God in order to get a reservation to God's "country club in the sky" is not religion practiced but a religion theorized or even something created out of pure guesswork.

That as well defines political conservatism which is perrenially revealed as some sort of ideal never reachable because human nature tends toward selfishness, greed and a general lack of altruism which leaves little if any generous trickling down of wealth, prosperity and spiritual greatness.

The following commentary about differing Christian philosophical approaches also, IMO, reflects in many ways differing political approaches as well.

With the religious right we have seen no peacemaking efforts, no efforts to bless the poor or poor-in-spirit, no Good Samaritan Activities, no refraining from judgment, no real hungering after righteousness through activism.

Rather than act like persecuted victims straining to right imagined wrongs and imagined dangers in venues elevated above the highest commandment of loving neighbors, the most influential Christian celebrities ought to be involved in Jesus' most powerful declaration:

Peace I leave with you. My peace I give unto you. and affirmed by Paul: For God is not the author of confusion but of peace as in all churches of the saints.

Christians find themselves in a situation of having to respond to conflicting spiritual views that reflect disagreement as to what their religion stands for, what values are most important and what methods should be used to work for the common good.

If part and parcel of Christian activism today includes an aggressive evangelical effort then I see liberal Christians empowered to counter the evangelizing of questionable theology and priorities of the Christian Right with their own evangelical effort that builds rather than destroys,

  • that seeks peace rather than attempts to justify war,

  • that encourages awareness of every sparrow that falls - now that's godliness,

  • leaving no child, no adult, no family, no culture, no nation or race and no society behind or left out of God's "neighbor" venue.

Liberal Christians must, as Danforth writes, bring their values to bear if they are going to participate in politics. They must insist that any responsibility to live a Christian life is a private matter between God and man and not something to be "codified by legislators." (Danforth)

Liberal Christians must publish and proclaim that Christianity does not possess a monopoly on the truth of God;

  • That most Americans are not in favor of and are resisting a societal shift into something resembling a Christian Taliban.

  • that most Americans are opposed to government interference in personal lives.

  • that most Americans and Liberal Christians are not opposed to scientific advances, scientific knowledge and an understanding of the real world, its environment and how things work.

  • that scientific advances for human good are not to be limited by blind and willful faith in an inerrant Bible and relgious dogma.

  • that Liberal Christians are opposed to establishing a constitutional law that denigrates minorities or creates a definition of human relationships that is exclusive in nature and limited to definitions established by a misguided legislative activism in a country dominated by one religious point of view.

America's so called "core values" are not something recently created or recently modified by the outcome of elections.

Those core values, many of which are spiritual in nature, include an understanding the there is always much to be learned in a free America. Liberty allows all to learn and the direction of learning is not restricted to a specific religious belief system.

American core values have included a psychology that religion is a private matter between a person and God and that everyone is at liberty to believe and belong to any spiritual system.

American core values do not include the notion that the Christian God is supreme and legitimate while all "other Gods" are false or evil.

American core values emphasize humility and the idea that anyone who gets "too big for their britches" or who has proven inept at the job will be put in their deserved place by the wiser electoral majority.

The biggest sharks are not at liberty in this country to pick on the tiniest minnows regardless of their wealth or political majority.

American core values emphasize that church is a place for spiritual nourishment and not political manipulation or excommunication for political disagreement.

American core values include patriotism with an understanding that dissent and participation is patriotic.

Although it rears its ugly head from time to time, jingoism is not the American way of supporting troops and letting presidents get away with the slaughter of innocents by bringing God into the equation.

Liberal Christians must reach out and extend their hands of fellowship to any and all neighbors. They must proclaim peace, actively work for peace, oppose injustice to any neighbor, and work for relief to all who are oppressed and suffering.

Liberal Christians do not encounter victims on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho and pass by on the other side.

Nor do they stop and point out that a victim was in some way acted upon by God as a punishment.

Nor do they consider any victim as unworthy, undeserving or sinful in not meeting certain standards.

Rather, liberal Christians are ready to not pass by, but to stop and have compassion, bind wounds and escort the victim to shelter for tender care.

Liberal Christians can evangelize the Gospel of Christ to any and all without the objective of conversion or bringing non-Christian souls to Christ. Christ is not a bean-counter nor the head of an exclusive club.

The objective of God is love of one's neighbor and compassion for all and not the herding of humanity into a pearly-gated corral by born-again whip-wielding sheep herders.

Real Disciples of Jesus Aren't in This Group

The Indictment:

The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat.

Do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.

For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.

But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,

And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!

For ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.

Ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!

For ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.

Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold?

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!

For ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.

Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.

Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! For ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers.

Woe unto you, lawyers! For ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered. Hypocrites!

For ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.

The Accused:

Supreme Conservative Republican Evangelical American Moralists

The "Christian" War President

"God told me to strike at al Qaida and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East. If you help me I will act, and if not, the elections will come and I will have to focus on them."

"Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists."

"This crusade, this war on terrorism is going to take a while."

--George W. Bush

The "Christian" Warrior

"I knew my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol."

"We in the army of God, in the house of God, kingdom of God have been raised for such a time as this,"

"We as Americans, we as Christians, need to understand that that's not the enemy that America's up against. In fact, the enemy that we're up against is called the principality of darkness, he's called Satan. We are in fact in a spiritual battle, ladies and gentlemen, more than we are in a physical battle."

--Lt. General William G. Boykin

The "Christian" War Monger

'We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.

We weren't punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That's war. And this is war."

"Not all Muslims may be terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims."

"Being nice to people is, in fact, one of the incidental tenets of Christianity, as opposed to other religions whose tenets are more along the lines of 'kill everyone who doesn't smell bad and doesn't answer to the name Mohammed'"

--Ann Coulter

The "Christian" Bible Quoter & Law School Founder

"The Bible is the inerrant ... word of the living God. It is absolutely infallible, without error in all matters pertaining to faith and practice, as well as in areas such as geography, science, history, etc."

"AIDS is the wrath of a just God against homosexuals. To oppose it would be like an Israelite jumping in the Red Sea to save one of Pharoah's chariotters." "AIDS is not just God's punishment for homosexuals; it is God's punishment for the society that tolerates Homosexuals."

"We're fighting against humanism, we're fighting against liberalism...we are fighting against all the systems of Satan that are destroying our nation today...our battle is with Satan himself."

"If you're not a born-again Christian, you're a failure as a human being."

"The Bible is the inerrant ... word of the living God. It is absolutely infallible, without error in all matters pertaining to faith and practice, as well as in areas such as geography, science, history, etc."

"But you've got to kill the terrorists before the killing stops. And I'm for the president to chase them all over the world. If it takes 10 years, blow them all away in the name of the Lord."

"Most of these feminists are radical, frustrated lesbians, many of them, and man-haters, and failures in their relationships with men, and who have declared war on the male gender. The Biblical condemnation of feminism has to do with its radical philosophy and goals. That's the bottom line."

"I do not believe the homosexual community deserves minority status. One's misbehavior does not qualify him or her for minority status. Blacks, Hispanics, women, etc., are God-ordained minorities who do indeed deserve minority status." 

"We curse the darkness, we're against what the ACLU and Americans United are, and what the crazy runaway liberal judges are doing. We're going to train a few thousand Christian attorneys who are just as radical as the preachers."

"We're here to stay, we're going to bring this nation back and we couldn't care less what you [his opponents] think about it."

--Jerry Falwell

The "Christian" Broadcaster & Pretend Prophet

"There will never be world peace until God's house and God's people are given their rightful place of leadership at the top of the world. How can there be peace when drunkards, drug dealers, communists, atheists, New Age worshipers of Satan, secular humanists, oppressive dictators, greedy moneychangers, revolutionary assassins, adulterers, and homosexuals are on top?"

 God's Country? "There is no such thing as separation of church and state in the Constitution. It is a lie of the Left and we are not going to take it anymore."

"The Constitution of the United States, for instance, is a marvelous document for self-government by the Christian people. But the minute you turn the document into the hands of non-Christian people and atheistic people they can use it to destroy the very foundation of our society. And that's what's been happening."

I know this is painful for the ladies to hear, but if you get married, you have accepted the headship of a man, your husband. Christ is the head of the household and the husband is the head of the wife, and that's the way it is, period.

The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians.

--Pat Robertson

The "Christian" Motivator

"The number one virtue in America has become the number one threat, and one of the top two or three threats to the cause of Christ That virtue is tolerance.'

Josh McDowell.

The "Christian" Old Testament Expert on Who God Hates

 "If you got to castrate your miserable self with a piece of rusty barb wire, do it."

"Hear the word of the LORD, America, fag-enablers are worse than the fags themselves, and will be punished in the everlasting lake of fire!"

"You telling these miserable, Hell-bound, bath house-wallowing, anal-copulating fags that God loves them!? You have bats in the belfry!"

"American Veterans are to blame for the fag takeover of this nation. They have the power in their political lobby to influence the zeitgeist, get the fags out of the military, and back in the closet where they belong!"

"Not only is homosexuality a sin, but anyone who supports fags is just as guilty as they are. You are both worthy of death."

"God Hates Fags!"

--Fred Phelps (Westboro Baptist Church)

The "Christian" Hypocrite

"The Media is ruled by Satan. But yet I wonder if many Christians fully understand that. Also, will they believe what the Media says, considering that its aim is to steal, kill, and destroy?"

"Evolution is a bankrupt speculative philosophy, not a scientific fact. Only a spiritually bankrupt society could ever believe it...Only atheists could accept this Satanic theory."

--Jimmy Swaggart (Jimmy Swaggart Ministries)

The "Christian" Proponent of Joyful Living.

"I think that many people believe that. (Referring to separation of church and state) The only problem is it's really a deception from Satan. Because if God is in fact separated from the government, then we can never possibly have a godly government. And there's no way for America to be good if she's not godly."

"There are more righteous people in this nation that love God than there are evil people. The only problem is the evil people make more noise than we do, and that is so ridiculous.

What we need more than anything are godly men and women that will pass laws based on God's word and moral principles, not laws based on their own particular feelings."

"You know when prayer was taken out of the schools in 1962, it was not really about prayer being taken out of the schools, it was a violent assault against the future of the kingdom of God. Because Satan knew if he could take spirituality away from children that the next generation would not be able to do the kingdom of darkness any damage."

"I know that we all appreciate and thank God for our godly president.

I believe President [sic] Bush is a man that is going to say what is right and he is going to stand up for God no matter what.... I believe that God is going to keep him there to bring restoration to this nation."

--Joyce Meyer, speaking at the "Road To Victory" convention

The "Christian" Respecter of Persons

"With all due respect to those dear people, my friend, God Almighty does not hear the prayer of a Jew."

--Bailey Smith

The "Christian" Dominionists

"The long-term goal of Christians in politics should be to gain exclusive control over the franchise. Those who refuse to submit publicly to the eternal sanctions of God by submitting to His Church's public marks of the covenant-baptism and holy communion-must be denied citizenship."

"This is God's world, not Satan's. Christians are the lawful heirs, not non-Christians." 

"So let us be blunt about it: We must use the doctrine of religious liberty to gain independence for Christian schools until we train up a generation of people who know that there is no religious neutrality, no neutral law, no neutral education, and no neutral civil government. Then they will be get busy in constructing a Bible-based social, political and religious order which finally denies the religious liberty of the enemies of God."

"The long-term goal of Christians in politics should be to gain exclusive control over the franchise. Those who refuse to submit publicly to the eternal sanctions of God by submitting to His Church's public marks of the covenant--baptism and holy communion--must be denied citizenship, just as they were in ancient Israel."

--Gary North (Institute for Christian Economics

"But integration and equality are myths; they disguise a new segregation and a new equality...Every social order institutes its own program of separation or segregation. A particular faith and morality is given privileged status and all else is separated for progressive elimination."

--R.J. Rushdoony,

"When the Christian majority takes over this country, there will be no satanic churches, no more free distribution of pornography, no more talk of rights for homosexuals. After the Christian majority takes control, pluralism will be seen as immoral and evil and the state will not permit anybody the right to practice evil."

--Gary Potter (Catholics for Christian Political Action)

"We are to make Bible-obeying disciples of anybody that gets in our way."

--Jay Grimstead (Coalition on Revival)

The "Christian" Editorialist

"We are approaching a time when Christians, especially, may have to declare the social contract between Enlightenment rationalists and Biblical believers - which formed the basis of the constitution written at our nation's founding - null and void".

--Cal Thomas, Washington Times,

The "Christian" Good Samaritan

"I want you to just let a wave of intolerance wash over you. I want you to let a wave of hatred wash over you. Yes, hate is good... Our goal is a Christian nation. We have a biblical duty, we are called on by God to conquer this country. We don't want equal time. We don't want pluralism."

"What this is coming down to is who runs the country. It's us against them. It's the good guys versus the bad guys. It's the God-fearing people against the pagans, and some of the pagans are going to church."

--Randall Terry,

The "Christian" Exclusivity Sheriffs

"Nobody has the right to worship on this planet any other God than Jehovah. And therefore the state does not have the responsibility to defend anybody's pseudo-right to worship an idol."

--Rev. Joseph Morecraft, Chalcedon Presbyterian Church

"The day after George Bush was elected president again, because of this morals revolution taking place in our country, he allows his vice president to not only put his lesbian daughter on the platform, but to bring her lesbian 'partner' up on the stage with him.

It almost seems to be a slap in the face from the get-go against the very conservatives that re-elected the president at a time when he ought to paying them some homage and respect."

--Joe Glover, president of the Family Policy Network

The "Christian" Constitutionalist

"I don't know that atheists should be considered citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God."

--George Bush Sr. (President of the United States)

The "Christian" Jurist

U.S. District Judge Myron H. Thompson asked Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, "Would you acknowledge that Buddhism is a religion?"

Moore replied, "Buddhism was considered a false religion by the forefathers. It is not my definition of religion, no. It was not their definition of religion under the First Amendment of the Constitution."

"I wasn't really asking that," Thompson said. "I was just asking whether religion - within the confines of the First Amendment as you view it historically - [if] the term 'religion' includes Buddhists, the Islamic faith, the Hindus?"

"I don't think so, sir, that Buddhists and other faiths - and I won't speak to all faiths because I'm not a theologian - recognize the Creator, God," Moore replied.

"Some might, but if they do, it's not the God of the Holy Scriptures. And that's why the Bible is used for the very foundation upon which we take our oaths."

--Roy Moore, during court testimony over the Ten Commandments monument he installed in the Alabama Judicial Building

The "Christian" Educator & Political Analyst

In your re-election, God has graciously granted America - though she doesn't deserve it - a reprieve from the agenda of paganism. Put your agenda on the front burner and let it boil. You owe liberals nothing. They despise you because they despise your Christ."

--Bob Jones III to George W. Bush

The "Christian" Evangelist

"I have many Muslim friends, but I want the people of this country to know that the god of Islam is not the Christian god. The god of Islam is not a father. The god of Christianity was the father of Jesus Christ. There's a mood in this country that we'll believe a generic belief. That is not acceptable. Political correctness has run amok in this country."

"This country was not built by Hindus, nor Muslims, nor atheists. It was built by Christian men and women."

"We need a sexual education program that warns young people of the hell they'll create with their own bodies. Outside of marriage, sex kills."

He cites his own experience; he was "sexually active" before his 1974 marriage to his wife, Jane.

Alan Dershowitz said I alienated millions by praying in the name of Jesus Christ.

In what other name should I pray? If a Hindu president was being inaugurated, that president could have summoned a clergyman to pray in the name of Hindu gods."

"I am not attacking Muslims. But how come the Muslim clerics have not gone to ground zero and had a prayer vigil and apologized to the nation in the name of Islam?"

"But where are the Muslim clerics? When people say this is a 'peaceful religion,' don't tell me that. When a suicide bomber straps on a bomb, that's not peaceful. The Baptists are not doing that. Neither are the Pentecostals."

--Franklin Graham, various quotes reported in the Washington Post

The "Christian" Political Activist Org

"While it is true that the United States of America was founded on the sacred principle of religious freedom for all, that liberty was never intended to exalt other religions to the level that Christianity holds in our country's heritage.

Our Founders expected that Christianity -- and no other religion -- would receive support from the government as long as that support did not violate peoples' consciences and their right to worship. They would have found utterly incredible the idea that all religions, including paganism, be treated with equal deference.

As for our Hindu priest friend, the United States is a nation that has historically honored the one true God. Woe be to us on that day when we relegate him to being merely one among countless other deities in the pantheon of theologies."

--Family Research Council, Culture Facts newsletter 9/21/2000, commenting on a Hindu priest giving the opening prayer in the House of Representatives

The "Christian" Expert on Moral Depravity

"The perversion that follows homosexuality is bestiality and then human sacrifice and cannibalism."

--Barbara Blewster, a member of the Church of Latter-Day Saints and the Arizona State Legislature

The "Christian" Patriotic Pontificator

"If you don't want a Christian nation, then go to one of the many nations that are heathen already, rather than perverting ours. You're welcome to come, but leave your religions, your bibles, all your other things back where you came from. Islam and America are opposites. They hate us. They want to kill us. I'm not anti-Jewish or anti-Catholic. I'm anti-Islam because that religion right there is anti-American."

--Jeff Fugate, pastor of Clays Mill Road Baptist Church, Lexington, KY

The "Christian" Experts On Compassionate Capital Punishment

"Those who practice homosexuality should swiftly be put to death by the government. God emphatically condemns the practice of exchanging proper gender characteristics among men and women. God justly calls for the death-penalty for anyone who practices homosexuality."

--Citizens for the Ten Commandments

The "Christian" Expert on Media Integrity

"Let me talk to you about five good things of late ... for which this week I hope you and your family around your Thanksgiving table will praise the Lord. ...

No. 5: America has alternative news media and is no longer held hostage by the major print and broadcast media. I remember a day when ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN and the major print media controlled all the news flow to the American people and we found ourselves getting warped and distorted news.

I thank God now in the 21st century for talk radio, that three hours a day people like Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and hundreds of others are telling the truth of what really is going on. I thank God for FOX News Channel. I thank God for the Internet bloggers and the news producers like,, even The Drudge Report.

... And we're going to invite PETA [to "Wild Game Night"] as our special guest, P-E-T-A -- People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. We want you to come, we're going to give you a top seat there, so you can sit there and suffer.

This is one of my special groups, another one's the ACLU, another is the NOW -- the National Order of Witches. We've got -- I've got a lot of special groups."

--Jerry Falwell, November 21, 2004 televised sermon

The "Christian" Partisan Greedy Immoral Corrupt Politician

"Ladies and gentlemen, Christianity offers the only viable, reasonable, definitive answer to the questions of

'Where did I come from?'

'Why am I here?'

'Where am I going?'

'Does life have any meaningful purpose?'

Only Christianity offers a way to understand that physical and moral border.

Only Christianity offers a comprehensive worldview that covers all areas of life and thought, every aspect of creation.

Only Christianity offers a way to live in response to the realities that we find in this world

-- only Christianity."

"Emotional appeals about working families trying to get by on $4.25 an hour are hard to resist. Fortunately, such families do not exist."

- -House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Tex.)

"The "Christian" Wide-Eyed Extra-Terrestrial Exaggerator

"The decline in American pride, patriotism, and piety can be directly attributed to the extensive reading of so-called 'science fiction' by our young people.

This poisonous rot about creatures not of God's making, societies of 'aliens' without a good Christian among them, and raw sex between unhuman beings with three heads and God alone knows what sort of reproductive apparatus keeps our young people from realizing the true will of God."

--Jerry Falwell,

* * *

The Expert on  the Supreme Conservative Republican Evangelical American Moralists

What we are seeing - when the curtain is drawn back and the booming voice is revealed to be mere mortal - is the unspoken insistence that these modern advocates are standing in for Jesus, albeit temporarily.

They are in fact implying that Jesus was and is one of them and will validate what they do when he returns again to take up their burden.

"Born in Christian Reconstructionism, which was founded by the late R. J. Rushdoony, the framers of the new cult included Rushdoony, his son-in-law Gary North, Pat Robertson, Herb Titus, the former Dean of Robertson’s Regent University School of Public Policy (formerly CBN University), Charles Colson, Robertson’s political strategist, Tim LaHaye, Gary Bauer, the late Francis Schaeffer, and Paul Crouch, the founder of TBN, the world’s largest television network, plus a virtual army of likeminded television and radio evangelists and news talk show hosts.

Dominionism started with the Gospels and turned the concept of the invisible and spiritual “Kingdom of God” into a literal political empire that could be taken by force, starting with the United States of America.

Discarding the original message of Jesus and forgetting that Jesus said, 'My kingdom is not of this world,' the framers of Dominionism boldly presented a Gospel whose purpose was to inspire Christians to enter politics and execute world domination so that Jesus could return to an earth prepared for his earthly rule by his faithful 'regents.' "

KatherineYurica - The Despoiling of America

Politics & Religion in a civilized nation.
One of our cultural clichés oft-quoted is that we do not bring politics and religion into discussion when friends and family get together.

Why is that?

Is it the implication that these topics invariably lead to disagreement and by extension disharmony? Are we left then with having our only sources of information on politics and religion be those outside our circle of friends, the family culture to which we belong and the personal religious climate in which we live? Must we form our religious and political opinions from someone else’s magic – someone else whom we assume is more knowledgeable, more spiritual or more “right on the money?”

We are again at a time in our society where politics and religion have come to prominence in our national debate. Only this time there is greater urgency. The election has come and gone; a time in which some of our deepest personal convictions were touched as we made to decide which political philosophy to support for the next four years.

Our presidential candidates campaigned in a landscape more and more framed around morality and there are those who openly advocated that this political season was a season of choosing between good and evil.

The incumbent Republican administration has, since prior to the previous election, portrayed itself as one of high moral value with emphasis on the family, on the sanctity of life, on all the things that Christian believers treasure most. But it has also used the label "evil doers" quite freely and the label seems to be running loosely in more directions than just international terrorists.

The Democratic party campaigned for a political change in this country and a removal from office of that same administration. Based on the public philosophical stance of the current administration, are we to assume that the Democratic candidate and party were therefore against family values, the sanctity of life and, by extension, supportive of low morale values?

And did we not ultimately see, as the election remained closely contested, TV ads in which desparate political activists label their opponents "evil doers?"

"Enemies of Christ or of God?"

Those labels have already been used by the extreme Christian Right as they've campaigned around political issues.

Who really owns or monopolizes morality in this country?

Have we as a people and citizenry relinquished our own authority to others to decide for us what is moral and who we should support?

If so, why have we done that?

Whoever defines your reality owns your reality. That particular proprietorship must always be your own and not someone else’s.

To those "Social Conservatives" too proud to admit to a foolish vote for Bush and who still  pretend the know better than we do what God wants us to

You don't have any credibility to passing moral judgment on anybody else.

An open letter to any Christian  particularly my own people - those Utah Republicans too proud to admit to a foolish vote for George Bush - who pretend the know better than we do what God wants us to do.

In 2004 Reverend Jerry Falwell declared

"It is the responsibility of...every evangelical Christian, every pro-life Catholic, every traditional get serious about re-electing President Bush." - Jerry Falwell, The New York Times July 16, 2004

I think that such an exhortation to ALL Christians in this country needs more than that kind of dumbed-down statement.

Four years later we have even more Christian Celebrities stepping into the spotlight, selling books, expanding televangelist ministries as well as the usual pretenders who claim and act as if God is prompting their every word and deed.

It is to all of you I respectfully request a purpose driven and honest exposition, scripturally or otherwise.

No individual, no Christian church and no Christian alliance of like-minded evangelicals, fundamentalists, traditionalists or liberals has any right or responsibility to define for me how I should exercise my consciousness of Christ in how I practice citizenship.

In fact, as a citizen, and in the tradition of American free-market sharing of ideas and concepts, I see it not unreasonable to invite those blowing the hardest to tell me more about God and Politics. Not believing that my own Christian outlook is absolute and inerrant, I'm willing to be more informed.

So to you big time Brothers and Sisters and all of you born-again politicians, you owe it to the Christian American audience made captive by media, technology and social conformity to please elaborate on the following issues raised by the apparent conflict between teaching and reality:

Are ALL of your political and economic policies divinely inspired?

Are they based on and do they include the precepts taught by Christ as written in the Bible, which most fundamentalists insist is inerrant and the Mormons insist to be true as far as it is translated correctly?

Based on the Christian roots of my faith, should I ever believe that opposing Mr. Bush and Republican political policies is opposing God's will?

Speak plainly here because when you guys imply that it's so, those who think you're smarter than they are when it comes to making God talk will conform.

Do ALL of your policies enhance human life?

In that regard, do the families of the evil-doers - parents, spouses and children - fall into the category of deserving the sword?

As a matter of fact, if God has placed you at the head of this country, what is God's position on collateral damage?

Jesus was outspoken in advocacy of human dignity in clear and unambiguous terms. How does God justify your ambivalence about torture as a means of exporting righteous American freedom worldwide?

What does God say about the justifications from your administration preachers that sexual debasement is justified in pursuit of said exportation?

Has God declared that our processes of education and scientific study are of the devil and that to encourage responsibility around human sexuality is sinful and displeasing to Him?

Is social justice important to God?

Did Jesus believe that profit was more important than compassion?

Has God repudiated Jesus' declaration that the laborer is worthy of his hire?

Is it God's will that working against gay marriage is more important than working to put people back to work?

Is it God's will that Republican economics - voodoo or otherwise - is the one and only sacred economic approach to feeding and sheltering the people?

Does God support deception as a political tool?

Does God endorse a policy of political mud-slinging rather than reaching agreement with those who disagree with you?

What about yea yea and nay nay?

Does God want our politicians to put our elderly at economic and health risk?

Does God believe that generating massive profits to drug companies is a greater good than relieving human suffering?

How does that align with honoring father and mother?

And finally, is Jesus really going to come as a thief in the night?

Or has he revealed to you and the rest of the Christian Right that He cannot come until American Christians maneuver Israel into a circumstance that unlocks the Key to the End Times?

Christian practice as taught and exemplified by Christ is not something complex nor is it something that requires convoluted logic and ideological twisting in order to ponder treasure in Heaven.

Christ said directly, "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's."

He did not say that Caesar and God are one and the same.

Until you teach the difference, you and your sheep remain a primary cause of the lack of harmony, lack of social conscience and absence of real moral outrage in this country.

When it comes to moral outrage, your hypocrisy and failure to reflect social conscience on a comprehensive and all-inclusive level generates legitimate moral outrage.

You do it deliberately and apparently by arrogant ignorance.

Your sheep do it with apathy.

Our children deserve better than the tragic failure of America's Lame Duck Christin-in-the-White-House

... an individual with the mantle of leadership upon whom an entire nation placed its confidence and expectation of wisdom by way of formal national election.

... an individual who uses words like "dying for a noble cause" in such a throw-away manner as to arouse astonishment even among the troops themselves and those veterans among us willing to speak up.

... an individual who has forfeited the moral high ground to all the grieving military families who know that a casual reference to "noble cause" falls way short of a real answer to "Why?"

Our Republican lame duck, his party and his party's nominee are in crisis across a broad venue of scandals. The Lame Duck's appearances only make things worse image-wise. It's that old moment when someone discredited should not say any more because every time he does, he makes it worse.

It's been suggested that his only avenue of publicity is to appear in tandem with other republicans still holding sufficient high public standing to ricochet light to him.

But who has remained free from some sort of political taint?

Not the congressional legislators, not the republican evangelicals, not even the assumptive nominee who pays lip service to the wrong Christians about the wrong issues and talks about wielding a bigger stick that the discredited brush cutter from Crawford.

in 2005 Cindy Sheehan took control of the moral high ground on the Iraq War away from the Man and the Man's Party. They were never able to take it back.

How do those political evangelical literalists raise children morally?

I suspect that the literalist psychology comes into play with biblical passages about raising children "in the Lord" and the like.

Those afraid of public schooling might possibly have some sense that their child's relationship with anyone outside the family - at that tender toddling age - could somehow compete with the intimate harmony of the family in a home setting where spiritual brainwashing is so powerfully accomplished as a normal part of growing up.

Such a concern might be more legitimate as the children get older - say nearer the pre-pubsecent junior-high-school ages when peer pressure mounts with terrifying rapidity.

In a home where a dissatisfied Christian conscience possibly acknowledges that the family life has not been "perfect" as idealized in every Christian congregation, the parents justifiably -in their heart of hearts - sense that forcing religion on children may not have been the best way.

Communicating religious dogma and doctrine is a hell of a lot easier than communicating a spiritual sense of ethical morality and doing good for the sake of goodness.

How many kids grow up in so-called Christian homes having reached a point of tuning out the preaching?

How many have grown up admiring their parents but struggling with a sense of quiet desperation in not living up to an unreasonable standard of "righteousness" that has made so many Christian clergy-celebrities rich and so many families torn?

This venue where evangelical children who are part of the next generation is not where the moral high ground will most effectively evolve.

we will be Left Out, not Left Behind.
Jesus in Matthew says “Think not that I am come to destroy the Law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.”
At what moment did he fulfill the Law?
Was it sometime during the final 12 hours – The Passion of the Christ?
 I suppose there are those who insist that in his dying, he did so. However, is it not possible that when confronted with the woman caught in adultery, when he would have been justified – even required – by “The Law” to join in the stoning,
Jesus, as the Son of God, brought the Law to fulfillment by introducing the idea of sinlessness and innocence as a requirement of those who judge and execute.
At that moment did he not repudiate the Law of rigid and inflexible imperative and replace it with a new testament of governance that requires wisdom, consideration and compassion?
Must the moral high ground be a place of condemnation first, judgment second and then culminating with punishment?
Does the Sermon on the Mount preach that idea?
Do the parables of The Good Samaritan and Prodigal Son preach that idea?
Can we honestly declare that Jesus was a Conservative Capitalist who favored the rich at the expense of the poor and whose life incidents and teachings inform the radical objectives of the extreme Religious Right?Jesus in Matthew says “Think not that I am come to destroy the Law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.”
Honest people realize the implications of their own convictions.
Dishonest people pursue what they want by compromising their convictions at the expense of their own integrity. They end up attempting to manipulate others by withholding truth.
Political parties and candidates can weaken themselves by denying the source of those internal convictions that inform their highest aspirations. Did we really, in 2000, elect someone as president who has done and will do what Jesus would do?
Are we remaining quiet and non-participating while the political forces around us are turning this land of the free and home of the brave into a land of the deceived and the home of moral cowards?
I believe that those of us with a liberal Christian viewpoint can and ought to connect with and encourage those who have been called “freestyle evangelicals,” a term coined by Steven Waldman, editor of the interfaith website Beliefnet.
These are those who have defied my own long-held assumptions about fundamentalist Christians. Folks like these responded in 1976, I believe, in support of Jimmy Carter whom, regardless of his success as a one-term president, more personifies what a “Christian” President of the United States ought to look like.
It has been said that freestyle evangelicals are offended by the self-righteous antics of the leaders of the so-called religious right.
They are legitimately concerned about gay marriage and abortion but may find themselves having to choose between a Christian candidate whose supporters have a strict, inflexible and extreme ideological agenda and another candidate too concerned with suppressing his own religious beliefs that he appears to be ashamed of it.
We must take that moral high ground from those who think they own it and that they can dictate to the rest of us. That includes those who have, as a blend of political and religious understanding, an expectation that we can abuse and disenfranchise each other, ignore our poor in the name of profit and greed and attempt dominion of our planet by mindless exploitation as much as we want - simply because in a coming time there will be a supernatural intervention that will clean up the mess we are making.
In that regard, if we as Christian liberals do not charge the moral high ground we will be Left Out, not Left Behind.

Ethics or Morality
 I believe the founders were not primarily Christian but Deists, and not that the country was founded on Christian morality be it neo-fundamentalist-zealot morality or whatever constituted traditional Christian morality at that time.

If we started with a "deist morality" then a "decline" in morality would be from that specific morality. It seems then that the question might be: "Was a deist morality deficient and vulnerable to moral decline?"

All of these statements seem to make the assumption that morality is or was the object of the founders. I can't make that assumption. Rather, I think ethics was a much greater concern.

I prefer a strong foundation in ethics moreso than a society founded on morality. Morality is much more subject to subjective opinions and, is demonstrated by what the original God-commanded governance in the Pentateuch deteriorated to at the time of Jesus. The "law" had so totally engulfed the "spirit of the law" that shoe-lace-tying and cows in the mud became great issues of moral discourse.

I think that many people confuse morals with ethics, believing that moral conformity to something fixed and written is a preferred higher pattern of living than possession of an equally high standard of ethics based on a genuine desire for the highest good of all concerned, a genuine desire to do no harm and to look for dignity in others before scanning for a reason to avoid or condemn.

In terms of a decline in moral values I am really talking about the breakdown and decline of ethical thinking where once that happens - once ethics begin disappearing - things like greed, lust, thievery and murder become predictable. Attempts to address those consequence of missing ethics have to be created in some kind of moral framework - hence the birth of morality.

Loss of ethics gives birth to moral frameworks. I don't believe that you can reverse them without the need to impose a moral framework from which all subsequent non-ethical behavior becomes by implication immorality.

I don't think that God is in the "Being-in-charge" business in any sense of how we imagine that sort of thing.
Is God's Kingdom a socialist form, a democratict form, a communistic form, or a monarchy? A Monarchy....How does this reduce GOD, or Belittle Him?

I don't see that God has a "kingdom" in the sense of "king" connected to "dom" = "kingdom," with all that such implies.

I don't see the realm of God as something "governed" in the way mortals think of "governing."

I don't think that God is in the "Being-in-charge" business in any sense of how we imagine that sort of thing.

Nor do I believe that God is not in a role as creator. It's an assumption and only an assumption that makes the leap from creator to rule giver.

From my point of view, God as a creator who then laid down strict rules about how his creation should function and how his mortal creations should think and act would be not unlike inventing a bicycle that could only move in a left or right direction - with training wheels - so that the result would be something that would only travel slowly and in circles.

However, God as a creator interested in placing eternal souls into mortal bodies and on earth to effect a field trip into a limited 3-dimensional reality where mortals are limited in every sense and forced to make choices and learn things physically by the sweat of the brow ...

now that makes sense for a creation by something divine.

If anything, God's "kingdom" for me looks more like a classroom founded on "democracy" where all are participants, all have opportunity and all have a direct connection to the creator that requires no laws, no formulas, no hierarchy, no satan and certainly no concept of unforgivable error that cancels the whole thing.

Put in another way, if God built the farm, He appointed me steward over my forty acres and is invested in seeing what kind of life I build and how well I produce fruit - without threatening me if I don't produce up to some fictional norm.

Rather, he is interested in seeing whether or not I can figure out how to produce fruit and contribute to my own and my neighbors' existence.

If it is claimed that God is a monarchy, then I insist on being part of the rebel alliance
If it is claimed that God is a monarchy, then I insist on being part of the rebel alliance out to disprove those who claim that we should have a monarchical relationship with God.

It seems to me that a construct of God as a monarch and God's kingdom as a monarchy reduces God to the level of man's limited perceptual understanding of spiritual reality. This forces man to compare God to any and all monarchs - which includes the need to try to correlate what God does into some sort of comparative of the mortal prerogatives exercised by kings.

A view that insists the God is a monarchy belittles the God of mystical experience who is not the autocrat pursued by religious authoritarians.

An experience of God as an autocrat is a limited exposure. A legitimate experience of God is not as a concept, but as a vividly real experience.

I don't believe that God violates the intellectual conscience or religious intuition via monarchy.

the place we imagine God to dwell and of the circumstance in which we find God and ourselves.
When someone refers to God, immediately we get mental images from which we then move in our thought streams. I've referred to this in an earlier article as our mental construct of God, of the place we imagine God to dwell and of the circumstance in which we find God and ourselves.

Traditional Theistic Christianity posits in some form a God who is an autocrat, authoritative, involved with human morality in a way that suggests God's desire for conformity to His will in a context of the presence of evil. Spiritual Warfare is a term that aptly describes a focus on good versus evil and the God/Satan conflict.

This version of God "rules" and governs by edict and divine law personified by what is written in the Bible.

Yet others view God as one who "presides" more than "rules"; a God who did issue "commandments" yet who is more interested in free agency with a desire that souls "return" to him of their own volition.

Other Christians, such as Paul Tillich talk of God as the "ground of being," a concept that more clearly suggests an alternate meaning to "the kingdom of God is within you."

Non-Christians across a wide array hold varying views and concepts of God that have as much validity in their own lives and in their own scripture as do Christians with the Bible.

What can we teach one another about God?

the world view in which I resided was more definitive and insulated than the one in which I live now.

That's why I sometimes wonder if the term "liberal Christian" isn't a contradiction in terms.

Well but then are we not turning semantic circles about what is in a name?

I suspect that reason and liberality based on the pre-crucifixion Christ could never yank the name out of the hands of those who - in any conscious or subconscious context - are irrevocably married to the cross, the death, the resurrection and the second coming as the prototypical defnition of what it means to be Christian.

However, I also think that in this discussion we blur a name with a label. I remember in the early days of coming out of a fundamentalist reality when I first read that Jefferson considered himself [and I paraphrase] "Christian in the only way Jesus wanted us to be Christian," and recoiling as 40 years of rigid and controlled dogmatic programming asserted itself.

Now I consider a "Jefferson model", if you will, to be the philosophical prototype for a pre-crucifixion lifestyle ... and for more or less the same reasons Jefferson expressed.

My advocacy is the value of the human life that Jesus lived as a model that can be imitated for reasons more connected to ethics than to morality.

For me the alternative would be some sort of subscribing to a claim of moral monopoly with implications of exclusivity. I suppose then that could be the definition of Spong's early declaration that Christianity must change or die.

Monopolies are, in actuality, an excercize in one or another form of coercion or - better said - extortion based on superstitious insistence.

I feel that expressing things as I have often generates a perception of excessive intellectual reasoning as a crutch for resisting the temptation to yield to superstition. 15 years ago, nearing the end of 40 years of immersion in a fundamentalist reality based entirely on an unprovable but socially enforced superstition, I was ready to throw the spiritual baby out with the literalist bathwater.

And yet ... after a few years away ... there were moments of powerful nostalgia at how safe, secure and certain I had felt for most of those years. In that regard, the world view in which I resided was more definitive and insulated than the one in which I live now. In some ways I liken it to the difference between being a lifetime employee and living a lifetime of self-employment.

In many ways the emotional ebbs and flows are similar. As an employee with guaranteed job security, one can remain occupied in a pseudo serentiy - so long as you don't look out the window and find the self-employed more directly involved in decisions that include both greater consequential risks, but greater rewards as well.

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