A friend of mine “helpfully” posted this article on Facebook. It’s from an organization called The Christian Left. The first paragraph reads:
An epic deception has taken place over the last 35 years. Purveyors of deceit have managed to equate Christianity and right-wing ideology as one and the same in the majority of Christian minds. We know the history, but how this ever happened is unfathomable to us because the two things could not be more opposed. Right-wing ideology is selfish, greedy, arrogant, vengeful, loud, pushy, judgmental, exclusive, controlling, militaristic, aloof, void of empathy, hostile towards the weak and the sick, and many times racist, misogynistic, homophobic and Islamophobic. The list goes on. Does that sound like Jesus?
The writer went on to accuse the “Christian right” of brainwashing, false teachings, and shaming. (And then they asked for donations.)
I don’t have an issue with my friend. He’s not a follower of Jesus. He happens to be very liberal politically. He’s also a very nice person and sincerely wants to help those less fortunate. We just disagree on the best way to do that—and that’s okay.
However, I do have an issue with the organization behind this article. A major issue. I’m bringing it up here (i.e., in public) both because they published their article on a public site instead of addressing specific “offenders” privately and in person, and because I think this type of attitude is the basis for the enormous political rift in our country.
First of all this organization claims to be liberal and Christian. Fine. But then they condemn conservative Christians for combining their faith and their political leanings. Isn’t this organization doing the same thing? God isn’t a conservative or a liberal. He’s God! Our first allegiance is to Him. This world is not our home, and any earthly ideology is a minor nit when compared to our passionate pursuit of our true King and His kingdom.
However, we have to live here in the world, even if we aren’t of it, and most of us have some opinions on political and social issues. Hopefully, our opinions reflect our faith and its practice. We might be liberal because we believe the government has a responsibility to care for those in need. We might be conservative because we believe that responsibility falls to individuals and the church. Either way, we want to help those who need help.
Or, we may be against abortion because we believe it’s murder, and God condemns murder. Or we may be pro-choice because we value the dignity of women and see it as a social justice issue. (I could add a lot more here, but I don’t want to get sidetracked.) The point is that our goals are the same—loving our neighbor, showing compassion, working toward justice, etc. We just take different approaches to accomplishing those goals.
My second issue comes from the words this Christian organization has chosen to describe their brothers and sisters in Christ: selfish, greedy, arrogant, vengeful, loud, pushy, judgmental, exclusive, controlling, militaristic, aloof, void of empathy, hostile towards the weak and the sick, and many times racist, misogynistic, homophobic and Islamophobic. But by compiling this list, to a great degree they’re guilty of exactly what they’re complaining about!
I’m a believer, and I happen to be a political conservative. Many of my friends are likewise conservative and Christian. And none of them are any of these things!
Our church, also Christian and predominantly conservative, would probably be considered part of the “religious right” by this organization (although our pastor never takes political sides). Yet we’re multicultural, we have women in leadership, we run a free women’s health clinic, we own a large apartment complex that provides free, long-term housing for homeless women and children (and we’re currently converting another complex into a long-term shelter for men), we mail hundreds of checks to low-income families every Christmas, we help resettle Muslim refugees, we feed the homeless, we provide tutoring at a poorly performing elementary school, and the list goes on and on.
Furthermore, it isn’t just our church that does this. A major study (by a liberal!) showed that conservatives volunteer more time and donate more money to charity than do liberals. Check out Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism, by Arthur C. Brooks.
I’m sure there are some individuals (and even churches) who exhibit one or more of these unloving traits—there are always those who have a lot to learn—but to paint a large, diverse group of people with one brush is simply spiteful stereotyping. It fosters an “us vs. them” mentality that is the opposite of the church as one body with Christ as the head. I’m appalled that believers on both sides of the aisle are allowing political differences to come between us.
Finally, accusing other believers like this is unbiblical. Consider Romans 14:4—
Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.
If we believe another Christian is acting sinfully, there is a prescribed way to lovingly confront them—and it’s not by publicly calling them names.
More than anything, this article made me sad—sad that believers can be so mean. Sad that parts of the church can be so disconnected to other parts of the church. Sad that the actions of a few have created such a negative impression. Aren’t we supposed to be known for how we love one another? I don’t see any love in these hurtful words!