I no longer associate myself with the institution of the Christian Church and a belief at all that some supernatural power is in control of our lives has faded from my conscious behavior. Not that what the faith has at its core isn’t some value to us as humans but because too many within the faith represent the worst of humanity
Christianity today appears to be suffering an identity crisis. Perhaps it always has. Believers who claim to represent the faith do a poor job of following their own scripture. Especially those imperatives in Chapter 7 that warn against judging people too narrowly and harshly. It imparts the universal golden rule in verse 12 imploring believers to treat others as they would want to be treated. And it warns against listening to false prophets who can be identified “by their fruits”.
These are unequivocal pronouncements supposedly from the one who is recognized by believers as the bearer of “good fruit”, yet to watch and listen to many of his alleged followers today you would think he was the bearer of bad fruit. Who was Jesus and what did he represent in his life?
Was he a mean-spirited, vengeful individual who promoted death and destruction for his perceived adversaries? Was he a controlling power that sought to dominate the world by force and persecution? Is Jesus and the words attributed to him in the New Testament the influence of millions today and throughout history who killed to promote a belief system that claims to love us, even as imperfect as we are? Or was he the influence of others who are moved by the Good Samaritan parable, being led to believe that greater love has no one than he or she who lays down their life for their friend.
One affirms life through a shared humanity, the other takes it for a militant cause. The religious right in this country who claim to represent “the word of God” seems to do so in bits and pieces, omitting what comes close to kindness and generosity and highlighting instead those passages that validate a “holy war” against the unbelievers.
What would it look like for Christians today if there were no standards set for them found in Matthew Chapters 5-7 better known as “the sermon on the mount”?
Dr. Valerie Tarico, a psychologist and writer in Seattle, Washington who writes about the conflicts between people of faith and those outside institutional religion she refers to as freethinkers labels the militant types as “Great Commission” Christians. Those who feel it is their task to evangelize to every living being on earth before the second coming of Christ. To such hardliners, this includes the practice of warring with non-believers and putting to death all those who oppose such attempts at proselytizing. In the name of Jesus European missionaries and their military cohorts wiped out entire native cultures as they conquered the new world. Will such harsh tactics be viewed as “the will of the father” Jesus referred to in Matthew 7:21?
Though such outward manifestations have not been seen on a large scale since then, there remains a shadow of this virulent Christian today who spews streams of hateful words to anyone who doesn’t accept their perception on issues dealing with abortion, homosexuality and the notion that this country was founded on biblical principles.
It is also reserved, Ms. Tarico shows us, for anyone who attempts to defend the principle that affirms separation of church and state like Mikey Weinstein, founder and president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) and his wife Bonnie.
The mission of MRFF is “to ensuring that all members of the United States Armed Forces fully receive the Constitutional guarantees of religious freedom to which they and all Americans are entitled by virtue of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.”
Mikey Weinstein founded MRFF in response to rampant violations of these principles by Evangelicals and other “Great Commission” Christians at the United States Air Force Academy, where their two sons (both Jewish) and future daughter-in-law and son-in law (both Christians) were cadets and, like Mikey, later graduates.
Great Commission Christians are … typically … biblical literalists who believe the Bible is the perfect and complete word of God. Their behavior often stands in contrast to Great Commandment Christians—those who … perceive the Bible as a human document, an imperfect record of God’s relationship to humanity and the ministry of Jesus. SOURCE
I have had my own experience with a “great commission christian” She was a public school teacher in my Bible study class, back when I still called myself a Christian. Upon discovering that I considered myself a liberal Democrat she confidently asserted that it was impossible for “someone to call themselves a Christian and vote Democratic”. Democrats I found, if they were Christians, tended to be the Great Commandment types.
I would not have been surprised to see her among those self-righteous Christians outside of an abortion clinic vilifying the young women seeking to end an unwanted pregnancy. If stoning were legal today this lady would have been handing them out and casting what she couldn’t herself at these frightened young women who found little or no support among their friends and family.
She would have also likely been one of the thousands of people who wrote and emailed hateful words and death threats to the Weinsteins for attempting to prevent the military brass within the Air Force Academy from putting pressure on recruits to accept Jesus as their personal savior. These recruits were often badgered by others who willing caved to the demands of their senior officers being harassed night and day and lived under the fear that their careers would be cut short.
Here are a few of the “christian” responses, the fruits of their faith if you will, to the efforts of the Weisnsteins trying to curtail these abuses at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO.
– Mr. M Weinstein I am a spirit-filled ordained pastor of The Gospel from the great state of Nebraska. Stop your attack on God Almighty and His only Son our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Stop your attack on His holy Christian wariors(sic) in our armed military forces! My congregation includes many military from the nearby air force base. We pray as one for you to die tonight in your sleep leaving a bloody mess for your family to find at daybreak.
– To the enimy(sic) of Jesus The Christ – Let’s all watch how Jesus makes you pay for taking Him out of the Army. Your hellbound ‘religious freedom FROM religion” followers too. You all try to fool everybody and hide behind the contitution.(sic) Your afraid of the Gospel. Why is it you give a jew(sic) a chance to recrusify(sic) our Savior and he’ll do it ever time. And your the worse of jews in the world. Blood thrifty for inocent(sic) Christians bringing The Word to the Army. damn you and die. And burn for youre(sic) sins against Christ Jesus. For all time.
-For god and country and in god we trust. Maybe if the Jews fought in the revolution and wrote the constitution he would have a right too speak. Other wise shut the f up.
– When We see a jew like mikey wienstien we know that Hitler was right. Leave US soldiers alone mickey. Get you a nosejob hebe. And why not swindle someone in business? While eating a bagle(sic) and showing off your jew diamonds.
– Eat shit and don’t die. Just keep eating shit Michael Loser Weinstein. Fun to watch you eat shit. For all time. Since you and your little family of mfrr shit eaters are nothing but shit anyway.-
– Your only hope is to surrender to Jesus Christ. Your a stiff necked jew so you will not (Exodus 32 and verse 9). Thus you have no hope. – Keep your shitty self out of Christ’s military and Christ’s nation you dirty shit bag.
– Fuck your crybaby slut ass wife and fuck your crybaby spoiled children. Who got their fancy air force academy educations all paid for by the GRACE of Amercan CHRISTIAN taxpayers. And just look what we got for our tax money. The family Whiningsteen jew traitors from HELL. Cry cry cry cause you have it so bad in a CHRISTIAN made country. You know what you all happier in North koria(sic) or back in Jewsrael. get OUT of our country! Here Jesus is KING and if you dont(sic) like it than fuck you.
I have also been raised in white Southern culture where Southern Baptist even to this day try to justify their views on race using scripture. The US History website notes:
“Defenders of slavery noted that in the Bible, Abraham had slaves. They point to the Ten Commandments, noting that “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, … nor his manservant, nor his maidservant.” In the New Testament, Paul returned a runaway slave, Philemon, to his master, and, although slavery was widespread throughout the Roman world, Jesus never spoke out against it.”
While attending junior college in Dallas back in the early 70’s as the civil rights movement, now protected by law was expanding in the state of Texas, my Sociology 101 class was introduced in a study of cultures to a grandmotherly type woman who represented the KKK in this area. Her name, Dixie Leber, was an invention of hers that she had legally changed, with Leber being the reverse spelling of Rebel.
Of the many mind-boggling things Ms. Leber described in her view of the world was how God intended that there should be no interracial marriages when, in the creation story, he divided the night and the day. In so doing she assured us that since night is inferior to day so must the blacks be to the whites.
Historical ignorance that claims no Jews fought and died in the American Revolution and biblical distortions like Dixie Leber’s are common among many Great Commission Christians. It is this same diminished mental state today that has a young fundamentalist school teacher asserting that Christians cannot be Democrats and that American Muslims are attempting to replace the Constitution with Sharia law.