Of course, the many Christians here refer to conservative American Christians, American Fundamentalists to be precise. My informal research tells me that conservative Christians from other nations are more politically liberal than their American counterparts. But try to get a conservative American Christian to join the Occupy movement is like trying to get a rabid American football fan to buy season tickets to watch soccer.
Why is there such resistance by conservative American Christians to occupying? After all, aren't those in the occupy movement trying to speak out for those in need and against those enslaved to greed? Why would any conservative American Christian not want to join a group that tells us that our future depends on how well we cooperate with each other? And why would any American Christian not want to join a group that promotes a more participatory democracy than what we have now?
Lately, some writers from the Left have attributed the political convictions of American conservative Christians to their faith. They feel that those who believe in Creation over Evolution or in a world where God works miracles as being incapable of working for Social Justice unless such Christians leave their faith. The problem with this line of reasoning is that there are conservative Christians who also promote Social Justice and support more liberal and even Leftist views. The majority of such Christians, however, are not American. And perhaps, this gives us a hint why many conservative American Christians are not occupying today. The reason for why they are not occupying is not because of their faith but because of something else. But what would that something else be?
When one is raised as a conservative Christian in America, there are certain associations made with the faith. One such association is made between American patriotism and Christianity. We, that is those who are conservative American Christians, have been taught since when we were in the womb, that our nation was founded as a Christian nation by Christian Founding Fathers. Therefore, the American way, at least back when America was a Christian nation, is the Christian way and to criticize our Founding Fathers is to ridicule God and to protest against this Christian nation of ours is to attack the Gospel.
We should note that to reconcile our nation's history with the notion that America was ever a Christian nation places enormous demands on one's logical skills. The genocide and ethnic cleansing of the America's indigenous people and our nation's abuse and persecution of Blacks, both up through and after the Civil War, along with our emerging empire and use of dictators as proxy rulers over other countries, make it problematic to reconcile our history with the Beatitudes. And even when our history is partially acknowledged by the conservative American Christian, there is an emotional disconnect that protects such a Christian from the dissonance that should arise. That is, we might acknowledge some of the abuses in the past, but we can still call ourselves a Christian nation and a "city on the hill" without batting an eye. In the end, what the patriotic American Christian is saying to the world is that, despite the evidence, we must feel good about ourselves. We demand our Constitutional right to self-exalt.
And what goes for American Patriotism, goes for Capitalism. After all, since Capitalism is our economic system and we are a Christian nation, Capitalism is God's preferred economy. We supplement this reason with some common sense. For we reason that since the greatest prosperity in the history of the world has been enjoyed by Americans and we practice Capitalism, Capitalism must be God's economy. Such an argument has a point. That is, we, in the nation, have experienced some of the greatest prosperity in the history of the world.
But there is a problem lurking in the shadows. For just as we must acknowledge the high level of prosperity we have enjoyed, we must also ask a very damning question. That question is, when in the history of Capitalism, has it prospered without exploiting large numbers of people? Many times those who were exploited were hidden from the view of most Americans though their invisibility does not contradict the fact that they were exploited.
And what has caused the Occupy Movement to emerge now is the fact that a too big to deny percentage of Americans have now become victims of capitalism. As a result, we have the current Occupy movement. This movement is challenging American Patriotism by opposing the wars and is challenging Capitalism by insisting that people and their needs have priority over profits. Thus to suggest that being patriotic and practicing capitalism has spread more evil than good is to try to Occupy the Gospel because of the close association many conservative Christians have made between it and both patriotism and capitalism.
But there is still another reason why conservative American Christians have not occupied yet. That is because the Occupy movement is seen as a protest movement that does not respect authority. From an early age, conservative American Christians were injected with spiritual steroids when being taught to respect authority, exclusively from Romans 13 of course, so that we not only learned to respect authority, we worshiped it. We see authority figures as our saviors. To challenge the authorities, as it states in Romans 13:1ff, is to challenge God himself because it is God who has put in charge every authority figure.
A side effect of our hyper regard for authority can be seen in our preference for labels over concepts and thus for credentials over reason. For example, we have taught to so respect our conservative teachers that we now have great difficulty in distinguishing between between conservative theologies and conservative politics and between liberal theologies and liberal politics. As a result, we tend to uncritically accept the tenets of conservative politics, not because it is biblical, which it is not, but it has the conservative label. Likewise we will automatically reject, and have a phobic reaction to, liberal and leftist policies because of the label. This knee-jerk acceptance of whatever is conservative and rejection of whatever not conservative enables authoritarianism. And just as self-exaltation is the reason why we equate American patriotism and capitalism with Christianity, so self-interest is the reason why we have a hyper regard for those in authority. That self-interest tells us to be good little boys and girls so that those in charge will reward us rather than spank us. And perhaps, it is a desire to remain children that leads us to authoritarianism's embrace over the self-rule that the Occupy movement has been practicing. It is the desire to spend more time playing than making responsible decisions, to spend more time enjoying our trivial pursuits than being bogged down with the serious issues of life and how we will be with one another that causes us to prefer rule by elites than autonomy.
Why most conservative American Christians won't occupy isn't because of their faith, it is because of the extra ingredients added to their faith. And thus to include them in the occupy movement requires that we learn how to exorcise those extra ingredients without attacking their faith.
|This Month's Scripture Verse:|
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
2 Timothy 3:1-5