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Friday, April 29, 2016

Do Christians Need Corrective Lenses When Looking In The Mirror?

Alan Noble (click here for very brief bio) recently wrote an opinion piece for Christianity Today that claimed that America needs to elect a Christian President in these Post Christian times (click here for the article). What spurred him into writing this piece was an article written by Jennifer Hecht on why our nation might need a president like Bernie Sanders (click here for that article). Hecht's assertion is based on Sanders' lack of formal religious belief as opposed to the other candidates all of whom have formal Christian ties and thus an assumed impartiality due to that lack of formal religious association.

Noble questions the wisdom of Hecht's claims in the light of today's issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage. He also brings up our nation's tendency to elect Christians as Presidents.  In the end, Noble recognizes that we live in a divided Post Christian nation and that we need a leader who can bridge the gaps between the groups so as to protect each group's liberties and concerns. Oddly enough, some of the groups he mentions here with us Christians are those whom we have persecuted at least now and then: the LGBTQ community, immigrants, Muslims, Blacks, poor Whites, the police, and others.

Why, according to Noble, does our nation need a Christian President when Christianity's influence is dying? According to Noble, it is because we now know what it is like to be marginalized, or a "challenged" group. And because of our new place in society, we are the best hope for providing a leader who can be empathetic to all the other groups that are struggling.

The problem is that neither history nor current events supports Noble's claim that Christianity produces the empathy and patience needed to bring marginalized and antagonistic groups together. In fact, whether Christianity is now a marginalized group is very debatable seeing that it has had a privileged place in this nation since Europeans landed on this continent. We relgiously conservative, White Christians have been active in marginalizing others based on race, gender, religion, and now sexual orientation and identification. We have been the leaders in putting those who are different in their places. Yet now that we no longer have the pull to control society's mores and marginalize others, we see ourselves as being marginalized and thus can immediately be empathetic to the others.

If we think of the current support for and efforts of Christians to pass the new religious freedom laws that allow Christians to discriminate against same-sex weddings and those in the LGBT community in various ways, how can Noble believe what he is writing let alone trying to convince others of his point?

Calling us religiously conservative Christians a "challenged" group in society simply because society's sexual mores have publicly switched away from our sexual morals indicates a desire to magnify our loss of prestige and privilege in controlling society. But how does that put us Christians on the fringe of society? The next claim that the nation needs us to provide for them a Christian for the office of President shows another kind of inflation  only this one is on our sense of our own importance to others. Some might call the latter magnification a mild case of having delusions of grandeur.

We Christians in America have spent centuries trying to control society while not caring about the multitudes we have hurt or neglected on the way. American Christianity started very much as a White man's religion. Yes, Blacks were brought to Christ, but our religion's teachings here still favored the White race for such a long time if it still doesn't. We have been cold and merciless to the LGBT community. And we have, from the beginning, proclaimed ourselves as the 'city on the hill.' So in a sense, inflating our losses and our remaining importance to others can simply be described as the same-old, same-old as when we were in charge.

Noble's article here indicates that some of us religiously conservative Christians have lost touch with social reality. And the reason for that lack of connection is that we feel the need to have a more important role in society than any of the ones we fell into. Certainly not all Christians share this lack of awareness of our real place in society.But this article he wrote was posted in the Christianity Today's website proves that Noble is not alone in his delusional understanding of our place in society.



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