Somebody, please tell the Evangelical Christians there is no conspiracy to take away their religion.
To the Evangelical Christians of these United States,
Just because you can’t take over the United States government and fashion these United States into your own personal Christian nation, doesn’t mean you can’t live in peace with the rest of us. We don’t want to take away your religion. We’d rather do something else with our time. Besides, the rest of us will not let you take this country and turn it into your very own custom Christian country. That is not what this country is about.
I saw the story about Mike Pence’s speech the other day. Pence was talking about how people would challenge their faith, and that people would question their faith. He was telling students at Liberty University that they need to be ready to be prepared to meet people who will oppose those students just for being Christian. And I’m pretty sure he meant, “Evangelical Christians” because not all Christians think the way Evangelicals do. Numerous outlets are running this story with a variety of perspectives. Here’s mine.
I’m pretty sure that Martin Luther King, Jr. would not be Christian if he had reached the same conclusions as Mike Pence. Likewise, I’m pretty sure there is a wide range of opinions within the Christian community and that many of them, like the Mormons who are my neighbors down the street from me, are pretty comfortable with a plurality of faiths in this nation. So that there is less confusion here, when I use the term “Christian” or “Christians” in this article, I mean “Evangelical Christians” going forward.
I’m not a mind reader, but all of the evidence I’ve seen so far says that a very vocal minority of Christians want prayer in schools. They want “intelligent design” taught as science. They want to ban abortions. They want our kids reading the bible in school. They want to define marriage according to their book. They appear to believe that people of color are inferior to white Evangelical Christians, and they want the laws to reflect their perceived imbalance of power. They want a religious test for office. They want to announce to the world that the United States is a Christian nation despite everything the Founding Fathers said to the contrary.
But if they were able to do all that, we would not be the United States anymore. We would be quite something else, really. The diversity of our nation is what makes our nation strong. This diversity allows us to solve problems that we could not if we were all lemmings following the same faith, the same ideology, and the same philosophy.
What I want to offer here, is an acknowledgment of the Evangelical faith. I respect your beliefs, even if I don’t share them. I want to assure you that neither I nor anybody else is trying to take your religion away. But when you try to impose your beliefs upon others, you are antagonizing your brothers and sisters who do not share your beliefs.
You must remember the single most important thing that Jesus ever said: “Follow me”. He did not say to compel others to follow him. He did not say, take up the highest office in the land and under the color of law, compel others to follow him. He did not say to use physical force to compel others to follow him. He did not say that you should withhold service to those who do not follow him.
Jesus said, “follow me”. That is all he said. I think he just wants you to follow his example. That’s it. If others like what you do, they will follow you, too.
I see that some Christians seek to punish and have punished others for being gay, lesbian, transexual, bisexual, queer or what have you. I see that some Christians seek to punish others for not marrying according to what their faith tells them. I see that some Christians punish blacks just for being black, brown, Asian and what have you. Evangelical Christians, I doubt that what those people do is any of your business, to begin with. But there is nothing in the bible that says that you have the right to punish another in the ways that you do. You are not the law.
Even in your own bible, God said that “Vengeance is mine!” Vengeance is not yours. It is not mine. What your bible says is that there are “natural consequences” to your actions and that God is that consequence. If you’re Christian, and you’re punishing someone in some way just for being who they are at the moment they are doing their thing, you have to ask yourself if you are or are not playing God. Whatever you might want to believe, according to your own bible, you are not the consequence of the actions of others, God is.
I have become aware of a certain “Christian Persecution Complex”. This has been well documented in a few sources that I have read. I encourage you to do your own research on this one. I’m not a Christian, but I’m not out to get you. I’m not here to make your life difficult. I’m busy making my life and the lives of the people I love and work with better.
No one is out to get you for being Christian. The world just isn’t that small, and you’re not that big. There are just about as many Hindus, Muslims, and Buddhists as there are Christians. They’re pretty busy doing their own thing, too. And they’re doing it in America, land of the free, home of the brave.
I see that your fight for all of the things mentioned in the fourth paragraph above (school prayer, et. al.) speaks to fear, a very real fear of persecution. You saw what happened to the Jews in the Holocaust, and you might be worried you’re next. I don’t think so. Christians hold the reigns to many of the most powerful institutions in the world; the United States Congress, the Federal Reserve Bank, all of the US armed forces, and lately, the executive branch of the United States government.
Yet, even with all of that power, the fear is still there. There isn’t enough power in the world to quell that fear. If you get some, you will want more. And if that isn’t enough, you will want more. If you get all of those things that I mentioned in the early paragraphs of this article, theoretically, you will get what you wanted. Even if you got that, will it be enough?
It will not. For the more power you get, the more you will invite jealousy and rejection from others. More power will not bring you peace, no sir. More power will only bring paranoia. More power will only bring more worry, and less time to look forward because you will be spending so much time looking over your shoulder. Do you really think you can handle that much power?
Perhaps you could rely upon God more than just praying for what you want…
The reason the United States is such a success is that it made a step in the direction of distributing power rather than centralizing it. As more and more people were given a voice in government, the power and the success of these United States grew. We still have a ways to go in the direction of distributing power, and I have a pretty strong feeling we’ll take that to the next level, soon. Yet, we have made great progress.
If you succeed in any or all of the goals I inferred in paragraph four above, you will have reversed all of that progress. Water in a running river is no longer running if you put it in a bucket.
Evangelical Christians of the United States, lay down your arms. Live in peace with your brothers and sisters, even if they don’t share your beliefs. Live in peace even if the rest of us disagree with you. Live in peace even if we don’t do exactly what you think we should do. Be prepared for vigorous debate in and around the halls of power and make your best case. But rest assured, we really don’t want to deprive you or anyone else of their religion.
We want you to be able to practice your religion every bit as much as the rest of us want to practice our own or not be religious at all. Keep your religion to yourselves as the Founding Fathers did theirs.
That’s why the Founding Fathers wrote the First Amendment the way they did. The very first clause of the First Amendment says that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” They meant every word of it. Please respect that. The First Amendment has those words because the Founding Fathers knew we would never have any lasting peace without them.