Countless women and men of selfless valor have died for her.
Many have given their life’s work to prosper her.
To be sure, she embodies many good things worthy of honor and thanksgiving.
Yet, no matter how many times we pat ourselves on the back. No matter how loud we cheer ourselves on. No matter our resilience to believe in brighter days ahead. No matter how vigorously we attempt to wall ourselves off from our own shameful realities. The truth that we desperately don’t want to hear is in fact the one bell whose ring could free us all, if we’d only listen—America is not great.
Privileged? Yes. Powerful? Yes. Wealthy? Yes. Domineering? Yes.
In fact, the foundational attributes that make greatness truly great reveal themselves to be much the opposite of who have we become. Search through the tenets of nearly every world religion, especially the very Christianity many deem to be foundational to the fabric of our country. There you will find common definitions of greatness that cast an epic dark shadow across our history, current realities, and aspirations.
Jesus, Gandhi, Buddha, and many others of divine wisdom all sit at the table and sing from a familiar chorus—”Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.”
Yet, sadly these are not the sounds of our national anthem nor our ethos.
No matter how large the flags we unfold onto the playing fields of American life with jet fighter flybys and fireworks. No matter how subtly we sanitize our history to insure the ignorance and compliance of future generations to our atrocities. No matter how many “bread and circus” shows we materialize in order to deflect from the evil of our endeavors. There is a prophetic chant of life-giving truth crying out from the wilderness of our nation, “America is not great, not great at all.”
Just unravel the American scroll but a few inches.
Consider the bloody rape, murder, pillaging, and displacement of millions of native Americans for the purpose of personal and religious conquest largely driven by white conservative Christian males seduced by evil visions of a twisted sense of manifest destiny. Consider the brutal enslavement, abuse, and murder of millions of black people for the purpose of personal and religious conquest spiritually justified by white conservative Christian males addicted to their privilege. Consider the vial discrimination, demonization, and marginalization of thousands of people in the LGBTQ community for the purpose of personal and religious conquest largely influenced and orchestrated by white conservative Christian males intoxicated by power and the control afforded by their bigotry. Consider the diabolical invasion of countries, the false flagging of wars, and the killing of innocent women, children, and men without legitimate provocation for the purpose of personal and religious conquest predominantly authored by greedy white Christian conservative males whose appetites will stop short of nothing less than ruling the world.
We have long lived by the swords of spiritually justified violence, greed, and imperialism, and now we are dying by them as we bury our heads deep into the sand and numb our collective conscience with the opioids of mass denial.
Americans are 10 times more likely to be killed by guns than people in most every other country. Gun-related murders in the United States rate 25 times higher than all of the high-income countries of the world. America is ranked 16th on the world’s top 100 corruption list. We are cited as one of the top 10 most racist countries in the world. America is home to the highest number of overweight and obese people. In fact, we throw way 200,000 tons of edible food daily. 34% of billionaires are Americans, yet the US poverty level is the highest in the developed world. Americans constitute 5% of the world’s population but consume 24% of the world’s energy. America makes up 37% of the 1.6 trillion dollars spent globally on military expenditures. Not surprisingly, the US military budget is the largest in the world. All, while US college students face tuition rates that far outrun inflation rates with more than $1.2 trillion in student debt, an increasing middle class and elderly population that is being further denied adequate health coverages, and Social Security projections that significantly decrease future payouts. And to top it off, America, the land of the free, ranks 47th in press freedom—no surprises there.
There is no doubt, for those with eyes willing to see and ears willing to hear, we have become the bratty narcissistic child who has warped divine freedom into barbaric ferociousness. With all the world our sandbox, we have become consummate experts at casting blame upon everyone else for our problems, gas-lighting the crap out of our dissenters, and bullying anyone and anything that challenges the elite’s quest for power and privilege.
Make no mistake, in the eyes of Jesus and the common sense goodness of humanity, we are not great, not great all.
Yet sadly, we have long been blind to the evil Wizard pulling the strings behind the American curtain, and therefore, have wielded little power and success in turning the Titanic around. For conservative Evangelical Christianity is increasingly showing itself to be perhaps the greatest evil ever manifested upon the earth—nothing less than the foundational fuel behind the moral and spiritual decline of America. Yes, as hard as it is to hear and as difficult as it is to say, the very entity that has long postured itself as having the Savior is being exposed as harboring the Satan.
With a gospel that is no Gospel at all, as it actually further imprisons and entices people to sin while pimping the poison, not the cure. With a prescription for Christian living that most assuredly and directly leads to self-righteousness, judgmentalism, hypocrisy, duplicity, double standards, and pretentiousness. With a church culture overflowing with greed, consumerism, conformity, selfishness, exploitation, ministry empires, pastoral fame, and the franchising of Jesus. With a driving leadership of white heterosexual males fueled by their egos and an addiction to grandiose aspirations of ministry and cultural supremacy. With a declaration that they hold the infallible exclusive inside scoop to all things God, the Scriptures, and truth. With an overall purpose and vision of world domination that divides the planet into the converted-to-heaven and the condemned-to-hell. With a belief in a god who spiritually justifies violence, condemnation, sexism, murder, conquest, elitism, and imperialism, all under the twisted auspices of love—not to mention the worship of a white Jesus who encourages and enables personal prosperity and separatism. As has become America, conservative Evangelical Christianity is perhaps the most gun-loving, enemy-bullying, defensively postured, greedy, gluttonous, bigoted, oppressive, marginalizing, sexist, freedom-killing, narcissistic, imperialistic, militant, and controlling manifestation on the planet.
Truth be told, now like never before, America and conservative Evangelical Christianity have become two evil peas in a evil pod, creating a death cocktail that intoxicates the privileged and religious, and drowns out all others. Find me places in the history of America and our current endeavors where we have done and aspired to evil things, and there you will have found the underlying direct influence of a white heterosexual male-driven conservative Evangelical brand of Christianity. No wonder how such a deplorable president as Donald Trump could have been elected and remain continually supported.
For where in America are freedom of speech, thought, and belief most likely to be squelched? Where are women most likely to be shackled by sexism? Where is the LGBTQ community most likely to be demonized, condemned, and driven to suicide? Where are minorities most likely to be discarded and discriminated against? Where are the poor and vulnerable most likely to be exploited for personal or corporate gain?
Where? All at the feet of conservative Evangelical Christianity, that’s where.
And sadly, if this corrupted faith system has its way, it will be at the feet of all of America too.
To those who would criticize me as being harsh or overgeneralized, the truth is, these realities are just that deeply disturbing and widely infiltrating. I refuse to shrink back in fear and be recorded by history as one who became complicit out of an unwillingness to sound the alarm and stand atop the walls of humanity and shout the truth. For we are not far from a tipping point from which there will be little to no return.
No, there is no pleasure taken in shining a light into these caverns of darkness. No, not all conservative Evangelicals are willing participants or knowingly support such abhorrent things. Of course, no church, group, denomination, or faith expression is perfect. Yet, make no mistake, conservative Evangelical Christianity as a faith system is nothing shy of pure evil. And now more than ever, we are witnessing before us on a national and global scale the devastating fruitions of its hollow fruit.
These are desperate times that call for determined bravery—a bravery that begins with brutal honesty. For we have met the true enemy of all that is Jesus and all that is good—and it is us. We are the false accusers, the bulliers, the conquerers, the oppressors, the condemners, the deceived deceivers, and the exploiters of humanity and abusers of all that is God who is Love.
America is not great, and Evangelicalism is not good.
That’s the truth, and it’s high-time we wake up to it.
Grace is brave. Be brave.
Once again you are spot on in my opinion. The simple teaching of LOVE, the true message of Jesus seems to be lost. Thanks Chris.
Karl, thank you! So appreciate your encouragement and affirmation!
Amen to that a thousand times!
We have been spiraling downward on this trajectory for a long time. We are simply fooling ourselves. As an ordained Christian theologian, I feel so much sorrow, sadness and shame over what we have become; and, what we have done. American “exceptionalism” does not translate into moral exceptionalism.
Celtic_Priest, I agree and join you along this journey of sadness. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment!
Born exactly one week after D-Day, I am 73. I grew up in the 1950s; became of age in the 1960s. Joined the United States Air Force at age 18, one month after high school graduation. My family was faithful, but not exactly religious. Most families from that era were similar except for the fundamentalists (which came in every stripe).
I attended a local Lutheran Church where I was baptized, confirmed; sang in the choir, was a youth leader and a Boy Scout. The expression of our faith was “intimate”; not public. We resented and recoiled from proselytes.
I became a proud Staff Sergeant at age 21, serving in classified Intel overseas. I was so proud of my country, the same country for which today I feel so much shame and dismay.
I share this because “religion” as practiced by so many of the more vocal and visible “Christians” is pure heresy. Their blasphemy before God and Christ all but confirms their allegiance to the Great Satan. They have contaminated and corrupted the Faith, turning it into a public spectacle for which many of us have become deeply ashamed. Our current political climate, orchestrated by fundamentalists across the board, is the result of three decades of assault on the Faith. The hatred and intolerance which has become their societal operative is destroying us, America. They find impurity in “the other”, fully ignoring how impure they themselves are. So much damage has been done by them, I fear there is no opportunity for full redemption or a recentering. Our country is at peril because of the “Bible thumpers”, the self-righteous among us who have destroyed the Faith through intention.
I have been saying for a while that western civilization (post Roman) as we know it is on the eroded edge of a precipice, ready to fall into an abyss. In the last year, I have come to many of the same conclusions that you are drawing. The church, that I have loved with every fibre of my being, the vehicle that Christ has used for millennia to reach those in desperate need physically, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually, is gravely ill unto death. How do we save it? The church that is. How do we get her back? How do we become that beacon on a hill that all men can see and stream to it? …without corruption or malice just love, honour, grace, mercy, and salvation.
Sarah, thanks for reading and sharing such a profound comment!
“How do we get her [the Church] back?” Sadly, I doubt that we can. The Demon’s seed was sown long ago. Scripture warns against the hypocrites and false prophets. Sadly, it takes much longer to build the Temple than to tear her down. (Look at the original Twin Towers in NYC.) The Gospel of Matthew says, “Evil lives in the hearts of men [and, women].” That resident evil has been freed up by the self-righteous purveyors of the lie.
I was not surprised by any of the content, but was left speechless by the delivery. Every sentence was spot on to the observations I’ve made of the conservative church and its influence in the world. It makes me unbelievably sad, and unbelievably complicit for having ever been a part of it. I hope that you are shining a light that others who have not yet seen the corruption, will see and heed.
Grace is brave. Be brave. <— I love that, and I needed to hear it!
My wife gave me a wonderful acronym for the word fear:
F-E-A-R: FACE EVERYTHING AND RISE.
Baruch HaShem! That's Hebrew for "Blessed be the name (of the L-rd)"
Everything you said is true. I believe that it’s true not only of America, but of much of the world. But, you give no hope, no light. I’ve never been accused of being naive, but I haven’t given up on humanity, or on this Country and it’s original dream. I still hope and I’m willing to fight to preserve that small burning ember; to nurture it, to feed it, and help it grow. The whole of the world has nasty, black ink blots of history, where there was murder, rape, war, greed and every form of evil that you can imagine. Christianity has, indeed, been warped into an unrecognizable version of what we all hoped it would be.
But, there are still large portions of humanity who can still see the dream of freedom, compassion and equality. Everyday, here and around the world, there are people who help the beaten, starving and forgotten souls that are still hanging on. People who fight for the beauty and health of this land and will still protect it’s people. They who help each other in times of sadness, horror or catastrophe still abound. Christians are still out there, carrying on with the mandates of Jesus. All is not lost. I will be brave, as you said, and I will not curl up in a helpless ball of sorrow. America, Christianity and humanity is worth my standing up tall, putting myself in the line of fire and working to make things better. I believe we can win.
Yes. And what you have stated here is indeed *how* we will win 🙂
When you look at the Constitution do you see ANY references made to God? Forget a mention of Jesus mind you. There are many who call/called themselves Christians because that is/used to be Western Civilization’s religion. Many will say they are Jewish, but admit they are atheists! Christians should be happy these days. Theological lines are clearer now than ever. God is Holy. We are not called to be friends with the world but to love. Loving well includes speaking the truth. Salvation is when an individual is redeemed, adopted into God’s family, and conformed (ie sanctification process). It is not about righting obesity rates, cutting food waste, slashing military expenditures, combating greed in others or so many other social ills that plague our sin sick nation. We can’t even see that killing unborn babies is wrong and that is with ultrasound technology!
Thank you for saying so well what I believe.
Thank you for reading and commenting Dave!
Chris, this is superb. Even as a UK – well, I would say ‘Jesus follower’, but they have plagiarised that term too – Christian, I too see the rot in the structure of mainstream Evangelical Christianity. I see sickening photos, like the one where Trump is being ‘prayed for’, with the plagiarised laying-on of hands, while conveniently leaving a gap so the cameras can see. I try not to judge, because in my maturity I have realised that everyone is at a different place in their spiritu al walk. But how do I reconcile the blatant media showmanship and hypocrisy with my desire to not judge people? It’s so, so hard…
If you want to really hold your nose, you might look at the news clip from last night’s Trumpian rally in Florida where the governor states that Trump will help to usher in Armageddon as a result of claiming Jerusalem the capital of Israel.
As to “judging”, I doubt Jesus would say not to judge false truths, alternative facts and realities; or, blatant heresy and blasphemy. After all, He does warn about the wolves in sheep’s cloth, they hypocrites and the false prophets. I understand Jesus’ Teaching about judgment on a more personal level.
Thanks for your reply, Celtic_Priest 🙂 Crumbs, was that really what that governor said? Wow that’s scary, in a crazy kind of way. (Am I the only one who is sick of the word ‘usher’, btw?)
Point taken about the judging. I guess I feel that way because it took me fifteen years to escape from my old, judgemental attitudes, and I don’t want to sink to that level again! But I do think there is still room for calling out the bad guys. Thanks again 🙂
“Calling out the bad” is not judgmental. You can replace “usher” with “the gateway to” if that helps. LOL. The [il]logic of a subset of evangelicals is their determined belief the Temple of Jerusalem will be rebuilt (Revelations). They pray for Armageddon while each day I pray for another good day. I am not especially eager to see the end of the world. But with each generation comes a group of zealots who are enthusiastic about the End Times (my brother being one). When completing my graduate work in Theology, it was often stated that the Book of Revelations was written by someone who likely was on some type of euphoria drug. Makes sense to me. 🙂
“But with each generation comes a group of zealots who are enthusiastic about the End Times “. Yes, indeed. And yet, there is this strange dichotomy that although they are indeed enthusiastic about the End times, they are also completely terrified of them too, and see ‘Judgement Day’ as being a time of great fear *even for them*. It’s most odd. It’s almost like they enjoy frightening themselves, even when their stated belief is in a God of perfect love, which casts out all fear. It’s also almost as if they don’t know what their pass/fail result will be on said Judgement Day. That doesn’t make sense to me, when they confidently say they’re ‘saved’. Lollz 😉
Tony, indeed! Well said. Thanks so much for reading and commenting!
Wonderful read! I strongly agree with everything you have said, have thought it myself, but lack your eloquence in putting it to paper. Thank you for shining a bright light on this matter! I hope it will be read and taken to heart by many!
Thanks you so much Lynnette for your encouraging words!
Finally, the voice of sanity. I’m so sick of all this sanctimonious, bellicose patriotism. It was quite a shock the day I realized the truth about this country. I’m really angry about the lies I was taught in school.
Thanks Frances for appreciating my writing!