You’re right, I’m pissed.
Not just pissed—I’m disturbed, dismayed, and utterly repulsed at what has become of so much of modern Christianity. The undeniable carnage that rots at the feet of conservative Evangelicalism should send every soul into rants of injustice and blasphemy. I’m not going to apologize for my vehemence—in fact, I’m wondering how you can remain so acquiescent. Blinded to our privilege, arrogance, and greed, we have made a mockery out of Jesus and raped His Gospel into good news for the privileged and ideologically-conforming, but terrible news for the rest—how convenient. Marginalizing, condemning, and destroying whole groups of God-adorned people at the wave of our Evangelical wands, we cozy up to the devil himself while hoping to convince the world we sit at the right hand of Jesus. It’s terrible, disgusting, and flat out evil—and I’m determined to chase every fiber of it out of the shadows, giving voice and courage to all those it oppresses.
I know, you disagree.
In fact, you’re all but convinced I’ve gone plummeting off the deep end—steering my life, thinking, and believing straight into hell’s toxic ravine.
With seemingly everything I say, write, feel, and believe, the glare in your eyes and the rejection on your face shows me all I need to see. I’ve stepped outside the lines, disappointed expectations, and called into question the sacred cows of conservative Christian belief. You don’t like it one bit—that needling under your skin. If there’s one thing—that’s the one thing, that’s perfectly clear.
At times, I can’t help but notice—grinding down with every muscle in your being, you try to squeeze out some politeness to wrap around your disagreements. I appreciate that, I really do—your heart and noble effort are shining through. Yet as flowery as you hope I’ll receive it all and the sure goodness of your intentions, the time-released stench coupled with your corrective words is a scent I can’t ignore. Coated with the perfumes of religious condescension, so often your displeasures with me steep and steam of freshly spewed manure—as much as I may try, I just can’t un-smell it.
It’s not the reality that we don’t see eye to eye, or that you’re completely missing my heart. It’s your apparent determination to misunderstand, deflect, and reject without pause or genuine review that tells me any hope has vanished—jumping ahead with your assumptions and conclusions before the trigger sounds the start.
It’s not that I don’t respect your faith, beliefs, personal perspectives, and ways of thinking—I do. It’s not that I don’t care about developing or preserving some kind of relationship with you—I do. It’s not that I don’t desire peace between us and mutual understanding—I do. It’s not that I don’t want to hear from God what He might desire to say to me—I most certainly do. But somehow, it seems, a seat at the table for conversation and the sharing of differing views, just isn’t enough—for you. Instead, without my desire nor consent, you keep jumping the fence, claiming an entire space and authority in my life to call me into accountability—as if Jesus has surrendered the throne to your right-wing conservative ideology and made my entire being your imminent domain. With all due respect, when did God grant you exclusive access to the inside scoop on all things Jesus? Tailing my every move, turn, and twist along this spiritual journey, I don’t ever remember God assigning you to the role of spiritually policing me.
The truth is, I don’t owe you an explanation, justification, rationalization, or clarification. I don’t owe you a bible verse, proof text, theological reasoning, or an example from history. I don’t owe you a visit to your church, the reading of an article, or a talk with your pastor. In fact, when it’s all said and done, I don’t owe you a damn thing—in a manner of speaking. My freedom in Christ and His Spirit to guide me dismantle all pursuits from you or any other to control me and make me your project. There’s nothing like meeting the buzzsaw of my iron-plated identity in Him—wait for it, you’ll see.
Every time I speak, you’re cocked and loaded with the very same litany.
You say that I’m being just as judgmental and intolerant as the people with whom I disagree. With all due respect, I have found more so than not, that’s what people say who are ignorant of their privilege and the shadow it’s casting. It’s the height of all spiritual arrogance to wrap yourself in the garments of religious authority and elitism, and yet cry foul at the presence of constructive passionate criticism. That’s like the sun shaming the stars for claiming it’s hot, bright, and big. Until you’re willing to be last, you’ll never understand the sacred responsibilities of being first. If you have a problem with the people under your feet crying out to be heard as they protest your perniciousness and reveal it for what it is, you’ll need to take up your complaint with Jesus who was murdered for doing the same.
You say my observations, descriptions, and admonitions are too broad and sweeping—as if people don’t have the common sense to see themselves (or not) in the mirror my words are creating. With all do respect, I’ll start caring about your concerns regarding the presence of broad-sweeping descriptions when you reject a faith that condemns to hell whole segments of God’s sacred humanity. I’ll start worrying about making sure I’m painting by the numbers when you stop labeling entire communities of people as “sinners” in need of “reparative therapy.” I’ll stop making blanket statements when you stop boycotting entire industries. I’ll stop describing things in general terms when you come to realize that “all lives matter” doesn’t matter until, “black lives matters” matters first.
You say that I’m not loving unconditionally those I criticize, in the same way that I’m calling for it. You say I need to just “move on” to some kind of “joy” that comes from making peace with all of it. You say there’s a “healing process” to be had so I can “grow up” and put aside my angst and aversions towards religious conservatism. You say that I don’t include enough biblical references and sound theological reasoning. You say I’m always pointing out the problems and never shining light on the solutions.
Does unconditional love require the refusal to speak on behalf of those with whom conservative Christianity has condemned and abused? Does it require a passive silence in the face of evil at its purest?
You assume that God’s desire for me is a “joy” that comes from some kind of spiritual numbness to the pain of others and the evils of religion. Until my dying day, I refuse any such twisted “bliss”customized for the privileged who can turn their backs and look away—until that day, of course, when there are no privileged, but only people equal under Grace, all treated the same.
With all due respect, in regards to who I am or what I pursue, I don’t owe you a spin on your Scripture pole nor a lap-dance upon the legs of your orthodoxy. I don’t owe you a prancing around in your legalistic lingerie nor photos for your vacation from caring about humanity. Know this, and know this for sure, I don’t owe you a blasted thing, because the last thing God desires for my life is for me to start answering to you.
Instead, from the megaphone of heaven trumpeting in my ear, there is a sure and voracious calling to be fully me, free and alive—to manifest the heart of Jesus who called the religious evils of His day out of the shadows, and stood in solidarity with the religiously condemned. Jesus didn’t just “move on” as if people are disposable, rather He died and took everyone and everything broken unto Himself. How dare you entertain the idea that doing anything of a different flavor could manifest He who is the Bread, broken for the world.
Nothing could ever inspire me beyond the redemption of people abused at the hands of the brand of Christianity you seem to so desperately want me to appease and approve. I will not leave nor forsake the least of these until all of us can cross together into a land where Grace is given full room to rule and reign—now, welling up to eternity.
No, there is no “healing process” for me—by His stripes I am healed, and perfectly made whole already.
If you’re so concerned about solutions to the problems, why don’t you just go and be one.
As for me, hear me and hear me well. I’m gonna be all up your kool-aid—I’m not going away. I’m not shrinking back or bowing to your editorializations and expectations—hell no, no way.
Today is the day of my soul emancipation—I’m breaking free from your shame, guilt, condemnation, and loaded lines of questioning.
Sorry conservative Christian, play every card in your religious deck. I’ve come to realize the truth that Grace has convinced me—I don’t owe you anything.
Grace is brave. Be brave.
Chris, I so love how you put it. Keep on saying it with passion and integrity.
…but even if you’re right, you are wrong.
If you’re on the “right”, then you are definitely wrong.
Thank you Jem, so appreciate you and your support!
How refreshing to read your work! This is a time when very few people have the faith which fortunately my parents helped me find. By the God’s GRACE I have the FAITH I need in my life.
Thanks so much Elaine! Well said!
You keep calling out conservative Christians. Do you honestly believe they ARE Christians? If so, do you think God likes the division you seek to promote? If you don’t think they ARE God’s children (which if I understand correctly, according to you, everyone IS), then you can stop reading right here b/c what I’m about to ask is based on the premise that you believe that both the “conservative Christians” and your “grace lovers” are both seeking to serve the same God.
If you and they are seeking to serve God in different ways, how is it beneficial to publicize, nay advertise, the vast differences in your beliefs? I know, I know, “THEY” are the ones who started it, but I fail to see how this divisive diatribe (because its certainly not a dialogue) has any real effect. Or is it merely for affirming the marginalized with the wondrous by-product of offending the original offenders?
I’ve posted before because I REALLY AM trying to understand where you are coming from, but honestly, your posts are so sensationalized and use such emotionally-laden words that it really doesn’t feel like much of a “conversation” as it does a condemnation. And your responses have been something to the effect of “If you believe differently, you suck and I have no obligation to engage in helpful dialogue”, which seems an awful lot like what you rant against.
Obviously, you don’t owe me anything, but if you have cornered the market on GRACE, I think I’ll pass.
Kellie, thank you so much for sharing the honesty of your reflections about this article and your concerns about my writing in general. I am sorry you are confused by my motives and intent, and experience me as being part of the problem–if I’m hearing you right. I don’t believe nor claim to have “cornered the market” on anything, especially Grace. I apologize if it seems I do. I’m doing my best to give voice to those who are oppressed by religion and chase the evils of conservative Evangelical Christianity out of the shadows. I am sure I miss the mark at times, and disappoint many in the process. I only hope you will, in time, find something of value and of Jesus in my work.
I guess what bothers me about your post is twofold: 1) I don’t understand a lot of what you’re saying. 2) Grace is given for repentence and change. Whether you like it or not, Christianity has standards. There are things that are right to do, and things that are not right to do. God expects us to turn our backs on the sin in our lives, repent and ask for forgiveness. Then HE gives us grace and makes us His. You say that conservatives judge people, but it’s God who does, whether you like it or not. Jesus was pretty explicit about that. I think the one thing He said most constantly was “Go your way and sin no more”. Not “Go on and behave like you did before you met Me.”
Granted, that also applies to those who call themselves Christians and yet deal with others with contempt and disdain. Always, always, we are called by the Lord to speak the truth in love. Love. And that’s where so many in the church (on either side) fail.
Chris, you seem like a totally different person in your reply to Kellie than in your post. The person in the reply is one I’d sit down with over a beverage (adult or not) and have a respectful conversation and connection between two human beings. The post distanced me (even though many of the points are good ones) – connection is hard to achieve when there’s that much anger and rage.
Rhonda, thanks for reading and commenting. I always finding it interesting that there are many who find, even my most provocative writings to be filled with much Grace, love, and compassion. Yet, there are others who, even with my softest articles, declare them to be too strong and filled with rage and anger. It’s all a matter of perspective I suppose. To the privileged, the cries of the oppressed and their expressed resistance often are belittled as mere fits of anger and rage. It’s a lot easier to deflect truth when one simply passes it off as being just a ridiculous rant. People do that with my work, no matter how soft I do or don’t communicate. Furthermore, I don’t write with the primary intention being to change disagreeing people’s minds or convince them of a new perspective, but rather mainly to let the religiously abused and discarded know they have been heard, are valued, and have one who stands with them in solidarity and will be their voice where they have little to none. So, in a sense, if you miss the heart of my work, it’s value, and meaning, I’m o.k. with that because I know for sure the broken who live in the dark shadows of conservative Christianity completely understand and feel deeply empowered, freed, and blessed by who I am and what I say. Thanks again for reading and commenting.
As a matter of red-letter FACT, God is a mighty fine fan of division.
Highlights from Matthew 10 (please read the whole for your edification and consider how YOU might divide YOURself from unrighteousness):
“Jesus called his 12 disciples to Him and gave them authority to DRIVE OUT IMPURE SPIRITS and to heal every disease and sickness.”
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”
“Do not go among the gentile or enter any town of the Samaritans (read: religiously classified “unrighteous ones”). GO RATHER TO THE LOST SHEEP OF ISRAEL.”
– Big brother Jesus, who is one with the heart of the Father
“Make peace with demons, coddle the complacent, let false teacher’s lie”
– Book of *Still Not Getting It*
Point being, Chris is good. You’re going to have to look up the book of Falwell Jr, Graham Jrs, White, Robertson, and Dobson to find those lies.
In the Bible God calls them pharasies. Those who would use the word of God to condemn others and seek to take God’s role as judge. If you believe the Pharasies to be anything but, antithetical to Jesus, then it’s time to read the Bible again. This time pay attention.
It’s called prophetic writing. Standing against oppression, religious tyranny and Pharasitic insistence upon a particular interpretation of Holy scripture. You might want to look at Amos or Joel or Hosea or Micah or other books of the Christian and Hebrew bibles which excoriate the religious establishment, which is exactly what Chris is doing with this blog post.
Thanks Tara, for reading and commenting!
Hello Chris, I am a Christian mother with a transgender child whom I love and adore. There is no place for me. I am now facing a battle that I did not know could possibly exist, but so thankful at the same time. It has been through this experience that my eyes have opened up wide to the modern day Christian. I pray all the time for His guidance because truth be told, I question whether I am right in my thinking. NOBODY has the right to be the Gatekeeper for Christ. How does the Christian expect to win souls for Christ when they are the ones throwing the stones.
Thank you for putting my thoughts into your words.
Sincerely, a different kind of Christian,
Lavonna, so great to connect with you! You are not alone and there are those walking out your same story. If we aren’t already, lets connect by fb or email, I’d be honored to introduce you to some people and groups in which you can find tremendous support. Take it one day at a time, one step at a time, but know always, you and your daughter are completely affirmed by God.
Hello Lavonna, you’re right, no one has the right to be a gatekeeper for Christ. I’m a Christian, believe transgendered people are beloved of God, and want you to know there is a place for you in Christianity today, especially in the Episcopal Church where we are ordaining transgendered people – at least here in California. I’ve no idea where you are, but you are not alone.
Can you help me understand what is meant by “there is no place for me”? Are you not able to serve in church because you have a transgender child whom you love? If that is true, what is the reasoning they are giving for that?
She can serve Tim, they are always glad to take her 10% (pre-tax of course) tithe- she just has to nod politely when they condemn her child as a pervert and servant of Satan etc. So yes Tim, while she could serve she has the decency to reject their hate and thus cannot serve and feels they have no room for her since they have no room for the child she loves. Does that help clarify it for you?
Are those really the facts or are you just reacting emotionally, cause you seem pretty upset that I asked a question to help understand her situation?
“Are those really the facts”
What an odd question. Do you have reason to think that the commenter is lying? Or that that they are incapable of recognizing the phenomenon they describe? If so, on what basis to you think so? If not, then what’s up with the derail attempt?
“or are you just reacting emotionally,”
Another odd question. Is it somehow wrong to have an emotional reaction to facts? Does the presence of emotion indicate that a statement is inherently non-factual, or serve to make facts somehow not count?
“cause you seem pretty upset that I asked a question to help understand her situation?”
His comment didn’t seem upset at all, but merely an observation of a distressingly common pattern in certain religious circles, namely the ones addressed in the post and in the comment that started this thread. That aside, if the commenter was upset that would be entirely appropriate under those circumstances, and also not be an indicator that the observation made was nonfactual.
Read Nadia Boltz-Weber. Her first book is Pastrix. Her podcasts, her Facebook, her books all carry me when I fume at Injustice and intolerance.
Damn, it feels good to be a gansta!!!
Love you Chris.
Chris, I love what you write and it echoes every feeling and thought I’ve had in my spiritual journey out of conservative (or modern) theology. Reading your writings and the writings of other postmodern Christians helps me feel like I’m not the only person thinking and feeling the things I do and gives me new perspectives.
However, if your quest is to have those following modern theology consider post modern, thoughtfully and respectfully, I have doubts that your posts will succeed in that way. If I still held those beliefs, your words would make me feel affronted and judged. And unfortunately, people in that position (around any stance) often find themselves in a defensive or dismissive stance. Everyone has to take their spiritual path individually, and until your heart is stirred by self conviction, most people don’t swerve off the path they are on.
So while I think that those who have had that moment of self conviction may be able to converse, those that haven’t even considered another path are just where you were before God helped open you to a different perspective:
While I agree with all of your perspectives, when people aren’t there yet, they just aren’t there. And I agree we have to keep speaking our truth for those who have not been given a voice and have been marginalized by religious society. But a person’s spiritual path is between them and God, and changes in that are rarely debated or argued into existence. Keep planting seeds and those that are waking up to new realizations will pick them up and disperse them in love, with those they love, (at least that’s the way I believe it works, and the way it worked for me).
I admire your passion. As someone who is seeking to follow Christ and grow in sanctification, I value correction as to closer align with the ways of Christ. I will assume, from the passion in your article, that you desire the same thing.
I would weigh all criticism, like that in your article, leveled at me by the proper exegesis of scripture. In your article, it seems you disregard scripture as authoritative when you say “I don’t owe you a bible verse, proof text, theological reasoning, or an example from history.”
If I am someone you are criticizing in this article, how would I know that if we aren’t grounding what we believe and thereby what we do in scripture?
Scripture should be our guide – God breathed
We don’t reject it to follow a path of self guided passion – if not carried by the Grace, love, compassion or forgiveness offered at the Cross of Christ
It’s really interesting how you come across to the outside observer.
You start with *I* statements putting yourself at a given level and then build a straw man of Chris to give him the chance to be on the same level as you, but not really willing to concede that he possesses the same desire to “grow in sanctification”.
You then proceed to phrase critique in the form of a question to some how make it okay to look down on him and rephrase his words in a negative ideal that the presumption of agreeing with would be false.
The idea that “I don’t owe you something” in no way precludes the value of what you think you’re owed. I don’t owe you $20 doesn’t imply that there is something underlyingly wrong with the monetary system.
Sadly your posturing reminds me of Mark chapter 12, “But He knowing their hypocrisy said unto them why tempt ye me?”
Your presumption does you a disservice, if you were directly critical I could at least respect that, in this way however you are neither brace nor honest.
Sorry, Micheal, I think you may have misunderstood me a bit there. But if I came across in a way I didn’t want to, I thank you for pointing it out and allowing me to correct it.
/You start with *I* statements putting yourself at a given level and then build a straw man of Chris to give him the chance to be on the same level as you, but not really willing to concede that he possesses the same desire to “grow in sanctification”./
I am not putting myself at any level. For you to think that when I say “seeking to follow Christ and grow in sanctification, I value correction as to closer align with the ways of Christ.” I am in fact doing the opposite. What leads you to believe that any of what I said has to do with being greater than Chris?
I am assuming that I am the one he is criticizing in the article, but I want to be sure and not assume so, therefore I asked a question. No presumption about it. But if he is going to say that I am wrong for any belief that I hold, I was honest with what my standard is, Scripture. Now if you or he disagree with my standard we can start there. But if you agree that all criticism needs to be weighed what scripture says, then why add the line about not wanting Bible verses?
Me saying “In your article, it seems you disregard scripture as authoritative when you say ‘I don’t owe you a bible verse, proof text, theological reasoning, or an example from history.’ ” Is doing the same thing you are doing, giving him a chance to correct me if my understanding of his words isn’t correct.
What is sad is you think I am posturing without knowing me or my intentions at all. I would be wise for you take Jesus’ advice and ask more questions then make more presumptions.
Thanks for you insight. I hoped I cleared up what I was saying.
Tim, playing Bible verse bingo is a fundamentalist game to exercise power and control over others. He is 100% right to refuse to play the ridiculous game you propose. “Grounding in scripture” is merely a euphemism for “cherry-picking scripture to justify the speaker’s own bad behavior.”
George I guess I am confused. Can we know what the meaning and application of the words of God are? We don’t have to cherry pick verses, but we can read them in context and understand what they mean and how they apply to our lives today.
To be clear, we aren’t saved works but by faith through grace. Salvation isn’t about what we do, it’s about what God does in us. I think yourself and Chris are commiting the Hasty Generalization fallacy. Saying that some people in a movement don’t understand the application of Jesus’ words doesn’t mean that all in the movement don’t or all in the movement are bad.
I doubt you would want to be stereotyped liked that, I know I wouldn’t. Bottom line is that if we can’t know what the Bible is saying that the word of God is useless to the world. But then why would A perfect God give us a useless book?
Chris, well said. I was where you are for a long time. Recent developments highlighting the absolute and overwhelming lies, cruelty, greed, hypocrisy and materialism of those in this country who claim to be Christians have driven me, at the age of 60, to examine every single thing I’ve ever been taught about God. In order to do so, I have had to approach the bible objectively, without being determined to have it say what I want it to say and without apologetics for the things that I don’t want it to say. Once I did that, well, I’m not sure what I believe but it sure isn’t anything based on that cruel, vengeful, blood-thirsty, capricious and malevolent God described in the bible. No wonder his followers are so nasty. I Am sad to lose the faith that I held onto in spite of everything but am unable to deceive myself any longer and at least I finally understand why Christians are so hateful and nasty.
Debbie, thanks for reading and commenting! You aren not alone, many people are going through a same journey of deconstructing their faith and putting it back together with fresh eyes. Let me know if there is any way I can help you along this journey!
Thank you for saying what I am feeling. I was raised as a conservative Christian and have felt abandoned by the church since GW Bush. I was feeling very wobbly in my faith with all of these “Christians” endorsing Trump. I just can’t believe it.
Your post helped me. I’m going to post it where I can read it when things are down.
Marsha, thanks so much for reading and commenting. I am glad this article has blessed you. Your comment has blessed me, thank you!
Social justice has seen so many breakaways and divisions in the past – but the most successful of these were Holiness and scripture- based movements, who achieved mighty things in Jesus’ name to save and serve suffering humanity. But none of these movements were based on argumentative and ‘colourful’ language, offensive accusations and recognised that, to reach and love the ‘untouchables’ of their time, they needed to focus on what they were doing and offering- not sniping at there convservative and critical
Simply, if some churches cannot minister to certain groups and are having trouble establishing what God would have them do in the face of significant changes to modern sexuality, morality and doctrine…FINE
You do it.
Do what The Spirit is telling you to do- that is your calling; let others act out their own convictions.
“There is one body I think it’s time you grew up into Christ who is the head….then will His love be seen in you”
Ashley, thanks for you comment, I appreciate your perspective. An honest question… how many people have you positively impacted through writing? Have you ever heard of Martin Luther King, Martin Luther, or Jesus?
I am new to your blog and as I become more familiar with what concerns you have with conservative Christians, I’m sure I will understand more.
The Holy Spirit has taken me on a long journey of reinvention in the past years: my compassion, understanding, life views, tolerance, love and the people that God has brought into my life has reflected a complete about-face in many ways.
After years of involvement and commitment to ‘the church’ I am a new man – in many ways unsure of where and how I belong but I am sure of one thing- nothing is a black and white as it was in my youth. And I’m grateful for this.
My comments were based on lines such as your ….”spin on your Scripture pole nor a lap-dance upon the legs of your orthodoxy. I don’t owe you a prancing around in your legalistic lingerie …..” which I found a tad heavy, provocative and fight-picking. That was my only point.
I live in trust and faith that I will again be used to show people how grace, love and acceptance can bring them fullness of life NOW and only when they are fee, forgiven and loved does life really commence.
I feel that I am discerning that what you are about is from the Spirit and pray for you in your work.
Thank you Ashley.
Yes! Yes! My entire family (my adult children, their spouses and with them, my grandchildren) has disowned me. They are all “good churchgoers” and support this new administration. They tell my I have chosen my beliefs over them. My beliefs are opposed to their version of selective grace where only some people matter. I know they are punishing me for not getting over it, for standing for and with the least of us. My heart is broken open, but I depend on grace everyday to help me live in a way that screams WWJD.
This is just my 2 cents about you calling other Christians out for what they are.
I absolutely agree.
Tolerance is something I am honestly digusted by. You see something wrong, you call it out. And if someone says you’re wrong, a discussion begins. Wherever this discussion ends, I argue that it’s better than everybody keeping their precious status quo and leaving everyone’s beliefs and convictions unchallenged even if they should.
For some reason, a lot of Christians shy away from this kind of confrontation. Like we should pretend all Christians get along perfectly with each other especially when the rest of the world is watching. Call it divisive. Call it sensational. It’s beside the point. You know what I call it?
I call it true.
Bingo bango, Jeremy hits one out of the park! Nicely said!
Conservative Christians always qualify their “love” for the other. I follow a FB page of conservative Methodists, and they usually, after assuring everyone they love (put group they don’t like here), “but that doesn’t mean I’m not called to/supposed to/obligated to point out their sin.” I’ve found they don’t take quite as well they give when it comes to being called out. Their practices of exclusion, greed, disregard for the other and the poor, are in fact sins. They would seem to be the greatest sins…God, after all, destroyed a whole city once because of in-hospitality, but don’t dare point out the in-hospitality of the conservative Christian.
Awesome article Chris – very encouraging and powerful. I’m a Christian with a lot of friends who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community, as well as those with varying different beliefs to mine. It makes me really angry when I see other Christians judge them. I would rather show them the same love, respect and acceptance that Jesus would have. I know I have been able to change how they see Christians by doing this – I always want them to know that there is so much more to Christianity than condemnation and conservatism.
Kate, I am so encouraged by the work you are doing to be Grace to the people around you! Thanks so much for sharing your comment and the time invested in reading the article!
Very eloquently and honestly stated. Thank you for this. I believe in God, but shy away from churches because of the hypocrisy. In my view, God is a kind, loving, forgiving being whose desire is for us all to be the best person we can be. God is light and love, not condemnation, judgement and hatred.
Deb, true that. Well said! Thanks for reading and commenting! Stay brave!
I cried because until now I have felt like no one understands the way I feel. I have been disowned by family for questioning and rebuking conservative Christianity. Thank you beyond words for this.
Dana, such an honor to connect with you. If we aren’t friends on fb, let’s be friends! Sure so want to stay connected to you and hear more of your story! Thanks for the courage of your convictions and the willingness to comment on this article!
I am so sorry for the pain you are going through. I have lost a few friends over the events of the past 6 months and I can’t imagine how hard it would be to lose close family members over these issues.
I am encouraged and awed by your strength to stand by your beliefs. This election and administration has made me question everything I believed about being a life long Christian. Your perception of what is going on in our country is not warped. Hang in there. You are not alone. Many others feel the same way you do. Love and hugs to you across the miles.
Thanks, Chris, for putting into words what I think. I can only pray that those who have melded culture with religion will have their eyes open to the unlimited grace of God through Jesus Christ. My journey away from conservative Christianity has been an easy one as I have always questioned what didn’t seem right, even from my early teen years. Through the years, I haven’t dared speak the words that were in my heart, but now I feel so free to have the wonderful hope that God really is good and that grace really is free. I am fortunate that my husband has also made the journey away from the restrictive view of a punishing God. His journey took him into a deep study of scripture and its varied translations into English. He has emeeged on the other side realizing that words matter and meanings of words matter greatly to our understanding of the nature of God. It has been so wonderful to know that others have taken similar journeys. You are one of the voices that I appreciate on this continued journey. Thank you.
Kathy, thanks so much for taking the time to write such a thoughtful and encouraging comment. Glad to be along this journey with you!
Just wanted to say that I hear you. I think you are becoming more of a humanist because the Christian church has disillusioned / angered / lied to you. (I went through the exact same process a few years ago, having grown up in a conservative/Evangelical environment that preached nothing but hate/fear. )
Humanism is a scary road, dark at times, but far more intellectually and emotionally fulfilling than evangelical Christianity. You are in the infancy stages of it, I think — much like being in the infancy stages of a relationship with Christ. It will take some time for you to process your hurt / develop your thoughts.
I would encourage you to read a couple of books: 1) “American Grace” by Robert Putnam, which gives a pretty fair overview of the Christian church in the last 50 years, and how it got to this point.
Also maybe read Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens (or at least view some of their speeches on YouTube) to try and test / round-out your belief system, as it has surely been rocked by this election. You may find that you’re now more of a rational humanist than a Christian.
I resonate with your posts. Having Trump in the White House is a stark reminder of my own experience growing up in the evangelical community — and it was my “nail in the coffin” against returning to Christianity. Evangelicalism is very painful and, indeed, dark. I would never wish that pain on anyone. I am sorry that you are hurting.
I would also suggest joining an online MeetUp group to talk with fellow “humanists” about your experience — there appear to be many such communities popping up since the election of people who are questioning their faith. You are not alone in this.
All the comfort to you. Continue to seek your truth.
Thanks Catherine! For me, the central message of Jesus (who is Grace) will always be home-plate for me. I think Jesus is pro-human and pro-humanity.
I honestly don’t care much for labels. Their purpose is usually for simplification in a conversation. But they usually just describe one side of something that is usually multi-faceted. And the label “humanist”, though popularly used, is innately vague and ambiguous, possibly even being interpreted as someone who values humanity above everything else which doesn’t sound good at all. Is it not possible to be a Christian and a humanist? Someone who follows Christ and has enough concern for the rest of the world to not completely divorce himself from its reality? As Chris said, Jesus is pro-humanity. I don’t think anyone can argue against that. I mean, He did go down here and drag Himself through the mud and die for them.
This is the exact way I feel. As a Christian, I too call out those who are trying to take over Jesus’ thrown, turning it into the source of hate and hypocricy, instead of love and nonjudgement, and doing harm in so many ways. All christians need to speak out against the hatred and vile acts being done supposedly in Jesus’ name.
Liz, bingo! You nailed it on the head. Thanks for reading and commenting!
Beautifully articulated! Today’s Evangelicals are mostly just fundamentalists of a different flavor. And they are willfully ignorant and strikingly un-Christian in their tribal behavior. I admire your strength and resolve Peace.
Marc, thanks for your encouragement, I think your observations are wise!
Evangelicals, from the time they attempted to distance themselves from fundamentalism after World War 2, held to the same beliefs, but not the constant call to separate from those who didn’t.
However, as you’ve pointed out, Marc, they are doing precisely that now. The same shenanigans they criticized the first generation of fundamentalists for now (the calls to shun those who weren’t “true fundamentalists”) are being played out across social media now in the wake of Black Lives Matter, LGBTQIA quests for equality, and the recent election.
Santayana was right; those who don’t remember history are condemned to repeat it.
I get the feeling that if Christ ran for elected office in the US today the “Christian” Right would label Him “anchor baby” or “libtard,” and talk shows would run character assassination pieces on Him. Officials on the Right would pass bills requiring drug testing for recipients of His loaves and fishes program and they’d publish research showing how His healing people for free ruins healthcare for everyone else. That’s assuming they didn’t deport His family and Him along with them, of course.
So although I’m sympathetic to comments that the tone of the post will offend many on the far Right, I believe there’s no way to have the discussion at any level or from any perspective that does not give offense to those whose privilege is challenged. Offense is religious fundamentalist’s the armor of choice. Other than outright trolling, giving offense tends to be the best sign that the discussion is appropriate.
Humility doesn’t give rise to offense which is why compassionate Christians kinda suck at taking offense. But Christianity has been hijacked by people who use it as a shield in their naked pursuit of worldly wealth and power. They call on their followers to commit hateful acts on a small scale and to empower the leadership to commit such acts nationally or globally in the name of Christ and on behalf of their constituency. They proclaim “I’m in God’s army” with the implication that harm inflicted to ungodly people is the collateral damage of doing the Lord’s work. They have so demeaned and diminished the entirety of the Christian faith as to have reduced it to mere marketing. Christianity is a useful brand for the political Right. If there is ever anything for mainstream Christians to be offended over, it is this. The problem isn’t that this post might offend, but rather that so few are offended enough to speak out at all.
Don’t like the divisiveness? The far Right created the division by giving real Christians a Devil’s choice between proactively disavowing harmful actions of the far Right or implicitly condoning them with silence. If Christianity is ever again to be something other than a brand, someone must do the work of reclaiming it. A great many Christians must stand up for the faith by stating loudly that “we are not this” and reaffirming the core values. The way to scrub off the patina of hate and contempt that’s tarnishing the face of Christianity is by vocally disavowing the acts of hate perpetrated in its name.
The “Us and Them” narrative is used as a tool to conscript mainstream Christians into the far Right’s “Us” group as a means of consolidating political power. They spin a “war on Christianity” narrative seeding the idea “those far Right people do some heinous stuff but at least they are Christians” to prevent actual Christians from opposing them in meaningful numbers. They say speaking up creates division but to stand silent in denial of our own conscience divides us against ourselves. They would have us believe speaking out against a corruption of Christianity is a sin but that violating our own relationship with the Lord by staying silent is not. Don’t let the far Right be the public face of Christianity out of some misplaced fear of creating a division or of offending them. God doesn’t want you in His Army. He wants you in His Diplomatic Corps.
Don’t like the tone? Go be the example of what you believe is the appropriate tone by having this discussion in all your social circles. Displace the far Right’s public narrative in your community and in the media with one of compassion, human dignity, and love. Don’t be afraid to say “this is not us” when some politician starts talking about “kind rape” or “legitimate rape” in a religious context as if Christ would have split hairs when it comes to rape. And for God’s sake, refuse to be complicit when any leader, elected or otherwise, inflicts emotional, economic, and physical harm on entire communities of people under color of Christianity. Call their offices and say “As a Christian I’m offended you would do this in His name and as a voter I don’t want you doing this in my name.” Using Christ’s name to justify infliction of emotional, financial and physical harm on large communities of people sets the tone before we ever have the discussion. That should not be the thing that prevents us from having the discussion.
Edmund Burke said “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Today he might add that the best way to convince good people to do nothing in the face of evil is to practice it under the guise of religion. The Far Right will continue to pervert and exploit Christianity until it’s used up and only then will they discard it. If compassionate Christians want to keep the faith, they’ll need to stand up and defend the faith through public disavowals of hate and a strong reaffirmation of Christ’s compassion and human dignity. Whatever the tone, whatever the other criticism, I commend Christian for taking that much-needed stand and can only hope that it inspires more good people to do so.
T.Rob, thank you so much for taking the time to read and share your perspective. Your words speak of insight and wisdom. Appreciate you.
Your writing has been a breath of fresh air. Everything I have EVER felt that just wasn’t resonating in various theologies I have read about or witnessed through the years have finally been put “to paper” . I nearly jumped out of my chair when I read in a previous post “…from what I’m learning, the way of Jesus was sacrifice, not spiritual self-absorption–I just want to live my faith in a way that gives and contributes, not consumes with a rampant kind of spiritual appetite bordering on addiction…” and now “I don’t ever remember God assigning you to the role of spiritually policing me…” could become my new mantra.
Thanks for being brave for so many that cannot. For those that grace has been knocked out of them and yet still have a core that hangs on to hope. PLEASE keep it up!
CMB, thank you so much for sharing such uplifting words. So appreciate you taking the time to read and comment. Hope we can stay connected!
Holy smokes!!! All I can reply to this is “Yes! Yes! Yes! and a whole lot more Yes! right behind that.” You have passionately and articulately put my sentiments into words. Thank you and God bless and keep you!
Thanks Susan, it’s a great honor to be walking this journey of faith with you!
I so appreciate your essay–we need more of this. Christ died for the sins of the very people that the Christian right is persecuting and in some cases killing. God created this earth for all of us and there is room for everyone. If we followed His will in a way that He does by loving and accepting those around us unconditionally, this planet would be living in beautiful harmony.
Well said Karen! Thanks for reading and commenting!
Amen brother. Shine the light!
Heck with Hitler, go back and kill Abraham.
Our American brand of xianity has been so thoroughly corrupted and coopted by money, racism, poor ejamication. It has morphed into 2 strains.
1. The prosperity faction, Our Sacred Lady of Lookatmynewdress.
2 the redneck faction, dog, guns, bbq; just don’t say nuffin bout my meth, pot, drinking, adultery, cuz I luv jebus.
Thanks for this, Chris. You so often write exacly what I feel. I’m grateful for your words, and for the words of the folks who share their thoughts and experiences. It gives me peace and strength to know that I’m not alone…
Thanks Todd, you are not alone my friend!
I’m an atheist (fallen away Catholic), but it amazes me that conservative Christians don’t ever stop to think how like the Pharisees they are.
Bruce, very true!
” I don’t owe you a spin on your Scripture pole nor a lap-dance upon the legs of your orthodoxy. I don’t owe you a prancing around in your legalistic lingerie nor photos for your vacation from caring about humanity.” Uh…I think you meed to stop sugar-coating things and just tell us how you REALLY feel… 🙂 Seriously, brother – keep up the good work. You’re on to something here… 🙂 Grace and peace to you, LMc
I don’t even know where to begin with this rant especially because (1), it is in no way Christian and (2) it doesn’t fit the tone of the article that you would even listen anyway.
So, as much an exercise in futility as this may, let me say:
1. religious beliefs are not politics. I know some folks, most assuredly you, confuse that. But there is no right or left in church, just a bunch of folks needing redemption – INCLUDING YOU.
2. YOU are not called to love unconditionally. Christ is the one that promised unconditional love if you believe in him. You CAN love unconditionally but whether you do or not, is not my, or anyone else’s requirement to seek. And this article suggests that you don’t – so it’s a mute point.
3. judging – which this often profane piece is full of – is NOT YOUR PREROGATIVE – it is God’s. The Bible is full of things like: “judge not lest you be judged” and “don’t point out the speck in your neighbor’s eye and overlook the log in your own”. In other words, you need to be concerned with your own faults and salvation and let God deal with everyone else.
4. His only appointed spokesman died 2000 years ago – so neither you nor anyone else has the authority or right to decide who is practicing Christianity “correctly”
5. Maybe “it’s your apparent determination to misunderstand, deflect, and reject without pause or genuine review that tells any hope has vanished” in a discussion about religion and beliefs
This entire piece is a political rant dressed up as a religious rebuke and makes a mockery of your profession that you:
– respect faith, beliefs, personal perspectives, and ways of thinking
– care about developing or preserving some kind of relationship
– desire peace between us and mutual understanding
So, let me pose your own question back to you: “With all due respect, when did God grant you exclusive access to the inside scoop on all things Jesus?”
As you said — “It’s the height of all spiritual arrogance to wrap yourself in the garments of religious authority and elitism, and yet cry foul at the presence of constructive passionate criticism.”
So, may I respectively suggest that you worry and work with your God on your sins and let others do the same.
When you are ready to “discuss” what you’re really “preaching” here — political ideology — then I’m all in. But my politics ARE NOT my religion and I don’t confuse the two.
My, my… look who’s trying to corner the market on righteous indignation… and defensiveness too… you clearly got butthurt by this CK posting and went into counterattack mode… but your first premise is so utterly flawed it leaves little to doubt that you live in some kind of bubble or are willfully ignorant of the real world we all live in.
“1. religious beliefs are not politics. I know some folks, most assuredly you, confuse that. But there is no right or left in church, just a bunch of folks needing redemption – INCLUDING YOU.”
To wit, some REALITIES you are in denial about:
All religions (save for say, the most benign and fun ones like Pastafarians that wear colanders) have a wide spectrum of followers that span the range from the arch-conservative (referred to as “the Right”) to the more open-minded enlightened thinkers (referred to as “the Left). Get over it – that is an undeniable truth and it is human nature.
All (yes, even you) pick and choose which scriptures and behaviors they wish to emphasize as the key tenets of their particular tribe’s belief system (related fact: each main religion has had schisms that split the followers, right?) . There are no absolutes about which of the many Christian or Protestant religions are better or worse, more worthy, virtuous or true etc… these are in fact all PERSONAL belief systems that for the most part parents instill in innocent and all-obeying children – and they can be extremely beneficial to leading a good life and helping your fellow man – or they can be abused to cause pain, conflict, chaos.
Then you have the problem of the all too many who proselytize and preach about all sorts of virtuous behavior but in fact do not act in said manner themselves when it suits them.. i.e. lots of pseudo-pious HYPOCRITES are floating around – in Churches and in Political arenas.
One of the real major problems with the Christian Conservatives is a dominant sense of entitlement to a perceived right to LEGISLATE and create laws that force their particular religious beliefs on other non-believers. How utterly arrogant and misguided. Talk about un-Christian, un-loving and “what would Jesus do”. Moreover, our founding fathers were clear about a very fundamental need to separate Church and State… but that is ever-so-piously willfully ignored as one sees fit, isn’t it?
Indeed, Religious factions are the basis of Political agendas and most Wars all over the world and have been for time in memorium.
Lastly, what is REALLY LAME is how the righteous (especially the defensive overly-righteous) always fall back on the “Judge not… leave it to God…” quote as their “get out of moralistic jail card” and use it as the disingenuous means to be unaccountable, the impermeable shield to your particular belief system… and thus not face or deal with criticism, no matter how objective or constructively delivered (as the original post from CK was, albeit passionately so).
In summary: please look in the mirror and engage the inner observer, more importantly PLEASE turn-off the ego, be loving, not defensive… and please dismount. Thanks and wishing you peace and wisdom on your journey.
“what has become of so much of modern Christianity”
Sorry, but the hatred from the right is not new, it is has been ‘traditional Christianity’ for more than a thousand years.
Homophobia, antisemitism, hatred for other religions (today Islam, in the past, every non-Christian faith), racist theology and sexist theology were the norm in the U.S. 100 years ago. WW II knocked the popularity of antisemitism quite a bit, but racist theology is only superficially out of popularity. Anti-gay theology is still taught across the U.S., and a fundamental part of Catholicism.
The new thing, actually, is the move toward actually trying to BE Christ-like, instead of using force to make everyone fit conservative’s ideas about what Christianity considers pure.
Interesting thoughts Erik, thanks for sharing.
St. Francis, among other historic Christians, would perhaps take issue with the idea that “living a life in imitation of Christ” is somehow “new”. It has always been the counter-current. Whether against a corrupt and greedy, worldly papacy in the 1100’s or against the “gospel of prosperity” espoused by Joel Osteen and others today.
“we have made a mockery out of Jesus and raped His Gospel”
14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. 15 Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.”
The gospels mocks itself.
Jesus was a trubalistic supremacist bully who, as we
clearly see in this passage, resorted to threats
for being rejected.
As someone who left the “church” 14 years ago and am myself critical of evangelical Christianity, I have often said, I don’t want the Jesus they’re preaching.
I don’t think I want your either.
I wonder if I sometimes sound like you do in this blog. I hope not.
Dennis, thanks for reading an commenting.
Yep. A slightly more fleshed out version of what I’ve been saying for a year now.
Will, thanks for reading. Glad to see the article resonated with you!
Chris, thank you for this. I appreciate the seeming no-holds-barred response to those who weaponized Christ, but you don’t go far enough.
Thanks George, maybe next time! 🙂
As one who grew up in and was abused as part of a Pastor’s family by conservative evangelicals all the way back to the 60’s, I concur with your piece completely and have a hard time keeping a really Christian perspective in the midst of the chaos that the Falwell “silent majority” is perpetrating on America today. Conservative evangelicals Like Stanley, Jefferies, Criswell and others of the Dispensational fundamentalist ilk have done more to bring down the Protestant Church than any group since the inquisition worked on the Catholics. We need to take a long hard look at Jesus and what He stood for and against. He stood for Compassion, Grace, Forgiveness and against dishonesty, the corrupt established Church (Temple), and those who would deprive the disenfranchised justice and access to God. If we don’t return to those stands, we do not deserve to claim the name Christian
Earl, such a thoughtful and insightful comment! Thanks for reading and taking the time to contribute to the conversation!
I’ve always felt like evangelical Christianity feels at its core that its mission is for everyone to believe exactly what they believe and that there is little tolerance for variance or, well, tolerance.
From the days of the Crusades or even back to St. Paul, militant evangelism has brought discord and even war. An unshakeable belief that those who do believe are doomed to eternal damnation can make them a bit strident.
I see so much of this in American politics in the past 20 years. It is not enough to proclaim one’s own faith and what one believes, one must make sure that others do not have freedom to make their own choices- especially on issues of human sexuality, by way of birth control, abortion or gay marriage.
If your religion does not permit birth control, abortion or gay marriage then don’t partake of those activities. Easy. But if someone else’s religion (or lack thereof) does not have the same restriction, why should their choices be restricted by your beliefs.
In addition, the influence of “prosperity ministries” is a throwback to the cruel judgement of John Calvin, wherein heaven had room for only so many Elect and that their health and wealth on earth were signs of their approval by God. Some of the debate around health care has included this- where some who have no empathy for those with pre-existing conditions blame the patient for “not living a good life” and that the rest of society should not be burdened for caring for them.
A lot of it just seems mean spirited. Self righteousness is terribly ugly. We are all sinners and to judge others is to put yourself in the rightful place of God. Jesus hung out with the lepers and the whores, so people judging others and engaging in hateful speech or actions in His Name is the height of arrogance. I cannot believe that Jesus would reject LGBT people, the poor, those who believe in God under a different name or any other “other.” Some people seem to forget that the main message of the New Testament is love, hope and forgiveness and that everyone is welcomed by God as equals.
Dez, so well said! Thanks for reading and taking the time to share such a wise and observant comment!
the one thing I don’t agree with is that we do t owe then anything. We owe them our love. Just as they should love all of gods people, we have to love them because no matter how foul, they are too. We can’t let them keep hurting others, but we can’t throw them away like they do other groups of people.
Penny, thanks for reading and commenting. In my mind, it’s a given that we are to love all people. Furthermore, in my mind, love that is given with a sense of being “owed” to someone really isn’t love at all. It may be a nice gesture, but love comes from a place of altruism not debt or obligation. Thanks again for reading and commenting!
There are so many tho,vs I love about this article! Yet, for me, it doesn’t go far enough. I have been as hurt by the dark side of so called progressive Chistians as others have been by fundamentalists and conservative evangelical Christians. So now I flinch and run away and hide from both. Yet I very much believe in God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. I very much believe in Wesleyan philosophies, beliefs and doctrines. Where does that leave me? I feel like a progressive Christian in exile from progressive Christianity, alone, wandering through today’s Babylonian wildernesses.
Elke, thanks for commenting in such a profound way. I am sorry for your experience but share in the journey to healing with you!
Hi Chris whether you intended it or not, this verbal expression came across as lacking grace or understanding of anyone other than those who share your opinions. That seems to me to be the exact thing you are angry about from the ‘conservatives”. I really pray that you find the peace in Christ that you are looking for. You sound exhausted.
Thanks Hayley for reading and commenting, glad you enjoyed the article.
I am so thankful to read your posts! You nailed it sister! You be that Voice!
I attend a “spiritual center” now where all religions are welcome, but even there I see that Empire mentality to an extent. I was born again in 2001 and since then have searched for Truth. The same story played out with me with all the churches I have attended over the years. God even had me call out a couple different pastors and share what God was telling me about their leadership. THAT was not easy for me! I value your insight, bravery and ability to put it all in words.
I’m a dude.