Tag: murder

I Can’t Vote Republican, The Bible Tells Me So

I just can’t do it.

I refuse to do it.

My faith is grounded.

You can pressure me, guilt me, shame me, and lure me with gold.

Not locally, not nationally, not at all.

I can’t vote Republican, the Bible tells me so.

Not just tells me, but screams it into my soul.

 

Starting with abortion. 

The Scripture writer declared, “From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit. They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace. Are they ashamed of their detestable conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush.” Jeremiah 6:14-16 

In this passage from the Bible, God is upset. The religious people of the day are exploiting harmful problems for personal, political gain and not addressing their true solutions. They act like they care, but intentionally allow the issues to remain unresolved. They outwardly insist that they desire a way forward, but inwardly they have no real desire at all. 

Sadly, Republicans treat “abortion” the same. They outwardly declare that they are “pro-life” and detest abortion. They feverishly rant against how many “babies” are being murdered. Many make abortion their defining issue as to the reason why they deserve our vote. They posture themselves as wanting to make it illegal, as if that was the cure. It all looks and sounds so spiritual to the casual observer. Yet, inwardly, they have little-to-no heart for a real solution. For if they did, they would be addressing, providing for, and adopting the proven remedies that positively impact abortion. But, they don’t. 

Instead, with deceit, they want to keep the abortion issue alive because it manipulates their voters. It’s a political false flag. The last card they have in their deck. Without it, they have no drum to beat and no provocative enemy upon which to summon their troops to fight. In fact, Dana Loeash vocalized the true mindset and heart Republicans have towards abortion…

“Keep in mind that I am concerned about one thing, and one thing only at this point. I don’t care if Herschel Walker paid to abort endangered baby eagles. I want control of the Senate.”

For them, it’s ultimately not about life, it’s ultimately about power. Republicans want to create the illusion that they lead the way against abortion while making sure it remains unresolved, that they might remain in power. In fact, perfectly credible and widely known statistics show that abortion rates have gone down significantly with the kind of Democratic leadership that approaches abortion wholistically and addresses the real issues that can bring real change. Yet sadly, these same statistics reveal that under Republican leadership, abortion significantly increases. I’m not siding with Democrats, that’s just the facts. Yet, Republicans “do not even know how to blush” at the truth about abortion, how they exploit it, and how they resist actual remedies. Instead, they declare “Pro-life, pro-life” where there is no pro-life among them. All in hopes of drowning the biblical voice crying out in the wilderness, “Make straight the ways of the Lord to heal abortion and cure its causes.”  

Like most people, I detest abortion. I want to see it become a non-issue in our society. I want to see it remedied by real people who really care, who are willing to apply the difficult, but real solutions that work. I’m tired of people who are more interested in politics than life.

That’s why I can’t vote Republican, the Bible tells me so.

 

Or, how about their refusal to support meaningful gun reform.

With an epidemic of mass shootings that kill innocent people, including children, Republicans refuse to adopt meaningful gun restrictions. Instead, their sense of being a Christian involves owning and carrying, not just guns, but weapons of war. For them, their God embraces the ways of violence and the use of force to assert His will. And of course, somehow Republicans have the exclusive discernment to know exactly what God’s will is, and the special divine authority to use it.

Yet, while refusing to wear masks during a pandemic because, “God will protect us” and “my body, my choice,” they somehow feel the necessity and demand the right to carry an AR-15 into Walmart for, “self protection.” In fact, Republicans in Texas are now providing schools with DNA kits to identify children killed in mass shootings. So, instead of passing meaningful laws that will protect kids from guns, they want to make it easier to identify their unrecognizable bodies. So, this is pro-life, patriotic, and in concert with the ways of Jesus? This is the best we can do for America?

Ironically, the very Jesus most Republicans claim to serve and the Bible they love to quote have a lot to say about violence that, apparently, Republicans have developed a special gift for ignoring.

“He [Messiah] was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.” Isaiah 53:9

In other words, if Jesus is the Messiah long foretold, as most Republicans believe, He didn’t commit violence nor condone it. That’s right, there is no such thing as an ass-kicking, gun carrying, Rambo flexing Jesus. Period. End of conversation.

In fact, when Peter misunderstood Jesus as being open to the use of swords for violence and therefore cut off the ear of a man sent to arrest Jesus, Jesus rebuked Peter saying, Put your sword back in its place. For all who draw the sword will die by the sword.” Matthew 26: 51-52

Or, how about these words, among countless others…

“The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.” Psalm 11:5

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” Matthew 5:38-39

I want to live in an America where there are meaningful, effective gun laws that prevent mass shootings and protect children from murderous violence. I want my children and grandchildren to grow up in a nation where “pro-life” actually means embracing all of life—safeguarding it, and creating a society free from the fear of violence and those who would embrace it as a way of righteousness.  

That’s why I can’t vote Republican, the Bible tells me so. 

 

And then, their desperate pursuit to nationalize their brand of Christianity.

“Today Christianity stands at the head of this country. I pledge that I never will tie myself to those who want to destroy Christianity. In short, we want to burn out the poison of immorality which has entered into our whole life and culture as a result of liberal excess during the past few years.”

Most, if not all, Republicans would applaud these words and gladly adopt them as their own thoughts and feelings. Yet, these words were actually spoken by Hitler in pursuit of gaining power and ultimately the genocide of millions of Jewish humans—men, women, children, and babies.

Republicans don’t hide it, they want a Christian nation. Not just a Christian nation, but rather, a Christian nation based solely on their brand of Christianity. They believe America was founded as a Christian nation to espouse the beliefs and values of current Christian Republicans. They believe God uniquely created and blesses America above and beyond all other nations. In their minds, besides them, there is no other group, faith, or kind of person that is as knowing, equipped, divinely favored, and discerning to rule America towards what they believe God and the founders intended for our country. With their publicly stated desire and vision to do everything and anything to “own the libs” and when they refuse to support and approve good things for the country simply because they don’t want any success for the Democrats, Republicans don’t believe in a democracy equally for all, but rather a rulership calibrated towards their brand of faith, values, and beliefs. A rulership that demands compliance and allegiance by its citizens, and ultimately the rest of the world. 

Yet, there is no such thing as a Christian nation.

It doesn’t exist.

It can’t exist.

Not a chance.

Not with Christ.

For Christ cannot be nationalized. He refuses the platform. He rejects any and all power established through vote, people, government, or popularity. He seeks no political party, no people group, and no established system of organization.

He cannot be colonized, weaponized, militarized, bulldozed into existence, marched down the street, hammered by a gavel, or flown over a stadium.

He dwells outside of walls, structures, and human constructs. He tears down all that would cage Him, franchise Him, leverage Him, and hoist Him upon a flag.

For Jesus lives in the margins, the cracks, the undefined, and the unconstituted. He cannot be legislated, demarcated, or plotted on a map.

Far beyond theology, denominations, creeds, rules, religion, news networks, social media, speeches, conferences, prayer formulas, mission statements, worship centers, bibles, and books.

He blesses all. Lives in all. Claims all… equally.

He is all, in all, and for all, or He means nothing at all.

There is no budget that can commandeer him, no army that can assert Him, no democracy that can elect Him, no dictator that can enforce Him, and no office, house, branch, or anthem that can contain Him.

In fact, you can surely be sure that any person, group, or effort to nationalize Him is not of Him. Not even close.

“The first will be last and the last will be first.” Matthew 20:16

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, value others above yourself.” Philippians 2:3

“Our citizenship is in heaven.” Philippians 3:20

“You cannot serve God and money.” Matthew 6:24

“These people worship me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” Matthew 5:8

Within every call, drumbeat, and chorus of Republicans to nationalize Christianity is the screaming confession that, “we have not, believe not, and worship not Jesus.”

I want to live in a country where Republican Christians strive to actually live like Jesus instead of nationalizing their obvious hatred of His ways and their love of power and supremacy.

That’s why I can’t vote Republican, the Bible tells me so.

 

Enter the immigrant, refugee, and the foreigner.

No one wants illegal immigration or open borders as a national policy, regardless of how Republicans label the position of progressives. Once again, Republicans seem to relish in creating issues that aren’t real to deflect from addressing the ones that are.

Yet, If America becomes a “Christian” nation, what happens when immigration (illegal or not) happens? How, biblically, are we to treat the foreigners and immigrants among us, no matter how they arrive? What happens with refugees who come to our border? And, how are we to biblically treat those who seek asylum and new life within our country?

The Bible has crystal clear answers.

Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt.” Exodus 22:21

“When the alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as a citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt:  I am the Lord your God.” Leviticus 19:33-34

“When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner.” Leviticus 19:9-10

“As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your name— for they will hear of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm—when they come and pray toward this temple, then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name.” (1 Kings 8:41-44)

“Then I will draw near to you for judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers and against the adulterers and against those who swear falsely, and against those who oppress the wage earner in his wages, the widow and the orphan, and those who turn aside the alien and do not fear Me,” says the Lord of hosts.” Malachi 3:5

“For the Lord your God…loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing.  You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” Deuteronomy 10:18-19

“The Lord watches over the strangers…” Psalm 146

“The aliens shall be to you as citizens, and shall also be allotted an inheritance.” Ezekiel 47:21

“…I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” Matthew 25:31 (Jesus speaking)

Notice, Jesus doesn’t say they, “caged me,” “abused me,” “neutered me,” “separated me from family,” “starved me,” “made immigration nearly impossible for me,” “mocked me,” “slandered me,” “deceived me,” “tricked me,” “flew me on airplanes as a political stunt, only to abandon me” or “murdered me.”  

No, he said of His true followers, they “welcomed” me. 

Sadly, this is not the policy of Republicans, even the ones who claim their faithfulness to the Bible and its “infallible inerrancy.” Instead, what God clearly admonishes, they vehemently resist.  

For if you take the Scriptures seriously, the immigrant, the refugee, and the foreigner should not just be “welcomed” with sacrificial hospitality, but “wanted” as God’s own favored blessing. They should be lifted high among all others. They should be loved, protected, and provided for with the same passion we love, protect, and provide for ourselves. They are not to be objects of resentment, oppression, rejection, exploitation, or inconvenience. Rather, they should be honored as angels sent from above. They are us, and we are them. For in Christ, “there is neither Jew nor Gentile.”

I want a country in sync with God’s heart for the immigrant, the foreigner, the alien, and refugee. I want a country in step with God’s biblical, unconditional “welcome,” “want,” and generous care for those outside of our borders who desire to come, live, and find new life within us.  

That’s why I can’t vote Republican, the Bible tells me so. 

 

But perhaps, most of all, loving your neighbor as yourself.

“‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Matthew 12:31

“But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!” Matthew 5:44

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18

As a former white, Republican, conservative Evangelical pastor of 20 years, I know deeply how the system works. I’m not trying to slam the faith or the people within it, but the unbiblical evils must be chased out of the shadows, especially the hate of love that is so rampant among so many.

For most everything within the Republican vision and mission isn’t focused on having a neighbor to love, but rather based upon having an enemy that must be hated. Fear of these enemies is the ultimate motivator, not love. They will create it, fabricate it, and inflame it. 

For Republicans are nothing without fear and the hate it awakens…

…if we love minorities as ourselves, they’ll take over the country and all of society, and we’ll lose our white way of life, and white power. 

…if we love black people as ourselves with true equality, true police accountability, true legal fairness, true economic justice, and true opportunity, we’ll have to admit our racism and white privilege, lose our white way of life, and surrender our white power.

…if we love our wives as ourselves and remove the requirement that they must submit to us unquestionably, they’ll take over the family, usurp male power, and run America and society into the ground.

…if we love the LGBTQ community as ourselves, our Republican patriarchal power will be dismantled, God will punish our life, and all of white, male-driven, conservative Christianity will be flushed down the drain.

…if we love special needs people as ourselves, we’ll have to make an honored and equal place for them in society, overpowering our “normal” lives with inconvenience.

…if we love the least-of-these as ourselves with economic equality, free health care, free college, a living wage, social security, long-term care, and the removal of poverty, we won’t be able to fund our industrial military complex and foster our diabolical economic system of socialism for top and capitalism for the bottom.  

…if we love the environment as ourselves with significant building and development restrictions, environmental controls, and clean energy standards and investments, we won’t be able to feed our insatiable appetites for economic and personal greed. 

“Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least among you, you did not do for me.‘” -Matthew 25:41-45

“He who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and he who gives gifts to the rich–both come to poverty.” -Proverbs 22:16

“Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.” -Ezekiel 16:49

“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28

“If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.” James 2:8-9

See, where God admonishes that our highest motivation should be the unconditional love and care for all of humanity equally, in contrast, there is truly no other fuel that drives the Republican Death Star more than having enemies to fear, hate, marginalize, fight, and treat unequally.

This is why Republicans have the addictive support and allegiance of most conservative Evangelicals and Trump supporters. For the only thing they understand is fear, and Republicans speak their language like no other. They mock special needs people, bully perceived enemies, embrace racism, foster white supremacy, mistreat women, ignite division, worship greed, and love themselves above all things.

Biblically, this is the ultimate blaspheme of the Spirit.

To see love as the enemy.

To see fear as the friend.

To see enemies as the goal.

To fight at all cost, with lies, violence, duplicity, and sin.

To see a white, conservative, Republican, American Jesus as the way, truth, and life.

To see white, conservative Evangelicalism as the Kingdom.

I want leaders with whom love is greater than fear. I want a country where to love all people equally is a friend and not an enemy. I want the character of a great person, a great society, a great economy, and a great nation to be defined by their love for all people equally, not fear nor hate. 

That’s why I can’t vote Republican—

not locally, not nationally, not at all

—the Bible tells me so.

.

Grace is brave. Be brave.

 

Check out Chris’ latest book, Stupid Shit Heard In Church available on Amazon (link below)…

What people are saying:

“After reading just a few chapters, I had to schedule an appointment with my therapist, it’s that good.”

“This book is changing  the world.”

“Profound, life-changing; that says it all!”

 

 

Conservative Evangelicalism, Are You Going To Kill Me Too?

The Bible is laced with stories of murder.

Christianity is laced with stories of murder.

Conservative Evangelicalism is laced with stories of murder.

 

Fact, fact, fact.

 

Everywhere you turn, it’s here, there, and everywhere; past, present, and future.

Whether intended or not, spiritual, emotional, and physical death are the wake your creeds have long created upon the sea of humanity. It’s undeniable, well documented, and refuses to be erased. Sadly, yours is a murderous brand of believing. Tough to hear, sad to say.

Don’t believe me?

Noah’s Ark, the Crusades, Indigenous Indian colonization, Black slavery, the list goes on and on. And now, your continued brutal assault on the LGBTQ community, the black community, the poor, women, minorities, and any and all of those who would stand against you and your pursuit to nationalize your white, male-driven, conservative Evangelical faith and the white supremacy it enables.

I understand, perhaps not all individuals within the conservative Evangelical faith support these pursuits, but as a former conservative Evangelical pastor of 20+ years, I know for sure, beyond any doubt, that your system of faith is a well-oiled catalyst, breeding ground, and incubator for violence of every type and kind. That’s the truth.

You know the saying, “If it walks like a duck and sounds like a duck, it probably is a duck.” A past of repeated, consistent behavior is a trustable indicator of the future. Patterns are powerful at predicting. One only needs to connect the very dots your faith system hopes to conceal. As your Lord and Savior Donald Trump declared, “I love the poorly educated.” 

Yes, I’m concerned. And, I wonder why you aren’t. Because now, more than ever, it seems that many among your faith system are willing to knowingly and cheerfully embrace any evil and all costs to lie, cheat, and bully your way into having democracy vanish and your dictatorship emerge, even to the spiritual rationalization of murder. 

You actually called the murder of a police officer during the January 6th insurrection, a “legitimate political discourse.”

You called the reality of school shootings a clear need for more people to have more guns, “if only the victims had been carrying guns.”  

You tell women in the inevitable event of a rape to, “lie back and enjoy it.” And don’t forget, there is such a thing as, “legitimate rape.”

You position yourself as against abortion, “every life is a sacred gift from God,” but refuse to support the solutions that actually work to remedy it. It’s as if you’ve decided that you can benefit from the problem more than the cure. 

You declare that, “America is not racist” while frantically trying to erase all the clear history that  reveals the contrary. In fact, it wasn’t until 1995, that your SBC finally admitted your supportive role in black slavery. Which, by the way, makes me wonder, how do you admit to fostering black slavery in the past and try to erase the history of it now? 

You want us to believe that you are, “pro-women” and “pro-life” but yet hold fast to patriarchal leadership and the demonizing of a woman’s choice, all while you objectify their bodies. Not to mention, all the violence and death you are quick to rationalize when it serves your purposes and decry when it doesn’t. 

Violence, murder, death, and abuse. 

Everything you touch that refuses to be white-washed and converted is subjected to your brutality. The history and present, they don’t lie.

Which leads me to wonder, are you going to kill me too?

For some, that may seem like a barbaric question. But at frequent moments in time, yours has been a barbaric system of faith. I would be ignorant not to consider the possibility. History and the present clearly shows me, it’s what you do.

So, I’m wondering. 

If one day, your dreams come true and you rule the country and make all the rules, when I refuse to pledge allegiance to your so-called Christian flag, are you going to kill me too?

If one day, your dreams come true and you rule the country and make all the rules, when I refuse to give up my land and property into your ownership and control, are you going to kill me too?

If one day, your dreams come true and you rule the country and make all the rules, when I refuse to work in your camps and serve your plantations, are you going to kill me too?

If one day, your dreams come true and you rule the country and make all the rules, when I profess to be a “progressive” and refuse to attend your churches, sing your songs, and believe your brand of believing, are you going to kill me too?

If one day, your dreams come true and you rule the country and make all the rules, if I should have an LGBTQ child who I affirm, support, and empower, are you going to kill me too?

If one day, your dreams come true and you rule the country and make all the rules, if I should stand between the barrel of your gun ready to shoot an innocent black man, are you going to kill me too?

If one day, your dreams come true and you rule the country and make all the rules, if I should refuse to surrender my daughter into your sexual pleasure and service, are you going to kill me too?

If one day, your dreams come true and you rule the country and make all the rules, when I can no longer benefit your pursuits or become a burden, are you going to kill me too?

If one day, your dreams come true and you rule the country and make all the rules, when I feed the poor, heal the sick, favor the brokenhearted, proclaim justice for the oppressed, visit an adulterous woman at a well, give hospitality to a Samaritan, feed thousands for free, dine with “sinners,” proclaim that all are equally imaged in God, place my hope in Love not a nation, denounce your politics, and stand in fierce resistance to your self-righteous, evil religiosity, are you going to kill me too? 

 

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Grace is brave. Be brave.

The Horrific Gospel Of White MAGA Christianity

Among MAGA Christians, it’s a deeply loved story.

Noahs’ Ark.

Everyone’s heard it.

 

The ideas, themes, and tenets are simple…

 

1) The default position of God is to kill His enemies.

2) God sees his newly-created humanity as falling short of expectations.

3) Fueled by wrath, His best idea is to mass murder all of them through a global flood.

4) The “good news” is that God saves a precious, redeemable few on an Ark.

 

“I am going to destroy all flesh because the world is full of violence.”  -Genesis 6

Oh, the irony. God’s response to violence is to commit more violence.

 

Wonderful, isn’t it?

Millions of babies, children, families, and people screaming, gasping, and drowning. God’s a murderous tyrant, but no big deal. Let’s paint murals about it in the halls of our Children’s Ministry. Indoctrinate them early.

In the mind and heart of MAGA Christianity, “No need for critical thinking or discerning. We love it. As is. Every bit of it.” “Praise God for His faithfulness. He is holy, just, and good!” In fact, you’ll never hear a MAGA Christian question it or denounce it. Instead, they will even recreate it, line by line and piece by piece, and even lay down some serious cash to celebrate it and make it a tourist attraction.

This isn’t just the story of Noah’s Ark. This is the horrific Gospel of white, MAGA Christianity. Sadly, it has all their treasured themes–enemies, murder, hate, violence, duplicity, hypocrisy, elitism, and privilege–all spiritualized for their viewing and doing pleasure.

Enter Jesus.  

It’s been years since the days of Noah’s Ark. Apparently, God still hasn’t been through an anger management course. Not surprisingly, much of humanity is still pissing Him off. But this time, God decides that He won’t send a flood. Instead, He wields a hot, burning hell of fire. Threading his beard with His fingers, he chuckles to himself, “Floods are for amateurs.”

But, don’t be misled, God’s not a monster, right? No, new leaves are being turned. This time, he creates a “loving” work-around to keep a larger, select group of people from becoming the next victims of his default position to kill his enemies. Pacing the halls of heaven, he conjures up his best idea yet–Jesus. God will murder His own son Jesus instead. It’s brilliant! Then, those who believe all the correct things about Jesus and follow the rules will be saved and go to heaven, gated and sealed far away from all the dirty, disgusting, unbelievers. It’s a win, win. God still gets to murder something, but keeps a larger, select group of people alive so He can sleep a bit better at night, curled up in his hell-heated blanket.

Nothing to see here. Millions of people who somehow, for whatever reason, miss the MAGA Christian mark will spend eternity tortured forever in hell. That’s right, tortured in hell, forever. At least, in the flood they got to die, but in hell they are forced to live forever being tortured by demons and fire. God’s a diabolical, vindictive mass torturer who’s powerless to save all, and creates a system of winners and losers, right and wrong, saved or unsaved, heaven or hell, and calls it all “love” and the “Kingdom.”

In the heart and mind of MAGA Christianity, “No big deal, no need for critical thinking or discerning. We love it. As is. Everything about it. Just act, believe, join, live, and become exactly like us and you’ll be fine.” “Holy, holy, is the Lord Almighty!”

It’s the Ark 2.0 We win! Everyone else… tortured forever.

Enter the Native American Indian.

Minding their own business and tending to their own lives with a gentle spirit, they possess and steward their land with great care and competency. Yet, white, male Christians, intoxicated by years of being groomed by the horrific gospel of white MAGA Christianity, travel vast oceans with an ominous heart willing to take what is not their own, at any price. They arrive on the shores of Native land, ready to conquer. When greeted by the Indigenous people, they discern their beautiful, peaceful humanity, not as an opportunity for mutual respect and partnership, but rather for exploitation. Soon, they will rape, pillage, steal, and destroy the American Indian and their land, convinced they are spiritually justified in doing so. In their white, 15th century MAGA minds, they rationalize and determine that the American Indian is evil and must be colonized or killed.

It’s the Ark 3.0. Manifest Destiny. Drown the Red man, long live the white man.

Nothing to see here. Millions of men, women, children, and babies raped, pillaged, and murdered. Land stolen, lives destroyed, an entire people erased from the planet.

In the heart and mind of white MAGA Christianity, “No big deal. No need for critical thinking or discerning. Besides, look at what God did with the flood. Murder, death, cleaning house, it’s just part of God’s glorious plan” “This land is your land, this land is my land. From California to the New York island!”

Enter slavery.

This new Ark 3.0 needs building. In their minds, God has bigger dreams. It’s to be a nation, not just a boat. A country, not just a colony.

In the beginning, in order to do the heavy lifting, they enslaved the American Indian, but soon an even better option presented itself–the black man.

Experts at using the Bible to justify their bidding, these white, male MAGA Christians personified God as creating a lesser, evil race best suited for slavery. It was an economic decision as much as it was a racial one. Money is power. Power is privilege. And, in the mind and heart of white MAGA Christianity, the white man was destined by God to lord and hoard it all. But if Ark 3.0 was going to succeed, it needed little Arks spread out everywhere. Little Arks to manage the spiritualization of slavery, stoke the hell fires, and rationalize, promote, and protect whiteness everywhere.

Enter church.

MAGA churches here. MAGA churches there. Patriarchal, white, privilege-promoting, and racist-ladened churches everywhere. Some protestant, some not. It didn’t matter, the horrific Gospel of white MAGA Christianty was upstairs, downstairs, around the corner, on every corner. It was baked into nearly every expression of Christianity. In fact, if early American Christianity and churches were centered on, “loving your neighbor as yourself” there wouldn’t be many early churches, and perhaps, not much of early American Christianity. That wasn’t their purpose. Instead, someone had to repeatedly spiritually justify all these evils, and MAGA churches were a critical, necessary place.

Sadly, this is still true today. The desire to build Ark 3.0 is still much alive. It’s the white MAGA American dream.

When it’s all said and done, this is what America means to white, male MAGA Christianity. For them, it’s a divinely created Ark where God destroys their enemies and saves them alone from the rest of the evil world. It’s uniquely blessed, privileged, and protected by God for the white man, established through the spiritually justified murder, marginalization, and demonization of millions of people. Men, women, children, and babies. Nothing to see here. “God Bless America, land that I love!’

Everywhere white MAGA Christianity goes, there you will find an enemy they must fight, violence as their solution, and white privilege their ultimate priority. History tells the tale, many more people die because of MAGA Christianity than ever live and find life because of it.

It’s heaven for them, hell for the rest.

Freedom for them, conformity for the rest

Prosperity for them, poverty for the rest.

Inclusion for them, exclusion for the rest.

Divine favor for them, condemnation for the rest.

Anointed biblical interpretation for them, heresy for the rest.

Double standards for them, one standard for the rest.

It’s Noah’s Ark 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0 for them, infinite devastation for the rest.

 

This is the horrific gospel of white, MAGA Christianity.

I am going to destroy all flesh because the world is full of violence.” -Genesis 6

 

God’s response to violence is to commit more violence.

There is nothing more MAGA Christian than that.

.

Grace is brave. Be brave.

I’m White, Christian, Privileged, and Ashamed

There are moments in life where a truth can be so impacting it changes you forever—unhinging, transforming, and recalibrating nearly everything you once understood and believed.

I used to be a conservative, Evangelical, racist, homophobic, sexist, judgmental, and spiritually arrogant pastor and person. With no reservation, I pre-cataloged blacks as inferior and dangerous subhuman creatures, the LGBTQ community as mentally ill and spiritually depraved, and women as cupholders and casserole-makers for men.

In nearly every way, I was much the opposite of all that I am, hope to be, and stand for today. 

No, I didn’t finally reach the white quota of having enough black “friends” to look in the mirror and believe I’m not a racist. No, I didn’t have a child that came out as being gay or some moral failure or personal crisis that shook my foundations. The reversal of my heart and mind, and the dethroning of my racism, bigotry, hate, privilege, and conservatism came solely from being confronted by the true nature of God, the pure message of Jesus, and the revelation of His heart and mind towards all humanity.

To think that I painted inequality where there is none to see—a choice in sexual orientation where there is no choice to be. To think that gender ever mattered in calling, gifting, or creed—seeing women as some lessor form of a human being. To think that I condemned, in the name of Jesus, where there was no Jesus condemning. The evil ignorance of my white privilege blinded my perspective and deafened me to the real voices crying around me. 

To think that I loved with restrictions, restraint, and conditions—believed I had exclusive possession of all that is Truth to the exclusion of any other perspective or position. To think that I embraced a life and faith lacking in true compassion—leaving God-imaged people marginalized, discriminated, abused, alone, and undefended. To think that I lived and proclaimed it all as faith, faithfulness, and the way, Truth, and life—I am ashamed. Not just ashamed—disgusted. Not just disgusted, but wailing in ashes.

Look around.

Look at what many of us white, Christian, heterosexual, and privileged people have largely become—not all of us, but many—not always intentionally, but in sure reality.

Upon the necks of beautiful humans like George Floyd, our Jesus-grieving sins of racism, discrimination, white-supremacy, elitism, nationalism, ignorance, and condemnation are increasingly normalized, and even spiritualized as faithfulness. We have elected a childish, pussy-grabbing, womanizing, immoral, misogynistic, racist, and xenophobic president—touting him as a kind of God-appointed savior. 

Where our nationalistic, social, and political pursuits clearly conflict with the ways of Jesus, not to mention basic human ethics and morality, we conveniently turn a blind eye, and all of a sudden the “clear teachings of the Bible” aren’t so clear anymore and the compartmentalization of our faith becomes a worthy and important practice—smoke and mirrors were never so smokey and distracting. 

Still to this day, perhaps now more than ever, we harbor racism, boldly act on it, and even spiritually justify it, not to mention sexism, homophobia, and transphobia—all while ironically declaring ourselves to be the well from which genuine spiritual maturity flows. We can’t even stop the religious monster we have created long enough to seek true understanding in what it’s really like to not be white-skinned, heterosexual, Christian, or privileged. If only we knew how to listen as well as we know how to lean on and worship our own understandings and self-seeking ambitions. 

When a transgender person commits suicide at the hands of Christian condemnation, it’s like we don’t even pump the breaks or give a thought to reevaluating our faith understanding or position—arrogantly convinced we hold all the keys. Everyone else is always wrong and we are always right. Everyone else’s protest is an unworthy and blasphemous riot. Everyone else’s sin is destined for hell and ours is magically forgiven—thank God we believed the right things, said the right prayers, and made the right changes. Aren’t we all so special and so white.

While perhaps you are feeling oh-so special, I am feeling oh-so ashamed.

In fact, if this is what it means to be white, I don’t want to be “white” anymore.

If this is what it means to be Christian, I don’t want to be seen as “Christian” anymore.

If this is what it means to be heterosexual, privileged, or even American—you can have it all.

For Jesus flips the tables yet again in riot-ladened rebellion, revealing that we, in our undeniable worship of being white, heterosexual, Christian, American, and privileged are actuality the ones who have become the infected, pus-oozing, deplorable abomination. The finger pointers and speck removers are once again revealed to be the log possessors whose preoccupation with changing the world for Christ has left us tragically unaware of our own Christ-less souls.

Against this I must stand, turning shame for all that I had believed wrongly about God, Jesus, and people into an unstoppable solidarity with all that God has created good, beautiful, whole, and affirmed.

This is my resistance, this is my manifesto.

In the footsteps of Jesus, I’m a human that affirms all humans.

I’m a white man who sees as equal every shade of color and gender.

I’m a heterosexual that affirms every other kind of “sexual” rooted in honesty, love, and committed relationship.

I gladly surrender my privilege and tear off the “Christian” name tag.

I will no longer join hands nor heart with a faith understanding that fights against so much of what Jesus embraces.

I refuse to love, accept, and affirm any less than God who is pure Love, affirms, accepts, and loves me and all others without condition nor reversal.

For I am no better than any other—only different.

This is true of all people. Grace and Truth has made it so.

All are loved, equally and beautifully made—each a masterpiece, eternally valued and secured.

I will be forever brave on behalf of the “least of these,” proudly counting myself as equal among them, and manifest the delight of Jesus who is eternally proud to live, serve, sacrifice, and call them friend—as am I.

Ashamed, I am no less. Brave, I am, all the more.

 

Grace is brave.  Be Brave.

 

In America, Breathing Has Always Been For White People

No breath, no life.

Without oxygen, most everything withers and dies.

For those struggling to fill their lungs, every move, step, and aspiration is rendered difficult, diminished, and uncertain. Life is squelched and the marrow squeezed out. Freedom to live is shackled and choked, if not completely made impossible.

Sadly, in America, breathing has always been for white people. 

Breathing freely, deeply, and peacefully has been assigned to the privileged. The United States Constitution in manifestation truly reads, “We the white people,” and “All white men are created equal.” 

For actions speak louder than words.

With every lynching, enslavement, murder, displacement, beating, pillaging, and discrimination, everything that brings true life and living is reserved and restricted by the white man for the white man.

Breathing has always been for white people. 

Breathing while jogging through a neighborhood, never worrying about being deemed a threat, wrestled to ground, or even murdered.

Breathing while in the cubicle, never fearing mistreatment, false accusations, exploitation, the subject of racial humor, or the recipient of bullying.

Breathing while driving, never fearing being profiled, pulled over, misled, unfairly treated, assumed guilty, unjustly handled, violently treated, wrestled to ground, beaten, or even killed.

Breathing while eating at a restaurant, never having to notice the eyes fixed upon you, feeling the attention to the color of your skin, fearing the abuse of your food, the diminished quality of service, and the obvious avoidance of your presence.

Breathing while your children attend school, never carrying the anxiousness of their undeserved  negative treatment, personification of wrong-doing, internalization of inferiority, the onset of depression, and consistent unfair treatment. 

Breathing while dealing with the legal system, never fearing being falsely accused, legally abused, criminally exploited, assumed guilty, the object of falsely placed evidence, the diminished or restricted access to proper legal support and counsel, or having a police officer kneel on your neck to the point of your death. 

Breathing while shopping, never feeling the weight of people’s attention as they automatically fear that you might rob them or steal something, or sensing the surprise in their eyes as they assume you can’t afford what they are selling. 

Breathing while enjoying success, knowing that people will never wonder what special circumstance, allowance, crime, or bending-of-the-rules were required for you to get there. 

Breathing while moving into a new neighborhood, job, or church, never fearing the likely rejection, gossip, passive aggressiveness, or flat out resentment that will soon follow.

Breathing while protesting, always knowing that everything you do will be framed as righteous, inside the lines, and justified by the cause, as you’re labeled a “good person” and never a “thug” like all the others. 

Breathing while pursuing life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, never carrying the weight, facing the unfairness, and suffering the oppression of a system clearly and intentionally bent towards the benefit, progress, power, and privilege of white, male America.

For in America, breathing has always been for white people.

Lynching, choking, suffocating, wheezing, and struggling to catch your breath has always been for everyone else.

 

Grace is brave. Be brave. 

Dear White Conservative Christian, Asking For A Friend

Dear white conservative Christian,

I truly want to honor your beliefs and actions by increasing my awareness of what motivates them. I recognize that, according to your Scriptures, Jesus is to be the focal point of all that you are, believe, and do. In fact, it’s my understanding that Jesus summed up what is to be the core motivation for any of His followers with the command, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Apparently, for Jesus, this is the essence of what “loving God with all your heart” looks like in real Christian living. 

So, in deep respect of that tradition, I’m trying to see things from your perspective and understand the thought process behind your faith, particularly as to how white conservative Christians have lived out that faith in the past and how you’re living it out now—socially, politically, and spiritually. 

Everyone deserves to be heard and understood. 

I’m simply trying to get to the heart of the matter. 

I want to hear you. 

So, I’ve got some questions. Yes, a lot of questions

For example, when a large group of white, primarily conservative Christians decide to crusade against their perceived enemies through a self-declared, “holy war” of massive, bloody violence and murder… where does that motivation come from? Is it from the highest command of Jesus, “Love your neighbor as yourself?” 

I’m trying to understand.

Or, when white conservative Christians decide to portray a historically brown-skinned, Middle Eastern Jesus solely as a conservative, American, white-skinned man like themselves… where does that motivation come from? Is it from the highest command of Jesus, “Love your neighbor as yourself?” By personifying Jesus as the personal mascot of your own race, country, and specific brand of believing, is that what you believe loving your neighbor means? 

Yet again, I am trying to understand.

When a white conservative group of Christians decide to declare the Bible as infallible and their interpretations of that Bible as exclusively and divinely authoritative over and against all others… where does that motivation come from? Is it from the highest command of Jesus, “Love your neighbor as yourself?” Admittedly, I’m no superhero Christian, but doesn’t that seem more like trying to place oneself over and against your neighbor, instead of loving them?

Or, when a white conservative Christian, for example, like theologian John Calvin, decides to have his theological disagreers punished, maligned, and even murdered (in the case of John Calvin, he had them burned to death)… where does that motivation come from? Is it from the highest command of Jesus, “Love your neighbor as yourself?” I’m truly curious, how is that white conservative Christians, even now, can subscribe to the theology of a man who apparently missed the highest admonition of Jesus in exchange for hating his neighbor to the point of melting them to death?  

When a group of white conservative Christians take the words of Jesus, “make disciples” and replace them with “make colonies” through the violent pillaging, rape, abuse, and murder of the native people who first lived in America… where does that motivation come from? Is it from the highest command of Jesus, “Love your neighbor as yourself?” Honestly, I’m trying to understand. Which  is why I’m wondering, doesn’t it disturb you that anyone could take the instructions of Jesus to, “make disciples” and twist them into, “mass murder people?” 

But hey, what do I know? 

Or, when a large, white conservative group of Christians decide to enslave black people, abuse them, discriminate, and (here we go again) murder them… where does that motivation come from? Is it from the highest command of Jesus, “Love your neighbor as yourself?” Let me guess, black people aren’t our neighbors? 

When white conservative Christians attempt to scrub the history books of their acts of religious oppression and rewrite them by putting lipstick on the pig of their undeniable bigotry, greed, violence, and immorality… where does that motivation come from? Is it from the highest command of Jesus, “Love your neighbor as yourself?” Please, I beg of you, correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t “loving your neighbor as yourself” mean making the truth about other people’s history just as important (if not more important) as your own, even if that truth reflects poorly upon you?  

Or, when a group of white, conservative Christians in 1945 unilaterally decide to reinterpret the biblical words long translated as “pedophilia” to now somehow mean, “homosexual”… where does that motivation come from? Is it from the highest command of Jesus, “Love your neighbor as yourself?” Maybe I’m missing something, but doesn’t a move like that seem more like a power play to spiritually justify condemning people you dislike? 

When white conservative Christians go out of their way to find fault and criticize a black President while giving a pass to the very same issues (and much worse) that are observed in a white President of their political persuasion… where does that motivation come from? Is it from the highest command of Jesus, “Love your neighbor as yourself?” Maybe I’m way off base, but doesn’t “love your neighbor as yourself” actually mean to love your neighbor as yourself? Wait, black Presidents aren’t neighbors either? My bad.

Or, when white, conservative Christians label impoverished people as “lazy,” LGBTQ people as “evil,” and the unhealthy as “lacking faith”… where does that motivation come from? Is it from the highest command of Jesus, “Love your neighbor as yourself?” Maybe what Jesus really meant was, “Love your neighbors who act, believe, and look like you and don’t threaten your power and privilege. Otherwise, you’re free to demonize, exploit, and lord over as you please.” Yes, now that makes perfect sense, right? 

When a majority of white, male, conservative Christians declare that our country has no responsibility to extend aid to immigrants and refugees… where does that motivation come from? Is it from the highest command of Jesus, “Love your neighbor as yourself?”

Better yet, when white conservative Christians seem to believe that they’re the only ones who truly want to protect the unborn, but are willing to support separating children from their parents at our border and place them in cages while promoting policies that foster homelessness in children… where does that motivation come from? Is it from the highest command of Jesus, “Love your neighbor as yourself?” Aren’t all people our neighbors, and aren’t all neighbors a part of life. Thus, doesn’t truly being pro-life mean truly being pro-everyone from womb to tomb?

Or, when white conservative Christians quickly demonize anything that fosters the emergence of true equality or solicits even the slightest reduction of their dominion and privilege in society… where does that motivation come from? Is it from the highest command of Jesus, “Love your neighbor as yourself?” For does not loving your freedom mean loving your neighbor’s freedom as much as your own? Does not loving your place in society mean loving the place of everyone else in society, as much as you do your own? Does not loving your way of living mean striving to see people loving their way of living, as much as you do your own? 

You know… love your neighbor as yourself.

Dear white, conservative Christian… where does your motivation come from? Is it really from the highest command of Jesus, “Love your neighbor as yourself?” 

Asking for a friend.

Jesus.

 

Grace is brave. Be brave. 

Check out Chris Kratzer’s new book getting rave reviews… Leatherbound Terrorism.

In Leatherbound Terrorism, Chris chases the evils of conservative Evangelicalism out of the shadows and gives powerful voice to the cries of the religiously oppressed. Confronting issues like racism, sexism, homophobia, religious greed, hypocrisy, nationalism, white supremacy, privilege, and the weaponizing of the Bible, Leatherbound Terrorism pulls no punches. Endorsed by best selling authors Steve McVey and Baxter Kruger, Leatherbound Terrorism will challenge you, inspire you, and most certainly cause you to rethink your faith and life.

Under His Eye : If Conservative Evangelicalism Gets Its Way

One of the most important questions facing our time in history is this… “If right-wing conservative Evangelical Christianity gets its way, what would the world look like?”

Despite how various Evangelicals might respond to this question, perhaps the best vantage point for an accurate discernment of the answer is to observe pivotal moments in history where conservative Evangelicals (as a whole) have actually won their desires. For nothing reveals the true content of one’s aspirations like the results they bring when successful.

Or perhaps, we could examine their commonly held beliefs and the future those beliefs envision. To be sure, the true sum of one’s faith can be found most clearly within the impact their faith desires, regardless of what they may or may not claim to confess. We are responsible both for what we believe and the future those beliefs ultimately bring forth, are we not?

With that in mind, one of the prized accomplishments of conservative Evangelicalism is the election and continued support of Donald Trump as President. Say what you will about the politics involved, the bottom line is this—his character, priorities, and leadership are clearly creating a world where the wealthy become richer, the poor become more vulnerable, greed is expanded, bullying is desensitized, corruption is protected, white privilege flourishes, elitism is unleashed, minorities are further marginalized, racism is energized, sexism is normalized, the LGTBQ community is increasingly demonized, and right-wing Christian conservatism is prioritized.

Yet sadly, this is not by chance.

In fact, among many conservative Evangelicals, these realities are tacitly received as nothing less than welcomed results. For if this presidency was the first occasion in which conservative Evangelicalism has had influential success towards the fruition of these same kind of deplorable outcomes, then this moment in history would be less profound. However, from the slavery and lynching of black people to the belittlement and abuse of women, conservative Evangelicalism has long resulted in the increased spiritual justification of some of the most evil atrocities ever committed on planet earth.

In fact, now we have an administration, like never before, that increasingly creates economic systems that blatantly benefit the wealthy and exploit the vulnerable, brutally splits families with children apart who are seeking asylum in our country, aggressively sides with Israel in order to further the fulfillment of “biblical” prophecy, threatens to pull news press credentials over “negative” coverage, belittles and thwarts people with disabilities, and has dismantled highly important LGBT-protecting policies, all in the name of undoing the leadership and legacy of our first black President.   

Yet sadly, once again, this is not by chance.

Conservative Evangelicalism teaches its followers that faithfulness to God leads to financial prosperity and wealth. Having pastors with six figure salaries, churches with multi-million dollar facilities, and followers with luxurious lifestyles are seen as a reward from God not a departure from the ways of Jesus. In the mind of conservative Evangelicalism, if you are struggling financially or devoid of financial abundance, it is likely that some aspect of your faith life is askew. Ministry and Christian “success” is largely defined by the increase and accumulation of “more”—more money, more power, more influence, more campuses, more staff, more baptisms, more attenders, more planes, more speaking engagements, more followers on Twitter. In the world of conservative Evangelicalism, more is never less, more is always more—even at the expense of others.

Conservative Evangelicalism sees people primarily as spiritual projects for the ultimate goal of conversion into their faith system. Even helping the poor and hurting is largely seen as a means to a faith-serving end that builds their kingdom with more converts and satisfies their obligations of obedience to their faith. Poor hurting people are ultimately helped only to the extent in which it somehow serves the Evangelical faith system. In fact, within conservative Christianity, poverty (and even hardship) is often deemed as a result of unfaithfulness and wrong belief.

Conservative Evangelicalism manifests a territorial greed that desires to conquer people, groups, communities, perceived enemies, and the planet at large, not for the purpose of serving humanity selflessly, but rather garnering its submission to their faith system.  

Conservative Evangelicalism largely portrays Jesus as a white man. Not just a white man, but a white man who is a Republican, gun-owning, racist homophobic nationalist who is wrapped in the American flag.

Conservative Evangelicalism manifests a good-old-boy-club mentality for white male heterosexuals that gives them a hypocritical privilege, license, and authority over women, often leading to their sexualization, discrimination, control, and abuse. In fact, the only sins that truly matter in conservative Evangelicalism are the ones that are different from theirs and enable them to condemn those who would threaten their white male heterosexual Christian privilege and power.

Conservative Evangelicalism declares the Bible as being the infallible word of God and their interpretations exclusively faithful and accurate to the discerning of its meaning and truth.

Conservative Evangelicalism interprets the Scriptures as condemning the LGBTQ community, labeling them as “abominations,” cancers to our society, enemies of procreation, and deviants destined for hell.

Conservative Evangelicalism once asserted a biblical justification for black slavery and murder, and the demonization of interracial marriage.

Conservative Evangelicalism portrays a god who is justified in killing his enemies, destroying entire of groups of people, and sentencing disobedient non-believers to a hell of eternal torment.  

Make no mistake, what we see unfolding before our eyes is nothing less than the manifestation of the dystopian dreams of much of conservative Evangelicalism. No matter how much they might sprinkle it with spiritual glitter and dress it up with stage lighting and smoke machines, the finish line of their faith understanding is a violent Armageddon that ushers in a kingdom where anything that does not prosper white, male, heterosexual, conservative Christian power and privilege is eradicated from the earth. Spiritually rationalized racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, nationalism, greed, violence, and hypocrisy are all merely pieces of a much bigger puzzle.

This is put on display perhaps in no more profound fashion than through the current television show produced by Hulu, “The Handmaid’s Tale,” based of the novel by Margaret Atwood. This prophetic drama puts forth many images, occurrences, and realities that can be easily seen as reflecting the dystopian fruition of the fundamental beliefs and values of right-wing conservative Evangelicalism.  

The truth is, this powerful show does not require a suspension of current reality to understand its message, but merely a gaze into the future of what could be if conservative Evangelicalism continues to gets its way.

In fact, what should be most alarming to us all is this—if conservative Evangelicals were asked to publicly denounce every action and faith confession of the oppressors in “The Handmaid’s Tale” that they believe are contrary to their faith system, I suspect many would find little of which they could accurately object and honestly deny. In fact, nearly everything displayed in this prophetic drama is already currently taking place in one form or another, largely at the hands and influence of right-wing conservative Evangelicalism.

Read the Bible the way they read the Bible. Pray the prayers they pray. See the world the way they see it. Believe in God the way the believe in God. Spiritually justify what they spiritually justify. Then you will see, through a simple glance down the hall of its future, the kind of world conservative Evangelicalism envisions. For if conservative Evangelicalism gets its way, make no mistake, this is what the world would look like. To be sure, being “under his eye” won’t point us to the face of Jesus, but rather to the face of their evil.

Keep your soul vigilant, these are dark times for sure, and they’re only getting darker. Hear the call of Jesus upon your heart, “take up your resistance and follow me.”

America will die at the hands of men who exchanged a brown Jesus for white Christianity, and quite frankly, it’s beginning to seem like that’s just part of their plan—if they get their way.

Grace is brave. Be brave.

photo courtesy of Hulu

Check out Chris Kratzer’s new book getting rave reviews… Leatherbound Terrorism.

In Leatherbound Terrorism, Chris chases the evils of conservative Evangelicalism out of the shadows and gives powerful voice to the cries of the religiously oppressed. Confronting issues like racism, sexism, homophobia, religious greed, hypocrisy, nationalism, white supremacy, privilege, and the weaponizing of the Bible, Leatherbound Terrorism pulls no punches. Endorsed by best selling authors Steve McVey and Baxter Kruger, Leatherbound Terrorism will challenge you, inspire you, and most certainly cause you to rethink your faith and life.

The Coming American Civil War

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” -Ephesians 6:12

One would be hard pressed to find a single battle in all of history that wasn’t fought without some level of declared spiritual rationale. Sadly, throughout the ages, pronouncements of Christian faith have been used to pound the drums of violence. Many who profess to be followers of Jesus have claimed God’s anointing to engage in wars and acts of aggression that they believe are necessary to cleanse society of its evils. The world has been watching, documenting, and increasingly connecting the dots of Christian-driven hatred—now, like never before.

As the appearance of being shrouded in righteousness and divine faithfulness can be convincing to the untrained eye, nothing is more deceptive than the spiritual rationalization of violent acts that are ultimately motivated by the desire for power and privilege. Underneath the convenient veil of biblical faithfulness and divine sanction, selfishness, greed, and supremacy are often the true desires lurking in the shadows of those who would turn to Jesus for the justification of their aggression. For nothing speaks of privilege like the condemning, enslaving, or killing of another in order to further one’s faith system. What has been transpiring in church-ladened communities across America for decades is now being manifested on a national scale. In the name of Christianity, oceans of emotional, spiritual, and even physical blood have been shed in an effort to assert their brand of freedom upon countless people who are, in essence, already free.

In fact, for many Christians, their faith is rooted upon the premise that there is an enemy that needs to conquered, a divine prosperity that is theirs for the taking, and an inferior world that needs to be converted. For them, there is an underlying belief that they are “set apart” from the rest of society by God Himself. Therefore, their mission is to engage the world in such a way that their own prosperity is realized, the enemy is defeated, and the world is either converted or condemned. In fact, acts of Christian “mission,” though appearingly noble, are often a means to a self-serving end—that is, the conversion of people into their faith system and the correlating stroke of their spiritual egos upon success.

Combined with a white, heterosexual, male-driven privilege intrinsic to much of global society (especially America and European countries), Christianity has long become the spiritual rationale-of-choice for those who desire the fruition of white male heterosexual power and privilege. With a brand of Christianity that declares the Bible infallible and their interpretations uniquely faithful to its “clear teachings,” right wing conservative Christianity offers an additional level of spiritually rationalized control and power over people.

This toxic diabolical concoction of Jesus-justified savagery can be seen no more clearly than what has become of much of American Christianity. From the rape of the American Indian to the slavery of black people. From the brutal condemnation of the LGBTQ community to the discrimination of women and minorities, a white male heterosexual lust for power and privilege has long hijacked the person and cause of Jesus to spiritually justify their creeds of greed. In fact, intended or not, right wing conservative Christianity has now become nothing less than an incubator for a tacit white supremacy that desires to commandeer the world. Search the vaults of historical fact and there you will find, it is not the average citizen who is leading the way in these atrocities against humanity, but rather pastors, Christians, and communities of faith, all in the name of Jesus and the Bible. From sea to shining sea, right wing conservative Christianity has been the spiritual lense through which many have rationalized their acts of dominance and destruction. Thankfully, the cat is out of the bag as a great awakening is rising from the depths. The evils of right-wing conservative Christianity are being chased out of the shadows–the elixir is wearing off and the deception is being dragged into the light.

Now, a perfect storm of human terrorism cloaked as Christian faithfulness has emerged onto the scene of our American journey. Inflamed by the presidency of Donald Trump and their concerns over an increasingly vocal and organized resistance, right wing conservative Christianity has reached a boiling point unprecedented in history. From voices like Alex Jones of Infowars to Sean Hannity of Fox News, the dogs of war are barking with an emboldened sense of empowerment from their growing base. In fact, for some, their aspirations are nothing less than the ushering in of Armageddon where they believe God has promised to defeat their enemies and cleanse the world of all that does not conform to their ideology. With 70% of the murders committed by domestic extremists stemming from right-wing influences, the line between what is considered mainstream and the fringe is increasingly becoming blurred. Sadly, it seems that right wing conservative Christianity is not far removed from translating the pages of Old Testament scenes of God-sanctioned violence into the real-life tragedy of our near future. In response, segments of liberal resistance have trumpeted their willingness to do battle if necessary, some even taking a bold initiative. The age old question of “who started it?” becomes mute in the context of the long historical trail of leatherbound terrorism spiritually rationalized by right wing religious conservatism. To be sure, growing numbers on both sides seem ready to take off the gloves—one side desiring further dominance and the protection of their privilege, the other defending human dignity and the rights and freedoms that are intrinsic.   

For this is the underlying plot behind ever battle. This is the path that led to the cross. This was the provocation behind our first American civil war—religiously rationalized human oppression versus true human equality and freedom. An ancient conflict of the spiritual realm is now coming to fruition on American soil once again.  

Sadly, it seems as if there is no way to avoid it—each side emboldened to their cause. I fear a new American civil war is on the horizon. This time, it will not be north versus south, or even left versus right. Instead, it will be Christianity versus Jesus, the Kingdom of religion versus the Kingdom of Grace, the human oppression of some versus human equality for all, the way of violence versus the way of peace, the exclusion of some versus the inclusion of all, and a god who punishes versus the God who is Love. For this is a war of ultimate truth with seemingly irreconcilable differences at the core.

Unfortunately, these battles have already begun in the homes, schools, streets, cubicles, courtrooms, computers, churches, televisions, social media outlets, and halls of America. We are a people and a nation divided at the marrow of who and whose we are. True evil is being exposed from the caverns of religious disguise, and true resistance is finding its wings through the bravery of Grace.

The truth is, the coming American civil war is already here. Who knows to what level the battle will further rise and consume us all. One thing is for sure, our future is in the balance like never before.

Come what may, it is my prayer that as the religious oppressor draws the sword and summons their ranks for battle, the lovers of true freedom and equality will faithfully endure and boldly resist with a refusal to become the evil done against them—just like Jesus.

 

Grace is brave. Be brave.

5 Solutions To The Racial And Spiritual Divide In America

There is a racial and spiritual divide in America. The cracks on the ceiling are giving way, some wondering if the whole house is about to fall—violence in thought, word, and deed gushing through every tube that connects us. The assumptions and predeterminations from which we view one another and render our conclusions have perhaps never been more jaded. Much of American Christianity has become weaponized, marching as to war—the political climate and social ills, mere surface products of our deeper spiritual fall from Grace. America is racially and spiritually divided and poised for certain eruption, not primarily from what is happening in the halls of our capitals, but first and foremost, because of who we have become sitting in the pews of our churches. With blood in the streets, discrimination around ever turn, cries going unheard, and condemnation gutting us from within, enough is enough, a new people we must become if America is to be racially and spiritually divided no more.

We Must Become People of Grace-

Grace is the ultimate equalizer that declares the intrinsic, sacred order within all humanity—none are better, only different.

We are all human, created in divine imagery, having strengths and weaknesses. Yet, by God’s Grace, our weaknesses nor our strengths define us. Rather, our irrevocable and irremovable God-established worth forever qualifies all humanity for every right, blessing, and fair treatment. Under Grace, we travel this planet, all spinning on equal footing and value. As we pursue different paths and apply different choices, we are no less worthy nor more entitled to the fundamental qualities of life that God, by His Grace, has woven into His plan for every being—freedom, hope, life, love, eternity, and the fruition of their God-given capacity to be the person He created them in identity.

As we see people as equally reflecting our Creator’s image an possessing His value and worth, we live not to judge, conquer, lord over, nor undermine, but to see the quality and potential of our lives forever connected to that of all those around us. When we are people of Grace, we live not to point out imperfections nor be divided by inherent differences, but to sing in concert with the Creator’s plan that all might know and enjoy their divine beauty and the rest to one’s soul and living that Grace provides.

Under Grace, the nightmare of the American dream is revealed and the birth of a Kingdom hope takes flight, where people are fully free to be fully loved and to fully love in return—a hope where personal performance, success, and accomplishment do not create division nor distinction that measures, but rather reflects the artistry of our Maker who shares the benefits of His excellence and stature for the purpose of lifting everyone upon Him and blessing them with everything needed to enjoy and reflect Him. We must become a human-honoring, non-judging, equality-loving people.

We Must Become People of Unconditional Love-

The essence and entirety of God is unconditional love and His deepest desire is for us to embrace that love and manifest it to others. Love is love is love—it has no color, gender, orientation, status, limits, conditions, restrictions, or exclusiveness.

No matter our faith understanding or expression, until our theology is love, we will always be leaning on our own religious ideologies to the detriment, division and depravity of others and our nation. If love is not the ideal, the real, and the priority above all others, then all our creeds, policies, governing, and individual and corporate endeavors are rendered as gonging, clanging cymbals out of beat and out of touch.

Where temptation and even fair reason emerge for revenge, retaliation, subversion, isolation, or discrimination, love must be the alarm and the trumpet that calls us back to what is eternally true and relevant—only love wins, everything is a bandaid upon a cancer.

The ethos of our country as a nation and our faith gatherings as spiritual formations needs to centered far less on the creation of like-minded camps and exclusive denominations, and much more on the becoming of tables for transformative conversations. And where there are disagreements, love must be lifted as the common denominator and disposition that calibrates our hearts and attitudes towards mutual affirmation, even in the presence of honest disagreement. For the new unity of the future that will truly bring us together, spiritually or otherwise, will not be based upon what we can agree, but rather on the strong foundation of our willingness to have disagreements while doing life and freedom together in mutual respect and honor.

We Must Become People of Servanthood-

Grace doesn’t build walls, it builds mirrors that we might first see ourselves in the light of our shared humanity, spirituality, and equality with all others. Then, and only then, are we fully capable of truly seeing our neighbor in all their truth and assuming the right posture of heart to love, influence, and guide one another as mutual learners along this path of life, faith, and togetherness.

In this way, we become servants of one another, establishing the currency of our interactions to be measured by that which bestows the highest levels of honor to another, simply because they breathe.

Servanthood sees sin less as something to stand against, and more as an opportunity for love to find its highest fruition as it stands in solidarity with the redemptive value inherent in all creation, no matter the perceived sin or dissonance. For sin, differences, and creedal conflicts are not near the issue for God as they are for religion—making them a condition and stumbling block for servanthood where God makes them the object of it.

We are to serve one another in spite of all things and because of all things, giving love center stage to do its work and win in the lives of ourselves and others. God is surely big enough for everyone’s truth to be important, respected, valued, and served. We must become a humble, serving people who are convinced that he or she that loves the deepest and with the least restriction is he or she that wins, to the gleam of God above.

We Must Become People of Shared Human Dignity-

Evil must be seen not as an inherent human condition, but rather in those actions that would withhold Grace, reduce the dignity, and undermine the sacred, equal value, goodness, and worth of all people.

When this becomes the tuning fork from which we align our perceptions, spiritualities, and attitudes—bigotry, racism, discrimination, condemnation and hate for any person for any reason will be aggressively called out, chased out of the shadows, and suffocated of the air it needs to breath. The “least of these” will be defined as those whose seat at the “importance” table has been conditioned, minimized, or removed. Thus, our hearts will be forever bent in sorrow towards anyone in lack, seeing their equal treatment and future as being forever weaved into ours.

Where those privileged today often see equality as anything that still keeps them privileged, equality in the future must look like that which manifests the reality that God created us all privileged, qualified for every good thing—and therefore, how dare we get in the way of that which the Divine has decreed or be silent when it’s missing. For silence and apathy are the incubators from which all evil is given permission to grow.

We must become a outspoken people who see evil as a dehumanizing reality and we as the ardent defenders, advocates, and caretakers of the least of these, shielding those who bare its brunt and force, and rescuing those who wilt in the soils of its poisoning.

We Must Become People of Nonviolence-

Where there is violence the real battle as already been lost.

Spiritual, physical, and emotional harm is always a surface acumen that rarely ever solves the core. For punishment never made anyone holy, nor healed the hurt fueling the hurter.

People are not the problem, our unwillingness to thoroughly listen to each other’s story and submit ourselves to their implications is much more the culprit. A changed mind about an enemy begins with a heard story. Sadly, we have become more addicted to being ignorant and isolated from people’s true pains, experiences, and histories, then in the discovering of where the seeds of condemnation were first planted that have blossomed into the aggressions, scars, twitches, and brokenness that are manifested.

Violence is often a compensation for the unwillingness to listen and be changed in mind and heart by the human histories and experiences of another. Listening begets understanding, understanding begets learning, learning begets compassion, compassion begets healing, and healing begets peace.

There will be no peace until there is passionate, humble listening. For in the end, we are altogether no different— in, under, and with the One who made us—equal by the Equalizer—Grace.

This is who we must become—gracious, unconditional-loving, all-people-serving, human-dignity-defending, nonviolent-listening people.

May it be so, beginning with me, beginning with you.

Learning To Love ISIS, Starting With The ISIS In You

Everything is spiritual.

We can mud-sling political views around. Debate historical data. All, painting each other into corners. We may feel a release, but there won’t be a resolution.

ISIS is a spiritual manifestation and a human problem.

On the surface, it reveals itself as terrorism, murder, hatred, war, and violence. Terrible realities, worthy of our anger and conversation. Yet underneath, there is a cancer much deeper, a catalyst much darker. Until this is healed, there will be no healing. It is beyond the reach of missiles, religion, sanctions, politics, rhetoric, ideologies, and war. All, perpetuating the cycle.

Everything is spiritual. Requiring spiritual evaluation and application. This is why we must talk about the root of all that is terror… condemnation.

It’s a simple story.

In the creation poem that opens its scroll at the front of the Christian Bible, God speaks the world into being. With hands coursing His artistic beard, He pauses between breathes to evaluate His living imagery. In rhythmic cadence, with each step He declares, “it is good.”

Soon after, the Tempter in serpent form, exploited the Garden of its goodness, playing his sole card of condemnation, the only one in hand. The first human ones bit the bluff, that God is holding out because of something they can’t handle. Convinced they lacked in some way, unworthy of the worthiness etched into their being. What was natural became naked, and the yarns of shame and guilt slithered their coil through the threads of inherent goodness. It is a complex weave. And we, are a complex people in the arduous journey of trying to unravel from condemnation’s relentless entanglement.

This is the story of every human being, bobbing and weaving, wrestling to come out from under condemnation believed. The genesis of all contortions, twisted personas, and justifications. It is the root of all sin. The birth of all religion. Compelling us into the dance to heal or conceal a shamed heart. All of us have a life that tells a unique, complicated story and reveals a personal shaping from our quest to be released from the lie we swallow as truth… condemnation.

This is the essence of all religion. The soul trying to heal its concluded unworthiness through efforts of appeasement and pleasing… people, self, Gods, standards, expectations. A never ending list.

Religion, it is a contrived system, all to place the conquering of condemnation in human hands and within human reach. It has names like Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity, but it’s reach is far greater, and origin far more universal. For it is first a human system, and then a human system falsely projected onto God. Starting from humans, and within all of humanity. Religion is not of God, it’s of us.

Living up to the Jones’ next door, or living up to a Diety in heaven, it is all equally religion. Striving to feel good about you, people feel good about you, a Being above to feel good about you. It’s all religion.

People pleasing, God pleasing. Earning self approval, God approval. Call it what you may, a path, a pursuit, a faith. Jesus calls it religion. Evil, from its beginning, especially in what it becomes at its fruition.

For the ultimate manifestation of condemnation is religion. The ultimate expression of religion is… violence.

Just ask Cain and Abel.

A mere stones throw from the Garden, the first act of terrorism. From condemnation’s stem, the religious barbs grow. Cain and Abel believe they must please God, offerings of show. Covering over guilt, justifying their concluded lack. Cain and Abel enter the sanctuary to perform their religious act.

Cain’s perception? God sees his offering as inferior compared to that of Abel. It’s lacking, unworthy. He is therefore, lacking and unworthy. Internalized condemnationSentenced to disapproval, the cell is too much. If only to break free. To even the score. To bring one down, to lift one’s self up.

Murder, terrorism, its origins the same. Cain bites the bluff and kills out of shame. All in attempt to clean, clear, lift, and better his name. To win at playing this religious game.

Be it Christianity, Islam, or ISIS, there is no difference. The root of terrorism is condemnation fully grown into religion.

Violence is born out of people who see the lowering, hurting, or death of another as a path to the validation or justification of self. It is born out of those seeking to perpetuate or defend the religious system they use to justify away concluded condemnation. For the death of their religion is the death of their self-justification, the self-healing of self, their very salvation.

All the way to believing they are better, instead of only different.

Crusades, planes, bombs. Christian or Islam, makes no difference. All is religion.

Isn’t that what most of Christianity has become, just another religion?

Isn’t that who we are as people, mostly religious in prescription?

Living to overcome condemnation through our performance, be it spiritual or secular, it makes no difference. Causing us to believe we are better than another, where in truth, we are only different.

All is spiritual, and most all, have simply become religious.

In doing so, terrorism is already here.

For we are a terrorist nation, because we are a religious nation. Our violence just looks different.

Infidels declared. Homosexuals, transgenders, all condemned. Those on the left, those on the right. Immigrants, refugees, or somewhere in between. Pro-life, pro-choice. Those who have, those who have not. All sighted as targets, candidates for open season. None, it seems are exempt from hate. We are a hating, violent country, because of our religions.

Where we are a religious person we are a terrorist person, our violence and evil nonetheless violent and evil.

Bringing people low to lift ourselves up, terrorizing with the planes of our disapproval. Crashing people to pieces to fabricate an affirmation of self and shame’s removal. Pushing people behind simply to get ahead. Pimping dreams that are merely schemes. Condemning, judging, isolating, labeling, all to win in this religious game. Ultimately, to believe we are better, instead of merely one in the same.

Missiles of marginalization, bombs of bigotry. Shrapnel-laced blog posts, and weaponized rants of ideology. Whether it’s a pen or a pipe-bomb, legislations, labels, or land-mines, they are nonetheless, mere extensions of a heart poisoned by religion. Purposed primarily on justifying ourselves, our faith system, or our position.

Even that we are better, instead of merely different.

Murdering people, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. All is terrorism, nonetheless.

Just ask Jesus.

For Jesus, to hate in heart is to murder in action. At the core, either choice changes not our position. To pray “thy Kingdom come,” to give Jesus your adoration. This diagnosis must become our admission. We all need Grace, and all equally. Non are better, only different.

There is ISIS in us all, because there is the religious in us all.

This is the true battle within and without. Where external or inner condemnation attempts to engage our performance, spiritual or otherwise, to cover over or rise above areas where one feels lack. Be it appeasing a God, living up to religious standards, using success to medicate inner insecurities, bringing another down to lift one’s self up, ISIS is within us all. To choose religion over Grace.

Grace is God’s best idea to show the heart that believes it’s condemned, that there is no condemnation to believe. Grace is based on the eternal truth, that through Jesus none are condemned, none are lacking, all our whole, righteous, complete, and without blemish, all because of Jesus’ performance, our only hope.

Religion is based on the lie from Satan, that all are condemned, lacking, incomplete, poisoned, and their only hope ultimately rests in some level of their performance to appease an angry, conditional-loving God who requires something of their actions to trigger His.

Where we choose religion over Grace, ISIS is not just them over there, it’s you and me, right here.

Until the world awakens to Grace and dies to religion, there will always be an ISIS within and without.

Until you can see the ISIS in the mirror, you will not see yourself in ISIS. We are all human, none are better, only different. This is the scandal and humbling of Grace.

Terrorism is a complex issue that needs many levels of response.

But until we believe within Grace lies the way, we really don’t believe Grace all the way, and we will forever miss its capacity to heal the true root of all that is terrorism, and rid our planet of its power.

Until ISIS is you, you will not believe you need the same enormity of Grace necessary to be given, for ISIS to be no more.

You can’t give what you don’t have, and you don’t have what you don’t believe you need.

Religion, retaliation, revenge, only serve to arm and rearm.

Only Grace, disarms.

Our only chance to find true healing, of the ISIS within and the ISIS without.

© 2022 Chris Kratzer

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