“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.
BRAVO!!! What a pleasure to read such an eloquent, beautifully written piece. God bless you, Chris for continuing to inspire us with your well thought out, articulate columns. You shine a great light into the murky darkness and continue to bring us reasons to hope. May God richly bless you, your beautiful family and your work. Thank you.
You’re a quotable guy, Chris! I wish we could say it was any different, but the debacle we are experiencing presently is certainly not a new one. I know you know this. There is, as you suggest, a massive pendulum swinging back against the crushing weight of the evangelical juggernaut. My hope is that the face of Jesus might somehow become both present and recognizable among us. Lord, have mercy…
As a non-Christian, perhaps I shouldn’t comment here, but I have to say it — I’ve read several of Chris’s posts and he has absolutely accurately described how this phenomenon of aggressive Evangelical Christianity looks to those of us who view it from the outside and often feel targeted by its cultural warfare. It’s a frightening thing to be demonized in the cause of energizing someone else’s militancy, especially when that militancy has a long history of claiming real flesh-and-blood victims, from Hypatia to Alan Turing and ongoing.
The most hopeful sign in the “civil war” is that fact that even many younger Evangelicals can’t stomach the movement’s alliance with Trump and are turning against it. The Evangelical Right will continue to inflict fear and harm for some time yet, but in the long run it doesn’t have a future.
Well said, Infidel753!
Thank you for this profound and thoughtful piece. We need to hear this message often and loudly.
And your solution is? Eliminate these bastards? Marginalize them? Replace them with your own brand of vitriolic, self-righteous, scornful, hate-fueled Christianity? God help us.
Jane, and just what is your solution? Sounds like Chris’s is to write the pieces and be heard. What is Chris’s brand of ‘hate-fueled Christianity?’ I grew up in a very Christian home and the Jesus I learned about was all about Love. The Jesus I learned about would be marching with the LGBT community and demand their equal rights. The Jesus I learned about would be nursing the people who had contracted HIV. The Jesus I learned about would have been in Cville demanding that the Civil War statues (which by the way were constructed well after the Civil War) be taken down for what they stand for…
You need a pep talk as I, as a good general, shall rally the troops!
I raised fine human beings called children and they would not grace the doors of an evangelical church and the stats are in on long term demographics as the old entrench and the young reject the horrible faith of their parents!
Keep up the good work as you must rally the young and I believe your approach to be the correct one!
Let the dogs bark but the caravan moves on…
Trump is not a spiritual leader.
Most wars were NOT religious in nature.
Christians ARE set apart by God Himself. (Bible.)
The Christian political base has heen hijacked many times.
You are a warmonger by predicting a spiritual American war.
You make up your own facts.
You make pronouncements with divine authority.
Many good things have been done by Christians and white men. (Are you an anti-Christian sexist?)
Native Americans were territoral and fought each other.
Blacks enslaved each other in Africa.
Homosexuality is condemned as a sin by God in the Bible.
Women are not allowed to be pastors or heads of marriage by God in the Bible.
The Bible IS inspired by God and infallible.
Supporting military actions is not “terrorism.”
“Terrorism” is wounding, torturing, and imprisoning civilians for shock value.
Jesus did not resist the civil government.