Thursday, April 2, 2015
B is for Bible Thumpers
It is kind of funny. I over think every single thing. If you give me a year to worry about something, I will worry about it for the entire year. I weigh things back and forth and until I can come to a place of genuine understanding, I can't let it go. That is true in all facets of my life. Except religion. I hold myself to high standards where morality is concerned, but have never felt desperate to have it defined anywhere. I was confirmed Methodist but it didn't really mean anything to me. My strongest memories of going to church were those of Scott and I playing hangman and my mom always smacking my bouncing knee with a stern "Stop it - you're driving me nuts!" look.
I worked with a woman who thought herself very righteous. She was quite convinced of her own superiority because of her religion. I always did my best to ignore her because, had I told her what I thought, I would surely have been fired. I don't have a flair for tact (surprise!). One day she invited me to go to church with her. I told her I don't go to church and that I am agnostic. I then got to explain to her what it means to be agnostic and she got to tell me about my pending date in hell. She told me that since I was not quite sure about whether or not there was a God, she thought it would be a great idea for me to start going to church on Sunday. I told her that no one there was going to be able to convince me one way or the other. It was not something I was really even concerned about. I told her, "I want to be a good person even if there isn't a hell. I think that if there is a God, he or she will appreciate that." She disagreed and told me I should probably start going to church just to be safe. I told her, "That's not faith. That's commerce." She was just as insulted as I had hoped she would be and I was then able to avoid any future invites to church.
This woman goes to a mega-church here in Central Ohio that I have been aware of for a very long time. When I was in college I couldn't afford cable and the pastor of the mega-church had a television show that I sometimes settled on out of sheer curiosity. It was actually one of the things that helped me believe that I was comfortable not having answers. He used to have this thing where he would tell his followers that if they sent him a piece of clothing, like a sock, and some money, he would pray for them and they could receive miracles. I always wondered how many people did that. I know he has a home valued over $800k, so I assume he has prayed over a lot of socks. This pastor has written, and sadly sold, many books. He has themes of the negative "Leftists" and "Welfare Staters." He encourages people to be outraged over universal healthcare and marriage equality. At the same time he offers support of prohibitive voter ID laws and the Citizens United case. He has a group called the Center for Moral Clarity. Apparently the hypocrisy is lost on him. He has also been in the national news condemning Islam and admitting that he has registered and driven many tens thousands of social conservatives to the polls.
Social Conservatism has always disgusted me when it is linked to Christianity. They take up a lot of issues that they have to refer to the Old Testament to support. It is as if Jesus Christ never showed up and the whole "love thy neighbor" and "judge not lest ye be judged" bits had never been relayed to them.
Here are the basic tenets of Social Conservatism:
Demanding gun rights. Those are really a big deal. Jesus was against violence. No? Then why do you need weapons? Of course, AK-47s weren't around in his day, but the bible does offer us this:
"The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence."
Opposition to immigration. They have had people on the border with hateful signs screaming at children and bringing the Lord into it! Really? “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God."
Marriage Equality. Good gravy they have a field day, don't they? They aren't allowed to keep minorities from having rights any more, but dammit they are going to find someone to be superior over. This is just another place where they only need to be reminded that Jesus loved everyone and told us to do the same: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."
Anti-Choice. I don't imagine there are any passages in the Bible to support abortion rights. But I do know that we have: "There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?" And moreover, they are defending a narrow view where they are righteous for wanting to support unborn children and then they do nothing to help them when they are born. They condemn the poor, defund education, rally against healthcare, and they, of course, support the death penalty.
Welfare. They love to blame single mothers for taking up their hard earned tax dollars. I had a gentleman rewrite the Bible for me last month to support his beliefs about the poor ruining our country. As kind as he was to explain it, I do believe I will just maintain my own interpretations of the Bible: "Whoever gives to the poor will not want, but he who hides his eyes will get many a curse."
Jesus Christ was all about love. Period. You cannot rewrite the book. If you want to live in the Old Testament, you will need to adhere to another religion. You do not get to tell people how to live their lives. It is your job here to be working toward your own progress with whatever time you are given.
I am always genuinely pained to hear the Bible contorted the way it is by the right to support their views. I may not be a Christian, but I do acknowledge it as a strong piece of literature with exceptional morality tales. The fact that people rewrite the Bible to justify hate and then others will repeat it to justify and perpetuate their own hate is hard to live with. I have sincere respect for true Christians who seek only goodness and love. I wish the country had more of them. If we end up with a rapture any time soon, I do believe there will be quite a few "Christians" who will be surprised to find themselves sitting right next to me wondering why the planet has become so sparsely populated.