The Christian Church Won’t Become More Inclusive… and That’s Good for All of Us

Dannika Nash is the college student who wrote the very-viral “open letter to the church from my generation.” She basically said that the Christian church was pushing young people away because of how the institution treats gay people.

It was such a powerful and controversial piece that the Christian summer camp she was scheduled to work at fired her.

Dannika Nash (Jay Pickthorn – Argus Leader)

More recently, I posted a response from Dannika to a conservative Christian’s attempted takedown of her arguments. (Spoiler: He lost that battle.)

Anyway, a lot has happened to Dannika over the past couple of months. She’s still a Christian and she still supports LGBT equality, but she’s learned four very important lessons:

  1. The Church must make room for progressive thinking.
  2. We cannot keep treating other religions the way we do.
  3. There are an astounding amount of Christians who are changing things.
  4. We have to stick it out.

Read her post because she goes into more depth for each item. I think she makes a lot of sense with all her points… but I have a bit of a quibble with that first one.

Dannika writes:

Conservative Christianity has become an exclusive club that treats its progressive sisters and brothers as wild-eyed hippies, and outcasts them. Don’t believe me? Mention Rob Bell’s name in any midwestern after-service coffee conversation and watch the reactions. If the church wishes to include my generation at large in the future, it must learn to make room for the different kind of thinking that is already thriving on the fringes.

She’s right — Christianity is going to implode very soon. If it wants to survive a much larger fallout, it’s going to have to make room for moderate Republicans, the Religious Left, people who think abortion is wrong but think women should make their own decisions about it, LGBT individuals and allies who believe in Jesus, and pretty much everyone under the age of 20.

But this is where my evil side kicks in and I confess that I hope Dannika’s wish doesn’t come true.

Because I don’t think the Christian Church (especially the powerful evangelical wing) is capable of expanding its tent. I’m counting on the current leaders’ bigotry and stubbornness to remain strong and steady for decades to come. While younger Christians may be more progressive, I don’t think they’re going to take over the brand anytime soon. But that’s a great thing. They’ll have to create their own churches and find their own leaders. Meanwhile, conservative Christians will still be around, but their numbers will dwindle.

That’s when we’ll finally be able to get shit done.

(True story that somewhat relates to this: When I ran for Class President in high school my junior year, I was up against a football player. Not good. But then a cheerleader jumped in the race, the two of them split all the popular kids’ votes, and I won. YEAH!)

I want to see a fractured Christian church. I dream of seeing a fractured Christian church. A thousand Christian voices going in all different directions means there’s no reliable voting bloc capable of pushing bad Biblically-based ideas into law (which happens far too often right now).

It also means our community (atheists, Humanists, etc) will have to get over our own prejudices and do some interfaith outreach, reaching out to progressive Christians on major social issues since they’re far closer to us than they are with their conservative counterparts. By doing that, we’ll be able to pass more meaningful legislation without getting bogged down by the conservatives who think the Bible should trump the Constitution in our democracy.

So my message to Dannika would be this: Forget trying to make the current Christian Church more inclusive. The current leaders don’t want that and the next generation of leaders would be better off doing their own thing, anyway. In a decade or so, the balance of power will shift.

While I’d love to see people leave Christianity entirely, let’s face it, that’s not gonna happen. Having a more powerful progressive Christian community, though, would be a very welcome sight.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


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