Hatin’ on Christians?

Hatin’ on Christians? September 16, 2012

“I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ. The materialism of affluent Christian countries appears to contradict the claims of Jesus Christ that says it’s not possible to worship both Mammon and God at the same time.” – Gandhi

I am feeling particularly punchy today; you know that feeling when you are just up to your eyeballs in being accommodating, sweet and polite to a fault and then suddenly (praise Jesus) you awaken to the clarity shimmering beneath the surface. So I hope you will extend a little grace and latitude while I release the hydrant of clarity here.

See here’s the thing – did y’all know that a whole lot of people just flat out hate Christians?

Well, duh.

Seems that a few of my Christian friends, with good hearts and vague cultural awareness, really don’t know that people out there hear the word Christian, or Jesus and cringe (or throw up a little) – bless their hearts. Really? And the reticent are not just the folks you might think (yeah, Fox, not just “foreign fundies”), but your very own neighbors, your very own coworkers – hell, your very own children. Love you, but have you no idea that Christians have been asshats for centuries? Have you no clue that, under the banner of heaven, atrocities have been (and still are) perpetrated “in the name of Christ”? Do you really have no clue why your neighbors, coworkers, strangers at pubs and folks of other faiths around the world would detest Christians? Have you truly that Bambi stare when you hear that another country hates America?

But just because the nimrods keep screwing it up; and just because the media loves to play with the shiny toys of hatred and vitriol – that does not mean that The Way of Jesus is lost – as one of my universal sisters has said it well – “the only thing that keeps us distant, it is that I keep fuckin’ up”.

If you do not believe that Fred Phelpses (or Mark Driscolls) of the world represent the Jesus you know from scripture, tradition, reason and experience – then it is about damn time to speak up. Praise be to God for those who do speak and act up on behalf of the Jesus I know, love and try my best to follow. Folks like- Susannah, Rachel, Doug, Kathy, Brian, Anne, Mike, Jennifer, Peter, Phyllis, et al…

We CAN keep leaning into the everlasting arms and seek to absorb the warm compassion so that we are able to radiate the pure light of God’s infinite love back to the world. And yes, we can speak up. We can act up. We can participate in the process of bending the arc, co-create the Kingdom of God, with God. And sometimes that means calling out what is detestable. And yes, sometimes that means shuttin’ the hell up and just being present to the pain of the world.

Ok, now that the rant is over I want to:

A. Ask y’all to name one way Christianity has F’d up and share it here – for the folks who may not know.

B. Ask you to look around and name one way that followers of Jesus have helped realize peace and justice here on earth – for the folks who may not know.

C. Ask you to tap into your faith and courage and speak (more gently than I perhaps) truth to power where ever that power may slither – so that others may know.

D. Ask y’all to forgive me for the freak out (and to please come back after today).

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214 responses to “Hatin’ on Christians?”

  1. I know I’m late to the conversation, but I just discovered your blog yesterday, and I hope you don’t think me rude for posting this late. This might seem like a small thing, but the anti-science bent of some Christians has hurt and bothered me since I was a teenager, along with the cliche of “God has a plan”. I’ve had a chronic, degenerative, and potential terminal illness since childhood. To have people tell me as a child that my disease is “planned” by God was awful – because it always implied that my suffering was deliberate and of no consequence. Then many of these same people push back against science and medical research. It’s not that I expected a cure, but maybe someone after me could have one, you know?

    As for the good stuff: my parents are Christian, and they’re both amazing people – loving, caring, and super supportive (my brother and I are agnostics). That, and finding blogs like this and other progressive Christians like you, Kimberly. You give me hope, and I do not use the h-word lightly.

    Rants are great – we all need to vent, and anger can be a very healthy expression of malcontent. How can any of us, regardless of faith status, right the wrongs we see and experience if we don’t let ourselves be moved by them to do better? So thank you Kimberly.

    • Oh my, I do not find you rude in the least, quite the contrary. Your post means all the world to me and I am grateful you have shared a glimpse of your story. Thank you for taking the time to leave me a note and let me know that in what ever small way we share in a moment of hope.


  2. I don’t think we have to defend Christianity. Christianity is a religion that concerns itself with a very specific set of historical facts and defines itself by a sometimes-rigid system of belief and behavior, and characterized by various rituals and recitations.

    The Gospel of Christ, however, is that God loves us and accepts us. The message is one of love and forgiveness and God’s unmerited favor for all of us. God only requires that we seek Him in our hearts and with our lives, and that we love one another. It’s a way of living, of doing and acting, of kindness and compassion, humility and service.

    That one of these things sometimes overlaps with the other is inevitable, but in the end they’re two separate things. Defending the history of the church doesn’t equate to validating the message of the Gospel, just as rejecting an institution that has historically done so much damage doesn’t speak to the reality of who Christ is.

    • Mark,

      You are absolutely right and it is not my intention to defend Christianity but to reclaim it from the rigid Right who have hijacked the name. In the minds of millions (do a little Googling on research done about what drives people away) Christians are narrow minded, science loathing, homophobes who are so busy hyper fixating on sexuality or defending capitalism that they’ve ignored Christ.

      My goal with this post was to invite people to look around and look at our past and look at our current and find those denominations, those people those authors, leaders and followers who are living out a Christianity radically different than the media and the religious right would have us believe is the ONLY version of Christianity.

  3. I sense a ton of hurt seeping out of every word in the these posts I just read. If I were to sense a pulse here I would call it : cynicism. Is this really necessary? Really it seems that you have a set up an Evangelical straw man that you want to attack because you have been deeply hurt by someone in your life who claimed to be a Christian and let you down. So many generalizations. Isn’t it time to get real with yourself and just move on? What is feeding the hated and the discord?

    • Ben,

      DO you really not know or acknowledge the many ways that Christians of all stripes have willfully harmed others and the planet? Do you not realize that millions of people have the perception of Christians as mean, hypocritical, homophobic, racist, nationalist, xenophobic, mammon worshipping, authoritarian legalists? Not all Christians are this way but there are plenty of Christians who fit one, some or all of these labels. I recommend you do a little broader and deeper reading on Christian history that will help orient you to the many ways our tribe has turned their back on The Spirit in favor doctrine and dogma that codifies their own world views.

      Your sister in Christ,
      A big ole gay Christian – Kimberly

  4. Where Christians have got it wrong – being so exclusive and judgmental, in exact opposition to the words of Christ. Completely missing the point of Jesus message to take care of the poor. Totally reversing the message on wealth and sharing. Failure to realize the more socialist message of Christ. Missing the message of LOVE.

    Where they get it right: Mother Theresa, St Francis, the more liberal denominations such as Presbyterians.

    Speak truth to power: Always.

  5. The question you ask, to name one cardinal complaint we may have against Christianity, presupposes that the problems lie in discrete and individual transgressions. I would argue that the problem is much more fundamental. The “one way Christianity F’d up” is that it, and Abrahamic monotheism generally, have fully weaponized religion. That is not a bug, but a feature.

  6. Just recieved from a Christian friend online..
    I’m an atheist BTW but this guy is the nicest Christian I’ve met..

    My distaste for religion just rose a notch and my faith in humanity slipped one..

    //hello, my friend. Here is the latest. you will love this, but will not be shocked in any way. I love God more than the air I breathe, and I believe the way to show Him to the world is through love, and kindness. You know that I have spent much time in the hospital lately. I am having trouble with simple daily activities. My girlfriend moved in to take care of me. WHAT??? I am not the antichrist, and was kicked out of the church. Yeah, that is what Jesus would have done. Is that F@#* up or what??//

    • Neil,

      This breaks my heart to no end. Please, please point your friend in our direction to be his community and share with him the larger community of the United Church of Christ – no one is getting kicked out of the UCC for a live in GF – http://www.ucc.org

      Peace friend,

  7. A) How to choose? Let’s go with all the witch burning we did in the name of God.
    B) How to choose? Let’s go with 125 (mostly straight ally) Methodists that are going to march in the Austin Pride parade this weekend as a public declaration of support of us lgbt folk in a denomination that is still proudly anti-lgbt in its polity (another option for question A).
    C) Doing my best! Always trying to do better…
    D) Loved your punchy-ness. Refreshing to see a Christian feel like they can actually express the anger that is part of our humanity. More likely to come back “after today” because of it, actually.

    Onward. 🙂

  8. OK, I didn’t get to your first question. So what, there’s enough hating on each other going on – I don’t need to rant about it. But you need to wear the word ‘Christian’ with pride because it is so much more then US right wing tribal politics (thank you Slactivist). You’re living in a time when Christians are learning to see Other as fully human and equal, not a target to be missionized or an enemy to be conquered. Yeah it’s gotta be confusing as all get out, but what is the alternative? Isn’t the best of what our respective faiths can be worth fighting for, instead of letting fear and fundamentalism tear us apart?


  9. “I said come on down to Chicano city park and wash your blues away
    The beautiful ladies walk on by
    You know I never know what to say . . . .”

    I’m going backwards on your questions. Please, Kimberly you call that a rant? If that’s the worst you get your wife should be so lucky. Throw a few things against the wall, swear a bit more and give the evil eye to all the schmucks out there who have given that nice Jewish boy you like a bad name.

    Tap into the power of my own faith? Do you know what time of year it is for Jews? These are like the ten most powerful days of the year, between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, to reflect, repent, and reconcile. It’s all about the three T’s: T’filah, teshuvah, tzedakah. T’filah – prayer. Teshuvah – repentance, returning to G-d’s ways. Tzedakah – the reparitive acts of justice between different people and between people and G-d. But for you, here’s the best rendition of the Priestly benediction:
    Ok if the link doesn’t work Youtube “Ruach Elohim featuring Lindi Rivers”

    As for Christians getting it right, well there’s you, Rachel Evans, Fred Clark, my MIL, my FIL (of blessed memory) my grandparents (also of blessed memory) all those folks at the ECLA church down the street from my temple with the big rainbow ‘reconciling in Christ’ sign, who team up with us 2X a year to turn our buildings into overflow homeless shelters, my MIL’s friends Jim and Karen, Mike at my swim exorsize class, Mark my lab guru at work, my internet bible study friend Nona, Claudia Fletcher, yeah I picked up on your Indigo Girls quote, (I think – that is who you quoted right?).

    And every last one of you out there who can read the beatitudes, live them, and understand that there is no asteriks to the fine print that says, “This offer of blessings null and void to anyone who doesn’t worship me.”
    Who understand that the Great Commission at the end of Matthew doesn’t give you liscence to be an ignorant jerk to Others, but instead a call to live out your life showing the best of what Christianity can be so that we respect you, trust that you respect us back, and can work with you on healing the raw pain in this world. People who understand that even when we do love you and work with you, fight for you even, we may still never become Christian not because we hate Jesus but because we love our own faith and religion. And that’s OK.

    If I’m right about the album you quoted, keep listening.
    “It’s all right, 40 days of rain.
    My skin stretched out from the growing pains.
    It’d be nice to have an explanation, but it’s alright.”
    Indigo Girls, Shaming of the Sun.


  10. A) As a former hater, this one is easy. All of the Christians I knew in my formative years (or at least, the ones who revealed their faith) were the kind that would get up in my face and ask, “Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal lord and savior?” I’d invariably answer “no,” knowing full well that what would follow would be a lengthy and ugly diatribe regarding my destiny, eternally burning in a lake of fire. Fortunately, God knew how to love me, how to whisper to me, how to guide me gradually through reading and study and reflection, and so I came to the church not through revelatory visions, but through a process of thoughtfully discovering where I fit in God’s salvific plan. Twenty-five years later, I am the Senior Warden of my little Episcopal parish. And I NEVER ask anyone whether they have accepted Jesus Christ as their personal lord and savior. I strive to live out Christ’s teachings by example.
    B) Again, keeping this very personal, our pastor Reverend Joyce is a constant inspiration to me. We had a Community Day block party a couple weeks back, and I was manning the information booth about our parish. This one woman in her 50’s with a toddler in tow asked some questions about the parish and the Episcopal faith, expressed interest in joining a faith community, filled out an info card, and then disappeared. Joyce followed up with her, and learned that the toddler is the son of this woman’s homeless daughter, and that they wanted to come to church but were ashamed because they had no money for the plate. Rev went out and bought a case of Huggies and brought it to their tenement apartment, and told them they could come to church or not, but that money had nothing to do with it, and that they should remember that we are there in the neighborhood for everyone and that all are welcome to our rainbow congregation. That’s how my pastor rolls.
    C) I just share with people how we’re living out our faith in our community, if they’re interested in hearing. We give whatever we can to those in need in our community, and ask for nothing in return. If they end up being drawn to the faith, that’s wonderful. But there are no conditions on our love for our neighbors.
    D) None needed.

    • Ken,
      Thank you so much for your very personal contributions. These are so powerful because they are real and close. Peace be with you sir.


  11. Firstly, may I say that I am not here as a troll. Just someone from another faith who happened across this article on Patheos, whilst looking around to see what the folks with differing world views from my own are saying/thinking/feeling.
    Frankly, I feel your faith has in recent history been done great disservice by some of the very public (or at least those who the media deign to be newsworthy) figures that feature therein. Whilst Fred Phelps and his sect appear, to these eyes, to be extreme and garish, there doesn’t seem to be a loud outcry that proclaims “Hang on, they might be a bit on the barmy side and they certainly aren’t representative of us all”.
    I realise that it could be rationalised that such a statement would be so obvious as to be implicit, it might help to put a bit of a disclaimer out there, should it be deemed warranted.
    For your final points: B and C, I’m not qualified to make comment on.
    D: I appreciate your candor.
    That leaves A (wherein I felt I might be seen as Trollish). There’s an air of exclusion and an overwhelming urge to proselytize/convert that seems to be inherent in some people. The rest of us aren’t necessarily looking for a path, navigating as we are our own. I’m truly glad that people have their path, but to some of us that journey can be rather personal and individually empowered.
    I don’t mind a bit of a chat, but when folks try to win me over to a contrary point of view, I tend to pull back, feeling that my personal journey and interpretations of the universe are being impinged upon. I’d rather be polite and disengage than deal with an attempted conversion.
    Maybe we should all settle down with a good pot of tea and just agree to disagree, whilst allowing each other the courtesy of, well, courtesy and equality.


    • You are SO not a troll and I am deeply grateful for YOUR candor. Your voice is crucial at the table and you are welcome here.

  12. a) The systematic and conscious destruction of pre-Christian Pagan and Heathen culture and religion. And then having the gall to blame neo-Pagans because we “still have a lot of growing to do” (that from one of your fellow Patheos bloggers, btw).

    b) My grandmother, Kathryn Holmes of Corning, NY, who never let a poor person pass her house without a meal or an offer of a roof over their head.

    c) I do try.

    d) Of course. Everyone’s entitled to a freak out once in a while.

  13. I. Love. This. post.
    Thank you so much Kimberly for letting me know there are other Christians out there that see things like I do.

    I worked for an HIV/AIDS organization for last almost 8 years, and I have seen how much hatred is directed toward Christians. We Christians have been the cause in so many ways. Early on in the AIDS epidemic, the Christian Church sat by and did nothing for people dying from AIDS in this country. Thousands died and the only thing the church did was point the finger at gay men and say “it is your own fault, you deserve it.” Years later we finally decide that we will help people living with HIV, but only the straight ones in Africa. I breaks my heart.

    As far as doing something right, I think that Shane Claiborne and his organization, the Simple Way does a great job being Jesus to those society tends to overlook and despise.

    I have been called a liberal, a heretic, and an enemy of Jesus because of the stand I take on LGBT equality, and our responsibility to love all people. I have pulled back from time to time in being critical of the church, but your post here fires me up again.

    No need to apologize for freaking out. It was well worth it. And it keeps you from going crazy, and remember even Jesus freaked out at least once.

    Mark Lee

    • Mark,

      Thank you, thank you for the work you do and the light you are in the world. Please come back often and share your stories here.


  14. I have time for [d]… At the moment.
    I have been suffering the same freakout for quite some time. Thank you for capturing it so succinctly. If you lost any visitors due to this, I know you gained at least one. Again, Thanks!

  15. A) That’s a very, very long list. Mainline denominations tacitly supporting the death penalty would be at the top of my list this month.
    B) A way that followers have gotten it right? Also a very long list – but not one that gets media coverage. United Methodist Committee on Relief (an NGO) Building 40 new houses in Haiti for people who lost their homes and have been living in tents long after the news crews went off chasing terrorists.
    C) Yup, doing that. Last exhibited in the faith-filled answers I gave to a judge and prosecutors who are seeking a jury that would willingly put a man to death.
    D) If you fail to freak out, the rocks will start crying out.

    • John,

      Thank you for your A and B. We can and must lift up that which is wrong even as we embrace that which is beautiful. Your love for the UMC despite her shortcomings is really more of an inspiration than an irritation (even if I play it as the latter). Love ya brother.

  16. Just a couple of thoughts on the “swearing” thing (cuz I think it’s another area where the church has “fucked up” by getting all bent out of shape by its use):
    There ARE places where most certainly swear words were used, though translators probably “gussied it up”:
    1 Samuel 20:30 Saul’s anger flared up at Jonathan and he said to him, “You son of a perverse and rebellious woman!
    Philippians 3:8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ…
    Now did Jesus swear? We really don’t know exactly WHAT Jesus said since his words were recorded decades after his death. He certainly would have had occasion to in those times he got angry, or when walking around in the rocky terrain in sandals! But based on what he DID say, I don’t get the impression he would “give a shit” unless it was used to intentionally hurt others. He said all the law and prophets boiled down to loving God by loving others as yourself. If Jesus was around children or anyone that might be hurt by its use, I doubt he used foul language. Same for me. If I’m at a family restaurant, I will not use coarse language, whereas if I’m at a pub with friends and the word fit the context, I might toss one out. See, I no longer believe in a “sky god” that has human-like ears that is listening in on every word we say. I tend to believe in a God within our atoms and quarks (like water in a sponge) that can sense our Heart, and can sense if it is in-tuned to Love of the Other or love of self (ego). This is also why I see anyone of any faith (or no faith) who Loves the Other is IN the Kingdom – God doesn’t give a shit what your membership card says! 🙂

  17. I love your rant(s) Kimberly! Yours is a much needed voice in the contemporary dialogue regarding faith and life, and you never cease to challenge and teach me.

    A. Looking past all the huge and obvious “fuck=ups” like the crusades, complicity in slavery, and the demeaning of women, the Fuck-up that continues to poison the world’s understanding of Jesus is the crap churches continue to teach children in Sunday School and Youth Groups every week. I have witnessed so much privatized, Heaven vs. Hell, “God only loves you if you behave” crap thrown at our children that it is a wonder we aren’t all in therapy. I am so sick of churches teaching Teenagers that the definition of a Disciple is one who is committed to coming to all our youth programs everytime they are offered, and that all God cares about is whether or not you are sexually active. I believe we perpetuate evil when we teach kids that going to a Bible study meeting is more important that serving the needs of hurting people. And don’t even get me going on the trend we see of Home-Schooling and Private Schooling for the purpose of separating kids from the culture and “Building up Warriors for Jesus”! Makes want to puke.

    B. There are a growing number of Youth ministers, Pastors, Church educators, and Teachers who are understanding more and more the need to shift the focus of Youth and Children’s ministries. My friend Aaron Saari, Youth Pastor at Crosscreek UCC in Dayton Ohio is one very good example.

    C. I am dedicated to pushing the envelope in my classes at XU, I have the freedom to do this now in the pulpit. and I am currently pulling together a Youth Ministry with local teens and families who have walked out of traditional churches, and the Ministry will be the fore-runner of a church, not the othr way around.

    D. If you feel you need forgiveness, it is given. I, on the otherhand, echo what everyone else has stated that no apology need be made, no forgiveness need be offered. You, sister, speak the truth.

    • Amen to this. I was a youth leader for 7 years and the crap that was available as a curriculum (some people in the church felt that was important) drove my co-leaders and I to make up our own. One of the problems I encountered was that most commercially available material wasn’t up to the level of our kids. Senior high stuff was really more suited to middle schoolers and middle school stuff to elementary kids. Disgraceful.

    • Thank you Mark and Doug for your support and razor sharp contributions. Mark I appreciate your A and B very much.

      As for the apology, it is less of “backing down” as a sensitivity to folks like Marlene. While I will always speak truth in my own way I am also mindful that some people may not hear the truth they need when I push the boundaries with language.

      That being said, though Mary was a little harsh with the “grow up” I am not embarrassed or ashamed of my language but I am often ashamed of people who choose politeness over the hard work of speaking boldly in face of the heresy of calling Jesus’ name in service to hate, violence, greed or indifference to suffering.

  18. This was not a “freak out”. Do this more. You tell the truth and then back away from it. The intuition is sound – truth is indeed dangerous. But don’t apologize for calling out your own tribe.

  19. A) The Christians who put death threats out against a young atheist girl (Jessica Alquist) who asked for her public school to honor the constitution. And the many, many Christians who didn’t speak up against this kind of awful treatment of another person.
    B) The folks of Nuru International, who offer aid to those in need. It is an organization run almost entirely by Christians and was founded on Christian ideals, however it is a secular organization and no one is ever forced to hear the gospel in order to receive aid. However, by virtue of the work they do, every person that they meet sees the love of Jesus. They remind me that our actions MUST match our words.
    C) I try to do this, and I’m so thankful for people who give me the space to do so.
    D) Psh. If this is a freak-out, then you haven’t been around the internet near enough. ;-D

  20. A. Well, in my view, one of the ways in which many Christians have effed up it to let a sense of us-vs-them blind them to truth because it’s inconvenient or new. I’m going to specifically call out the incredible evangelical push-back against all things environmental. Somehow, being stewards of this earth has been distorted to mean take all you can so no one else grabs it. From denying global climate change to not calling out the uber-rich who profit from destroying the earth through mining, fracking or deep-sea drilling for oil, polluting our water etc…, Christians have done more than just drop the ball. By confounding money with the approval of God, they have done enormous damage to our earth and her inhabitants.
    B. The incredible optimism and individual courage of so many who labour to do what they can where they are. Who truly labour to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.
    C. I’m not sure I have any wisdom or truth, save to say thank-you to you Kimberly, for sharing your heart. I learn so much from your honesty.

  21. Am I the only one offended at the language used in this article. In order to be Christ-like you need to use the same language as he would used. What would it mean to you if when he prayed “Not my will Thine be done” he said something like, “Father you fucked up. This isn’t the way the plan should go.” I do believe some soap in the mouth and a rewrite is in order here.

    • If you are more offended by the language than the Christians who defile the name of Jesus then you might need to check your priorities and just maybe read another blog. Grow up.

      • Preach it, Mary! Something’s wrong when four-letter words bother you more than the real issues. People like that have spent to much time in the Junior League.

    • Jesus was a working class guy and if these words had existed in his time, he probably would have used them. I use them from time to time in my own writing because nothing grabs your attention better than a well–placed “fuck” in Christan writing.

    • Marlene, I understand your reaction to the language Kimberly usesin this article. I, too, was taught that it is more offensive to Christians to hear words like “fuck” than it is to hear truth like “30,000 children will starve to death in the next 24 hours”. This is exactly what I was talking about in my post. We have this whitewashed idea of who Jesus was/is, and this sterile idea of what pleases and displeases him, and it is all focussed on our pathetic personal “ethics”. Given the state of the world, I cannot imagine that Christ wastes his time being offended by Kimberly’s colorful use of language, or whether or not I had my “quiet time” this morning. Rather, Christian Ethics – Christ-like living, is more about our tendency to live consumer lives, overly-comfortable, wasteful, and insatiable, while many, many, many of God’s children don’t have clean water to drink, or food to eat.

      • How hilarious that all these kind, tolerant, sweet, accepting, loving, non-judgmental people completely flip out and attack someone who expresses an opinion that marks her as “other.” Hypocrites.

        • How have we attacked anyone? It seems we are naming the real and dark faults in our own families. It is the opposite of hypocrisy to be able to acknowledge the mote in your own eye Virgil.

          • Umm, telling someone to grow up and dismissing their opinion? Saying that your opinion is worth more than theirs – i.e. that they are wrong if they don’t focus on the bigger issue. Seems like an attack to me and Virgil is quite correct.

            While much of the Bible is open to interpretation it is quite specific on foul speech.

    • Marlene–first, not only did you bring up a good point, but the responses to your point were somewhat vitriolic. It’s funny because when faced with real violence, the kind that has no conscience, most people will probably not use that type of language when facing a person who has the actual capacity to kill. In the world of cyber space, people become brave. Therefore, knowing that NO ONE on here is tough, or dangerous, why don’t we then just become that one gift that Jesus actually brought into the world, forgiveness. If people are offended by other people, they forgive and do not curse. If people are hurt, they go to that “exact” person and be reconciled, because the most dangerous thing that would happen is that people form a “theology” around their hurt, their pain, and their offense.

  22. The BIGGEST way in which Christians have fucked up is in their narrow and harmful way of understanding John 14:6 (Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.). I will go as far as saying that, though better than conservatives, mainline Christians are also guilty of holding an exclusive view of their faith. Where this is playing out today, of course, is in relation to our Muslim neighbors. With 9-11 and now the recent middle-east protest and violence, the fundamental extremist end of Islam is what the media shows. And though intellectually most Christians know that there are moderate and progressive streams of Islam, most still are leery of the Muslim religion and do little or nothing to educate themselves. Additionally, most mainline Christians are still of the mindset that theirs is the “better” religion and think Muslims should be “converted” in order to “get into heaven”.
    I think there is MUCH mainline and progressive churches can do towards interfaith understanding, but it takes face-to-face encounters and dialog to break down fear, discomfort and misunderstanding. I’ve been blessed to have found (and now actively involved in) a progressive Muslim group that is part of a national movement that believes in social justice, women’s rights and LGBTQ inclusion: http://mpvusa.org/index.html . This experience has brought me into a wider, inclusive understanding of John 14:6, that ANYONE who is loving the Other as ourselves IS following Jesus’ Way, Truth, Life.
    Brian McLaren has a new book out, titled “Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?: Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World”. I think it is an ESSENTIAL read for mainline and progressive Christians who have thus far avoided this issue. If we are to drown out the fundamentalist Christian voices of fear and violence, we cannot wait any longer. Check out this video by Brian to get a taste of his critically timed book, and then start an interfaith dialog at YOUR church: https://vimeo.com/49211069

    • Fantastic response as always Jeff. I too have experienced many mainliners who believe that theirs is the only way to heaven and that folks from other faiths need to be converted. Even those who do not ascribe to converting their Jewish and Muslim neighbors seem to have little difficulty in squaring a theology of a God that will send a majority of humans into eternal torment. Even more problematic is the idea that Lutherans have it more right than Methodists, or that Presbyterians have more right than Baptists. It is seemingly not enough that Christians send other faiths to hell they must send those from other denominations to hell for not being in the right Christian country club.

      So with all this angst why am I still a Christian? Well, maybe I would not use that label. Folks around here know I am not a fan of labels and this is one that I find hard to use at times too. Maybe I can just say I am trying to follow the heart of God that I have experienced as revealed in Jesus. But here I must be crystal clear – I do not believe that God is limited to revealing God’s self only once and for all time – there have been, are and will be many true revelations of God but I can still center my practice and prayer on Jesus while affirming the centrality of other revelations for other people.

      • Beautiful Kimberly! You are speaking my heart! I LOVE Jesus but I can’t stand most Christians. I had a couple of born again’s telling my son when he was young and impressionable that I danced with the devil because I had rock crystals in my home! They tried to tell me that ALL the Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, etc. were going to burn in hell because they were not Christians. That was 18 years ago, these days I see her posting things about how she is going to Arizona to buy a tazer because they sell real ones there! ( All those homeless people are a problem for her) All the while posting Christian propaganda all day long. How can a person say they love and follow Jesus and his teachings and make statements like that??? These so called Christians ARE my enemies but I will continue to try and love them cause He said I should!

  23. A) One big ole way Christians have messed up happened when we didn’t resist strongly enough when Emperor Constantine claimed to see a cross in the sky (made with a spear, no less) and heard a voice telling him to conquer in that sign. It’s not just the killing of the Crusades, but the way he co-opted the faith to become a way of creating rigid dogma for determining who was in and who was out that led to all sorts of hostility toward “the other” much of it marked by violence…still

    B) One way Christians are “getting it” today is a wonderful move to include “the other” whether it is a member of a different Christian denomination or another faith. Those who are seeing the faith this way are many of the Christian voices raised in support of marriage equality because we understand that if Christ is to be at the center, then we all need to on the margins with each other.

    C) My word of truth to power is to remind those that are rattling the sabers even now that not only is the violence being shown toward the US in some parts of the Muslim world from a tiny minority, but that even if it were the vast majority, Christ calls us not just not to kill our enemies but actually to love them. What is wrong between individuals does not somehow become acceptable between nations.

    D) You have to do a lot more than freak out for justice to scare me off my friend. You rock!

  24. A)Um, let’s see, ways Christians have fucked up, huh? How about we start with the Crusades? Don’t like the fact that Muslims live in the “Holy Land”? Hey, guys, here’s an idea, let’s go kill them all and take the land for ourselves. Actually, the Crusades were as much about getting rowdy ass soldiers out of Europe as it was taking the middle east. Basically, they figured if these guys were going to kill people, better brown ones that white ones.
    B) People who get it right? Our mutual friend Hugh Hollowell of Love Wins (you owe me one for the shoutout, big guy). Hugh gave up a lucrative career in the financial industry to run a book store and, when that didn’t make him poor enough, he started an inner-city ministry helping the poor and homeless in Raleigh, NC. Something I’ve been lucky enough to help him with on ocassion.
    C) I think I already do this, or least I try. My pulpit isn’t quite as bully as I’d like. But, I’m getting there.
    D) Nothing to forgive. To paraphrase H. L. Mencken, every normal person “must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats.” Just don’t get too carried away with it.

    • I just love the way the world keeps shrinking…I donated camping gear (mostly from Eric Elnes et al. from Darkwood Brew) to the Love Wins folks at the end of the Wild Goose Festival. Maybe we really are all family, eh?

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