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In the past 48 hours, I've been exposed to a very ugly side of Christianity. I wasn't going to write about it, but I'm brimming with it at this point, so it goes on the blog.

At the Des Moines Tea Party, there were some speakers who spouted anti-gay, anti-abortion, pro-Christian-nation rhetoric. It started with the opening prayer and continued on through. Now you tell me - what exactly does that have to do with limited government, less government spending, and lower taxation? Answer - nothing. Oh, I'm sure some creative mind out there will tell you they're quite related. But from where I sit, they're oil and water. Plenty of gays and pro-choicers and non-Christians care about limited government, less government spending, and lower taxation. Don't they have a place at the table? Don't we need their help in this fiscal fight?

So after the event, as one of the organizers, I spoke up within the group and said that if we continue like that, I can't help organize the movement because not only am I not a Christian, but I think it's counter-productive and limiting and therefore hurtful to the cause. I said so privately.

The next thing I knew, I started getting emails like this from people I didn't know who misspelled my name:

If Mr. Rodgers would like it to be a secular humanist worldview, he will have a very difficult time trying to form a moral or philosophical foundation to oppose out of control taxes. What happens when you have a secularist world view. Hmmm Nazi Germany, Stalinist Soviet Union, China under Mao, and Cuba under Castro. Yes you are right, a secular humanist view is indeed the way to go!
Yeah... so for asserting that the Tea Party agenda and rhetoric shouldn't be restrictive, folks like me are now the reason why Hitler came to power, according to a few Christian leaders out there. (Yes, leaders - this example came from a guy whom I've never met who pastors a local church.)

I ask: if I'm not a Christian and I don't share the agenda of making America a Christian nation, where is exactly is my place in this country, according to the Christian? Because pardon me, but I just spent a lot of time working damn hard to preserve liberty in this country - and succeeded in helping to bring 3,000 people to the state capitol - and for that, I'm told that people like me are part of the reason tyranny and communism get traction?

A few points/questions:

  1. What do you suppose my picture of Christianity is now? Or am I just an irrelevant carbon footprint since I am not interested in being evangelized at this time?
  2. How do these abrasive Christians intend to partner with non-Christians to achieve anything if they're defensive and strident in presenting their Christian view at every opportunity? (I was told by one person that I was being "exclusionary" because I didn't support "free speech for Christians." So I guess you're anti-first-amendment unless you support them saying their spiel at every public event.)
  3. How representative of Christianity is this?
I ask the last question because yesterday I was at a business meeting and was introduced to a well-known Christian, who made the assumption that I was a Christian, and during the conversation asked me about the state of my walk with Christ.

"Well, I used to be a Christian. I'm not one now."

At which point her face showed her clear distaste for me and she later said, "Have fun avoiding God!" as we said our goodbyes.


And the weird thing is that I was there to discuss perhaps helping her improve her promotion of herself. At least I know it's one less email I need to write...

I have to say, if I were Jesus and this were my brand being trashed like this, I'd be firing some folks. How do you attract people to the brand without diluting the brand? That's not hard.

(And I have another example, but I won't go into it - I think I've made my point.)

I once lived in Corvallis, Oregon. I remember going to OSU's campus for the first time and seeing these two guys, standing in front of a huge cross, yelling that everyone was a sinner and going to hell. Successful? Nope. Nobody talked to these guys. Everyone walked around them in a big circle to avoid contact.

I ask: how removed from that is my recent experience?

I used to be a Christian. The last thing Jesus said on earth was to go make disciples of all nations. Do you do that by taking non-Christians for granted, forcing your morality out there for others to adopt, and being rude?

It's a big world out there. If you want people to come play in your sandbox, don't you have to first treat other people like you want to be treated? Or perhaps as Jesus would want you to treat them, if you are a Christian?

What would he do?


by Brett Rogers, 4/19/2009 1:42:42 AM


Wow - where to start. It is a shame that this is happening. I also read your earlier post on the origins of laws (morality vs taking someone's liberty). I am a Christian and one who also agrees with your stance on this. I may have mentioned this in your blog before - but God's greatest gift to us was not love, was not his son - though those are indeed great gifts - no the greatest gift was freedom. In this case freedom is synonymous with liberty. He is (if you are a believer) all powerful yet does not make us all bow to his will...(though he certainly encourages).

I hope that what you are experiencing is an over reaction due to the amount of rhetoric that has been out there to shut down religious views, particularly by the left. I for one have had many folks tell me that more lives have been taken in the name of God than not. These folks point to the Inquisition and other religious based atrocities. Somehow these folks forget that Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot and others did exactly the opposite (though they tried to argue Hitler as a case in point). In the end - no one has a monopoly on extremeism, ethnic cleansing, etc....

The point here is that the most evil tends to occur when the state has TOO much power (see the aforementioned dictators above) - we (you) are not advocating anarchy - simply that the state should not dictate how people live but rather should be focused on protecting liberty (liberty - not outcomes - in case there is any confusion).



Posted by Rich, 4/19/2009 11:42:05 PM

I found the anti-gay and religous messages a bit off-putting as well during the tea party. It just didn't have a place there and was totally off message. We're talking less government control of taxes but more government control of marriage. After that I kind of felt the left had a point making fun of us.



Posted by Annette (, 4/20/2009 10:46:50 AM

I couldn't agree more Brett. I had brought some people with me to the demonstration as well that felt the same. I had it in my mind that if we got the opportunity to meet up and discuss future demonstrations that I make my stance on that it need to remain non-partisan, non-religious.

I also don't see where some of this fit into our purpose. We need to communicate the message that this is all inclusive. We can not single out certain people due to their preferences or beliefs. That IS WHAT America is about a melting pot and tolerance.

We can not be successful as a movement if we do not welcome all. I understand that it is some peoples belief to spread their message. I believe my purpose is to help everyone and make their lives better by fighting for our freedoms. However, there are many platforms to spread someones word on religious beliefs.

I see your view and what you picture as far as the Tea Party going forward. I actually wrote in my blog on myspace and put a note card up on Facebook with a copy of that blog entry and I specifically pointed out your comments about not being a Christian.

I could not have supported that statement anymore. There was a lot of redemption with a lot of people because you made that statement. I think a lot of people walked away a bit confused.

That is why I think going forward there really should be some small guidelines for speakers. Maybe something like "You are free to say anything you like. However, this is about smaller government and controlled spending. Not about anyone's personal religious beliefs. This movement is about bringing people together to overcome what is ahead of us."

Confirm with them that we are creating and all inclusive environment so that we can be successful for all and our numbers will grow with positive results. This movement is for ALL people, not just some.

I agree that this needs to be discussed further. I am currently the Co-Chair of a Diversity Committee with my company. In this movement diversity is what is going to make the Tea Party a success!

Hope to hear from you soon!




Posted by Anna Burham, 4/20/2009 1:47:34 PM

By the way your art work is totally off the hook!

Excellent stuff my friend! :)



Posted by Anna, 4/20/2009 1:48:47 PM

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