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:
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.
- 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?
- 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.)
- How representative of Christianity is this?
"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?