The Corrosive Effect Of Christianity On Conservatives

A billboard in North Carolina objecting to Christian hypocrisy. Pic by Patheos…

by Dr. Mark Bear

I often receive personal messages from folks telling me how I am ruining evangelicalism when calling to account those in leadership positions in our faith.

So, please allow me to clarify:
 
Mike Pence, Franklin Graham, Jerry Falwell Jr., Robert Jeffress, Pat Robertson, Jim Bakker, and, all the other evangelical pastors who remain silent as Trump tramples on our democratic ideals, or those who go so far as to argue how Trump was “sent to us by God, understand you aren’t persecuted for being Christians; you are however mocked for claiming to be Christians while your actions and words are nothing like those of Jesus.  In a nutshell, you are hypocritical in your embrace of Trump. 
 
Perhaps you do not believe it my right to call you to account, and those of you complaining to me via personal message might wish to understand precisely what is at stake here. When the leaders of White Evangelicalism place politics over our faith, the very people we are supposed to be setting an example for look at us only to walk away with laughter. Furthermore, these same people will never darken the doors of any church due to this blatant hypocrisy.  As a person who has served in ministry I find this deeply disturbing. 
 
As a pastor I always made clear that my role was not that of management, but of sales. These church leaders have flipped the script, being concerned with the management of others, always, while providing an excuse for their own inherent flaws. Always. 100 percent of the time these days.
 
Despite the disconnect, these leaders supposedly have moral convictions which are supposedly grounded in theological beliefs that they hold with absolute conviction. That, in turn, has led them to take a ‘no compromise’ stand on moral issues fearing as they do, that compromise is simply a tool of liberals to convince the public to embrace moral relativism as a way of life.
Yet, it is the leaders themselves embracing moral relativism. When a person who is not even part of the faith community decides to take a specific course of action, these leaders and their respective congregants are quick to point to the moral failure of the individual. But when they engage in the exact same behavior, the cry is “but he is saved and one of God’s chosen.” Really? Poppycock.

And what about Trump? Currently, nearly 1500 children have been separated from their parents and lost due to Trump’s immigration policy. We also have kids laying in cages at border towns and yet not one single word but accolades come from those religious leaders. So much for the party of values, huh? What about his prolific lies? Or, his mocking of a disabled reporter? Or, his taunting a gold-star family? Or, his mocking the late Senator John McCain?

What about party leaders who claim to be of faith and have done everything they can to be complicit in the lawlessness of this man? Saturday Night Live ran a Cold Open which captures this blind fealty best, this past Saturday.

Watch the video here:

To their credit, evangelical leaders told the rest of the world specifically what they were after and what they had planned to do. They would “change America by taking over city councils, school boards, state houses, and eventually the United States Congress. Having achieved their goal, we now have evangelical politicians trying with all of their political might to enact evangelical morality into law.
However, what these folks have run into is an American electorate that is as skeptical of evangelicals as it is politicians and therefore these leaders have failed to indoctrinate more Americans into their way of thinking. In fact, as The Daily Beast reports:

“Although the retreat from traditional forms of Christianity has long been apparent in western European countries, the pattern of a declining attachment to religion in the young is unprecedented in American history.”

Instead of allowing the very God we say we have so much faith in to take care of matters, these leaders have been bearing down even harder finding ways to circumvent what most Americans not only believe but deserve: A society where people can worship should they so choose, or not to believe, all while allowing the all mighty and powerful God to take care of the rest. A society where one’s religious belief is their own business and ought not be forced upon those who do not believe.
 
It is a pity and pathetic that this is how weak the evangelical faith has become and is, so much so that we do not even trust the all powerful, all knowing, ever present God we tell the world we believe in or characterize in with these attributes. It is well past time to connect the dots between evangelicals as a republican constituency and the breakdown of our political process.
 
As Barry Goldwater, Senator from Arizona and presidential candidate in 1964 said:
“Mark my word, if, and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But THESE Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise. I know, I’ve tried to deal with them.”

And Republicans want us to believe that Muslims are the greatest problem? No! We are.

I really would be honored to have you connect with me on Facebook or Twitter. I look forward to seeing you soon.

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Posted by on May 15, 2019. Filed under COMMENTARY/OPINION. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry
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20 Responses to The Corrosive Effect Of Christianity On Conservatives

  1. Susan Osada Reply

    May 15, 2019 at 3:39 pm

    Totally on point and very well said.

    • Glenn Geist Reply

      May 15, 2019 at 4:50 pm

      one of the benefits of ecclesiastical self-satisfaction is that facts don’t matter. Everything that is is that way because of God and he can’t make mistakes, so God must like Trump. Saul was killed, so God didn’t like the elected ruler, but David? He could do anything he damned well pleased with anything including other people’s wives.

      They’re good about this Cosmic tautology – what is must be because God likes it otherwise he wouldn’t have allowed it. No so for you and me though – act up and God’s gonna roast us like the cities of the plain.

      So grab that pussy, bugger those little girls and cheat on your wife, my own and favorite son. Rules are not for Messiahs. Has he not worked miracles, has he not saved us from Obama?

  2. Glenn Geist Reply

    May 15, 2019 at 4:39 pm

    Is it the corrosive effect of Christianity or an intrinsic part of the surrender of respect and compassion and moral judgment that is offered in a great number of the religions people profess?

    Now it would be one thing if if our God or someone else’s gods told us that birth control is murder, but that’s never happened, and it only seems so to those who confuse the dummy with the ventriloquist. As many have said, God is silent save for his works, whatever you consider them to be. Is the most honest thing we can say, the safest thing we can say: “I really don’t know and can’t know for sure?”

    I think so, because there is a limit to knowledge and if that’s so, humility is called for as the prerequisite to honesty and accuracy; and if humility is called for it consists of allowing others to doubt, or to reconsider your fallible cautions, warnings, threats, demands and most of all – punishments. If you think about it though, many people consider the passion for judgment, punishment, condemnation and persecution to be the opposite to anything we imagine Jesus might have said, even if we can’t know for sure.

    That makes me suspect that if God has not left the building, many very active, angry and even malignant groups have walked away a long time ago. No, I don’t believe in a universal deity, but I believe less in what people say with no authority. People say anything and everything and usually in support of their special status and need for funding. Can I suggest that if you don’t doubt, you don’t really believe?

    But you know, my feelings and lack of faith concerning John of Patmos are as firm as can be. Johhny, who never saw or heard Jesus, Johnny with his deranged hatred of the Greco-Roman world and all who participated in trade, in recreation, in Education, art or science are went endlessly on about their destruction and damnation because somehow he knew that the Jewish God didn’t much like Jews or Gentiles because they didn’t accept John’s visions about what Jesus wanted and what happened to him and why.

    John only wanted repentance from what most of us would consider a blessing, and I think that includes freedom instead of abject abnegation and mortification. So how is his sect going to be in favor of government by, of and for the people? Does he welcome a savior or destroyer? I don’t thank he means Vishnu. What I’m saying is that I don’t know what is essential to Christians that is also unique to them, but I know that I respect the compassionate, humble and respectful and try to treat them the same way.

    Sorry, If I’ve rambled, but one thing I have no doubt about is that God is not required to listen to Evangelists much less to take orders.

  3. Dr. Mark Bear Reply

    May 15, 2019 at 5:17 pm

    Susan,

    Thank you for the kind words. I do not know where this is all headed other than to say that I honestly believe the conservative wet dream is to engage in a Holy War.

    • Glenn Geist Reply

      May 17, 2019 at 8:59 am

      I think you’re right, although the words holy and war don’t seem to go together to me.

  4. Dr. Mark Bear Reply

    May 15, 2019 at 5:22 pm

    Hi Michael,

    Boy that article nails it, doesn’t it? This is precisely why retail Christianity is decreasing its influence on the rest of the world. We cannot say we were not warned though: Max Lucado, Tony Campolo, and Dr. Moore – from the ethics department at the Southern Baptist Convention – and myself each warned the church what would occur if they embraced Trump. You want to know what they told us? We were losing our morality.

  5. Michael John Scott Reply

    May 15, 2019 at 5:41 pm

    No apologies necessary my friend. I learn a lot from your rambles.

  6. jacob freshour Reply

    May 16, 2019 at 12:50 am

    Dr Mark…I’m not sure why you say “I honestly believe the conservative wet dream is to engage in a Holy War.”…You don’t have to wonder, they openly have said their mission is to usher in the second coming….that is their interpretation of Revelations…so yes, they are going to do every thing they can to make that come to pass…

  7. Dr. Mark Bear Reply

    May 16, 2019 at 6:54 am

    Glenn Geist,

    Thank you for a well-thought out response to the article. I agree that those who claim no level of doubt are either engaged in a bald faced lie, which then leads to the hypocrisy we witness constantly. A preacher will preach his entire life on the virtue of remaining married, and then guess what happens, Glenn? The obstinate preacher has a daughter or son who must get a divorce. And now the preacher is left with a decision. Does he hold to the “convictions” he once ascribed to, or, does he recognize the utter foolishness and folly of it.

    I have repeatedly told people I served in ministry that ANYONE – including myself who argues that they have this whole thing figured out – to run away from immediately. In most cases, the individual stating they have it figured out is merely working off of what he or she has been taught to believe. Cultural memes are quite powerful. And they far outlast any person’s behavior. Also, for those who call themselves literalists when it comes to the Bible, they will always encounter cognitive dissonance over the fact that positional authority is meaningless, especially those of us who answered a call which should arguably be characterized as a calling of humility. But these days I am more than confident that humility is missing, and when that is missing, so is authority to preach.

    The Jesus of my Bible teaches me to care about my words, deeds, and actions, always accepting responsibility, however many disagree. THAT is what is currently missing in ministry – please note not by all but the majority – and current crop of clergy in no way fit this characterization. We are failing miserably trying to convince intelligent people like yourself because our words do not match our deeds. Thanks for your thought provoking responses.

  8. Michael John Scott Reply

    May 16, 2019 at 1:20 pm

    You are correct Jacob. They are intent on bringing about the apocalypse.

  9. Lyndon Probus Reply

    May 16, 2019 at 2:06 pm

    As long as Republicans maintain their hold on power, such as the senate and presidency, the crazy religious will be afforded ample opportunity to insinuate their twisted hypocrisy into the very fabric of society.

  10. Karen Huff Reply

    May 16, 2019 at 9:16 pm

    Exactly. We are not and should not be a theocracy. The First Amendment guarantees we are not subject to a forced teligion..

  11. Dr. Mark Bear Reply

    May 17, 2019 at 5:21 pm

    Hi Lyndon,

    I could not agree more with you. The thesis of my current work is that conservatives are now so married at the hip with evangelicals that no matter what they feel it their responsibility to enact their moral code on every single human being. The question is why.

    Simply put, evangelicals – regardless of their stating that they have faith – live their lives with an extremely low tolerance for ambiguity. But life is filled ambiguity and there are few people who can live their lives with such certainty. Furthermore, since they cannot tolerate uncertainty, they project that attribute to the rest in our nation, therefore furthering my argument that they have very little faith. For if they had the faith they “say” they have, they would know that the God they worship is more than able to handle other people’s lives. In other words, the God we preach about does not need us. But when people believe they are needed by God, they inherently invoke Him/Her (for these people it is always Him) as the authority for making such idiotic laws, which in turn, makes the world laugh at the faith these people state they have.

    Thanks for the excellent input and you following my work. I truly do appreciate you and every other person who is a part of Michael John Scott’s site.

  12. Chuck Reply

    May 17, 2019 at 9:56 pm

    I disagree…As a Christian,I am to support whoever is our POTUS. Scripturally my responsibility is to pray for them, those in government and our leadership positions throughout our government. Now does that mean I support all of his actions? No, absolutely not…God’s word tells us that He sets up one & brings down another so in a way God has allowed Trump to be our POTUS for the present…If you have a problem with that take it up with God! I like some of Trump’s decisions…moving embassy to Jerusalem. Calling Kim Jon on his nuclear testing, and helping to turn abortion out…Just don’t ask me to apologize for supporting our & especially praying for them…One thing I’ve learned from 40 years of following Jesus – you can’t Scripturally pray for the man & not support him…They go hand in hand – like Jesus told people…You’re either for me or against me. Theres no in between!!!

  13. Dr. Mark Bear Reply

    May 18, 2019 at 1:08 am

    Hello Chuck,

    You have missed the entire meaning of the article. My thesis is how Christianity has had a corrosive effect on the conservative movement, leading to a “no compromise” position in politics. Thanks for your input.

  14. Glenda Durell Reply

    May 18, 2019 at 10:58 am

    This is another great article by Dr. Mark Bear. I have been following his posts for a long time and have never been disappointed . He speaks the truth of God’s Word in such a clear concise manner, I never find mhself shaking my head and saying, “What did I just read?” He never tries to add his words to God’s Word but lets God’s Word speak for itself. Thank you Mark for being here.

  15. Dr. Mark Bear Reply

    May 18, 2019 at 3:28 pm

    Hello Glenda,

    Much gratitude for your kind words. I hope you – of all folks connected to me on Facebook – would call me out if my writing did not accurately reflect the scriptures. I thank you also for following all of my work.

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  17. Michael Calabrese Reply

    May 29, 2019 at 8:29 am

    Good article Mark! Right on point.

    It would seem that the last thing to be found in evangelical churches today – is Christianity. None of this has anything to do with the Christian “faith,” as most people would understand the word. This is about the preservation of power over a community that must be kept ignorant or everything collapses. That collapse is attested to in the decline of these churches.

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