The Fight Against Christianism

The long hard slog to rescue American Christianity from the politicization of Christianism seems to be gaining ground. This story from the NYT this morning about pastor Gregory A. Boyd is a must-read. He's not a member of the religious left. He's a Christian, interested in serving others and exhibiting the humility and detachment from worldy power that Jesus exemplified. Nothing could be more alien to the religious right, whose pursuit of power and arrogant fundamentalist certainty have begun to tarnish the teachings of Jesus in the eyes of many. Read the whole thing, but here are a couple of beautiful qotes that sum up our predicament perfectly:

"When the church wins the culture wars, it inevitably loses. When it conquers the world, it becomes the world. When you put your trust in the sword, you lose the cross."

Tell that to Karl Rove, who sees religious faith as a tool to manipulate for political ends. Here's another dissent:

"There is a lot of discontent brewing," said Brian D. McLaren, the founding pastor at Cedar Ridge Community Church in Gaithersburg, Md., and a leader in the evangelical movement known as the 'emerging church,' which is at the forefront of challenging the more politicized evangelical establishment.

"More and more people are saying this has gone too far — the dominance of the evangelical identity by the religious right," Mr. McLaren said. "You cannot say the word 'Jesus' in 2006 without having an awful lot of baggage going along with it. You can’t say the word 'Christian,' and you certainly can't say the word 'evangelical' without it now raising connotations and a certain cringe factor in people. Because people think, 'Oh no, what is going to come next is homosexual bashing, or pro-war rhetoric, or complaining about 'activist judges.'"

And we all know those are the centerpieces of Jesus' message: a peace-seeker who never mentioned homosexuality and believed in separating God from Caesar. That's why I use the term "Christianist" to describe the Republican operatives fusing their ideology with the Gospels. Whatever else it is, their ideology is not synonymous with Christianity. Three words: vive la resistance.