The Real Islam, Ctd

Larison counters me:

Religious people who are political quietists will remain that way as long as their religion is not perceived to be under threat. What Andrew misses here is that the people he calls Christianists were political quietists for decades until they began to find the political and cultural changes going on around them seemed to threaten them and their religion. That is, they were “indifferent” to politics because they believed that the government and other major institutions largely left them to their own devices and did not bother them, which made withdrawal from the world seem like the right course of action. One reason why a self-consciously liberalizing “Green theology” would be such a disaster for the Green movement, as I have said before, is that it would provoke fierce resistance from all of these quietists who have so far effectively remained neutral in the internal political contest in Iran. They are unlikely to rally to the side of the protesters in any event, but they could very easily angrily turn against them if they appeared to threaten traditional religion.

The key phrase here is "seemed to threaten them and their religion." In a country with a First Amendment and a strong commitment to religious freedom, I think this fear is not, at root, a religious impulse. It's a political one. It is an attempt to seize or recapture power, where Christianity is about the renunciation of all earthly power.

Christianity, after all, was founded on a culture of marginalization, persecution and martyrdom, not political mastery and imperium. Jesus saw true faith in those without power - the marginalized and despised and powerless. You could argue, in fact, that Constantine's adoption of Christianity as a state religion was an original sin from which Christianity has still not recovered.

The truth is: if your faith is strong, you are indifferent to worldy power and influence. You try to live your faith - which is hard enough - and leave the rest to God.

Jesus repeatedly, insistently refused the political option. Others may be changing the culture in different and disturbing ways; and a Christian will bear witness to this - but primarily by example, not through enforcement on others of a particular doctrine others may not share.

I understand how the Supreme Court's over-reach on Roe vs Wade - because it seemed to sanction what many Christians viewed as murder as a core part of the constitution - came to be such a catalytic event in the emergence of Christianism in the 1970s. In fact, I think liberals bear considerable responsibility for the creation of Christianism. But I remain firmly of the belief that the Christianist conflation of politics and religion, the insecurity of Christians in the faith of a secular, materialist and proud culture, and the pathological fear of modernity are not functions of faith.

They are functions of the lack of it.