My Evangelical Friend…

I just went another short round with my radical right gun totting evangelical friend on helping those less fortunate than us.  Here are some of his words replying to a post I made on FaceBook.

The root cause of most of our deficit problems is still those that work and produce must pay for the existence of all those that do not work or produce goods and services. Few functions in the government produce a good or service worthy of a salary.

My conservative evangelical friend very very often shouts that there are just too many “free loaders” in our country who are purposely living off the government instead of going out and getting jobs. His solution seems to be to just cut them off at the ankles and if they can’t exist then it is their problem; “those people” should not be our problems. They are simply a drain on our society!  They are keeping us from thriving. Of course he also goes on to say in this quote that anyone employed by our government are also free-loaders; they just get their money from a different pot! In this blanket statement he is including our teachers, fire fighter, policemen, government agents, FBI, FDA, Justice Department, social service agencies, and thousands of other workers trying to help us accomplish a safe and meaningful life.

There are so many places in Jesus’ words that are very counter to my conservative friend’s foundations; I just fail to understand how he, and so many  supposed Christians like him, can so easily ignore those messages. Jesus clearly tells us to be our brother’s keeper and even to joyfully give them the shirt off our backs if they need it. But, my conservative friend doesn’t seem joyful about anything in his life except maybe his guns and other similar stuff.

In talking with my conservative friend and so many like him I have come to find that his core political and seemingly life driving belief is that no one should get anything that they haven’t worked for and earned.  He rants and rants about this on every opportunity. What is so strange about this is that he then goes on to state that his spiritual foundations are that Jesus died for his salvation and there is nothing he can  or even need to do to earn it.  Therefore he readily admits that spiritually he is a free-loader himself who is getting something he as absolutely not earned.

How can a person’s political beliefs be so much in contrast to his supposedly spiritual beliefs? How can a person who calls himself a Christian totally lack compassion for those less fortunate them himself? This dichotomy continues to thoroughly astound me! How can the two co-exist in one person. How can a person accept Jesus’ sacrifices and then go on to ignore his words and adamantly refuse to help those around him who are struggling for even the basics in life???

The sad thing about all of this is that my conservative friend has many other who think the same way as he does surrounding him on his weekly church visits.  They are all hunkered down talking about the evil world out there and ranting and raving about people who are getting something they didn’t earn and then they go on to say that they are getting something they absolutely did not earn themselves. Many in this category truly in a heartfelt manner question why institutional church today is getting such a bad wrap lately. They seem dumbfounded by that fact. If they would get stop and listen to themselves once in a while they would know the reason.

The Clubhouse Effect…..

I recently watched an interview of a Christian clergyman of twenty years.  He was having doubts about his faith.  All of us have doubts and one time or another. Even Mother Teresa was troubled by them. Having doubts is not too unusual but this particular minister’s doubts were leading him to make the leap back to an agnostic or even worse. This is sad but it is not really the purpose of this post.

During the interview the pastor noted something  I think he called the clubhouse effect. This is basically where religious beliefs take a back burner to maintaining a social life via church activities. In other words the social aspects of Christians usually trumps doctrinal beliefs. In Catholicism this is commonly called being a “cafeteria Catholic”.  But this practice is by no means limited to Catholics. Many, if not most, pick and choose what we want to believe in religious doctrine or just follow where they are led by their church leader. This practice of selected beliefs is almost always done at a very personal level.   It very seldom is discussed or exposed more publicly.

I can personally attest to the loss of a significant portion of my social life when I left a church.  Sometimes I regret having spoken up so much in doctrinal matters as to draw attention to myself. While many others in that church told me they agreed with much of what I said they did so in a very private manner so as not to jeopardize their church status.

One very interesting comment by the doubting clergyman was that  “it is a dirty little secret that hardly anyone actually reads the Bible, especially on their own.  If they did churches would be in much more dire straits than they already are.” When I went out on my own to study the New Testament, that is without having certain verses constantly pointed out to me, I found the words of Jesus to say something much different from the established church  was feeding me on a weekly basis.  If I had relegated the Bible to its reserved place on my bookshelf as so many do I would likely still be a member of that church. Sometimes, but not often, I regret my decision to see what Jesus was really talking about…