The New Republic:
A 78-percent majority of Americans is Christian. Only about a third of them self-identify as evangelical, which is a very rough proxy for the Christian conservative minority that increasingly insists on being called, simply, “Christian.” Such totum pro parte synecdoche de-legitimizes mainline Protestantism, historically black Protestantism, and Catholicism, which account, combined, for most of the other two-thirds of all Christians. The de-legitimization is why Christian conservatives favor it. Mainstream news organizations like the New York Times, ever-fearful of being branded anti-religious, have allowed themselves to be bullied into accepting the Christian right’s implicit suggestion that the only true Christian is a Christian conservative member of an evangelical or fundamentalist congregation.
Now speaking from the vantage point of a non-religious political blogger this argument presents a rather interesting, and possibly insurmountable challenge.
How do I write about the damage that Right Wing extremists are doing to our country, using Christianity as a bludgeon, without attacking their weapon of choice as well?
As many of you have made VERY clear, you resent my attempts to reveal the inherent faults that are contained within the Bible, or to dismiss religious faith in and of itself as a potentially dangerous mindset which allows trusting people to be more easily manipulated.
And I get that, I do. But I have to ask you, since I feel very strongly that public education, science, and the ability to love and live as we choose, is actively under attack by people who hide behind the shield of Christianity, what choice do I have?
Christian blogger Fred Clark further defines the problem:
This is a deliberate, intentional attempt by a politicized faction of American evangelicals to do two things: 1) redefine “Christian” to mean “white evangelical Protestant,” and 2) redefine “evangelical Protestant” to mean “conservative Republican.”
This is inaccurate. And uncivil.
It’s deliberately insulting to every Christian who is not a white evangelical Protestant and to every white evangelical Protestant who is not a conservative Republican. The latter group is not a small category. Millions of white evangelical Protestants voted for Barack Obama in 2008.
Millions of them. Millions of us. More than the combined total populations of Alaska, Delaware, Montana, the Dakotas, Vermont, Wyoming, Rhode Island and West Virginia. But for the most part, the fundraisers and vote-herders of the religious right have succeeded in getting the media to play along with the weird idea that these millions of people do not exist.
You see my quandary.
I personally have NEVER had a problem with religion, or Christianity in particular, as long as it was not something which negatively impacted my life.
But when I witness people using it to vilify and attack ANYBODY who does not march in lockstep with THEIR version of religion, then what am I to do? Must I remain quiet for fear of injuring the feelings of those not actively involved with that extreme point of view?
I leave this as an open question to my many readers, ESPECIALLY those of you who have expressed frustration at my posts about religion. What would you suggest as the best alternative to dealing ONLY with those who are using your religion as a both a shield and a weapon to strip away the rights of women, the non-religious, the gay community, and anybody else who is not part of their religious clique?
And let's make an attempt to keep this discussion positive shall we? Expressing frustration at one or both sides is allowed, but let's NOT simply devolve into name calling.
(H/T to Andrew Sullivan)