July 30, 2006 /

The Religious Battle At Home

I openly admit I am not a religious person. I consider myself an Atheist and, as much as people try, will not change my views unless something happens in my life to make me change. Having said that, I find what the religious right is doing to America today is despicable. We all know that […]

I openly admit I am not a religious person. I consider myself an Atheist and, as much as people try, will not change my views unless something happens in my life to make me change.

Having said that, I find what the religious right is doing to America today is despicable. We all know that this is not a “Christian” nation, but rather a nation of religious freedoms. These zealots have tried relentlessly to rewrite American history, and what she stands for.

I firmly believe that our forefathers knew the dangers of having politics and religion mixed. They wanted a separation of church and state to not only protect our nation, but more importantly to protect religion. They knew the dangers of politicians getting power hungry and invoking faith as a reason to wage war.

This millennium has shown a big change in those views. We now face more and more churches throwing their political hats in the ring and our leaders crediting their decisions with the “will of God”. This is very dangerous and leaves people like me feeling even more disconnected from our country.

I bring this up because of a very interesting article in today’s New York Times.

MAPLEWOOD, Minn. — Like most pastors who lead thriving evangelical megachurches, the Rev. Gregory A. Boyd was asked frequently to give his blessing — and the church’s — to conservative political candidates and causes.   The requests came from church members and visitors alike: Would he please announce a rally against gay marriage during services? Would he introduce a politician from the pulpit? Could members set up a table in the lobby promoting their anti-abortion work? Would the church distribute “voters’ guides” that all but endorsed Republican candidates? And with the country at war, please couldn’t the church hang an American flag in the sanctuary?   After refusing each time, Mr. Boyd finally became fed up, he said. Before the last presidential election, he preached six sermons called “The Cross and the Sword” in which he said the church should steer clear of politics, give up moralizing on sexual issues, stop claiming the United States as a “Christian nation” and stop glorifying American military campaigns.   “When the church wins the culture wars, it inevitably loses,” Mr. Boyd preached. “When it conquers the world, it becomes the world. When you put your trust in the sword, you lose the cross.”

Rev. Boyd broke with the masses and delivered a very appropriate speech. He sees the bigger picture. The article goes on to say about 1,000 members of his 5,000 member congregation walked out to never return, yet many others stayed and even thanked Rev. Boyd. To me, these are the true people of God.

Perhaps there is a war against Christianity in this country. If there is, I don’t believe the enemy is who they think. The enemy seems to come from within. The enemy is those who wish to invoke their own political greed into the pulpits and corrupt the church with getting involved in politics.

The evidence is out there. We hear stories on a daily basis of members of the radical Christian right going against the very morals they preach. We hear of them getting caught committing adultery with hookers, engaging in sexual acts with children and engaging in homosexual relations. This is what has destroyed the true meaning of the church and of God.

Here in Southern Ohio, I am surrounded by conservatives and evangelicals alike. One larger evangelical church in my area recently held a revival and I know one member who was in attendance. During this revival an evangelical “prophet” came to their church and talked about the book of Revelations. This “prophet” said that the anti-Christ is here now and is someone very high in U.S. politics. That is all this person would say, yet when confronted with if it was Bush, she, who is rather talkative and ready for an argument, became eerily silent.

As the NYTs article I mentioned earlier goes on, it talks about the battle within the churches over their standing within the political world.  

Sermons like Mr. Boyd’s are hardly typical in today’s evangelical churches. But the upheaval at Woodland Hills is an example of the internal debates now going on in some evangelical colleges, magazines and churches. A common concern is that the Christian message is being compromised by the tendency to tie evangelical Christianity to the Republican Party and American nationalism, especially through the war in Iraq.   At least six books on this theme have been published recently, some by Christian publishing houses. Randall Balmer, a religion professor at Barnard College and an evangelical, has written “Thy Kingdom Come: How the Religious Right Distorts the Faith and Threatens America — an Evangelical’s Lament.”   And Mr. Boyd has a new book out, “The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church,” which is based on his sermons.   “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.


We need these people, who dare to keep religion out of politics, to be triumphant in this battle. It is not the church that depends upon it, but rather our nation. Our very democracy pivots in a delicate balance between being free or becoming a nation of forced religion. There are two forces fighting against these people now – those that believe God should govern our nation and those that expose and profit from that belief. The later is the most dangerous because these are the people who are already in power, as congressmen, senators and even President.

So how do we help this battle? The answer is really hard, especially for an Atheist like me. The best starting point is to start supporting politicians who do not feel a need to invoke God in their decisions of legislation. Luckily, mostly Democrats follow that rule. We need to show these people, who are the silent majority in the church that we are behind them 100%.

Religion is a great thing for the right people. I am not one, who follows that, but I know many who do and they are considered good friends. I don’t look at them differently for their religion and they don’t look differently at me for my lack of religion. If we are to be “free men” then our freedom should also be gauged upon our freedom to worship or not. These are the people I support wholeheartedly.

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