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The "Religious Right" is Wrong

If you were raised in church, or have family or friends that were, likely you know many of the issues that are causing more and more people to leave the church. It feels like, in recent years especially, the Church has lost its moral high ground.

Instead of teaching that God is Love, they are using the Bible to justify their hate, and their white nationalism. Christian hate groups are using their mangled interpretations of the Bible to petition for things like banning books representing minority groups, and to persecute transgender children wishing to receive medical care.

In the Bible, Jesus never teaches us to hate those that are different than we are. He doesn't teach us to condemn. Christians just want to use hate and fear to preserve a power structure that is failing, and they will use any means possible to do so.

During Pride Month especially, it is always hammered home to me again just how hateful the modern day church has become.

If you look closely, you will see that the Bible actually has relatively little to say about sexual orientation. There are really only two verses that talk about homosexuality, and one is translated to English in a controversial manner, and is most likely actually talking about adult men violating young boys or slaves.

Jesus himself had nothing to say about homosexuality at all. And, as Christians, Jesus has taught that he has two commandments that override everything in the Old Testament. Mark 12 tells us that:

28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[e] 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[f] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[g] There is no commandment greater than these.”

He also teaches that everyone is our neighbor. This includes the LGBTQ community. It includes anyone with whom you feel you have irreconcilable differences. There is no difference in the eyes of Christ. We are all the children of God, and we need to start treating each other as such.

In the words of Jesus

I think they have forgotten Jesus's admonition to "Let him who is without sin throw the first stone." And, "How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."

These teachings would indicate that it is our responsibility to look at our own hearts, our own lives, our own actions, instead of trying to police the lives of others. It's hard to see how someone who preached love for others above all else would justify any of the hate that is being carried out in his name.

When I look at the Church today, and the for-profit business that it has in so many cases become (think Mega-Churches!) I am reminded of the story of Jesus in the temple in Matthew 21:12:

12 Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’[e] but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’[f]”

When it comes to pastors of Mega Churches, and others who are making a fortune off of defrauding their followers for personal financial gain, it is also reminiscent of what was going on in the time of Christ.

In Mark 10:25, Jesus tells us that:

It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God.

Yet still, even with this in mind, the Church has become a huge financial enterprise. And one that is tax exempt in the US at that. In 2024, the average pastor salary is $107,618. However, some Mega Church Pastors can make upwards of $1M per year.

With Jesus's words in mind, this raises the question of whether these pastors really have their congregations' best interests in mind, or if they are just pushing a political agenda to line their own pockets. It also seems convenient that, since those funds are earned in the name of God, that these churches don't have to pay taxes.

Also, with the increasing enmeshment of the Evangelical movement with the Republican party, you have to ask yourself whether the tail is wagging the dog. Or, to put it more plainly, is the church pushing a political agenda, or is the Republican party pushing a religious one?

Or, are they just trying to hold onto an outmoded value system where anyone who isn't an old, white, Christian man is incapable of holding onto money and power?

Their 2016 endorsement of the thrice-married, morally questionable businessman Donald Trump for the presidency brings all of these questions into a sharper focus. Clearly, this isn't a man who is spending all of his Sundays with his head bowed in church. You're much more likely to find him on the golf course.

And yet, the church endorsed him almost unilaterally. They were willing to overlook his lack of moral character because their political goals were aligned. And in many cases these political goals take a dark turn towards the persecution of minority groups.

Jesus didn't teach us to hate.

The sheer amount of vitriol that is spewed by so many in the ministry is disgusting, and anathema to the teachings of Christ himself. If Jesus was here among us today, telling us to love our neighbors as ourselves, I think it's highly likely that the religious right would gleefully nail him to the cross all over again.

Using "Christian Values" as a justification for hate shows a sheer lack of understanding about what those values are actually supposed to be. This is why so many in younger generations are abandoning the church in disgust these days. The way you treat other people is much more indicative of your character than whether or not you believe the teachings in some old book.

And by the way, if you are purporting to be a true Christian in today's world, you should actually bother reading what your sacred text has to say. Personally, I find it disappointing (to say the least) that someone like me, who left the church years ago, can still quote scripture better than people who profess to be followers of Christ.

Maybe, take some time today to look up Romans 12, which ends by saying:

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Or, check out James 2 which tells us:

18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without [a]your works, and I will show you my faith by [b]my works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is [c]dead? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made [d]perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was [e]accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.

What you believe is only such a small piece of what being a true follower of Christ is all about. How you treat others - your faith in action - is the true definition of your character. It's all well and good to tell people that you think that God is Love, but if you treat others with hate, contempt and fear, you aren't living out what you believe.

My biggest problem with Christians has always been that most of them don't even bother to understand their own religion, much less practice it. If you truly want to be Christlike, possibly you should start with reading the Bible, and showing kindness to others. Even others who are different from you.

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