Archive for May 10, 2006

Christianism

May 10, 2006

Andrew Sullivan over at the Daily Dish has been fielding feedback on his recent essay “The Problem with Christianism” which I heartily recommend.

In one of his feedback letters I found this paragraph which I could have written myself:

Moreover, the Christianists keep moving the goalposts so far to the right that the distinction between Christians and Christianists is far more persuasive now than in even the recent past. Leading theocon Robert P. George, for example, believes not just that all abortion, including that caused by rape and incest, should be illegal; he believes that a microscopic zygote is morally indistinguishable from a fully-grown adult. Many Christianists therefore now believe that many forms of contraception are the moral equivalent of abortion; and many leading Christianists are moving fast toward banning contraception altogether. (For an important glimpse into the growing radicalism of Christianism on the question of contraception, check out this essay in the New York Times Magazine). Rick Santorum supports laws that would allow the cops to enter a gay couple’s bedroom and arrest them for private, adult, consensual sex; Robert George has no problem in theory with making non-procreative sex illegal (his sole problem is that it would be hard to police such a law). Other Christianists are opposing an HPV vaccine that could prevent 90 percent of cervical cancer in women, because it might lower the risks of extra-marital sex. They seek not merely to oppose marriage rights for gay couples – but to strip gay couples of all rights in the federal constitution. In Virginia, Christianists have made even private legal contracts between two members of the same gender illegal. They support keeping people in persistent vegetative states alive indefinitely through feeding tubes – for decades, if necessary – even if the individual herself has a living will begging to be allowed to die in peace. They have contempt for federalism, believing that the federal government should over-ride state laws and even families in enforcing religious dogma. Remember Terri Schiavo?

Christianists find the concept of personal liberty to be blasphemy. Not just wrong, but a sin against God.

There is a Christianist teaching that all human beings are evil and can only be saved by God. If all human beings are evil then they can safely be treated as if they were evil. If YOU are saved by God already, that makes any kind of oppression you can think of just an act of service to God. Neat, huh? If you are one of God’s saved people then you are without limits.

Few people want to do bad things. They want to get along and have everyone like them. That makes them careful with the feelings of others and they are happy to extend rights to others because that means they have those rights themselves. It’s a better deal than being bad to other people.

But some people still want to do bad things to others. They are addicted to power and control. The Christianist construct is perfectly tailor-made for such people and naturally they gravitate to it. A Christian who merely wants to live a Christ-like life will be attracted to the Presbyterian church or United Church of Christ. Someone who lusts for power over others will gravitate to Coral Ridge or Focus on the Family.

Frankly, the concept of personal liberty is absent from the Bible. But people who consider it to be important, have no problem deriving it from Christianity. It gets filed under Matthew 7:12.

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