Christianity is dead. One version of it, anyway.
The nails are in the coffin. The box is being lowered into the ground. The funeral is under way. But the mourners—where are the mourners? Where are those who weep for this loss of faith?
This Christianity did not die a quiet death from natural causes. It did not succumb to the inevitable demise of old age, or the ravages of attrition, or even some predictable but lamentable disease. No, this version of the faith was murdered. Violently, with premeditation. Killed by its own leaders. Leaders with famous names, television shows, huge churches, and millions of followers . Leaders who ripped the heart out of their religion with bloody bare hands and posted the snuff film on social media.
The slow torture began years ago, with an ill-conceived and illicit union between conservative Christian leaders and a political party. A party whose guiding values lie in direct opposition to those of the Deity whose name is invoked. Waterboarded into submission through intimidation, lies, and misguided patriotism, its followers banded together to elect a national leader who embodies the very worst qualities of human existence: narcissism, greed, spitefulness, and all-consuming self-interest.
This president—their president—has boasted openly about his domination of the weak and vulnerable. He has admitted to abusing women, using the nastiest, most deplorable, most demeaning language possible. He has cheated business partners out of money he owed them. He has exalted himself and used his positions of influence for self-aggrandizement. He has insulted international leaders and threatened nuclear warfare. He has opened the floodgates of racism, homophobia, misogyny, anti-Semitism, and xenophobia. He has tacitly condoned acts of violence against women, immigrants, blacks, Latinos, Muslims, gays, lesbians, transgender people. He has turned a blind eye to the abominations of the Ku Klux Klan, the alt-right, and the Neo-Nazi Party. He has shown disdain and contempt for the poor, the weak, the disabled, and the discouraged.
He is vile, vulgar, and violent. Nothing in his character or action suggests so much as a hint of compassion, tenderness, or concern for others. His henchmen systematically engage in murder by lack of health care, thievery by tax code, and the rape and plunder of millions of American dreams. This Egomaniac-in-Chief is the person whose values conservative Christian leaders embrace. And now, in a small state in the Deep South, those same leaders have signed their names to an affirmation for a candidate who, according to all evidence, is a sexual predator, a pedophile who excuses his actions and dismisses the accusations against him as unworthy of attention.
Make no mistake: I am not saying that all the followers of this movement are vile, vulgar, and violent, or that they are deliberately and consciously abandoning the precepts and principles of Jesus. Quite the opposite. I believe that many are well-meaning, good-hearted people who have been blinded by their devotion to a single issue, and by their reliance upon leaders who lie to them. They have been used, abused, and irreparably damaged by those entrusted with their care. Their so-called caregivers have abdicated to the seductions of money, power, sex, and fame. The shepherds have become wolves.
And so the question arises: Where is God in such a travesty? Where is the Jesus who said, “Follow me,” and proceeded to walk among the poor and the sick and the hurting and the outcast, to touch them and heal them and make their lives better? Where is the protection for widows and orphans and strangers among us? Where is the Messiah who taught that the last shall be first and the first last, and that the one who desires to lead must be the servant of all? Where is the One who washed feet and fed multitudes and taught care and compassion for the least of these?
I think I know where that Jesus is: In the dust among the hurting and outcast and disenfranchised. Nailed to a cross of the church’s own making. Out there in the darkness, mourning for a people who have turned their backs on Truth.
There are other brands of Christianity, of course. Christians who do the work of God without fanfare in the world. Christians who feed the hungry and care for the homeless and helpless. Christians who open their arms to embrace people whose looks or language or manner of loving is different. Christians who join hands with Jews and Buddhists and Muslims and Hindus and declare that there is one God, whose name is Love. Christians who know that being true to their faith has nothing to do with borders or nationalities or sexual identities or racial divides.
So don’t tell me that those leaders, the ones who have abdicated their principles for the sake of personal gain or political power, represent a Christianity that reflects anything like the life that Jesus modeled. No one with a shred of conscience would have anything to do with such a religion. No one who has ever read the Bible and taken it seriously could believe that Jesus would affirm the values of these so-called Christian leaders.
No, there’s a new faith on the horizon. A religion of self-service rather than self-sacrifice, of loathing rather than loving, of hatred rather than helping.
And only one Bible verse applies: