The many faces of Christianity

Brian Johnson

Christianity is a very schizophrenic religion. On the one hand it upholds love and forgiveness. On the other it upholds Law and apocalypse.

One need not look very far to see which side of Christianity is ascending in our country today. It is remarkable how easily the poor and downtrodden can be scapegoated for nearly all of our social ills. There was a time when being a conservative meant more than being a lapdog for the rich. But times have changed. The revolting thing is that Christians have changed right along with the times. Where they should stand up for mercy and compassion, they now stand up against welfare and affirmative action. Now Christians fight for the right to life while supporting capital punishment.

Capital punishment! If you call yourself a Christian and you support capital punishment, hell starts to make more sense to me. As Bill Hicks once said, in a way it only makes sense for Christians to support capital punishment, because otherwise there would be no Easter. Do you want to nail the cross together yourself? Will that make you happy?

What’s happened to Christianity? I sneaked my way into a couple of meetings of a campus Christian youth group. They had pamphlets from some local churches that purported to discuss world religions and shed light on the New Age.

Well, it shed light all right. It talked about the New World Order and how New Age was a disguise for Satan. It casually lumped Buddhism and Hinduism in with the New Agers as they all worked with the U.N. to destroy Israel. And I hate to say it, but these kids were lapping it up! I want to know what piece of filth gave them those tracts. It’s someone here in Ames. Apparently, some of our local Christian leaders think the disciples wore jack boots.

Now I honestly don’t believe that these kinds of beliefs are characteristic of local Christians, or, at least, I don’t want to believe it. I don’t want to believe they’re characteristic of Christians in general. But the problem is that all of this is guesswork because decent Christians won’t speak out.

Those students should have taken one look at those pamphlets and thrown them down in disgust. Then they should have gone back to their leaders and taken them to task for taking a religion of love and turning it into a religion of xenophobia. But no one speaks, and Jesus is becoming a symbol for middle class paranoia.

There’s a lot of blather about the decline in “religious participation” in our country. A number of factors are blamed, but let’s put the blame where it belongs. Is fundamentalism the result of a decline in religious feeling, or vice versa? Have people given up on religion or are they simply disgusted?

I know that there are a lot of decent Christians out there, and you have my sympathy and respect. But you’ve been silent for too long. You’ve let Ralph Reed become the voice of Christianity in this country. You’ve let him speak from the money-soaked steps of the Capitol. You’ve let that man stand there in his suit and speak for Christianity. Now how many of you think that Jesus would have ever worn a suit? How many think Jesus would have condoned what’s happening in this country?

So it’s time for you decent Christians to take to the streets. You’ve lost the name of your religion to the rich, the powerful and the petty. You’ve let it happen because you haven’t spoken up, and now Christianity is becoming a word of fear and hatred. Stop talking about morality and start practicing it. Stop having these feel-good “it’s okay to be Christian” rallies and start living your religion. Take a stand!

As for me, I go to bed every night with a prayer, despite the fact that I am not a Christian. But I pray all the same. I pray that Jesus will come back as a black lesbian. I pray that he will come back as a Hispanic transvestite pulling a welfare scam! I pray that he will be born in a small apartment in south central L.A. And I pray that you right wing Pat Robertson Christians will drive up in your Lexuses while he’s preaching to the poor. And I pray that you will get out and bring him gold cards as gifts. And I pray that he will turn away in pity. Because you deserve it, and worse. Amen.

Brian Johnson is a junior in English and philosophy from Amarillo, Texas.