We often hear the phrase "The War on Christianity" loudly bandied about by politicians, pundits and religious groups. Generally speaking, it's a Conservative call declaiming the dissolution of Christian values in mainstream discourse and governance. As a liberal, I want to come out and say they are right. There is a war on Christianity in this country.
We as a society have forgotten the central moral teachings of the Christian faith. Jesus taught mostly in parables, which are sometimes difficult to explain quickly and certainly can leave a lot of room for interpretation, so I'll focus on five very clear messages He gave that were not coached in parable, or metaphor, or narrative. They're easy to remember:
1. Feed the hungry.
2. Clothe the naked.
3. Care for the sick.
4. Visit those in prison.
5. Shelter the homeless.
Very little of what Jesus ever said wasn't clothed in some varied meaning, so it seems to me that when He says something clearly, it's probably extra-important. Or maybe just morally obvious. Its clarity should be seen as central to Christian practice and identity. Whatever promotes to its opposite could be said to be anti-Christian -- or against the Christian spirit -- or maybe more starkly, anti-Christ.
This would be even more fitting an epithet for those intending to subvert Jesus' message by convincing others that He meant the opposite of what He taught, that we shouldn't feed the hungry, clothe the naked, care for the sick, visit those in prison or shelter the homeless. It might sound something like this:
- Those on welfare deserve their fate and should simply go out and find a job. Then their families won't go hungry.
- It's fine to have folks work long hours, for poor pay, in unhealthy conditions so long as the designer clothes they make reach lucrative markets -- oh, and they do not get access to those designer clothes themselves.
- Healthcare is not a right. It should be tied to employment. And you should be allowed to opt out. And your health isn't my concern.
- Prison systems are designed to be punitive, not redemptive. The fuller they are, the more efficient they remain. The prison industrial complex is fine and appropriate.
- Luxury housing is better for the tax base. Affordable housing is middle class welfare. Section 8 housing credits are expiring all around us as a sign of the healthier economy -- look, people just want to move back in, so we don't have to fund the poor to live here now that the neighborhoods are getting cleaned up.
It's almost comical if folks didn't believe this while claiming religiosity. This is the true War on Christianity in our country. It's not about prayer in schools, or soccer trumping Sunday school. It's about groups of pundits, politicians and "American"-centric groups redefining the teachings of Jesus to suit their economic, social or political agenda. You know it's working when those spouting the anti-Christian rhetoric rile people into anger and hatred. You know it's working when Christians are confused into believing that the the health of their neighbor is not their concern. That individual freedom is radically more important than community well-being. You know it's working when these movements strategically quote the teachings of Jesus to suit their own agendas, rather than base their leadership on the foundations of love, compassion, and concern for our fellow human -- which any good Christian knows is Jesus' clear central message.