Church attendance is in steep decline and it has been for quite a few years. Church leaders respond by preaching sermons, writing books, releasing pod casts blaming the culture, media, the public school system, politicians, everyone and everything but themselves and their congregants. Yet, if any one group has done more to confuse the non-believer, and turn off the pagan, and anger the godless, it is believers themselves. What follows is an incomplete list of things we do/say that has driven thousands from the grace of God.
First, we call them heathen, non-believers, pagans, and godless. There are many “pagans” who are believers in gods, goddesses, or spirit beings. And there are multitudes more that believe in a monotheistic god/goddess. To classify people in these pejorative terms is to trivialize their belief system, thus turning them off to what you have to say. Paul didn’t do it in Rome and neither should we in America.
Secondly, calling ourselves values voters, and our political party of choice, a party of values. The implication here is that everyone that does not hold to a particular belief on abortion, or marriage equality, or LGBT rights is not a values voter. The majority of people in this country hold to some sort of values. Those values may also include a concern for how the poor, marginalized and disenfranchised are treated by the larger society. Other values may include a burden and passion against how we rape and pillage the creation, or how we treat and care for the sick or the immigrant. To overtly or covertly imply that only me or my church are “concerned” about values (which consist of only two or three) is to sound bombastic and prideful.
Thirdly, only what you or your group believe about the “family” is pro-family. This phrase attacks and minimizes single parent families, families where grandparents/aunts/uncles/other relatives and friends may be raising children not biologically their own. It also degrades the families of gay and lesbian couples. All those people groups would consider themselves pro-family as well. It would be better to identify yourself and your church as pro-nuclear family, which, by the way, is just one type of family in Scripture.
Finally, at least for this post, being hypocritical. This aspect of fundamentalism is particularly loathsome to those who do not call themselves Christian. Here are a couple of examples. A morbidly obese pastor preaching against the abomination of “the ho-mo-sex-ulls” yet has no problem/restraint eating half a dozen donuts, a double quarter pound value meal, and a pint of ice cream on a nearly daily basis. Or how about the “value voter” voting against a President because said President agrees with the constitutionality of equal rights for all American citizens (LGBT included) and then voting for a candidate that lies ( an abomination according to Proverbs), and believes that his destiny is to be a god some day (an abomination according to the Ten Commandments).
Read, as I close, my translation of the words of Jesus being spoken again to my brothers and sisters in Christ…
“They tie up rules. regulations, judgments, and condemnations hard to bear and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to offer words or deeds of encouragement, comfort or love…
Woe to you right-wing fundamentalists and civil religionists, hypocrites! For you slam shut the door to the Kingdom of Heaven in people’s faces and stand guard over it with your pontifications and pronouncements, not even realizing that in blocking the “sinner” from entering, you yourselves will not enter either.
Woe to you blind zealots of a “turn or burn” works saturated religion. You travel far and wide to win souls for a Savior you claim to follow and then those followers become twice the children of hell you are as they initiate their countries laws and rules that imprison, kill, and destroy marginalized people.
Woe to you, facades of righteousness. You make sure you tithe a tenth of your income, sing ancient “christian” hymns, and only read an antiquated Bible translation, but you forget the reason that I came in the first place. I came to offer unconditional love, mercy, forgiveness, and unlimited grace and it was what you were called to do too.
Woe to you beautifully polished white mausoleums of death.”
God have mercy on us.