For a term which has existed for almost 2,000 years, what constitutes a “Christian” has somehow become confusing to outsiders and even to many who think of themselves as being Christian. The recent election has made this painfully evident.
A specific example of this surprising misunderstanding appeared in a letter to the editor in the Monday, November 12, 2012 edition of the Bradenton (FL) Herald. The writer, Carol Gazell of Bradenton, stressed that President Obama had won re-election because he appealed to a majority of many different demographic groups, which in fact he did. But she he went on to say that, “We are no longer a nation inhabited by primarily white Christians. As much as conservatives may not like it, that is the fact, and there’s no going back to those days.” She would fit in with those who believe that the Obama win represented a victory over what they have named the “Christian right.” Their rhetoric claims that those who hold these views are a minority who belong to an earlier time and are no longer relevant.
It is true that the various groups of “minorities” are, as a whole, the new majority. Fair-minded individuals are not paranoid about this reality because this is merely a continuation of the “melting pot” phenomenon which created our great nation. However, the troubling point is her implication that white Christians have a different set of priorities from non-white Christians. This is contradictory. A true Christian must follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Church He established to guide us until His second coming. These teachings transcend race. In fact, the equality of all races in the eyes of God is a key Christian tenet.
The real Christian strives for the good in this life and the hereafter for everyone, not just for him or herself. To achieve “good,” the genuine Christian will, among other virtues:
1) champion the right to life of all human beings from conception until natural death
2) protect the sanctity of marriage which creates the family [basic unit of civilized society]
3) ensure the inalienable right of freedom of religion, which automatically includes its practice.
Such values will be encouraged in a just society, not disparaged.
This brings us to the dichotomy of the last two general elections. How is it possible for so many “Christians” (and sadly, a majority of my “Catholic” brethren) to have voted for a ticket which:
1) promotes an intrinsic evil (abortion) in the U.S. and elsewhere
2) enables and legitimizes disordered behavior (“LGBT”) at the expense of the family
3) drives toward replacing the free practice of religion with a dominating State?
This is a sign of something definitely out-of-whack.
Let’s go back to the so-called “Christian right.” The label implies that this group has become extreme in its views. If this were accurate, they would be expected to push unconstitutional laws like mandatory church attendance for all Americans. This has never been part of their agenda. They might try to legislate the return to closing stores on Sundays in order to “keep holy the Lord’s day.” They could attempt to levy mandatory donations to churches or charitable organizations as a tax in a similar way the Administration was able to convince the Supreme Court to save one aspect of the HHS mandate last June. The “Christian right” has not attempted to do anything like this.
The “Christian right” passionately believes that “good” should be accomplished, but at the lowest possible level. The Christian looks to the federal government only when all other means have failed. In other words, the government should only be involved in helping people to do those things which they cannot do for themselves. (The Catholic Church has a term for this: “subsidiarity.” The site for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops says: “The principle of subsidiarity reminds us that larger institutions in society should not overwhelm or interfere with smaller or local institutions, yet larger institutions have essential responsibilities when the more local institutions cannot adequately protect human dignity, meet human needs and advance the common good.”) Therefore, it does not mean, as Obama’s supporters charge, that the “Christian right” believes in neglecting the disadvantaged.
The “Christian right” also does not believe that something must be condoned and accepted as inevitable just because it’s legal. This includes an array of actions such as: discontinuing retirees’ health insurance, allowing speculative financial tools to be used which line the speculators’ pockets and cause hardship to millions, killing the unborn, same sex so-called marriage, etc. The “Christian right” is just as much a defender of “the little guy” as any other voting bloc because this IS the little guy. A quick look at the voting pattern of rural areas will attest to this.
So what is so confusing or dangerous about white Christians or the “Christian right?” Perhaps “right” in this case doesn’t stand for an extremely conservative position (as opposed to “left” or liberal). Maybe it’s really a matter of right versus wrong…. a very sensitive area for those desperately trying to ignore their consciences.
End of confusion.