There's a great article on the CNN site that asks the question, "Is Obama the 'Wrong' Kind of Christian?" This is a very nuanced and well reported story, and well worth reading. A few thoughts:
- What right does anyone have to question someone else's religious beliefs? If Obama says he's a Christian, we should respect his beliefs. Do you want someone else questioning whether you really believe what you believe?
- This, unfortunately, shines a spotlight on many fundamentalist Christians who think it's their way or the highway, that anyone who doesn't believe exactly as they do are just wrong, wrong, wrong. (And probably going to hell.) This, dear readers, is why religion has a bad reputation among many.
- The article does a great job, IMHO, of pointing out the difference between the contemporary Protestantism of the Social Gospel, prevalent in the first half of the 20th century, with the revived fundamentalist movement, which has been around since the early 20th century (remember the Scopes Monkey Trial?) but has come on strong in the past few decades.
- Where mainstream Protestants tend to be a bit more inclusive and certainly more socially conscious, the fundamentalists seem to view everyone else as heretics and dismiss social responsibility. For example, Rev. Gary Cass, the conservative Christian president of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, goes as far as to say that Christians who talk about “social justice” are often practicing “warmed-over Marxism." Really. That's what he thinks. (I guess this means Jesus was a Marxist. Who knew?)
- Speaking of extreme viewpoints, Rev. Steven Andrew is quoted in the article as saying that President Obama is trying to change the national motto from “In God we Trust” to “Out of Many, One,” and that the president has ordered the Pentagon to remove biblical verses from its daily report. (Really? I hadn't heard that one.) The Reverend also says, and I quote, "I think he’s an anti-Christ." Of course he is.
So is the rise of the Christian fundamentalist movement the end of progressive Christianity as we know it? Or are these just a bunch of extremists who'll bark their way to oblivion soon enough?
I'd like to hope it's the latter, but the numbers say it could be the former. God help us.