On Christian tolerance 

One last post on the topic of the Religious Right, just to set the record straight. When I post something that calls out the Religious Right for championing racism, patriarchy, and anti-LGBTQ equality (as I did on Facebook earlier today), it’s not uncommon for someone to come along and say that I’m being intolerant of others (and thus hypocritical since I’m supposed to represent a religion that “accepts all views”). It’s their “gotcha” move. But I just want to go on the record to clarify how erroneous this is, in every way. As an example, I received a message earlier today from someone who essentially said that posting such things flies in the face of being part of (as my denomination describes) “a movement for wholeness in a fragmented world.” I’m not sure why this accusation is so frequently made, but to set the record straight, here’s a paraphrased version of my response to him:

The genealogy of the Religious Right is in the preservation of segregation and patriarchy, just as a matter of historical fact. These are very sinful things. Christian teaching tells us that sin separates us from God and from one another, the wages of which are death. From a theological and ecclesial standpoint, “a movement for wholeness” begins not with acceptance but with confession of sin. Wholeness is about reconciliation and redemption, and as Bonhoeffer said it’s no cheap grace. So if we seek to be “a movement for wholeness in a fragmented world,” we acknowledge that wholeness begins not via acceptance of all views as equally valid, but in the confession of sin (such as racism and patriarchy) that steals, kills, and destroys. “A movement for wholeness in a fragmented world” is only possible via justice and righteousness, as St. Paul describes. So that’s what I’m after as a pastor and preacher. Transformed lives in the way of Christ, in which justice is never sacrificed on the altar of unity, because true unity (and wholeness) demands justice and righteousness, not the other way around.
P.S. The Religious Right is not synonymous with evangelicalism. To be sure, many evangelicals identify with the Religious Right, but many do not. Again, for the record.


P.S.S. I don’t always use religious language to express my ideas, but in this particular post I’m drawing on religious language that is familiar to those associated with the Religious Right (kind of like meeting them on their own rhetorical turf). Whether this is wise or not is another question entirely.

P.S.S.S. If the climate in the U.S. wasn’t charged with so many politicians using racism, patriarchy, and anti-LGBTQ equality to rally their base, I wouldn’t feel the need to speak out against the Religious Right so much (I don’t like doing so; but it goes with the territory of being a pastor and being a Christian).

P.S.S.S.S. I’m tired of prominent leaders in the Religious Right (Jerry Falwell Jr., Franklin Graham, etc.) championing terribly sinful, problematic, and pro-death positions. They try to make us think they’re ethically sound Christian positions when they’re anything but what is found in the actual life and teachings of Christ. I refuse to cede the ethical Christian high ground to them.


P.S.S.S.S.S. After posting this to Facebook, Susan Russell offered a great comment that I don’t want to lose track of: “My stock response: ‘There is an ontological difference between being discriminated against because of who you are and feeling discriminated against because you’re disagreed with.'”


P.S.S.S.S.S.S. Going for the record of post-scripting with this one.

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