Are American Christians stupid?

niceMy favourite headline last week: ‘Southern Baptist Leaders Not Getting Any Younger’. Like a midget who failed all his GCSEs, it’s not big and it’s not clever, but it did make me laugh (the headline, not the midget). It also provided much-needed respite from stories about American pre-election elections (or whatever it is that they’ve been doing in Iowa).

Much of last week’s debate raged over whether Mike Huckabee, one of the Republican candidates, had lied about having a degree in theology. My initial reaction was: ‘A politician, lie? Shock! Horror!’ And you may agree with my cynicism. Perhaps politicians, like newspaper columnists, white South Africans abroad and BT phone operators telling you when a line will be installed, should rarely be trusted. But that attitude is simply not helpful. If I am sick to the gills of hearing Christians say to me ‘Oh, I don’t really get involved in politics,’ when I am talking to them about issues of justice or freedom (and I am), aren’t I perpetuating it by perpetuating the myth that all politicians are liars? Don’t I deserve the unrestrained beating I wish to administer to them?this seems silly

Christians should care about politics as much as they care about justice, about feeding the hungry, about caring for widows and orphans, an end to war and terrorism or the right to preach the Gospel. They should be concerned with politics because politics is concerned with all these things.

You’re pulling a face, aren’t you? You’re pulling that freakish, dysfunctional face, making like the village idiot and saying: ’really?’ in an ironic and unkind tone of voice. Harsh, man. Fine: generally speaking, I think most Christians realise all this already. When the Archbishop of Canterbury publicly denounces American foreign policy and most of us have been involved in campaigns to make trade fair, erase debt, stop the people traffic (or at least introduce congestion charging) and protect the planet, aren’t we sufficiently political?Christian commies

Alright, bright-briefs, if you’re so okay with Christians being political, tell me how you feel about the following statement: ‘It is a sin to vote Conservative in the next election.’ Is it: a) ‘Uncomfortable’; b) ‘Extremely uncomfortable’ or c) ‘I agree, but please don’t say it out loud, it makes me uncomfortable’? Admittedly, the statement above is hideously simplistic and theologically problematic (and Baptist Times and Jonathan Langley in no way advocate or support the sentiments, blah blah blah), but it illustrates a point. We are seemingly fine with Christians being political, but not party political. Or if they are, it must be private and we should never try to bring religious morality into it.

The assumption is either that political parties are all equal in the sight of God (particularly if they count Christians in their ranks, as is the clarion call of every party justifying its religious cred’) or perhaps we’re not really that open to politics after all.rightwing

If it’s okay to campaign on religious grounds against poverty we should not just feel free to assess party political choices on the grounds of their attitude to the poor, it is our duty. All parties are not equal in God’s sight. Some represent interests that run counter to the Gospel. And while the issues are unlikely to be black and white, the correct response is not to run away from the challenge of sorting the wheat from the chaff of political policies. If we apply our faith to this area of our lives as much as we apply it elsewhere, if we truly engage with politics (rather than playing at it without offending anyone) we could have an effect. The time is ripe. And like Southern Baptists, we’re not getting any younger.


2 Responses

  1. The minute I read… “Like a midget with learning difficulties, it’s not big and it’s not clever, but it did make me laugh (the headline, not the midget).” I immediately discount everything else you had to say as the ramblings of an idiot. If you want to make a point, don’t start your “article” with such an absurd, ridiculous, and bigoted statement to encourage people to read your drivel. Otherwise, you just sound like either an asshole or just an ignorant asshole… and God knows we don’t need anymore ignorant people and 8 billion assholes in the world is more than enough.

  2. hahahaha. well, er, thanks for that. the idea that you would discount all ideas from a person who uses an admittedly old joke to open a piece is telling in itself i guess. but point taken. i’ll change the ‘learning difficulties’ (which technically i have) to ‘failed his exams’. because it makes a big difference. obviously. like thinking that midgets are not big and people with learning difficulties (or have low IQs or whatever random method you want to use to asses these things) are not clever. Really out-there, those concepts. lol. thanks for calling me an asshole, though. enlightenment!

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