Religious Right

Damaged by False Prophets? Let’s Do It Better From Here On.

I.  Young Adult Attitudes Toward American Christianity

In the aftermath of the Religious Right’s ascendancy, it is not an accident that “antihomosexual” is the number one perception of Christians in America, followed closely by “judgmental” and “hypocritical” and “insensitive.”
Recently I wrote about how young adult “outsiders” – people not involved in churches – think of Christians in this country, based on research overseen by David Kinnaman and reported in his recent book.

[My posts: “They Will Know”, “World’s View”.   Kinnaman’s book is unChristian, based on an extensive research project by The Barna Group. It’s valuable but not pleasant reading.]

At the end of each of his main chapters Kinnaman includes comments from other Christian leaders. Here’s some of what Brian McLaren had to say (p 172). (Here are a few posts on this site that mention McLaren’s writing.)

II.  How We Got There – The Role of the Prophets of the Religious Right

From a vantage point further in the future, I think that an honest diagnosis will tell the truth about the pivotal role the Religious Right has played in these depressing statistics.

He’s referring to Kinnaman’s statistics – like the frequency with which American Christians are seen, especially by young adults, as “judgmental” and “hypocritical”.

In the aftermath of the Religious Right’s ascendancy, it is not an accident that “antihomosexual” is the number one perception of Christians in America, followed closely by “judgmental” and “hypocritical” and “insensitive.”

Yuk! What an unpleasant list.

But these are the characteristics deliberately cultivated by the leaders of the Religious Right; this is the character they wanted in American Christians. They put their vast wealth and power into the effort, and they succeeded at it. And now we are all paying the price.

III.  It Could Have Been So Much More Biblical, and Thus So Much More Holy and Beneficial

McLaren’s point is that it could have been very different if those national level prophets had loved and promoted a more Biblical agenda. It does matter what the prophets have been teaching.

Young people today could, if we had taken a wiser path for the last few decades, think “antipoverty” or “pro-environment” or “pro-fidelity” or “antiviolence” when they hear “Christian” or “evangelical.” But because of the path influential people have taken over the last thirty years or so, what young people think of the Religious Right is what they think about evangelicals and even Christians in general.

Funny. Many of us tend not to think of those things as “Christian” values. We have been well trained – no, not “well” trained, but effectively trained.

For McLaren has listed issues that are much more prominent in Scripture than the things the Religious Right’s prophets have been pushing. These are true Biblical values, while much that we’ve gotten from the RR is just a bunch of ordinary secular values nicely dressed up with church-talk.

Just imagine what good developments we could be seeing by now had they used that great power and wealth in support of more truly Biblical values – McLaren’s list and/or several others – among the Christians of this nation! Ah, what great blessings we have surely missed.

IV.  And Those Prophets Are Responsible

That’s why some of us believe that leaders in the Religious Right have, in a classic case of gaining the world and losing the soul, successfully gained political clout but helped lose our next generation.

That’s a very serious charge – “helped lose the next generation.” The “next generation,” wisely enough, is repelled by hypocrisy, judgmentalism, and blatant power-grabbing.

V.  A Warning from 500 Years Ago – St. John of the Cross

“Perhaps in their zeal these directors err with good will because they do not know any better. Nor for this reason, however, should they be excused for the counsels they give rashly.” -John of the Cross
I rediscovered this quote from St. John of the Cross the other day. He’s talking about those who provide spiritual leadership to others.

Perhaps in their zeal these directors err with good will because they do not know any better. Nor for this reason, however, should they be excused for the counsels they give rashly … and for rudely meddling in something they do not understand.

It is no light matter or fault to cause a person to lose inestimable good and sometimes to do him veritable harm …

Thus he who recklessly errs will not escape a punishment corresponding to the harm he caused, for he was obliged, as is everyone, to perform the duties of his office well and not be mistaken … when there is at stake almost an infinite gain in being right and almost an infinite loss in being wrong.

[quoted in The Fire Within: St. Theresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, and the Gospel – on Prayer, Thomas Dubay SM, Ignatius, 1989, p295]

It is indeed “almost an infinite loss.” These false prophets have used their great power and wealth to broadly damage Christian testimony and Christian practice in the most powerful nation on the planet. Who can even imagine how much good could have come to us and to the whole world had they chosen to use their exalted positions to lead and encourage us all into a more Biblical holiness.

We have missed “an almost infinite gain” because they chose to pursue something else, and “we” chose to support them in that.

VI.  So …

Let us recognize false Christian leadership for what it is.

And, as we move forward from this place, let us labor to choose much more wisely what we will love, and what we will promote to ourselves and to our fellow believers. And let us take care to hold our prophets to a much higher standards of Biblical morality, humility, and love.

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2 Comments

  • Another quote to add to the list.

    “When fascism comes to America
    it will be wrapped in a flag
    and carrying a cross” -Sinclair Lewis-

  • Larry, Connie and all, hello

    I hope you are all doing well these days.

    And it’s no consolation to be right… the money’s gone. Would like to hear from you by email any time about all of this.

    As to false prophets, I am looking (in vain, for the moment) for some links involving the roots of partisanship within mainstream church leadership.

    In an imperialistic nation which half of its manufacturing is weapons (mostly to sell to other nations, then training them to kill), it would be of high priority among secret services to infiltrate the church in order to keep up continual support of warfare.

    We have seen the manipulation of elections now for decades, but never with such force until the political stylists conquered mainstream Christianity. I’ll get back to you when I find those likes.

    Meanwhile, here are a collection of lookalike scriptures for those who believe it is their “calling” to provoke a rapture hence Armageddon:

    Isaiah 5:18-30
    18 Woe to those who drag iniquity with the cords of falsehood, And sin as if with cart ropes; 19 Who say, “Let Him make speed, let Him hasten His work, that we may see it; And let the purpose of the Holy One of Israel draw near And come to pass, that we may know it!” 20 Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! 21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes And clever in their own sight! 22 Woe to those who are heroes in drinking wine And valiant men in mixing strong drink, 23 Who justify the wicked for a bribe, And take away the rights of the ones who are in the right! 24 Therefore, as a tongue of fire consumes stubble And dry grass collapses into the flame, So their root will become like rot and their blossom blow away as dust; For they have rejected the law of the LORD of hosts And despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.

    Isaiah 10:1-2
    Woe to those who enact evil statutes And to those who constantly record unjust decisions, So as to deprive the needy of justice And rob the poor of My people of {their} rights, So that widows may be their spoil And that they may plunder the orphans.

    Isaiah 26:10
    Though the wicked is shown favor, He does not learn righteousness; He deals unjustly in the land of uprightness, And does not perceive the majesty of the LORD.

    See a lot of slander in the church against other kinds of Christians? Seen thieves in the “Christian” White House? Tired of seeing “Christian” senators found in brothels? How about this:

    Psalms 50:16-23
    16 But to the wicked God says, “What right have you to tell of My statutes And to take My covenant in your mouth? 17 “For you hate discipline, And you cast My words behind you. 18 “When you see a thief, you are pleased with him, And you associate with adulterers. 19 “You let your mouth loose in evil And your tongue frames deceit. 20 “You sit and speak against your brother; You slander your own mother’s son. 21 “These things you have done and I kept silence; YOU THOUGHT THAT I WAS JUST LIKE YOU; I WILL REPROVE YOU AND STATE THE CASE IN ORDER BEFORE YOUR EYES. 22 “Now consider this, you who forget God, Or I will tear you in pieces, and there will be none to deliver. 23 “He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me; And to him who orders his way aright I shall show the salvation of God.”

    And to all the Armageddon freaks:

    Psalm 120:6-7
    6 Too long has my soul had its dwelling With those who hate peace. 7 I am for peace, but when I speak, They are for war.

    And to beat this dead horse back to life again:

    Jeremiah 23:16 – 17
    16 Thus says the LORD of hosts, ” Do not listen to the words of the prophets who are prophesying to you. They are leading you into futility; They speak a vision of their own imagination, Not from the mouth of the LORD. 17 “They keep saying to those who despise Me, ‘The LORD has said, ” You will have peace'”; And as for everyone who walks in the stubbornness of his own heart, They say, ‘ Calamity will not come upon you.’

    Calamity piles upon the US every day for a casino capitalism which has been nothing but a game to use the people as a collective cash cow to support war! Look, bankruptcy.

    Remember this one?

    Jeremiah 23:30-32
    30 “Therefore behold, I am against the prophets,” declares the LORD, “who steal My words from each other. 31 “Behold, I am against the prophets,” declares the LORD, “who use their tongues and declare, ‘{The Lord} declares.’ 32 “Behold, I am against those who have prophesied false dreams,” declares the LORD, “and related them and led My people astray by their falsehoods and reckless boasting; yet I did not send them or command them, nor do they furnish this people the slightest benefit,” declares the LORD.

    Lastly, consider how the warmonger prophets see God:

    2 Sam 22:26-27
    26 “To the faithful you show yourself faithful, to the blameless you show yourself blameless, 27 to the pure you show yourself pure, but to the crooked you show yourself shrewd.

    Webster’s Third New International Dictionary
    Shrewd / …1 a archaic : causing trouble : MISHIEVOUS, NAUGHTY… b obs : causing injury : HURTFUL… : 2 obs marked by bad temper : SHREWISH, ABUSIVE… 3 a obs : tending to disadvantage : OMINOUS, UNFORTUNATE b : beset with hardship or difficulties : DANGEROUS, DISTRESSING…4 a : SEVERE, HARD… b : BITING, PIERCING… 5 a : marked by cleverness, discernment or sagacity : ASTUTE, KEEN…

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