On this day after Christmas, a major Christian holiday, it is appropriate to do some reflection on our majority religion. Here’s why: The Alabama special US Senate election exposed one of the biggest hypocrisies of the Trump era - the Christian faith.
Full disclosure: Your Scriber was raised as a great plains Lutheran of the “Ya, sure, you betcha” sort. (For more, go view the movie Fargo.) My parents were voting Republicans, or, at least, I’m 99% sure they were. I never heard them connect their faith and their politics. But now the fractures in our society have changed that. I admit that long ago my faith became a casualty of the sales of Christianity to the far right.
Christians Need a New Right-to-Life Movement writes NY Times op-ed writer Margaret Renkl. (h/t Lise Hicks.) Renkl defends her critique of her own religion by noting that “conservative Christianity is in lock step with the Republican party.” Lest you have any doubt, she reports that “Eighty percent of white born-again Christians voting in Alabama backed Roy Moore.”
… I’m trying to understand the country I’ve found myself in since last year’s election, and these days I look hard for common ground.
It isn’t easy to find. In her new book “Moral Combat: How Sex Divided American Christians and Fractured American Politics,” R. Marie Griffith explains the divide between liberal and conservative Christians as a casualty of “the sex wars” — disagreements over women’s rights, birth control, abortion and L.G.B.T. issues. By the time the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges decision legalized same-sex marriage in 2015, she writes, “the rupture between Christian antagonists in the sex wars felt irremediable: one could plausibly argue that Christianity had flat out split into two virtually nonoverlapping religions.”
… the special Senate election in Alabama has exposed how closely conservative Christianity is now in lock step with the Republican Party … when faithful Christians vote for a man credibly accused of child molesting, something is terribly wrong with Christianity. (With white Christianity, that is: Black Christians overwhelmingly supported the Democratic candidate, Doug Jones.) Eighty percent of white born-again Christians voting in Alabama backed Roy Moore, and there is no skirting the damage they’ve done to their own moral standing.
The day of the election, the editor in chief of Christianity Today, Mark Galli, identified the biggest loser in Alabama: Christian faith itself. From now on, Mr. Galli wrote, “When it comes to either matters of life and death or personal commitments of the human heart, no one will believe a word we say, perhaps for a generation.”
What Christians need is a new right-to-life movement, one in which we agree to disagree about contentious issues of sexuality and focus instead on what we share, on what we all believe. Jesus had nothing to say about birth control or abortion or homosexuality. He did have quite a lot to say about the poor and the vulnerable, and maybe that’s a good place to start.
Surely Christians across the political spectrum believe we’re called to feed the hungry, heal the sick, protect the weak and welcome the stranger. If we can agree on that much, and if we can keep our shrieking differences from wrecking the quiet conviction of shared belief, we could create a culture of life that has a chance of transcending the sex wars. I find myself hoping for a day when conservative Christian voters can elect conservative representatives for whom feeding the hungry and caring for the sick and welcoming refugees aren’t political issues at all.
Renkl describes a Nashville program that provides some temporary housing and meals for homeless families.
Homeless babies. The very thought is enough to make a person weep.
It’s Christmas, the day Christians celebrate a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger because there was no room for his family at the inn. We owe it to that infant to do better by the babies here among us. To do better by their parents, trying so hard to keep them fed and clothed and healthy. We owe it to him to throw open our arms and the doors of our inns. “You who are hungry and hurting and alone and afraid, come inside,” we will say. “You belong here.”
I’ve read calls for abandoning identity politics in favor of addressing pocket-book issues. Christians might do well to heed that call. If they do not, like the shrinking percentage of old white male voters, they will find their moral majority shrinking to an immoral minority.