Christians love nothing more than to distance themselves from other Christians they disagree with.
I was recently talking to a Christian friend who said that her Church just lost a few thousand members because the overall congregation voted to uphold support of the LGTB community along with the right for Gays to Pastor.
Her Church seems to be moving in a more liberal direction, and I commend them on it, but I mentioned to her that it seems strange to me that several thousand would just walk out on their Church because they found a problem with allowing other human beings the same rights they have.
Equality is no reason to quit a club, unless your club is evil, like the KKK (also a Christian organization by the way).
At any rate, I mentioned that it was the dogmatic abuse of Church doctrine which frequently corrupts peoples beliefs and turns them into intolerant bigots. I put the blame squarely on religion. Not because I think all religion is evil, but because I know how it functions well enough to know how it spreads its ideologies and why so often it seems that the ideologies are tacked to an agenda. Usually the agenda is the gain prominence or dominance, either political or cultural, and most of the time the competition is other Christian churches.
When I was a believer I often heard the saying, “Well, you’re not a true Christian if you believe X, Y, or Z.”
Personally, I think this is probably what happened at my friends Church. Both factions, split on a non-issue, basically where one group was claiming the other group couldn’t be a “true Christian” if they believe that homosexuality was acceptable. Meanwhile, the other group was claiming the others couldn’t be “true Christians” if they didn’t find homosexuality, at the very least, a sinful abomination.
Now I don’t mean to suggest that granting equality and the same basic human rights is a non-issue. What I mean is, talking about the way in which people chose to love on another is not any of my business. Certainly it’s none of yours. To argue, how people ought to butter their bread is just as ridiculous, and you wouldn’t be caught dead doing something as silly as quitting your organization, in droves, just because some like to butter their bread butter side up, while others butter their bread with the butter side down. It makes one scratch their head why anybody would even care whether you share the same anatomical parts as the person you love or not. It’s just as silly of an issue as the butter thing.
More to the point, however, I pointed out that if doctrine didn’t make such a big deal about what was “acceptable” and religion didn’t try to control what people do in the privacy of their own homes, then there wouldn’t be any reason for such a stupid waste of time–like arguing against homosexuality because you don’t like the fact that two people occasionally walk down the street holding hands. If that’s you, get over it grandpa, the times are a changin’.
Of course, you’ll always have the conservative groups that view change as bad. And since any progress is change–then things like granting gays marriage rights (as NY just did) would be taboo.
In the end I’m glad that my friend’s church had enough progressive independent thinkers who valued the modern notion of equality and shared human rights over archaic sex guidelines written down by delusional goat herders who believed that whacking the tip of your manhood off was the best way to appease their imaginary deity who, for some reason, didn’t want them eating pork chops and didn’t want the women to speak.
At the same time, I wanted to make the point to my friend, that although people like her may progress, the doctrines remain the same. When I pointed out that, eventually, calling herself Christian just wouldn’t make sense anymore, since everything she believes goes against everything Christianity teaches, that once one’s beliefs change enough that they are no longer compatible with the beliefs of the religious faith, it doesn’t make any sense to keep calling oneself Christian. But that’s just my thoughts. I think for most Americans, they believe “American” and “Christian” are synonyms. But those who think this way also think that because evolution is a theory that it can’t possibly be true.
But why do they think this? That’s what I wanted my friend to think about. Because they have a religious book, written by the same ignorant bronze aged superstitious fools who thought the world was flat and that women suffered child labor because of a curse put on her for the crimes of a talking snake, and because modern scientific knowledge is not compatible with their cherished beliefs–it’s obviously science that is wrong. In other words, it’s their religious beliefs which are directly impacting their worldview/ideologies.
Therefore as long as anyone prescribes to religious beliefs, then they are at risk for allowing their ideologies to be polluted by the defunct doctrines of their particular brand of religion. And I wouldn’t have such a problem with such people if they kept their religion to themselves, private, and out of public life. But many Christians feel it is their God given right to protest abortion, homosexual marriage, and evolution… and then this is when their religion becomes a problem.
At this point my friend reminded me that all ideologies have the potential to corrupt. But I find that an over simplification. Not all ideologies are created the same. Also, I’m not suggesting that people just replace their religion with atheism. Administering 10cc’s of atheism never cured anybody. In fact, that’s probably the main reason Communism failed.
What I am suggesting, however, is that people learn to think for themselves. Learn the critical thinking skills necessary to cope with complex issues. But more importantly, learn how to question their beliefs and why they believe them. If they can’t find any good reason to keep believing, then as my friend’s Church, leave such outmoded beliefs by the wayside.
Who knows? Maybe in the future, Christians won’t need to distance themselves from other Christians, because they will have learned to stop letting religion dictate what they believe and will have finally learned to think for themselves. Only then can they come to any rational agreement on what truly matters.