Today tens-of-millions of Americans will tune in and watch the Super Bowl, and it is certain that most observers are football fans who know the rules and the players, but they will be devoutly polarized depending on the team they support, or bet on to win the grand prize. Football fans understand that although the goal is to win the game by adhering to parameters set in stone and enforced by the officials, each team takes a different approach to winning the big game. There is another Sunday activity across America with a similar goal, winning a contest, but like fan polarization and different team tactics to win the big game inherent in the NFL, there are two completely different approaches to Christianity. However, unlike football, one group of Christians is playing by a different set of rules that defy the tenets of the religion and its adherents’ claim to be followers of Christ.
The issue bifurcating Christians is whether or not they follow the teachings of Jesus Christ clearly laid out in the New Testament, or strictly adhere to the set-in-stone edicts in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) based on ancient Jewish law as uttered by god to Moses. The fundamentalist sect of Christians claim the entire Christian bible dictates their lives as followers of Christ, and yet they follow commandments that contradict everything the Messiah taught in sermons, parables, and his examples to his disciples. What boggles the mind is how it is possible to claim one follows Christ’s teachings while practicing everything he condemned and preached against by picking and choosing aspects of the Old Testament that fit a non-inclusive, judgmental, and non-loving agenda that defines anything other than a follower of Christ.
First, this is not an indictment of Christianity, or those who faithfully follow the teachings of Christ, but it is a condemnation of fundamentalist Christians who actively practice a brand of the faith defined by hate, violence, and deliberate unkindness toward their fellow Americans including other Christians. One thing is certain; Jesus Christ never taught his followers to embrace greed, discrimination, hatred, or judgment, and yet that is precisely what fundamentalist Christians hold near and dear to their hearts as the claim to be followers of Christ. It is true that a major share of the blame is on fundamentalist clergy who lead their flocks down the road to perdition, but with the advent of the modern press and the proliferation of Christian bibles in the population, there is no excuse for a so-called follower of Christ to practice, and promote, hatred of non-compliance to Old Testament edicts.
It is common knowledge that Christ centered his teachings on one simple commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself,” or “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” and it covered every conceivable aspect of his message of peace, charity, and love of fellow man. However, fundamentalists reject that simply elegant commandment for the Old Testament’s slaughter, hatred of non-Jews, and Bronze Age edicts not unlike harsh Islamic Sharia Law. There is a reason myriad violent extremist groups claim Christianity as their divine basis for hate and love of guns, greed, and patriotism that defines the conservative movement in America, and it is because their hate drives them to ignore Jesus Christ’s message of love, compassion, and charity that has no place in fundamentalist Christianity. In fact, the fundamentalist sect has more in common with Inquisition era Christianity with a basis in forced compliance, judgment, and punitive actions dealt out at the hands of religious leaders driven to cement their hold on power, wealth, and dominance over people.
Without a definitive number of “real” followers of Christ’s teachings of love, acceptance, and charity, it is impossible to know exactly how many Christians adhere to Christ’s teachings, but doubtful there are tens-of-millions in the population, but one would never know it because they are virtually silent, and that too, is a testament to their “Christianity.” What is problematic, and a mystery, to observers is why moderate, or real, Christians sit quietly on the sidelines while fundamentalists bastardize the faith and portray all Christians as judgmental, hateful, and contradictions of what a true follower of Christ should be. One would think that real followers of Christ would raise up their voices and decry fundamentalism’s anti-Christ agenda if for no other reason than the faith is losing adherents to the dehumanizing characterization of Christianity as portrayed by fundamentalists. In the past twenty years, the proportion of Americans that consider themselves Christians has declined from 86% to 78%, and it is likely down to potential converts learning the faith is a contradiction of Christ’s message of love of neighbor, charity, and non-judgmental acceptance. It is no wonder fewer and fewer Americans do not want to be associated with a religion founded in forced-birth, greed, guns, and hate for “the other,” and as fundamentalists voices grow louder, more Americans will flee the Christian religion.
For many Americans, when they see a Christian, fundamentalist or otherwise, and they are clutching that bible to their bosom, all they see are gun advocates, racists, women haters, gay haters, and so-called patriots who reject the tenets of Christianity for policies more in line with the Taliban than a follower of Christ. It is time for moderate, or real, Christians to speak out against fundamentalist hate, bigotry, and judgment that their avatar of love and charity condemned, because the only Christian voices Americans hear are fundamentalist hatemongers and their advocates in the hardline conservative movement. Although to secular humanists religion is little more than a curiosity based in superstition, mythos, and moral crutch, there is beauty in Christ’s teaching, but as fundamentalists’ voices dominate the conversation, it is getting difficult to see anything other than pure hate, exclusion, and domination that real Christians most certainly abhor. However, one hardly knows it because real followers of Christ’s silence that is either based in fear, or tacit approval, is clearly evident and the longer they stay silent, the more it appears they endorse anti-Christ agenda in fundamentalist Christianity.
Good luck to the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens today, because although they bring different approaches to the Super Bowl, one knows with confidence, that unlike the Christian movement, they are playing by the same rules and it may be why the game is so popular.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.