The Problem of Fake Christians

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phil-robertson-closeup-aeFake Christians are a pest. I’m talking about the alleged conservative Christians of the Religious Right. I’ve even called them that myself, but over the years, I’ve become convinced that they are not Christian at all. They are as murderous as any conservative Christian in history, but those Christians at least pretended Jesus mattered to them.

I suppose we could call them something other than fake Christians, or I suppose you could still make an argument that they’re just another of a myriad forms Christianity has taken over the two millennia of its existence. I call them fake Christians for one simple reason: you can’t have Christianity without Christ, and these people have removed Jesus from the equation. To listen to them, you would no more know Jesus had existed than George W. Bush.

They focus instead of cherry-picked Old Testament passages that make the Bible out to be one long anti-gay diatribe. What it is, in actuality, is one long anti-Gentile diatribe. The Old Testament takes everything Gentiles (Pagans) saw as holy, and made it wicked. Old Testament Judaism is a rejection of Paganism. It is not a rejection of “homosexuality” which, in any event (along with “Caucasians and Byzantines), did not even exist in people’s minds until the 19th century.

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Now they claim to be the true form of Christianity, but as I’ve said before, Jesus exists only in weaponized form, as a name to beat others with. They don’t care about what he taught, or what he said. Jesus said to love. They hate. Jesus said to turn the other cheek. They attack. Jesus said to pray in private. they pray publicly. Jesus said to forgive. They plot revenge. Jesus loved the poor. They worship Kochs.

What’s funny is that they obsess over Satan without even talking about Jesus. Jesus thought there was a Satan, though in the Old Testament Satan is just a servant of YHWH.

But while the Religious Right is all about Satan it’s not about Jesus, which makes them what?

Think about it. Mark Creech wrote in the Christian Post the other day accusing of “LGBT-affirming” churches as a “Fifth Column.” Aren’t Creech himself, and other Religious Right groups, really the fifth column in the equation? After all, they’re pretending to be Christians while accusing Christians of pretending to be Christians.

And we’re already all aware of Rick Santorum’s claim from a few years ago that mainline Protestants are not really Christians, that they’re aiding Satan in his war on America.

“Mainline Protestantism in this country…is in shambles, it is gone from the world of Christianity as I see it,” he claimed.

This is a spiritual war. And the Father of Lies has his sights on what you would think the Father of Lies would have his sights on: a good, decent, powerful, influential country – the United States of America. If you were Satan, who would you attack in this day and age.

Again, Satan. But where’s Jesus? Creech says, “Others will say I have no right to judge who is or isn’t a Christian” but “God allows it [the church] to sort out true believers from nonbelievers.”

I don’t think you need God’s permission to spot nonbelievers, and Creech is one. If you don’t really care about Jesus’ teaching, you’re not really a Christian, are you? That is the whole point of the gospels, after all. They don’t all present the same Jesus, but they all teach readers about Jesus’ own teachings. I would argue that if you strip the gospels from the New Testament, you don’t have much left. Sure, you have Paul, but Paul too bases his teachings on the figure of Jesus. Jesus is absolutely essential to Christianity.

So how about Phil Robertson? He told the Republican Leadership Conference Thursday that,

“You lose your religion, you lose your morality, you lose your freedom. You cannot be right for America if you are not right with God.”

Not only does this contradict the United States Constitution and the First Amendment, but it’s patently and demonstrably false. Morality has existed for as long as humans have existed. Neither Judaism nor Christianity invented morality.

And Robertson is no fool. He said, “The GOP must be desperate to call a person like me.”

Desperate they are. So desperate they will get more extreme every time they lose, thinking that will somehow turn the tide in a society moving steadily to the left.

But what about Jesus? He says he has a strong faith in Jesus Christ. But he doesn’t show any awareness at all that he knows anything about Jesus beyond his name. No more than any other Religious Right figure does Robertson talk about Jesus’ teachings. About his love for the poor and condemnation of the rich, about his telling his followers to turn the other cheek, love their enemies and forgive them.

Shouldn’t these people, if they’re really Christians, be talking about Jesus, just a little bit? Don’t hold your breath: it won’t happen. They’re not Christians. They’re an aberration, a manifestation of an extreme conservative reaction to change that didn’t have a religion conservative enough to bend to its cause. Lacking such a religion, they took bits and pieces from the country’s dominant religion and pretended to be the real thing.

It’s not. It’s a con. It’s a bait and switch. There is a real Christianity out there – many forms of it – at least if we’re defining Christianity by the inclusion of Jesus. And I don’t see how such a definition could be rejected.

For the rest, there is continuing debate about the original form(s) Christianity took after Jesus’ death and from that perspective maybe there are no real Christians at all today. And if Catholicism was Paganized by the Early Church in an attempt to co-opt Pagan religiosity, then it also did not later survive contact with Germanic Paganism.

These are issues that have been studied by scholars as well. Definitions will remain problematic, but we can agree, I think, on the essential inclusion of Jesus in the religion founded in his name, the religion that is, ultimately about him.

It’s time for real Christians to reject these fake Christians. Love them. Forgive them if you must. But, please, if you want your own religion to survive, it’s time to cut bait and call them what they are. They’ve already taken the Republican Party and forever stained it with their evil. Don’t let them do the same to your religion.

56 Replies to “The Problem of Fake Christians”

  1. How can the party of the Christian right and the filthy rich be the same? Don’t tell me the abortion issue because that was passed by a conservative Supreme Court.

  2. Take this with the grain of salt it deserves, as it is coming from an atheist. One of the things that always drove me crazy when I was a Christian was the finger-pointing and othering of people whose Christianity didn’t match one’s own conception of Jesus.

    Jesus in the Gospel did chase out moneychangers, fed gobs of the poor, talked about the poor in spirit, treated lepers like real people and warned against casting the first stone unless one was pure. But the Jesus also advocated violence, exhorted followers to abandon their families and more that we find abhorrent as members of a sane society.

    There is this whitewashing of Jesus among Christians and non-Christians alike, to make him out to be whwat we want him to be rather than as the gospels and epistles describe. In my view, pretty much all over the map. Christians of all stripes are forced to pick and choose which Jesus they want to emulate when they ask “WWJD,” and what they really mean is that “Jesus would do wha…

  3. Don’t tell me what you believe, show me your deeds and I will tell YOU what you believe. I’ve learned in life that those whose protest the loudest are the guiltiest. It’s that defensive/justification mechanism that all of us have. Like when people say, “I hate Obama…but I’m not prejudice.”, or “Gays shouldn’t get married… but I don’t hate gay people.” It’s always that “but”.

    I believe Phil Robertson “found” his religion when he realized being religious would sell alot more duck calls to the right wing religious zealots. I don’t think hate and bigotry have been officially designated as a religion yet. Luckily these religious fanatics are a minority in this country I hope it stays that way.

  4. I’d have to agree Robertson is a hate-filled, angry man, a man seeking worldly power and influence. I disagee with his religious views. I find Pope Francis much more worthy of emulation. I disagree with Robertson’s political views. I voted for Obama and support the reform process for healthcare represented by the ACA; I also think his foreign policy is much more coherent and logical than his opponents would have us believe.

    With all that said, I still don’t presume to say Robertson isn’t a Christian. If he says he is, I take him at his word. But I don’t consider him a GOOD Christian. He’s got a long way to go. Most Christians do. This is in line with Catholic teaching, as Pope Francis would assert.

  5. Yeah but Phil leads a prayer at the end of every show. How much more “Christian” do you expect?, wink, wink.

  6. Organized religion has become a haven for a bunch of greedy, money-driven, compassion-less, self-aggrandizing Pharisees.

    Time to dumb down our Christianity. Don’t sweat the details, but follow Christ’s basic requests: Treat others as you want to be treated, believe in no other God besides your own, and say the Lord’s Prayer daily.

    That’s it. Easy. Simple. Yet so much closer to the teachings of Jesus. By caring others one receives ‘grace’. Anything less is un-Christian.

  7. Christians who still hold on to the old prejudices of the past are making a mockery of the death of Christ and His sacrifice, a Dream Deferred.

    How can today’s White Christian ministers who profess to be the guiding spiritual light for their parishioners knowingly attack or remain silent to the truth of the horrendous legacy, in regard to the injustices of slavery in America’s past history? We are taught to accept the Holocaust, but we are encouraged to forget the atrocities and the injustices perpetrated on the millions of Native Americans, Africans and Asians on which this nation’s prosperity was built.

  8. How can today’s White Christian ministers who profess to be the guiding spiritual light for their parishioners knowingly attack or remain silent to the truth of the horrendous legacy, in regard to the injustices of slavery in America’s past history? We are taught to accept the Holocaust, but we are encouraged to forget the atrocities and the injustices perpetrated on the millions of Native Americans, Africans and Asians on which this nation’s prosperity was built.

  9. Christians who still hold on to the old prejudices of the past are making a mockery of the death of Christ and His sacrifice, a Dream Deferred.

  10. Thanks for saying much that has preoccupied me of late. I had in mind a piece somewhat like this but called “The Two Christianities.” Despite the fact that I am a non-believer, I admire some Christian principles, mainly the red letter ones, not the mad ravings of the “other” Christians, the followers of Saul of Tarsus. The Santorum-vs.-Protestants element is new to me; as you know, the ex-senator has moved to Texas and is producing Biblical and other Christian-themed movies. (Texas is the capital of Red State Christianity. It is the Blue State Christianity I appreciate. My nostalgia for faith suggests to me you hit all the nails on the head, for which many thanks.

  11. When people create “God” in their own image and then undertake to defend this “God” from its enemies, they’re idolators.

  12. Phil and the rest of these repubs believe that girls should marry by 15,I can’t see how they can justify this in their minds,how they deal with their own daughters.

  13. 1 This is excellent. The ducks no longer have the great following

    2. Satan appears to me to be far more powerful then god

    3. You cant amass weapons and call on Jesus

    4 I call all religions fake. Religions come and religions go. If it is up to the right wing, all of protestants and catholics would be gone in a heart beat. You wont have a choice and jesus wont be involved

  14. Santorum-vs.-Protestants

    Santorum is a very right wing catholic. So right wing they had to create a new religion for him. He is against any tolerance towards people shown in the protestant churches

  15. one of the worst fake christians is paul ryan who is now telling anyone that will listen that people commonly mistake him for anthony weiner’s penis.

    What type of jerk tells crap like that to the media?

    Oh yeah — the kind of jerk that proclaims Jesus said to kill the poor.

  16. “It is not a rejection of “homosexuality” which, in any event (along with “Caucasians and Byzantines), did not even exist in people’s minds until the 19th century.”

    Everything in this article is spot on except this; while it’s true that the word “homosexuality” did not exist until the 19th century, the concept of two men (or two women) having sex with and falling in love with each other DID exist in people’s minds.

    If the Greeks celebrated it, if Romans tolerated it, if subsequent nations had laws against it (France being the first European nation to get rid of such laws, in 1791), if they wrote it about it in pamphlets, in diatribes, in graffito, in song, if there were certain places that were known to attract such a clientele (for example, the Palais Royal in 18th century France), then trust me, it existed in their minds.

    To say the opposite is to be completely ignorant of history.

  17. To his viewers, “Christianity sells”. Being “Christian is a part of their brand. In my opinion he, his family and far too many others — including the vast majority of GOP/TP politicians — are actually CINOs (Christian In Name Only).

  18. They’re not fake Christians, they’re not even Christians at all.

    How can they be followers of CHRIST when they refer nearly exclusively to GOD, not Jesus, and as you said, Hrafnkell, rely on the OLD Testament (pre-Jesus) for their guiding light?

    These vengeful fools are hopelessly archaic. I hope a blog commentary like this goes viral. More folks need to be talking about unchristian hate.

  19. I was watching an episode of “Chopped” last night, and one of the four chef contestants confessed out loud in their equivalent of “the green room” where they’re waiting for the judges’ decision to “chop” that she prayed in the previous round to Jesus to keep her from being “chopped”, and he answered her prayer.

    You see, the goal is to survive three rounds of cooking with weird ingredients, to win $10,000 being the sole surviving chef.

    I doubt Jesus was the agent allowing her to get to the next round, because I doubt He’d approve of being prayed to for winning a prize (or the lottery, or finding treasure).

    So, I have to speculate, was it The Other Guy with the bad reputation that answered this woman’s prayer?

  20. Jesus tried to reform a society where money and political power had taken over the Temple, the spiritual leaders. Christianity was born. It immediately became a platform for power mongering, and eventually the Roman Empire took it as its official religion and completed that task. Along comes Martin Luther (and many others before him) to try to fix that .. and the church split into Catholicism (where those in power blatantly tell the sheep what to do) and Protestantism – supposedly where people read the bible for themselves and have direct exchange with God. It split into a bunch of factions, all over different ideas and, again, power platforms developed. The message has been pretty clear. The problem isn’t acknowledging there are things beyond what we know, but that humans keep trying to “tame” it, and then make others adapt their “truths”. Power, coercion, guilt, shame — even atheism is it’s own corrupted system of knowing to “other” others.

  21. Joseph, in the ancient world, the idea of homosexuality did not exist. A man could penetrate another man. He could not be a man and be penetrated by another man. That made him feminine. It was all about being the penetrator.

  22. He spoke the truth about those who claim they love Jesus or God, yet they have done nothing in God’s name to improve the lives of anyone, but the very wealthy, the powerful and their selfish greedy friends, family and themselves. They have used God’s name to lie to the masses and trick them to take their side of their issues to gain their trust. If any one stop to think for one moment if they believed in God or not, what would Jesus have thought of what he is proposing, his propaganda, the wealthy who throws in millions to persuade people to vote the way they want them too for their own good? I am glad that he spoke up and told the truth for they have misled many and their doings will not go unnoticed!

  23. Watching the “christian” right-wingers contort themselves into a faithful guard dog of 1% was the most disturbing aspect of this mutation of the Christian faith. The defense of the greedy, and the lust to immiserate the needy have become the cornerstone of right-wing policy efforts.

    Their actions have driven millions of believers from religious practice of any kind. Remember, God doesn’t want, or need a dime of your money, so religions that ask for money are false! A good rule is to take all your money, throw it into the air and let God grab what he needs, what hits the ground is yours to spend as you please.

  24. lot of things wrong with your article. you probably know what they are. the people that hate God, will agree with you, cool, I get it…was atheistic for many many years. the true Christians probably won’t battle you, turn the other cheek and all that. good luck!

  25. Wiccans have basically one rule, “Do as ye will, harm none.” number one rule “Don’t hurt anybody!” how simple is that, and how much does it parallel with the teachings of Christ, Buddha, and even Mohammed. I’m sure none of these prophets wanted us to be miserable for life, but fundie cherry picking from random books of their holy books most likely is not what they had in mind.

  26. The term is “heretic.” There have always been heretics. It doesn’t excuse the sorry SOBs but it ain’t nuthin’ new. They are as old as the hills.

  27. Excellent article, Hrafnkell.

    I have made the same argument many times, and usually the closest anyone can come to refuting the argument is to bring up the ‘One True Scotsman’ (OTS) fallacy.

    Admittedly, that used to make me back off. I have come to the conclusion however, that the OTS fallacy is only applicable when the person in question actually has some attributes of a Scotsman. Just because Idi Amin thought he was the King of Scotland does not mean that his claims should be granted credence in light of the OTS. It doesn’t matter whether he wears underwear under a kilt, drinks Scotch, and can recite every word from Burns and Byron. He ain’t no Scotsman. Period.

    There is more to being a Christian, of any sort, than just saying you are a Christian, and mouthing the words ‘Jesus Christ’ every few sentences.

  28. It was the fanatical “Christian’s” who use God and Jesus to justify every wrong thing they do, who pushed me into Agnosticism. I know there is something/someone greater and more powerful out there – but I will not “buy” that He’s this hate filled, intolerant jerk.
    When people started saying “God hates ___”, it was all downhill from there. God hates? Really? Or … “If God wanted ____, then he would ____.” How the eff does anyone truly *know* what God wants? Where does “free will” come in to play? When my brother heard my mother was dying, he hadn’t spoken to her in years. Instead of picking up the phone or coming to see her, he wrote an email stating “If it’s God’s will for me to talk to you, he’ll tell me.” WTF? 4 years later, a few days before she died, he finally called her on the phone. Guess “God” finally got around to telling him it was “OK” to speak to his own mother. smdh.
    If that *is* God, I think I’ll pass.

  29. sorry joeb, not mocking christians, not mocking “christian republicans”. just calling out all the folks who use their religion to justify hate and violence against people who don’t agree with them.

  30. It’s not hard to read the scriptures and see what kind of model Jesus Christ gives us to emulate.

    And it’s not hard at all to see what kind of model Pat Robertson gives us.

    What is hard to find is a common ground between the two.

  31. So ironic that many hard-right “Christians” abhor Catholics, in part because Catholicism focuses more on the New Testament than the O.T.

  32. If Satan wanted to undermine Christianity, what would be a good way? Get them on the wrong side of a factually indisputable issue, something that requires them to take a twisted view of Scripture to defend. Get their egos involved, so the more the facts contradict them, the angrier they get, the more they discredit Christianity, and the more they have to lie.

    No doubt about it. Creationism is a Satanic plot.

  33. Christian means “to be Christ like” I call these kind of people Christain’ts because there AIN’T no way they are true Christians

  34. Excellent op-ed.
    One point that people fail to understand is that Jesus, the man, never wrote anything. I always wonder why people fail to think of the very human Jesus as having any human traits. He was educated, but he didn’t write? Odd. So, His ‘words’ are all second-hand hearsay. You don’t think the disciples had Dragon on their PC’s to take everything the man said down, verbatim, and in real time??
    Having said that, Matthew may be who everyone thinks is the “Christ” in “Christian”. Until, you will note, the man named Jesus is dead and gone, no longer around to see that his COMMANDMENTS are carried out,i.e.(pre-dead Jesus):”These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not:But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
    And did they listen? Hell no! Their Boss was as good as dead, what the hell was He gonna do: come back as a zombie?

  35. “Cafeteria Christians” is a term I have seen applied to the cherry picking school of religious dogma embraced by the fundamentalist right.

    Fundamentalism, in any form is bad, be it religious right or left, political right or left; it is a reductionist philosophy that tries to replace critical thinking with ignorant opinion. And no one can argue that the fundamentalists have a firm grip on the right.

  36. No is saying religious hypocrisy is restricted to the republican party, but it IS the modern republican party (not the democratic party) that is waving it in everyone’s face as a way to get votes, to excuse their prejudices, and justify their embrace of ignorance. I observe very little if any of this sort of overt religious pandering from the Left.

  37. You would presume to know what God would approve of and disapprove of in prayer? What makes you smarter than God? How do you know Jesus didn’t allow her to continue, specifically so she could mention her belief on TV so you and hundreds of thousands of others could see it?

  38. 1) Christ died to eject the “prince of this world.”

    2) Paul referred to the evil “god of this world” who has “blinded” unbelievers.

    3) Satan, Jehovah’s servant, offered Christ “all the kingdoms of the world,” suggesting that he had the authority to offer them. Maybe he lied, but Christ would have seen through that lie, making the temptation less morally meaningful.

    Conclusion: the god of this world is evil. He sought to prevent Christ from fulfilling his salvific mission. He continues even post crucifixion to blind people in this world to the truth.

    So explain, evangelicals:

    WHEN DID JEHOVAH HAND OVER TO “THE DEVIL” THE POWER TO RULE THIS WORLD?

    Or did he?

    The earliest New Testament manuscripts never use “Jehovah” to refer to God the Father.

    That’s because Jehovah IS the evil god of this world Christ and Paul referred to. When Satan came to tempt Christ, he was doing Jehovah’s dirty work.

    And you’ve all been duped into worshiping him…

  39. I find it fascinating that the religious right and the “true christians” are just as radicalized in their bizarre, arcane beliefs as the muslims and islamists they hate. Radical segments of theologies have been part of religion throughout history so go figure ours is no better or evolved.

  40. “I would rather have a competent Turk (Muslim) as ruler than an incompetent Christian” – Martin Luther

  41. Fake Christians are often theocratic warvangelicals, all in the same league as the neocons, Reich-wing nationalists and bloodthirsty chickenhawks.

  42. My problem with god is very simple and comes in two parts: that he lets his fan club get away with such shit; and that his fan club are forever making pests of themselves calling other people out, and selling religion like so much Amway. PEOPLE are forever having to clean up god’s messes.

    The christian god is some kind of lazy fucker, never does lift a finger to prevent people wreaking havoc in his name, and taking credit whenever these idiots find a dropped nickel.

    Sin is ridiculous, everything fun is a sin but god lets idiots like Joel Osteen, Creflo Dollar, Joyce Meyer and Icky Ricky Santorum speak for him. I’d rather buy bandages from someone who has a bloody knife in his hand that listen to those Pharisees. Any one woman could do a better job of being god, than god, because we get shiit done cleaning up messes, getting dinner and doing what needs to be done.

    Fuck you, fuck sin, and fuck god. Since god is so clever why does his book need human translation?

  43. Christian right = filthy rich he called an ace an ace that’s why we are slipping into a third world country at the hands of the Republican party – very rich and very poor no middle class (most of which were Democrats when the country was prosperous (under Pres Clinton before George Bush laid waste to us – Bye Bye Miss American Pie…)

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