TheReligiousLeft.org

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Voice(s) in the Wilderness

PictureBy Mark Sandlin
Originally posted 10/1/11 at The God Article

I've mentioned a time or two before, that the Church is dying. And because of the research  presented in books like unChristian by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons, we know a lot of the reasons for it.

While some people in the Church like to point to the economy as the chief reason reason for struggling churches, it's time to get real and just admit that while it really is terribly convenient to be able to say, "Really it's not us; it's that gosh, darned economy," it's just not true. Sure the economy necessarily effects most churches, but our problems have been going on much longer than that. And we are the root of our problem.

As Kinnaman points out, there are several problems that keep most young people who consider themselves spiritual from darkening the door of a church, but the big one is hypocrisy. And like it or not, part of that hypocrisy is tied up in politics.

For decades now, the loudest voice in Christianity (or at least the most persistently visible) has been from politicians on the right. Let's face it, they have owned the national Christian voice. Touting Jesus as if they had been one of the original disciples, they have twisted the reality of the Gospels and God's biases for the oppressed, the marginalized and the undeserved into a pro-Americana doctrine that promotes the rights of the haves over the needs of the have-nots. They've actually figured out how to make it seem sinful to question war and capital punishment.

And the dominant part of the Church has, at best, sat idly by as the political right has used the name of Christ to take God's name in vain by marginalizing more and more people as they pass laws that make it more difficult to obtain basic human rights like health care, reasonable access to shelter and the ability to feed our families.

We need modern day prophets to walk in the footsteps of Isaiah, Amos, Micah, Jesus and, yes, even Dr. King. People to stand up to, and to stand over and against the status quo. Voices calling out into the modern day wildernesses of plutocracy, militarism, white privilege and so many other anti-Biblical movements that serve only to marginalize and hurt specific groups of people.

In this age of social media, it might be that the Voice In The Wilderness that the world so sorely needs, might just be Voices (with an 's') In The Wilderness. It might just be your voice, my voice, our voices in a collective cry saying, "Repent! God does not love straight people more than gay people. God does not love the wealthy more than the poor. God does require us to DO justice. Not to just say it is a good thing, but to insure that it is a reality for all people."

We must stand up to the Religious and Political Right who have been allowed to own the voice of Christianity for far too long and we must reclaim it.

Jesus Was A Democrat, JWAD, The Christian Left, Progressive, Christian, Politics, Faith, The God Article, Voice in the Wilderness The movement has already begun. Groups like The Christian Left, Christians Tired of Being Misrepresented and The Progressive Christian Alliance are already bringing like minded Christians together to speak biblical truths into the darkness of an already all too divided world. Blogs like John Shore, The God Article and Crazy Liberals and Conservatives are already standing up to, and over and against the status quo.

Together we are becoming a mighty voice, but we must not stop there. We must further this growing prophetic movement by continuing to unite our groups, coalescing our efforts for justice and peace through technology.

I am excited to tell you about the newest voice crying out in this right wing created wilderness. JWAD: Jesus Was A Democrat launched a very impressive website this week and it is backed by an equally impressive purpose, "to begin an honest national discussion that examines the disparity between the politics of many American Christians and the teachings of Jesus."

All of the issues I've just mentioned about the hypocritical nature of the Political Right falsely claiming to be the sole voice of Christianity in the U.S. and using it to further policies that are clearly unChristian are precisely the impetus behind JWAD's efforts. They are smart, focused and clearly well versed in the teachings of Jesus.

To be a voice that will be heard, we must continue to grow our numbers, our efforts and our outlets for sharing the Good News of Jesus' teachings which promoted equality, justice, peace and caring for those in need.

For that reason, I encourage you to join up, follow or 'like' all of the groups I've mentioned here, but I particularly encourage you to encourage the newest member of the movement, JWAD, by checking out their “Call to Action” and “help shine a light” on their part of all of our efforts.

2 comments:

  1. I am concerned with the assertion that "Jesus was a Democrat." I find the assertion, even tongue-in-cheek, even designed to be attention-getting, very problematic and divisive. The statement further divides the Body and prevents many who might agree we are called to align with the least of these from hearing your voice. We have to find our voice, yes. The church is dying or I suspect moving toward a resurrection that we cannot yet imagine, yes. But prophesying to those who have heard only the dominant voices of what you and I perceive as misguided Christianity, is ill-served by these strategies. We need to talk clearly. We have sinned by not speaking loudly ourselves and by allowing the public perception of followers of Jesus to be one of hatred and hypocrisy. I commend your emphasis on speaking biblical truths about justice. Yet, sadly, I cannot "like" the group because of its partisan-sounding name. In my mind prophetic voices are about justice for people & pointing out the ramifications of policies and actions. They are not about partisan terminology.

    Please consider this a discussion opener. There undoubtedly aspects to your perspective that I have not considered. If so, please engage with me. These are important times for understanding one another.

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  2. Hi Tim, thanks so much for your comment. I will admit that I have had a few pangs of ambivalence about the name as well, despite being wholly supportive of JWAD's mission.

    One of the fundamental challenges of identity politics is the tug-of-war between efficacy and inclusiveness, and it is often extremely challenging to balance the two. And while, as you point out, a name like "Jesus was a Democrat" definitely has the potential to foster further division, the name is pretty brilliant from a strategic perspective in terms of shifting the nature of the debate away from the long-standing conservative monopolization of religious discourse in the US.

    Efficacy and inclusivity, it's a tough line to toe. I for one am glad we have both folks like you and the people at JWAD bringing different angles of approach to the misappropriation of Jesus' message into one of 'hatred and hypocrisy.' Hopefully the average of all of our efforts will be a re-defined AND more inclusive discussion about faith.

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