Thursday, September 13, 2012

Get Thee Behind Me, Jesus!

In today's local paper, Baptist preacher Ronnie Barefield encourages his readers to show more leadership at home, in the church, and in the community. This is mostly par for the course except for this one particular sentence which was a big ole slap in the face:

We need to elect good, moral, Christian, conservative, pro life, pro family state and national leaders to office.

Wait, what? Let's set aside the fact that no religious test is required for office. What does it mean to be "Christian" in America these days? We have two Christians running for the Presidency right now and lots of Baptists don't like either one or even consider them to be "real Christians." Christianity today can be anything from traditional Baptist to Mormon, Catholic, Seventh-Day Adventist, Jehovah's Witness, or even African Methodist Episcopal. You can't guarantee what baggage comes with the label "Christian" so this is far from a sure bet.

What about conservative? Does he mean fiscally or socially conservative? Does he mean "conservative" in a traditional sense or is he talking about this brand of far-right, religious neo-conservativism that is dragging us all down? Does he mean that liberals or libertarians can't be good and moral people?

What about pro-life? Are they the only good and moral people? Can they allow for abortions in case of rape or incest? Can they allow for IVF? Or must they follow the rigid, dogmatic narrative of the most rabidly forced birth among them?

What about pro-family? What kind of family? Can they allow for families that don't look like their own? Can they accept families with two dads, two moms, or any number of both? Or must they only define "family" in the narrow way that the Religious Right does?

Bro. Barefield would have done better to simply say "We need to elect good, moral state and national leaders to office." The problem is that he feels that he has the duty and the ability to define "good" and "moral" for us. I suspect if you took him to task for this, he'd claim that he was only saying what God said but this is untrue. The Bible doesn't talk about abortion or gay rights. It doesn't talk about conservative politics. And Jesus says to stay out of earthly politics and work for his kingdom instead. The most a Christian is admonished to do is pray for their earthly leaders and obey them as much as possible.

But hell, who needs to listen to Jesus when you can just listen to modern-day preachers instead?