The Religious Right’s Last Gasp

Source: Huffington Post

I can think of nothing that’s done more damage to American Christianity than the Religious Right.

Despite what the movement’s prophets sanctimoniously shout from their pulpits, it’s not secular humanism, gay marriage, abortion, the ACLU, evolution, porn, or the ban against school prayer that’s most eroded Christianity in this country.

What’s emptied churches is the unseemly ambition of Religious Right leaders like Jerry Falwell (father and son), James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Ralph Reed, and Franklin Graham to crown themselves moral police and political powerbrokers.  Make no mistake about it:  politics is the tail that wags this dog.  From Day One, the Religious Right cynically hijacked Jesus as a front man for its political agenda.

But the Religious Right has now jettisoned any pretense to being genuinely Christian. How else to explain its embrace of a presidential candidate who’s as far from being a Christian as a starfish is from being a star?  The endorsement has the feel of a last-ditch, at-any-cost attempt to hold onto the political power the movement’s enjoyed for nearly forty years.

God willing, it’s the Religious Right’s final gasp.

I don’t say this because I’m one of those liberal Christians who, as a clerical colleague of mine hyperbolically states, “believe whatever they want to as long as it makes them feel good.”  I’m actually a pretty traditional Christian, although not, perhaps, enough of one for my conservative friends and certainly too much of one for my liberal friends.

I subscribe to what C.S. Lewis called “mere Christianity”:  a holding fast to central doctrines, identifiable through revelation and reason, coupled with a willingness to welcome or at least hear out a wide breadth of moral, spiritual, and theological positions.  Mere Christianity embraces the humble spirit of St. Augustine’s “in necessary things unity; in uncertain things freedom; in everything charity.”

Augustine’s counsel sticks in the craw of the Religious Right, whose leaders demand lockstep fidelity to the political goals they morph into “Christian” principles.

When challenged, the Religious Right exhibits the denunciatory spirit of the Taliban, even if it stops short of the latter’s nasty practices.  From the 1979 launch of the Moral Majority to the present day, the movement has thunderously called down God’s judgment on anyone who refuses to embrace That Old Time Religion version of Christianity it hucksters for political gain.

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