Lets take a big Heretical breath, hold it, now let it out. WOOOOSH! I just finished watching the entirety of “Jesus Camp” a 5 year old documentary about the results of the politicization of Conservative Christianity in the U.S.
The film takes us along with Becky Fischer and her ministry, Kids in Ministry International as she seeks to teach American Christian children to be as willing to die for Jesus as “Pakistani kids” are willing to die for Allah in Pakistan and Israel or where ever. She laments the apathy of Christians in the face of the, to her, clearly more “spiritual” faith of a suicide bomber and his children.
But there is a cleaner scent in the air today in 2009. According to a recent article on the SearchWarp.com writer’s community in the Home » Categories » Society » Christianity section Talks about Levi O’Brien and his brother and sister who are featured in Jesus Camp. Levi O Brien and his family remain Evangelicals but:
“O Briens have absolutely no interest in turning the U.S.A. into a Christian theocracy. During the potluck after the service, Pastor Tim shared with me his views concerning the pursuit of earthly power to advance the Kingdom of God and referred me to other preachers who were also speaking out against the national and political idolatry often associated with the Christian right. Pastor Tim’s wife, Tracy, was even more forthright in her views. Given her comment in Jesus Camp, I was surprised to hear her say that she agreed with me on my points that much of what constitutes as American Civil religion is based on the founding myths of the early pilgrims who believed they were establishing the Kingdom of God by settling the New World. Tracy also shared with me how she has come to realize that the Constitution is not a religious document, that much of what she learned about American history as a child was candy-coated, and that the founders of America, though they were brilliant, were fallible just like the rest of us. To my surprise, Tracy went on to tell me that, although she loves politics and considers herself a conservative, she hasn’t considered herself a Republican in two and a half years!”
Can I get a witness!?!?
Just as the Tower of Babel was supposed to have reached mightily into the sky right up to the day it collapsed so the Christian Right built their castle in the sky. Starting in the Reagan years they forged bonds with and sold their souls to the Republican leadership. In the Clinton years the cancer metastasised under the Republicans fanatical quest to see the President brought down by means foul or fair. Under Bush junior it seemed the Political Christians had succeeded in capping their tower of power. Only time seemed to be standing between the U.S. and a more theocratic system.
But even as the temporary temporal power of the Christian Right peeked the moderate majority of the country were growing more and more disgusted with the new direction that seemed to be demanded of anyone who called themselves Christian. The last four years of the Bush dynasty have brought down many of the most vocal hypocrites of the new Christianity. Either through death or scandal brought on themselves many of the most virulent voices have been stilled.
Into that silence a new voice has been heard the last few years. This voice harks back the actual teachings of Jesus. This new voice asks what happened to “feed my sheep”. It asks where and when did Jesus command a political system be founded in his name?
The new face of American Christianity is not really new. It was always there but the loud, brash voices of those who had been willing to sacrifice the heart of their faith for temporal power drowned it out for a time.
Go and watch Jesus Camp
And see how crazy our own folks can get but also note how far they have fallen in only a few years. Truly sometimes the best way to deal with hypocrites is to let them have the rope and the voice and hang themselves.