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 Tuesday, 14 December 2004
Tuesday, 14 December 2004 21:10:06 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) ( )

A quote in a recent news article implicitly equates being a Christian with being a right-wing conservative:

"There is a revival taking place in our nation that is causing Christian and right-minded people to say, `Wait a minute. We've gone too far,'" says the Rev. Patrick Wooden Sr., pastor of the Raleigh church. "We're not going to allow the country to continue this downward spiral to the left."

Now I know quite a number of left-leaning people who call themselves Christians. Obviously they are heretics, or at best they are blasphemers. It is good that we don't live in the UK, where apparently there's movement underway to strengthen laws against blasphemy.

If blasphemy was a crime there's no doubt that many of these false-Christians would be locked away right quick. And rightly so. We can't have Christians running around spreading the ideas of equality for everyone under the law, living wages for working people, basic social justice or other common liberal, left-wing values. Nope, can't have that at all.

Of course it is important to realize that the press is seeking out spokespeople from various ultra-conservative evangelical sects of Christianity for these quotes. They employ sensationalism for the purpose of driving ratings, and religious extremists are sensational. This does have the side-effect of boosting the volume on what would otherwise be a weird fringe of an otherwise honorable religion... In neither case can such unbalanced reporting by the media be truly justified.

It is also important to realize that many (most?) Evangelical Christians view non-evangelicals as mis-guided followers of false Christ-cults. These “cults” include Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists and a variety of other Christian churches. None of these people are real Christians and they are all going to hell apparently.

So what the quote is really saying is that Evangelical Christian == Right-wing Conservative. Even that is a dubious claim, though it is probably more accurate than trying to lump all of Christianity under the right-wing banner. This is backed up by a study referenced by a very interesting Beliefnet article. The study shows that roughly 30% of evangelicals are Democrats (and thus left-leaning). One does wonder when the purge will come to oust those heretics from the true faith and ensure purity of thought amongst the flock...

Personally I have no problem with some sects of religions or even entire religions being politically conservative or liberal or whatever. People choose to organize into groups because we're inherently social animals and that's just natural. Some of those groups lean one way and some the other.

But it is problematic when people co-opt broad labels (such as “Christian”;) that apply to not only their sub-groups, but also to other sub-groups that are equally valid. When a person claims to speak for “Christians” there's a problem, because other than a very tiny number of core beliefs you really can't generalize the views (political or theological) of the massive number of Christians in the world.

The failing here is most notable in the press, and most pronounced because of the events of 11/2. But I also spend substantial time with a lot of non-Christians, and many of them are guilty as well. There's a serious tendency among non-Christians to lump all Christians into one mold. To assume that all Christians think alike. That kind of view merely demonstrates utter ignorance of the real world and is rather embarrassing (or would be if these people knew how wrong they were).

But hey, a whole lot of Christians (of various flavors) are convinced that pagans are devil-worshipers. Which is hysterically funny, since most pagans don't believe in Lucifer/Satan or any other Christian devil. Here too we have embarrassing levels of ignorance, but from the other side.

The real point is that people are individuals, regardless of the sub-groups (religious or otherwise) into which they arbitrarily group themselves. Any attempt to speak for a group must be done with exquisite care, because your group certainly contains people who belong simultaneously to other groups, and where those groups intersect there will be differences of view. Claiming that all Christians are right-wing is an example of someone, intentionally or through sheer ignorance, making statements that simply can't be backed up by reality.

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