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View Diary: The Ongoing War on Christianity (172 comments)

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  •  It's complicated, but you have to understand (6+ / 0-)

    the different strains of Christianity to get why we have everything from the Phelps to the evangelicals to Catholicism.  Not all of Christianity is bad--in fact, Christians in various forms have done an awful lot to move the US in a more progressive direction, from civil rights to workers' rights to economic rights.

    Painting with a very broad brush, there are a two main strains in Christianity: individualism and communitarianism.   The trick is how these strands view the role of Christians and their churches on this earth.

    Most Protestant churches, especially the evangelicals, focus on individualism--one has to develop a personal relationship with God as savior.   In terms of what this means for how to relate to this earth (in actions and politics), individual morals and ethics are promoted, usually along with a healthy dose of libertarian thought.  Many see God acting in this world, looking for the signs of the "end times".  This leads to all sorts of stuff, from blind support of Israel (it's existence is a harbinger of the Second Coming) to believing that wealth accumulation can be done for the greater glory of God (see Weber's Prot Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism) to Fred Phelps' family's antics as a form of "witnessing" (see Louis Theroux's excellent documentary for the BBC on this--it's on Youtube).  

    Due to the divisions withing protestantism, it's easy to focus on the more extreme groups, but I would say that your average Baptist or Church of Christ member, while socially conservative, also sees the importance of trying to do charitable works.

    The Catholic church sees its role as communitarian--that we should focus on the common good and are judged by God based on what we do as groups rather than as individuals.  As the USCCB stated in 1986:

    "All economic life should be shaped by moral principles. Economic choices and institutions must be judged by how they protect or undermine the life and dignity of the human person, support the family, and serve the common good."
    Despite the many problems with the bishops on an array of issues that have tended towards the GOP, their official position is still what we would think of as pretty progressive:
    The Catholic bishops of the United States believe building a just economy that works for all encompasses a wide range of issues, including food security and hunger, work and joblessness, homelessness and affordable housing, and tax credits for low-income families, as well as protecting programs that serve poor and vulnerable people throughout the federal budget.
    So, it's complex.  But hey, I make this argument about Islam every time I hear someone calling all Muslims extremists.

    In the end, I suppose I would say to the diarist and others that yes, there is an awful lot of mess going under the label of "Christian" today, but, I think there are a lot of possibilities as well.  Should we turn away from believers or do some outreach?  

    To be free and just depends on us. Victor Hugo.

    by dizzydean on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 09:43:41 AM PDT

    •  Agreed (5+ / 0-)

      And maybe I didn't do a strong enough job pointing out that not all Christians of course by into this propaganda.

      But my key point was more about the fact that there is a creeping scourge on a faith with many great members who have done many great things.

      I don't want to dismiss all of Christianity, the implication of a War on Christianity implies that there are two sides.. including one who stands up for the principles of the master.

      But it certainly doesn't stop a group from basically ignoring their own teachings to harm others.

      Gandhi's Seven Sins: Wealth without work; Pleasure without conscience; Knowledge without character; Commerce without morality; Science without humanity; Worship without sacrifice; Politics without principle

      by Chris Reeves on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 09:46:12 AM PDT

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      •  Ok, but why don't we have outreach (2+ / 0-)
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        Hammerhand, Batya the Toon

        diaries at DK?  Seems like instead of poking folks of different faiths--especially the Catholic church and the evangelicals--we should be doing more to show them that liberals/progressives have a message that is much more in tune with their beliefs?  Why not find organizations within these faith traditions that support much of what we do and invite them in?  

        Two examples off the top of my head are the National Catholic Rurual Life Network has a lot of stuff that aligns with most of us here:


        The Sojournors

        If we disagree with these groups on some issues, fine, we already disagree with each other on a whole array of issues.  What I don't think is very productive is what seems like a drumbeat of anti-Catholic, anti-religious diaries that really do nothing but drive folks away.

        To be free and just depends on us. Victor Hugo.

        by dizzydean on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 10:49:24 AM PDT

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    •  "Not all of Christianity is bad" (2+ / 0-)
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      Deward Hastings, Roadbed Guy

      But it is.

      The foundational principle of all Christian faith is substitutionary atonement: the idea that someone else can pay for your sins. The second principle is the doctrine of original sin: that you inherit sins worth dying for, merely by being born.

      These two principles alone are so horrifyingly immoral as to render any further discussion moot.

      •  Matter of perspective regarding what is immoral (0+ / 0-)

        Read St. Augustine for original sin, which not every Christian group adheres to.  

        As for substitutionary atonement, again, it depends on the theology.  Some traditions (like Catholicism) argue that you have to earn the grace to achieve salvation--it just doesn't come through belief alone (which many protestant traditions argue).  

        However, I would say that before you label an entire faith tradition as "horrifyingly immoral," you should ask how immoral it is to make that statement in the first place...

        To be free and just depends on us. Victor Hugo.

        by dizzydean on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 05:42:20 PM PDT

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        •  Are not some things horrifyingly immoral? (0+ / 0-)

          You seem to be implying that categorizing a belief system as horrifyingly immoral is, itself, immoral. This leads to the bizarre conclusion that those who condemn the Nazis are themselves as bad as Nazis. In philosophy this is called reductio ad absurdum; in layman's terms it means your argument is broken.

          I do realize that the specific terms are not necessarily used by all Christian faiths, and that there is much argument over exactly what they mean. However, the simple fact remains that the Christian story is salvation through the sacrifice of Jesus, and that man needs salvation.

          These are immoral principles: they violate the entire concept of moral responsibility. If others can pay for your wrongs, then what does it mean to be responsible? If you are guilty of other's wrongs, then what does it mean to be responsible? And what kind of morality is devoid of personal responsibility?

          •  Since you'e gone Godwin I'll just respond (0+ / 0-)

            that if you don't see the problem--and immorality--of labeling a religious system as "horrifyingly immoral" and ignore the results of such a belief in the 20th century, then you are being foolish at best.

            To be free and just depends on us. Victor Hugo.

            by dizzydean on Mon Apr 08, 2013 at 08:26:17 AM PDT

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