Stephen Mattson is the author of The Great Reckoning: Surviving a Christianity That Looks Nothing Like Christ. You can follow him on Twitter (@mikta) or on Facebook.
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The False and Idolatrous Narrative of 'American Christianity'
Hate and racism were so embedded within this religion that the KKK was marketed as a Christian institution, and segregation was endorsed by countless white pastors and their congregations. It’s still so prevalent within white Christianity today that many still refuse to acknowledge systemic racism as a problem. They happily support a president who continually spews racist and xenophobic vitriol, and support policies that continue to be racist and evil.
Not Everything 'Biblical' Is Christlike
The semantics are important to understand because the different terms present two completely contrasting paradigms. One is based on textual interpretations and opinions, while the other is founded upon the words and actions of the living savior of the world. If you’re a Christian, you should always err on the side of Jesus. But if we’re not careful, it’s easy to idolize the bible while simultaneously ignoring the very message of Christ.
White Christian Nationalism — Not Secularism — Is Destroying America
American Christianity brought us to this point. It preached nationalism and sanctified American imperialism — promoting Manifest Destiny as ordained by God. The prosperity gospel baptized capitalistic greed, it’s preachers vilified the poor, and it’s theologians manipulated scripture to rationalize global colonialism. Salvation was no longer personified through Jesus, but was redesigned to be a political machine, fueled by its ability to control branches of government. This methodology was packaged as “Christianity,” and the gospel became a message of gaining social power and control rather than a call to follow Jesus’ life of selfless service and sacrifice.
Pursuing Justice as an Act of Worship
God's justice is divine, meant to benefit everyone created in God's divine image. It’s not dictated by man-made laws, branches of government, political parties, lobbyists, or authoritarian officials. It's not biased towards the wealthy or powerful, and cannot be bought by high-priced lawyers. It's not fueled by populist opinions or partisan rage, and isn’t facilitated through broken systems and institutions. Instead, God’s justice is holy and unblemished, eternally seeking to free the enslaved, empower the downtrodden, and bring judgement upon the oppressors.
Stop Glorifying Christendom and Follow Christ Instead
Anything can label itself as being “Christian,” so we must always look to the person of Christ to guide us, because he already laid out a life for us that perfectly reflects what it means to be God incarnate on earth. Christ is everything.
We Have Reached the Border, And There is No One To Help
Roaring lions that tear their prey, open their mouths wide against us. They beat us, arrest us, incarcerate us, shoot us, then blame us. We are poured out like water, and all our bones are out of joint. Our hearts have turned to wax; they have melted within us.
No, Christians Aren't Inherently 'Better.' Thinking So Is Downright Dangerous
As a religion consisting of millions of voters, venerable institutions, and large organizations, Christianity is often viewed by governments and politicians as a tool to influence and manipulate. Spiritual jargon is used to lobby segments of Christians to support various agendas, often under the pretense of being “Biblical” and “Godly.” This is how faith becomes co-opted to transform into something it was never meant to be: a way to obtain votes, a method for fueling populist rage, or grounds for implementing oppressive social structures.
The Bible's Purpose Is to Discover and Fall in Love with Jesus
Christians can overemphasize the importance of the Bible and underemphasize the life of Jesus. Thus, when people advocate for Christ-like things like helping immigrants, providing safety for refugees, empowering the oppressed, and loving others as we wish to be loved, Christians passionately refute such things — using the Bible. They spout verses and use pseudo theology to discredit the actions that are the most Christ-like —all under the guise of “Biblical Christianity.”
The White Church Has Been a Steady Oppressor
White Christians benefit the most by being nationalistic and patriotic, because to do so upholds the methods of “law” that keep their societal privileges in place. So while America — it’s governmental machinations and economy — serves to continually bless and protect white Americans, it hasn’t done so for others. Incarceration rates, a vast history of enforced racism by the legislative, judicial, and justice branches of government, the mistreatment of people of color within the military, and the brutalization by police show just how one-sided our country has benefited particular groups of people because of race. As white Christians blissfully sing ‘God Bless America’ in their sanctuaries adorned with American flags, they look upon their country — and its many structures — with nostalgic pride, while others see betrayal, hurt, and suffering.
I'm Ashamed of Christianity, But Never of Christ
Christianity transformed from a faith reliant on Jesus to a civic religion obsessed with obtaining partisan power. This co-opting of Jesus — manipulating His gospel of love and redemption to fit the narrative of an expanding American empire, specifically to maintain the colonial stronghold of white supremacy — fits a historical pattern.
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