Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
Source: Acts 4:12 (NIV)
Christ. Follow Christ. Be a Christian. The central message of the New Testament. Many Americans have even begun to use being “Christian” as a litmus test for the presidency.
This month I received a comment from a man I do not know, Bradley, (posted to Thinking About Attending Bob Jones University?) in which he said, in part:
I refuse to use the term Christian anymore to describe my faith; because Christian has now became synonymous with narrow minded, homophobic, bigoted, bully, … uneducated, … that wouldn’t know the teachings of Jesus even if it bit them on the ass while their head was burried in the sand…”
Though a bit over the top, Bradley’s comment struck me as actually sincere, and, more importantly, profoundly sad. This man isn’t recanting his faith, but he is shunning an increasingly shrill group of narrow-minded extremists that have carefully positioned themselves to be the voice of Christian faith practice in the United States. He wants nothing to do with them. From his vantage point, the name of Christ and the entire concept of being a “Christian” has been sullied with the very antithesis of what Christ has represented for over 2,000 years—a message that initially drew him to his faith.
His comment reflects the fact that the younger generation finds the “name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” to be repulsive, a symbol of hatred, bigotry, narrow mindedness, and profound ignorance—a tool for subjugation and personal power, a quick and easy means to profit. Astoundingly, religious fundamentalists have successfully destroyed the very “name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved!”
I am having a very difficult time getting my head around exactly how profound this fact is! The implications of this are vast!!
But, when I first read Bradley’s comment, I thought that perhaps he was given a bit to too much hyperbole, that he really was over-reaching his argument, sincere as it was.
Then, the month of May continued to unfold with the following stories in the news:
- North Carolina voted to institutionalize discrimination into its state constitution.
- Pastor Charles L. Worley, Providence Road Baptist Church, Maiden, North Carolina, called for gays and lesbians to be rounded up and placed behind electric fences, concentration camp-style, until they die off. (Video here.) Huffington Post even reported that in 1978 Worley preached “Forty years ago [gays] would’ve hung, bless God, from a white oak tree!” The HuffPo even produced the audio of his 1978 sermon which can be heard at this link.
- The congregation of Rev. Jeff Sangl’s (pastor and founder) Apostolic Truth Tabernacle in Greensburg, Indiana, gave a very young boy a cheering, standing ovation when he sang in front of the church, “Ain’t no homo going to make it to heaven.” Video here.
- In my post on May 9th, Thinking About Attending Bob Jones University?, I quoted Bob Jones, III, saying, in 1980, “I’m sure this will be greatly misquoted but it would not be a bad idea to bring the swift justice today that was brought in Israel’s day against murder and rape and homosexuality. I guarantee it would solve the problem post-haste if homosexuals were stoned, if murderers were immediately killed as the Bible commands.”
- Sean Harris, Pastor of Berean Baptist Church, Fayetteville, NC, told his congregation to beat their children if they think they might be falling outside of gender norms. If you can stand to watch his entire one hour rant, you can see it here.
- On May 27, 2012, [yes, just 4 days ago] Pastor Curtis Knapp, New Hope Baptist Church in Seneca, Kansas, preached: “They [homosexuals] should be put to death. That’s what happened in Israel. That’s why homosexuality wouldn’t have grown in Israel. It tends to limit conversions. It tends to limit people coming out of the closet. — ‘Oh, so you’re saying we should go out and start killing them, no?’ — I’m saying the government should. They won’t, but they should. [You say], ‘Oh, I can’t believe you. You’re horrible. You’re a backwards neanderthal of a person.’ Is that what you’re calling scripture? Is God a neanderthal? Backwards in his morality? Is it his word or not? If it’s his word, he commanded it. It’s his idea, not mine. And I’m not ashamed of it.” You can listen to his hate speech at this link.
This is the stuff of which holocausts are made. This is the stuff of child abuse. This is the stuff of murder. This is the stuff of physical violence. This is the stuff of emotional abuse. This is the stuff of pure hatred. This is supremacy speech. This is subjugation speech. This is the bully seeing to it that the disadvantaged remain so by threatening them and getting others to gang up on them.
This is simply wrong. It is evil.
While this is all said in the name of Christ, none of this has anything to do with the Christ of the Bible. Yet, this supremacist hatred speech is spewed in church pulpits from coast to coast every Sunday in this country.
The sheer evil these men are spouting is the antithesis of what Christ himself said were the greatest two commandments “love God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as much as yourself.” Christ’s message is metamorphosis and empowerment through love. Christ himself drove people who were using the religion of the day for profit and power out of their churches. He actively stood against their abuse of people.
- Stop attending these churches.
- Stop giving money to these churches.
- Stop volunteering through these churches.
- Tell the congregation and church leadership why you are no longer supporting their message of anti-Christ hatred.
- Every time you hear their hatred being shared through media outlets, tell that media outlet to stop giving the national microphone to hate speech lest you remove your support. (This includes the likes of Tony Perkins, Maggie Gallagher, and Rush Limbaugh.) Tell their advertisers you will no longer buy their products if they continue to support that media outlet. Take an activist’s stand against hatred.
- Tell the baptist denomination they must clearly and publicly denounce this hate speech as the evil it is, or you can no longer remain in that denomination. (Many of these are independent Baptist churches with few if any affiliations. They can’t get along with anyone. Just leave them.)
- Churches who truly oppose these messages of hate must become visible and outspoken in the media. You must take the national microphone back and start speaking the 2,000 year old message of Christ. (In my mind’s eye, I see John McCain taking the microphone away from that poor, ignorant, brain-washed woman and publicly stating the facts for the national record. I profoundly respected him for that!)
To fail to do so is the stuff of shame! To fail to do so is to give your tacit approval!
The extremist bigotry of right wing fundamentalism has gone way too far for way too long and must be stopped. They can no longer speak for people who actually work to live by the teachings of Christ. These bigoted extremists have turned the name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved into the name of the villain.
In one short month’s time, I went from thinking that Bradley had lost his perspective and was going too far with his rhetoric to actually understanding exactly how he feels. But, unlike Bradley, their hatred has turned me into an activist. In good conscience, I can no longer ignore the damage these extremists are doing. I stand against their chicanery.