By SUSAN K. SMITH
Crazy Faith Ministries
The insistence of nationalists on calling themselves “Christian” is totally disingenuous.
These people use the moniker because they believe it gives them validity. They believe that this is nation was founded by people who wanted it to be “Christian,” but that understanding seems to include that their understanding of “Christian” was also White and Protestant.
The Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation distributes literature and spreads the belief that it is necessary to “protect” this nation’s Judeo-Christian heritage and to promote prayer, among other things.
That organization also touts the belief that it is and will be necessary to protect “religious freedom,” but what that statement does not include is the belief that “religious freedom” means that everyone in this nation should be mandated to observe religion as they do, thereby eliminating the right of all people to practice the religion of their choice.
The people behind this movement have been strategizing and planning for years, and they are on the cusp of a victory, or so they think.
That is the reality of where we are and what they stand for, but what is not a reality is that they are “Christian.” They have manipulated the Jesus of the Bible and come up with a person who is the harbinger of violence, hatred and bigotry.
The Jesus of the Bible was none of those. As the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu wrote in his book, God is Not a Christian, absolutely disputed the claim of those who supported apartheid that they were Christian. Nothing they did represented the Christ of the Gospel. Tutu reminded them that God was in charge, not them or their political beliefs. Those in South Africa were doing the same thing, making the same claims, as what we are seeing and hearing today, and Tutu warned them that what they were doing was not coming from a belief in and understanding of Jesus. He respected other religions, but more importantly, reminded those to whom he spoke that Jesus did, too.
Jesus not only respected other religions, he respected any and all people who had been marginalized by virtue of who they were – what race, ethnicity, gender, social class and even mental and physical state. Jesus respected them all. He was clearly not a bigot.
He also reminded people, “the spirit of God existed long before there were Christians.” Imagine that. Jesus took that spirit and breathed life into it – he didn’t come, he said, to destroy the law or beliefs, but to fulfill it. What Jesus was to bring in this work of fulfillment of the law was love.
How, then, have those who call themselves Christian become so identified with “sowing hatred and suspicion? ” Tutu asks. We who call ourselves Christian talk about and sing about Jesus being the Prince of Peace, but … what do we actually practice? We have “fought more wars than we care to remember,” Tutu notes. “We have claimed to be a fellowship of compassion and caring and sharing but as Christians, we often sanctify sociopolitical systems that belie this, where the rich grow ever richer and the poor grow ever poorer.” All people, Tutu says, reminding us of what Paul wrote, “are God’s offspring.”
So, what has happened? And whatever it is, it happened a long time ago, but clearly, the Gospel has been sullied and manipulated to accommodate an ideology which is based on racism and sexism. One cannot be a bigot and be a Christian. This bold claim of these people being “Christian” Nationalists is an insult to those who work hard to try to follow the teachings of Jesus, and an affront to the concept of morality as taught by Jesus. It is as much an insult as it is to burn crosses as the proof of practicing racial hatred being a tenet of God.
It is not.
I wish the media would help by dropping the word “Christian” from the descriptions of what these people stand for. Jesus became a force in this world because of his love and his dedication to inclusivity, not because he was a deranged bigot. He was killed because he fought against a culture that thought it prudent and acceptable to deny people their rights and dignity, while at the same time, exploiting their socioeconomic status.
Just stop calling them Christian. Find another name, something more honest and descriptive of who they are and what they stand for, but please, stop calling them “Christian” nationalists.
Jesus is nowhere in what they are doing.
These people identifying as Christian is as insulting as is the Ku Klux Klan burning crosses and killing people in the name of Jesus.
Whose Jesus are they talking about in the archbishop’s book?
Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith is the founder and director of Crazy Faith Ministries. She is available for speaking. And she is an award-winning author for her latest book, “With Liberty and Justice for Some: The Bible, the Constitution, and Racism in America,” available through all booksellers. Contact her at email@example.com.