That’s hard for me to say, because I still consider myself a Christian… In that I consider myself a follower of Jesus. I love Jesus. I love what he was about. I believe that the closer human beings get to being like Jesus, the better off the whole world gets. But I don’t really want to call myself a “Christian,” because that brand is such utter garbage. And I suppose that works out well, because most other people who identify as christians don’t want me calling myself a christian either. I don’t think the Bible is infallible or “written by God.” I don’t consider Jesus the only source of truth in the world or the only leader to ever speak for God. I don’t believe that someone had to die in order for us to be close to God. I don’t believe in hell anymore — Although 2020 is pretty damn close. I don’t exactly know how to describe my concept of “God” anymore. But I believe in GOODNESS… And the more I look around, the clearer it gets: Christianity does more harm than good.
This is not to say that ALL Christians are individually doing more harm than good. There are some amazing people out there loving and helping their neighbors, and working to make the world a more Just, more Equitable, BETTER place… And they are doing it because of what they believe about Jesus. So save your time with the “Not All Christians” comments. Obviously not all Christians are actively working to make the world a shittier place… But MOST of them are. And barely any of them realize that’s what they are doing. Let me give you an example. Here is a scene from an outdoor worship service this weekend…
There’s this guy named Sean Feucht. If you don’t know who he is, you are not alone. Most people don’t. He worked for a church called Bethel in Redding, CA. He leads worship. He ran for Congress (and lost) on a pro-trump, anti-immigrant platform. You may recognize him for his long, curly, reddish hair… Sean is the one “reaching out in faith” and touching trump’s garment/arm is this photo op of worship leaders at the White House:
He’s been in the news a little more lately after he showed up Uninvited in Minneapolis (the very unsuccessful, straight-to-DVD sequel of “Sleepless in Seattle”) at a rally for George Floyd, and put together an impromptu worship service. I guess he looked at the Black-led protests and thought, “You know what they could use? A long-haired white guy with an acoustic guitar… That’s what.” And then he posted video of that on social media and talked about “what god was doing.” In addition to his self-promotion, he also took advantage of the outrage at him showing up, and played the “persecuted christian” card.
You see, many christians around the country have been fed the idea that they are being attacked. It started with “the war on Christmas,” and now many of the ignorant masses are convinced that this virus is made up to keep people away from Church… And that mask mandates are just a plot to get people used to face coverings for when the democrats declare Sharia Law and force everyone to wear burkas. So this guy comes up with the Feucht-up idea of utilizing that narrative to tour around the country and put on worship concerts… Defying local laws and mandates about sizes of gatherings made to prevent the spread of this deadly disease. Here is Sean explaining that “God is going to release a wave of healing” on the lungs of the people who attended his gathering in Portland.
Isn’t it interesting that christians will post memes about how “police won’t bother people if they just obey the law,” and they’ll quote Romans 13 (about “submitting to governing authorities”) when justifying the death penalty… But suddenly protest becomes “American” again when THEY are breaking a law that makes THEM feel “oppressed.” And by “interesting,” I mean “hypocritical.”
Here’s the thing: Bad theology kills people. It is one of the deadliest things on the planet. And in America right now, the majority of the people with REALLY bad theology are calling themselves “christians.” This is especially true of charismatic christians. For many of them, Reason is looked at as a BARRIER between them and the almighty. The sort of person that questions authority or challenges contradictions is looked at as a threat. They are told to “turn off their brains” in order to hear from god. They’re made to believe they hear directly from god… And when everyone is hearing from god, paranoia can be interpreted as the voice of the holy spirit, and finding some QAnon conspiracy theory site in a dark corner of the internet can be viewed as god “leading them.” And to top it all off, they are told the world will hate them, so if they are being total asses and everyone is getting mad at them, they’re like, “I must be doing something right!”
The frustrating thing about Sean Feucht is that I’d bet just about anything that he doesn’t see himself as a force for evil. Like so many other forces for evil in the world, he has no clue that’s what he is… He’s not like donald trump, who knows darn well that he doesn’t believe any of that “christian” nonsense, but knows he needs to fake it to get more power. But Sean almost certainly believes that he is NEEDED at a George Floyd rally in Minneapolis. He believes he is being “called.” It stands to reason that these folks believe in white saviorism… Most of them think Jesus was white — Their whole religion is BUILT on the idea of a white savior. And when he sees those crowds, he probably believes that God is going to keep those people safe. When he baptizes people and dunks them in that COVID water, he believes he is participating in SAVING those people from going to hell.
And when he runs for government, there was never any option for him other than running as a republican. He has grown up listening to preachers say that god is on America’s side… In churches that fly the American flag up front. He has probably figured out a way to use the Bible to justify christians carrying guns and being ready to kill folks. Imagine calling yourself a “christian” and being willing to kill someone with a gun to “protect people,” but not being willing to put a piece of fabric over your mouth to protect people from this virus…
And this is NOT me saying “Christians should be democrats.” In normal times, there are good reasons to vote republican… But now is not a normal time. I genuinely believe that voting to remove the evil that is donald trump from office is a moral imperative… And the best/only way to do that with the system we currently have is to vote for Joe Biden. But there are many people in this country who don’t see that. And at this point, if you can’t see that trump is objectively one of the worst people on the planet who should be kept as far from power as humanly possible, it doesn’t come down to a “difference of opinion” on political issues — It’s a fundamental difference of understanding what is meant by the word GOODNESS… It’s a totally different definition of Morality.
The single greatest reason for christians becoming a force for evil in the world is their longing for power. In 2016, trump told a crowd in Sioux City, Iowa that “Christians will have the power” (Click on that article. You need to read it), and they believed him. There is a deep hypocrisy where Christians profess to believe that PEOPLE should take care of people — Not the government… But then they need the government to enforce their vision of morality. And they profess to believe that God is on control of things… But they don’t trust God to take care of things unless christians are electing leaders who give them more political power. Their longing for power belies a lack of faith.
The Bible tells a story of Jesus being tempted with power. It didn’t take. It’s the exact opposite of who Jesus was. The people wanted a king on a horse, but they got a carpenter on a donkey… And most people calling themselves “christians” don’t get that at all. The degree to which christianity is a force for evil in the world is directly correlated to how little christians resemble Jesus. Christians have largely become noisy gongs & clanging cymbals. They are willing to break the law & risk other people’s lives in order to pray “on the street corners to be seen by others.” It’s all wrong. It’s wanting to rule, when you’re called to serve. It’s carrying a gun, while testifying of a god who is supposedly powerful enough to protect you. It’s being willing to kill to protect your neighbor, but not being willing to wear a mask to protect your neighbor. It’s hypocrisy. And it is — for lack of a better word — evil.
Thank you so much for reading. Thank you to Marissa and Sue for leaving a tip after my last post. And thank you SO much to my Patrons. If this blog is valuable to you, and you’d like to help support it, you too can BECOME A PATRON. Or you can LEAVE A TIP ON PAYPAL or Venmo “chris-boeskool” your generosity. And if you’d like to keep up with me on FACEBOOK or on TWITTER, that’s good fun too. Thank you, seriously. I’m so honored that there are people who read the things I write…
one of your best essays yet. Thank you for your work.
Wow. Thank you.
It’s my pleasure. Thanks for reading!
You know my sister Stephanie and brother in law Ben.. so you may know that Steph and I grew up attending Bethel church and while I love the people we grew up with because they were my childhood/early adulthood… the almost 40 year old adult me walked away from Chistianity because of them and everything you posted here. Steph is still friends with many of them but I am wired differently…I just cannot associate with people who spread hate and claim to love everyone and worship the Bible as if it were God itself. Navigating life as an adult and finding a new identity is not easy when that’s what you were raised in. I still believe in God and Jesus, but like you I don’t believe that it’s the only source of truth out there. Throw in being a parent with a 15 year old son with so many questions that I no longer feel confident in having the answers to as well as feeling like all the “tools” I grew up with to help me navigate life are now all gone or useless makes me feel lost at times.
Thank you for your posts… they always make me feel validated and that I’m not alone.
We are never alone, Sarah. This comment means a whole lot to me. Thank you.
Sarah , I have several friends who believe as you do. It makes me want to cry when I think of all the believers who were hurt by so called religious institutions . I had a priest friend of mine who make a statement to all of us at dinner . ” Jesus did not teach in church or synagogues . He taught out in the open where anyone who needed help would be able to ask him for help. He didn’t have large family centers or go and broadcast from the temple facilities. He taught one on one ( or one on 5,000) and he always said All are welcomed to ask God and to be with God on their own. That wasn’t something I had ever thought of that way . I hope this helps with your son. There are many differing ways to follow God’s principles and follows Jesus’ great commandment. ( love God and love your neighbor. ).
“Imagine calling yourself a “christian” and being willing to kill someone with a gun to “protect people,” but not being willing to put a piece of fabric over your mouth to protect people from this virus…” I am not an authority on the Crusades but I have read quite a few books, we can learn a lot about Christianity from them. “Thou shalt not kill” meant to the Crusaders it was ok to kill anyone that does not believe exactly as I do. Indeed Pope Leo declared that the “Pagans” were put on earth by God for Christians to kill as a means of redemption for their sins. The Crusaders were promised two things, 1) Redemption for their sins if they killed Pagans. 2) Claiming any valuables they could find. The second was the main motivator to join a Crusade. It continues today.
Yes it does.
Yes to all of this.
Yes to your FACE.
Awesome column. Thank you.
You’re so welcome.
There are “Christians” who do not follow Jesus’ teachings. They are Christians in name only!! Their church services worship the Cross. They are idol worshippers . They are harsh, judgmental, spiteful, derogatory against anything and anyone who disagrees with any idea which does not represent their dismal philosophy. I can’t help but think of the time Jesus said to a group of Religious zealots ” Woe be unto hypocrites!” But then that is not my job to judge. Jesus is the Judge and the Guardian of the Door to God’s presence. O r in other words ” It is HIS problem.
I just read my entry and yes it is very judgmental in and of itself. But I am allowed to express an opinion, I am to remember the teaching which says “Love your enemies, be kind to those who hurt you . Turn the other cheek. ( although that is DAMNABLE HARD sometimes)
I’ve wrestled with this a lot myself lately because the church we’ve attended for the past two years is very trumpian. I’ve felt very much outside the circle almost from the beginning. The first red flag was when the church brought in a “missionary” from the Hope to the Hill ministry, which the church supports financially. The purpose of the organization is to “minister” to elected leaders and their staffs in Washington DC, in other words, cozy up to the powerful. The guy couldn’t even resist using language like “the other side” to refer to democrats during his presentation. Republican and Christian were interchangeable to him and really to the church at large. One of the leading families in the church hosted the “Trump Train” at his local business for at least a whole week. A 15 year old kid from the local high school hosted a BLM rally in the town’s park in the pouring rain and not only did the event face threats from a “terrorist organization” (according to the FBI and local news), but people from my church felt compelled to encircle the park with AR-15’s to “protect” the town and its businesses from any violence the BLM protesters might perpetrate. It makes me feel sort of hopeless to think that this is what “Christianity” has become. I struggle with the desire to engage members of the church on stuff like this from the inside and the realization that they are beyond being persuaded by any words I might say. The church has been poisoned by their fear of losing power to the point that they are willing to do things that I imagine would be inconceivable 30 years ago. Power is the key, I think. You nailed it on that point. Just think how “anti-Christ” the idea of clawing for power really is. The One with the power to say a word and ignite all the suns in the universe not only put on the frailty of human form, but submitted himself to be humiliated through torture on a cross. That’s what all forms of torture and execution are about after all, showing the executed and all who watch that this person lacks the power to escape what everyone would if they could, pain and death. Jesus had the power to dominate and he laid it down to be reconciled with his enemies, with humanity. This thirst for power is corrupting evangelical Christianity like it did Catholicism in the middle ages IMO. It’s depressing to watch.
Thanks for your thoughts Boeskool.
You wrote: I don’t think the Bible is infallible or “written by God.”
In no book of the Bible can I find that it was written by God. But Timothy said the words of the scriptures are “God breathed’ (inspired). None of the writers of the 66 books were in a trance, engaged in “automatic writing” 😎
As Christians, the Bible is not simply a book of stories and moral truths. It is the very word of God, inspired, inerrant, true, and infallible. It is God breathed (2 Tim. 3:16). But, it is also more than that. It is the truth of God that resonates in the souls of those in whom the Holy Spirit indwells. It is the means and the measure of our lives made real by God’s indwelling. It is the revelation of God’s will for us and the world. It is the promise of God to deliver the believers. It is, in reality, the loving and true words of our God. In this sense, it is alive.
Questions About the Bible
Hi. It’s worth pointing out that when Paul wrote that to Timothy, he 1) didn’t consider his letter part of the “scripture” to which he was referring, and 2) the scriptures to which he was referring were VERY different from the compiled scriptures we have within today’s Bible.
As far as the whole “you only GET IT if you have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit” thing, that is a cop out, and frankly it is a strategy that is frequently used by cults to control adherents.
Either stuff makes sense, or it doesn’t.
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