Several weeks ago, a horde of evangelical Christians flocked to Washington for a two-day convention titled, “War on Christians and the Values Voters in 2006.”
The event sought to unmask a growing sentiment among many Christians that secularism is incrementally defaming Christianity and fueling Christophobia.
For a nation whose evangelical base is shaping national discourse, public policy, and has packed the White House, Congress, and Supreme Court, I was more than amused by this spectacle.
It would seem to me that, in fact, secularism is constantly being tested in this country – yet, there is still talk of Christian persecution and oppression by secular-liberal conspirators.
The convention in Washington failed to address the aforementioned realities and focused instead on a wide range of issues, including, the banning of school prayer, abortion, evolutionary science, and homosexual marriage – all of which were deemed assaults on the Christian faith.
The most memorable part of the convention came when former House majority leader, Tom DeLay (R-Texas), stepped up to the podium as a spokesman for Christian values. Considering that Rep. DeLay’s close ties with lobbyist Jack Abramoff have raised eyebrows and that he is currently under investigation for money laundering, it was appalling that the “exterminator,” and his far-from-pristine moral character, merited an invitation to the event.
I was not the only one tickled by the portrayal of Rep. DeLay as a martyr of Christianity. On a program of “Hardball,” Rev. Al Sharpton raised the question, “[DeLay] was introduced as a man that was being persecuted because he stood up for Jesus. Tell me how Jesus and being accused of embezzling funds is the same thing. What chapter did you get that out of the New Testament?”
While I have personally skimmed through the Bible, I have not been able to locate the chapter Rev. Al Sharpton was alluding to. I attempted to contact the convention organizer, Joe Scarborough, hoping that he might shine some light on the chapter where Jesus is accused of embezzling funds. I will keep readers posted on any new developments.
Sarcasm aside, my point more directly is that the only war on Christianity is being waged by the likes of Rep. DeLay, who use religion as a political crutch to further their own personal gains.
It is unfortunate that many of our Christian politicians today have forgotten the lessons of former president Jimmy Carter, a devout evangelical Christian who lived up to his convictions and did not mend the Bible to fit his political agenda. Nor did Carter abuse the fundamental clause of separation of church and state – a notion that is increasingly being challenged these days.
On another front, the Christian war is being carried out by religious zealots such as Pat Robertson, whose intolerant and hate-charged commentary serves only to dilute Christianity’s appeal. Apart from calling for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Robertson has made other shameless and inflammatory remarks. In October of 2003, for example, he suggested that the State Department be blown up with a nuclear bomb.
As for his views on feminism, Robertson asserts that feminism ideas encourage women to “kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.”
While there is a war on Christianity currently taking place, the perpetrators are not the advocates of secularism, as the Washington convention will have us believe. Instead, in alignment with Jimmy Carter’s views, I would argue that far-right wing conservatives have degraded Christianity by disregarding the very values that the religion seeks to promote.
Values of peace, compassion, honesty, and tolerance have been abandoned for war, tax cuts for the rich, corruption, and deprivation of rights from homosexuals.
Sadly, what we are experiencing in this country is not Christianity, but a perverse deformation of Christianity. The war is on – and not only to get our country back, but our religion, too.
Luci Storelli-Castro is a junior double majoring in political science and philosophy. Her columns run every Wednesday in the Collegian.