Harper’s May 2005

There are two related and equally discouraging (but must-read) articles in this month’s Harper’s magazine. Both “Inside America’s Most Powerful Megachurch” and “Feeling the Hate with the National Religious Broadcasters” have me feeling more miserable than ever to be connected in any way with the so-called “evangelical” church.

Despite the tone of condescension and vitriol in Lewis Lapham’s editorial, the articles themselves are, on the whole, clear-eyed. The few exceptions are of the standard “look at the religious freak show” variety and even I find that less offensive than I used to.

Most disturbing is the growing trend toward triumphalism in the fundamentalist churches since Bush’s reelection, as well as the corporatization of the church. Under the guise of diversity, many of the megachurches are actually enforcing monolithic thinking on a whole range of issues, many of them political.

Here’s a telling quote from Chris Hedges’ article, on the National Religious Broadcasters’ convention:

“[Radio host and pastor James] MacDonald quotes liberally from the Book of Revelation, the only place in the New Testament where Jesus (arguably) endorses violence and calls for vengeance against nonbelievers. It is, along with the apocalyptic visions of St. Paul, the movement’s go-to text. Rarely mentioned these days is the Jesus of the Gospels, the Jesus who speaks of the poor and the marginalized, who taught followers to turn the other cheek and love their enemies, the Jesus who rejected the mantle of secular power.”

I used to think of the Christian Right as a sort of crazy uncle. You know, still part of the family, but somebody to be a little embarrassed by. But I’m no longer thinking that way. I don’t recognize these people as family at all any more. I wonder how I ever could have.

If it weren’t for progressive Christian voices like those of Jim Wallis (God’s Politics), Brian McLaren (A Generous Orthodoxy) and Anne Lamott (Plan B), I’m not sure where I’d be these days.

One thought on “Harper’s May 2005”

  1. I read both articles over the weekend and can only come to the conclusion that this “brand” of Christianity is just nationalism, corporatism, and power disguised with a veneer of religion. (I was always taught that religion is bad but that spirituality is good. This is definitely religion.)

    The pastor’s comments about being in favor of preemptive war were chilling. What about the ten commandments they have been raising such a ruckus about? Everyting seems to be based on the most violent scriptures in both the Old and New Testaments.

    Culture of death is a more appropriate slogan. Justice = JustUs or JustUS.

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