Hatred and anger are boiling over in right-wing religious circles. Stoked by opportunistic politicians and preachers, fed by an absolute certainty that violates the Gospel itself, this perfect storm of intolerant Christians threatens the nation they claim to love.
After an atheist appeared on Fox News to explain opposition to having only a cross, and no other religion’s symbols, at a 9/11 memorial, Fox’s Facebook page was flooded with death threats like this one, “Shoot them. Shoot to kill.” And this one, “I say kill them all and let them see for themselves that there is a God.”
Similar hatred and anger are erupting across Europe, aimed at Muslim immigrants and claiming to be Christian faith in action.
It is time for responsible Christian leaders and communities to stand up for Jesus – that is, for love, tolerance, light, mercy, justice, and victory over fear.
FAITH Q & A
Q: How significant a factor do you think membership in a church along with belief in Christian dogma is to the development and maintenance of one’s moral compass and/or character?
A: I don’t think church membership by itself is enough. Some of the worst Robber Barons (Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan, among others) were staunch and generous church members, and yet their moral compass was way off.
Church dogma, unfortunately, has shed more blood than light. Some of today’s most egregious fear-mongers and hate-dispensers are church members.
It seems to me a person’s moral compass starts at home, as child observes parents and absorbs their values. It takes a lifetime of effort to escape the destructive impact of parents who were mired in immorality and character flaws.
A second contributor is a child’s school teachers. Coaches play a strong role.
A healthy church can make a difference, too, by what it does more than by what it says. A church that engages in mission and regular acts of self-sacrificial generosity will convey solid ethics. A church that bickers, shushes children, panders to wealthy members and spends lavishly on itself will convey weak ethics.
When the church speaks truth to power and suffers for it, money might dry up, but moral compasses get turned in the right direction.