I have made my thoughts on Fundamental Christianity quite clear in previous posts. And while it may be what we mostly hear about on the controlled Media, it is encouragingly small. The Pew Forum on Religious and Public Life puts Independent Fundamental Baptists members at 2.5% of Americans. This means that there are approximately 7.85 million of them in America today. While 72.7 percent of Christians in America are not Independent Fundamental Baptists. Let us bear in mind that the conservatives no more represents mainstream Christianity than the Taliban represents Islam. So who are these other Christians? I like to call them, the “Progressive Christians”.

Wikipedia calls “Progressive Christianity” a movement within contemporary Christianity characterized by willingness to question tradition, acceptance of human diversity with a strong emphasis on social justice or care for the poor and the oppressed (often identified as minority groups) and environmental stewardship of the Earth. Progressive Christians have a deep belief in the centrality of the instruction to “love one another” (John 15:17) within the teaching of Jesus Christ. This leads to a focus on compassion, promoting justice and mercy, tolerance, and working towards solving the societal problems of poverty, discrimination and environmental issues, especially by social and political activism.


Yet, these are the Christians I grew up calling “fakes”, and “ignorant of the Bible” or “deceived by Satan and their own lusts”. I immediately presumed if they didn’t dress, talk, believe or do certain things, they weren’t worthy of the title “Christian”, and were an embarrassment to Christianity. . .little did I know that they felt the same way about me and conservative fundamentalists! When I actually started meeting some of them and stopped juging them though, I found out some shocking things:

These are Christians with deep morals, character and humanitarianism. . .the kind of people deep down that every “good Christian” I ever knew was. Every thing they stood for was “Christ-like”, and they weren’t worried who stood with them, because they were confident they were living by the Holy Spirit’s leading. (Conscience to those nonbelievers out there.)

 Confident, freethinking people like these Christians tend to come across as a little anti-culture and rebellious though, and that fit in nicely with what I thought of them. . . that they were just hardened, bitter sinners, trying to claim the power of Jesus without carrying his cross. (Being persecuted was highly prized in my groups, as it was a sign that you were “carrying the cross” and were a “true believer”. . .never mind the fact that 99% of the persecution was self inflicted for being a pushy jerk. . .)

Some people estimate that 3 out of 4 of all Christians fit a basic Progressive definition of a Christian. No one seems to think of these Christians in terms of a cult, and even extols the good done by them. Whereas, many would claim a cult like status to the more extremism type of Christianity. Kind of like in Islam, there is the peaceful majority, then the trouble maker “literalists/extremists” carrying out the immoral past violence’s all over again. It reminds me of a saying: “Cult: a small unpopular religion. Religion: a large popular cult.”


If these progressive churches are the majority of Christians though, then why don’t they stand 
out more, and why is their activism muted even by their fellow Christians? Why is their boldness only held against them, as if they were only angrily defending themselves (not freedom and tolerance for all)?

One group called “Christians Tired of Being Misrepresented”, was asked about these things and answered back: “Jesus never demanded attention, prominence, recognition, influence or wealth. He went about doing the will of the Father, touching lives one by one. While the Religious Right cloaks itself as the “Christian Choice” merely because they are anti-choice and loudly proclaim selectively chosen scriptures from the Bible as their political platform, it seems like they get all the attention. Generally, Christian Liberals are less interested in the attention and more interested in changing the lives of their neighbor through love and social justice.”

Some Christians are breaking the mold though, and out of true love and acceptance for others they are speaking out against the fundamentalists whom they are ashamed to call brothers and sisters in Christ. More and more we see the chasm between the two Christian groups widen. We are all for tolerating peaceful religion, but when it comes to Biblical literalists, like the saying goes:”Tolerance is to let others live like they want. To appease religious fundamentalists is not tolerance, but submission.”

It is clear that the Liberal Christians do not have much of a voice in politics. Even though Christians may also have religious conflicts with speaking out against fellow believers (because the Bible pretty much condemns it,) it’s clear that the system is rigged against them even if they do decide to take a public stand. What makes things difficult for liberal Christians isn’t finding their voice though, but finding the platform to broadcast it on. . .(at least until recently with the internet.) With conservative news organizations, and radio stations in close relationships with the fundamentalists, Christians who don’t share conservative political views are hard-pressed to get air time. Source

How did this powerful conservative right wing we see today in the media come about you ask? Here is apparently the shortened version of how it went down, according to Wikipedia:

Timeline

1960s
Culture war over social, religious and cultural values anger religious traditionalists and set the stage for a political movement in the 1970s.
1970s
  • 1974 — Robert Grant founds the American Christian Cause as an effort to institutionalize the Christian Right as a politically active social movement.
  • 1977 — Focus on the Family is formed.
  • 1978 — Robert Grant, Paul Weyrich, Terry Dolan, Howard Phillips, and Richard Viguerie found Christian Voice, to recruit, train, and organize Evangelical Christians to participate in elections.
  • 1979 — Jerry Falwell founds Moral Majority, which is often said to be the beginning of the New Christian Right. Concerned Women for America is formed. (Nice name, bad goals)
1980s
  • 1980 — Washington for Jesus founded by John Giminez, the pastor of Rock Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Dr. William Bright, Benson Idahosa from Africa, and many other high-profile Christians marched on Washington, in an effort to support Ronald Reagan’s presidential run.
    • Ronald Reagan elected president, serving two presidential terms (1981–1989). Republicans capture the Senate for the first time since 1952.
  • 1982 — On May 18, 1982, President Reagan introduced a proposed School Prayer Amendment to the United States Constitution.
  • 1983 — The Family Research Council is formed. 
  • 1984 — President Ronald Reagan proclaims January 13, 1984 to be National Sanctity of Human Life Day. President Reagan announces the adoption of the Mexico City Policy, which required “all non-governmental organizations that receive federal funding to refrain from performing or promoting abortion services, as a method of family planning, in other countries.”
  • 1987 — Pat Robertson founds the Christian Coalition, which later becomes the most prominent voice in the Christian Right.
  • 1988 — George H. W. Bush is elected president with the support of most conservative Christian voters.
  • 1989 — Liberty Counsel is formed.
1990s
  • 1990 — The American Center for Law and Justice is formed by Pat Robertson, to combat the American Civil Liberties Union which he claimed was hostile to traditional Christian values.
  • 1992 — The Christian Coalition produces voter guides and distributes them to conservative Christian churches.
  • 1994 — Conservative Republicans take control of the House of Representatives, led by Christian conservative Newt Gingrich. The Alliance Defense Fund is formed.
  • 1996 — The Defense of Marriage Act is enacted.
  •  In Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, the United States Supreme Court holds that the First Amendment allows the Boy Scouts to exclude homosexual males from membership in its organization. George W. Bush is elected president with the overwhelming support of white conservative evangelical voters.
  • 2001 — President George W. Bush re-institutes the Mexico City Policy.
  • 2003 — The Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 is enacted.
  •  The Unborn Victims of Violence Act is enacted. President George W. Bush announces his support for a Federal Marriage Amendment. President Bush is elected to a second term in office.
  •  President George W. Bush vetoes the Stem Cell Research Enactment Act of 2006.
  • 2007 — The National Organization for Marriage is formed. President George W. Bush vetoes the Stem Cell Research Enactment Act of 2007. 

While the conservative right wing is still relatively small, and even believes themselves to be a persecuted minority, they are backed by a lot of money, and that means power. It is quite obvious both in the past and now, that the powerful have always used religion to control the masses, whether or not the leaders believed in it, they saw it’s use in making sheep of the common people. It has been said,

“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful.” — Seneca the Younger (4BCE-65CE).

Much as the Conservative right wing seems to be flourishing though, their influence is not enough to stop the wild growth of free thought and activism starting up, mostly thanks to advances in communication through the internet.

I for one am not discouraged with the power of the Conservatives anymore though, because just this month a new global survey on faith and atheism has revealed that all faith may be dying, and even quicker than previously thought! Like the writer of the comic strip Calvin & Hobbes said, “It’s hard to be religious when certain people are never incinerated by bolts of lightning.” 

According to the poll released by WIN-Gallup International, the traditionally Catholic country of Ireland has seen one of the steepest drops in religiosity. The poll — which was based on interviews with more than 50,000 people selected from 57 countries — asked participants, “irrespective of whether they attended a place of worship, if they considered themselves to be religious, not religious, or an atheist.”
In Ireland, only 47 percent of those polled said they considered themselves religious — a 22-point drop from the 69 percent recorded in a similar poll conducted in 2006. In addition, 10 percent self-identified as atheists.
The only country that registered a steeper decline in religiosity was Vietnam, which saw a 23-point drop from 53 percent to 30 percent.
According to the global index, there has been a notable decline in religiosity worldwide.
Current data shows that the number of people worldwide who call themselves religious is now 59 percent, while 13 percent self-identify as atheist.
The U.S., France and Canada joined Ireland on the top-10 list of countries to have experienced a “notable decline in religiosity”.
In defense of a dying faith, a spokesperson for the Catholic Communications Office told the Belfast Telegraph that “the language used by the poll may have been misleading. The word ‘religious’, if left unqualified, is too general to be used as the keyword in a survey questionnaire.”
 The survey also noted that income had a direct correlation with religiosity. As whole countries get richer, they tend to lose their religion. Of course, some could say that “the love of money is the root of all evil”, and the richer countries don’t feel a need for God because they just love money too much. Others would equate more money with no need for God because of a higher level of education in history, science and world religions, as well as having communication with the world. I would definitely agree with the latter, and see the 3rd world countries as desperate to believe anything that makes them not responsible for themselves, and having a fair afterlife.
According to the poll, the most devout region of the world is Africa — and the countries where most people self-identified as religious were Ghana (96 percent), Nigeria (93 percent) and Macedonia (90 percent). I for one do not equate those places with intelligence, education and enlightenment, I don’t know about you. . .

 Back to the Progressive church in our country though. Most of this global shift away from religion is not drifting from their faith completely the poll says, but claiming to be ‘not religious’ while remaining in the faith. So the only future for Christianity seems to be this watered down, moral, culturally acceptable form of Christianity called “Progressive Christianity”. I can live with that, can you?


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