Sunday, Bloody Sunday

by

The good news about “Justice Sunday” is that it signals the beginning of the end.

Those of us who have watched the development of the Religious Right from its beginnings in the 1970s have seen its rhetoric grow exponentially more strident, and its demands to have its way — both in government and in churches — grow louder and more expansive in recent years. It’s been an interesting study. If you graphed its rhetoric and claims to power over the course of the years, you wouldn’t have a bell curve. You’d have something that starts very small, builds very slowly but steadily, then, near the right edge of the chart, suddenly spikes and then bottoms out.

The spike is today. The plunge is tomorrow. To paraphrase an old sermon line, it’s Sunday, but Friday’s coming.

The Religious Right has finally said in plain and public terms, thank God, what it has always argued for in more roundabout ways. Now that the truth is out, I think we’ll see its influence rapidly decline. Nobody wants to hear upper-middle class white people whine about not getting their way. Nobody in a democracy wants to hear the voting majority, in full-blown paranoia, roar that everyone is out to get it, that its power is too limited, or that it has too little influence (control) over people’s lives.

If anyone in the Religious Right seriously doubts that that’s what they are — the upper-middle class white voting majority — it indicates just how completely they’ve lost touch with reality. People, this is a democracy. You, as both the voting majority and the segment of the population that holds the most wealth, the most education, and the overwhelming majority of public offices, already have more power than anyone else. The fact that you can’t do absolutely everything you want — that you can’t, through the power of the state, completely remake the country in your image — doesn’t make you the besieged and downtrodden. In Jesus’ parable, you’re the powerful religious officials, not the battered and looked-down-upon Samaritan.

If you’re just now discovering that in America, even the majority can’t do everything it wants, we’re sorry that you’re so disappointed, but, seriously, you should’ve paid more attention in 9th grade Civics. (You should also give the occasional thought to how Jesus lived his life.) Being the majority doesn’t entitle you to have every court case come out the way you want. It doesn’t entitle you to have the laws reflect your religious beliefs. It doesn’t entitle you to claim the founding principles of this country as belonging exclusively to you, historical realities be damned. It doesn’t entitle you to claim the Constitution as an expression of Christian doctrine, or its authors as Evangelicals.

I hear Christian conservatives complain a lot about entitlements, but is there anyone in this country that’s carrying around a bigger sense of entitlement than Christians? Compared to what they seem to think they’re entitled to — complete control of the entire nation — all the welfare programs in the country are subatomic in scale.

The good news about “Justice Sunday” is that, I think, it signals the beginning of the end for the Religious Right. The bad news about “Justice Sunday” is that it reveals just how utterly the church has lost its way; how little its definition of “justice” and Christ’s definition of “justice” have in common, and how little it notices that fact or even cares.

The good news is good news for the country. The bad news is bad news for the church.

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13 Responses to “Sunday, Bloody Sunday”

  1. wednesday Says:

    Thank you. I hadn’t found ANY positives from JustUs Sunday, but if you’re right… YEEEEHAW!

    They don’t speak for everyone, thank God. (I’m thinking they don’t speak for God, either, but that’s my opinion.)

    A host of thinking Christian leaders is emerging. (They’ve even grabbed the term “emergent” to describe themselves.) Brian McLaren, Len Sweet, etc. — these guys are being listened to more and more while the Dobsons of the world marginalize themselves and annoy others.

    Also visit sojourners.org. A darn fine group, they are.

  2. wednesday Says:

    Oops. Make that http://www.sojourners.com.

    Although the folks at sojourners.org seem to be doing good stuff, too.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    You and Aaron Sorkin must eat the same mushrooms. Anyone who thinks that a segment of society which forms the base of the party in control of the White House, both houses of Congress, a majority of the nation’s governors, and a majority of the nation’s state legislatures is somehow declining in power, drank a big gulp of the wrong kool aid a long time ago. You’ll be a better asset to your cause when you stop believing your own propaganda and face reality.

  4. juvenal_urbino Says:

    “a segment of society which forms the base of the party in control of the White House, both houses of Congress, a majority of the nation’s governors, and a majority of the nation’s state legislatures”

    Thank you for helping me make my point.

  5. Soren Says:

    Yeah, Mm-hmm. People would much rather hear lower-middle and upper-lower class minorities whining about not getting their way and being oppressed by “the man.” They would rather see people who have been receiving hand-outs and hand-ups (quota jobs) for years, in full-blown paranoia, play the race and class cards at every opportunity. It’s okay for Al Gore and Jesse Jackson to speak to left-leaning religious groups, but conservatives cannot speak to conservative groups without the left pitching a hissy fit.

  6. juvenal_urbino Says:

    There’s a slight historical problem with your argument about minorities and Affirmative Action. Yes, AA, generously defined, has been in place for 50 years. But slavery/segregation was in place for the previous 300 years, up to that very day.

    Arguments like yours are a bit like a man who has beaten his wife every day for 25 yrs saying, “I took her out to dinner last night, so what’s she got to complain about?”

    Racial minorities in this country have good reason to be paranoid. White, middle-class Christians do not.

  7. Soren Says:

    So in another 250 years, all will be even?

    Dude, your analogy breaks down. It’s not that the guy beat his wife. It’s that some contemporaries of his great-great-great-great-Grandfather beat their wives, and we’re all still paying for it today.

    I’m not saying that we should be paranoid. Nor do I believe that there are no injustices today. But the “white people are bad because slavery/segregation once existed” wears a little thin after awhile (especially when many of us have ancestors who didn’t immigrate to the U.S. until decades after the emancipation).

  8. juvenal_urbino Says:

    “It’s not that the guy beat his wife. It’s that some contemporaries of his great-great-great-great-Grandfather beat their wives, and we’re all still paying for it today.”

    Legal segregation existed for most of the 20th century; very nearly into my own lifetime. Lynchings were common well into the 20th century; Martin Luther King was assassinated the year I was born. Newspapers used racial epithets casually and often, well into the 20th century. There were barely 30 years left in the 20th century when blacks were finally guaranteed the right to vote.

    It’s been in our own parents’ lifetime, if not our own, that blacks weren’t allowed in the schools where we (white, middle-class Christians) gave our kids the tools they would need to get ahead. Do you think that doesn’t have an economic impact on black people today?

    Also, I have certainly, within the past 10 yrs., repeatedly seen and heard the rankest Bull Connor racism come from the mouths of white, Christian small business owners — the people who do most of the hiring in this country.

    De jure segregation may be a thing of the [very recent] past, but intentional, widespread de facto segregation is very much a present day reality.

    My point was not and is not that “white people are bad.”

    My point was that loud complaints about being discriminated against are much more credible coming from the mouths of those who really are and always have been discriminated against in this country, than it is from the mouths of those who always have been and still are in power.

    The Religious Right is behaving like spoiled children. No matter how much they have, it’s never enough. With “Justice Sunday,” they threw a kicking, screaming, hold-my-breath-till-I’m-blue-in-the-face fit. I think that will turn a lot of people off, and we’ll see their support begin to wane.

  9. wednesday Says:

    http://mikecope.blogspot.com/2005/04/ive-seen-lots-of-angry-christians-on.html

  10. Soren Says:

    Points well taken. Thanks Wednesday for the Mike Cope link.

  11. juvenal_urbino Says:

    Not to belabor the point, but I got myself thinking. Since graduating from high school in 1986, I have worked for 8 small businesses in 3 different states. The owners/managers of all of them were white. All but one of them were professing, devoutly churchgoing Christians.

    Want to know the percentage of them where I heard openly, vehemently racist remarks from the owners/managers? 100.

    I hadn’t realized that until now.

  12. Joel Says:

    ok dude, I’m all with you on the Justice Sunday hissy fit, but are you just going to make the criteria for racism be degrading comments? Because I can come up with some pretty high percentages myself of minorities I’ve encountered that don’t even try to hide racist name-calling, comments OR physical abuse.

  13. juvenal_urbino Says:

    “are you just going to make the criteria for racism be degrading comments?”

    I’m not entirely sure what the point of your comment is, Joel, but to answer this question: no, I would also include all the things I listed in my previous comment.

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