Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Feign Outrage and Cry Persecution: A Failed Christian Business Model

Nod your head if this sounds familiar.  A marginally Christian organization comes under scrutiny for one reason or another.  An outraged Christian “leader” cries persecution and calls for a “day of support.”  We do our Christian duty and shop till we drop (or eat till we burst).  The Christian organization has record one day sales and the day is saved.  

This cycle has repeated itself in various ways several times this last year.  We saw it with Chick-Fil-A and now with Hobby Lobby.  We saw it earlier with the Family Research Council and today we are rallying around the NRA and our God given right to own as many guns as we can get our hands on.  We tell ourselves that we are doing it to “fight the good fight” but in reality I believe that we are doing it out of fear.  We are told that the world will end or that the character of our country is at stake if we don’t get out there and spend money.  We solve problems, not as Christians, but as consumers and fear-mongering is good for business.

This new Christian activism concerns me because it plays into three logical fallacies that I believe are hurting our credibility and misrepresenting our faith. 

Fallacy 1 - “How I spend my money will effect change, therefore blindly supporting Christian business will effect positive “Christian” change in our society.”

Common wisdom is that consumers “vote with their wallet” but for some Christians this has become a straight party line vote.  Any business or organization professing Christian values is therefore supported at all costs.  It has been widely written that straight party line voting is bad for democracy and I believe that the same holds true in our blind support for any company that “stands for their faith” by playing Christian music over the PA system.

This method of "voting" creates a myopic view of the world that doesn’t factor in long term consequences or inconsistencies.  We don’t take the time to consider if this is an organization or cause that is worth supporting.  Is Hobby Lobby really standing up for pro-life issues or could there be another motive? Is the NRA really representative of the kind of nation Christians should get behind?  Is it our job to get indignant and cry persecution or are we to live peaceably with all people?  For whatever reason questions like these are rarely asked and when they are they tend to be dismissed as “negative” or “not standing together.”  I think it is past time that we think deeper about the kinds of organizations we support and why we support them.  Which brings me to the next fallacy.

Fallacy 2 - "Expanding the political aims of the Conservative American Evangelical Brand is synonymous with expanding the Kingdom of God."     

I have posted before about the incorrect belief that America is an exclusively Christian nation so I will not spend too much time on this but I think a few things are worthy of note.

Overall we have become completely blind to how much our politics have effected our theology.  Take abortion for example.  It was not until the late 70’s and early 80’s that the majority of evangelicals believed that life began at conception.  Part of the shift had more to do with the forming a political power block with Catholics than it had to do with the Bible.  I am not saying that abortion should be a non issue for Christians; I am saying that we need to be more cognizant of the ways politics effect   what we believe. There is great danger in having an unacknowledged worldview.

Being blind to how politics effect our theology creates a world where solutions to moral problems can only be solved through legislation.  In this world the only way to stop abortion is to overturn Roe vs. Wade.  In this world the only way to keep our children safe is to carry a gun.  In this world only the person with power is the one that matters and we have to get that power back.  This is a far cry from Jesus who stepped away from power and became a slave to all.  Politicians believe in the power of chariots and horses and legislation and semi-automatics, as Christians we believe in something much greater. 

Fallacy 3 - "Someone said I am being persecuted therefore I am being persecuted."

Christians are being persecuted.  Around the world Christians are not allowed to worship together, are beaten and imprisoned, and are even killed simply because they follow Jesus.  None of that is happening in America and I am shocked when I see that word being thrown around. 

Having a mayor, in a moment of stupidity, say that your business is not welcome in his very diverse city is not persecution.  Owning a corporation and being asked to comply with laws to provide your employees with adequate healthcare, even if that means they have access to drugs that you personally have a problem with, is not persecution.  Being wished, “Happy Holidays” around the time you celebrate Christmas is not persecution.  When your president’s inauguration includes prayers offered up “in Jesus name" you are not being persecuted.  For some reason, here in the States, evangelicals want to believe that we are being persecuted. We have mistaken equal treatment under the law of all religions as persecution of our own.

When a certain Christian leader, we will call him Mike Huckabee, cries persecution we gobble it up like Easter ham.  When he says patently false things about prayer in schools it gets reposted and retweeted like it is the Gospel itself.  Personally I was very troubled by the outpouring of support for his belief that God can be systematically kept out of schools and we should therefore not be surprised when things like Newtown happen.  I am glad that I do not worship a God that is so small and petty as to demand a tip of the hat from Uncle Sam in order to be present.

This model of outrage and persecution we have created may make us feel like we are part of something underground and dangerous but I believe it makes us look childish and irrelevant.  When we get on TV full of feigned outrage does it make those around us, thought they may not understand us, see our deeds and praise God?  When we cry persecution are we living peaceably with all people or are we making ourselves feel more important than we really are?  Our business model may generate some great one day sales but it is penny wise and dollar foolish.

Brothers and sisters let us prayerfully consider what our actions communicate and measure our ways of changing the world against Christ’s ways.  Where they are found wanting let us find the courage to change.  The loudest voice is seldom the one with the most wisdom.  In this world of petty strife and rivalry let us be the ones embodying peace and truth instead of outrage and appearances.

It may quietly start a revolution.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this post. I am ashamed at some of the status updates and timeline posts of people I know who automatically equate "republican" with "Christian." Maybe as Christians leaders, we should focus more on teaching and preaching a Kingdom worldview rather than an American one. This would take some hashing out as to what this worldview would be, and then also take some time reflecting on how this should translate into each national political context, specifically how we should approach the political realm (if we should even approach it at all). Thanks for getting me thinking, brother!