Up until 312 ad Christianity was a minor group of unorganized souls following the teachings of someone called Jesus. They had very little in terms of organization and even less in the area of political or social clout. In 312 Emperor Constantine had an epiphany on the battle field and believed it was the Christian God that gave him victory. It was from this point that Christianity began its climb form a simple faith to a fully blown religion. It was a relatively fast start, by 313 it was recognized as an acceptable, even preferable, religion in the Roman Empire. By 324 Constantine had declared himself leader of the Christian faith, although still not declaring himself Christian, people began to loose their lands and titles if they did not convert, positions in the empire would not be given to non Christians, if effect Christianity had arrived. It took many years but this was the the first point where Christianity entered into the political power realm and has continued to grow and flourish in this field to this day. I am not about to give you a long and elaborate history to Christianity and politics, there is enough of that online to keep you going for a life time. You don’t need me to teach you history.
Just so as to keep this focused Christianity was not the first or last religion to take this path and it has never been a good path. Judaism, Hinduism, and Islam have all attempted and are still on the same path and all we need do is look at the middle east to see how well that is working out. Having said that I would like to address the followers of Christianity specifically, although it is applicable to the other religions as well, who have chosen to follow their faith and worship the God they have come to believe in without having to politicize, without having to force their belief system on any one else, if you take in all religions there are literally billions of these people. They quietly worship their God, proselytizing not by force but by example, teaching love, understanding, and compassion, by example. My heart and support goes out to these folks and it is for them that I write this piece.
At this point we skip a whole bunch of sad and terrifying history including the rise and dominance of the Catholic Church, multiple crusades, witch burning and other less than proud moments in the development of the modern Christian empire. We have arrived once again to world where the leading power has ingrained religion so far into its political system that it is difficult to tell which is running which. In the past three decades we have moved through an American President who was forced out of office for having a sexual affair with an intern, too another president who was accused of not being a Christian and chastised for his wife wearing a sleeveless gown that some felt unbefitting a First lady, to a Presidential candidate that , among other things was deemed unworthy because her husband had an affair. All of these indiscretions shouted loudly from the roof tops in a country that supposedly has separation of church and state. Now until this point all this is is cheap politics, the religious right trying to enforce their high moral standards on the rest of us inadequate sinners. That is until the fundamentalist right elects their savior, a man whose wife posed naked in a mens magazine and starred in a porn movie, a man who did a cameo appearance in a porn movie, who has five children by three wives, and this is the high moral choice of the religious right. Now, I don’t really care about his wifes past, it is just that, a past, I am more than willing get on with going forward. As far as five kids by three wives, I not getting my world in a knot over that either, I am more concerned with what he brings to the table today. (As it turns out what I just pointed out are about the best things he brings to the table). The problem is I didn’t sit on my high moral pedestal preaching the greatness of my God and the high moral standards that he demands. It would appear that the high moral standard required by the fundamentalist right is nothing more than to get elected and hate gays. In effect religion has sold out to power, there is no other way to describe it. They refuse to give basic rights to any who do not believe the same as them, and at the same time cry that their rights are being taken away. Sorry kids, giving others the same rights you have does in no way diminish the rights you already have. They refuse to help and aid others in need saying that they need to take care of their own first and then the only people they take care of is the elite few at the top of the food chain. They convince the masses that refugees and immigrants are evil and will destroy their lifestyle while they sit back in their pearl mansions and watch the poor suffer. In fact the only concern they have is protecting their own wealth and lifestyle. Now I am not really telling you anything that you don’t already know, I am merely taking the long road to my point.
The ultimate point to this rather long winded aberration is that Christianity is at risk, not from throngs of brown people flowing in and taking over your world, not from gays and lesbians wanting nothing more than the same rights you have, not from transgender individuals that just want to use the appropriate washroom for their chosen identity, not from women who just want control over their own bodies. It comes from a much more dangerous and devious place, it comes from a small group of individuals that want to use your religion as an instrument of power. At this point you should probably realize that you have more in common with Islamic refugees than with the Religious right that is attempting to control government, these refugees are fleeing exactly what is happening in America now, the consequence of religious domination of power.
The real danger for Christianity is the rest of the world that is viewing this from the outside is seeing the hypocrisy and judging all Christians with actions of the few. If you don’t think this is dangerous look how western civilization to a large extent views Islam, Christianity is next. As a society in general we need to get control of religion in general, Those that chose to worship any religion need to be free to do so within the reasonable constraints of civil laws and these laws need to the same for not only all faiths but all people regardless of faith, color, or any other relatively unimportant factors. Practice your religion in your homes and places of worship, let society make allowances for the practice in public spaces if need be but don’t expect your religion to be part of the daily function of businesses and public institutions. If you let your religion live and thrive on its own while protecting not only your own right to worship but also the rights of others to worship in their own way chances are all will be well. Remember that any rights you take from someone else you ultimately take from yourself.
Most of what I have written is strongly slanted to current events in America and I had truly believed that in Canada with our history of inclusion we would avoid a large part of this. However I am seeing the same trend here as we saw leading to the Trump administration and it is truly troubling. It is not just the gathering power of the religious right in politics but also the increase in outward displays of bigotry and racism that we are seeing on an almost daily basis. Make no mistake, this is fed by people who have the sole desire to impose their morality and beliefs on you and benefit themselves in the process. Ultimately they will fail, historically it is inevitable, the problem is that historically when it does fail it fails in a sea of violence and destruction. We can avoid that, we have the ability to keep both our belief systems and our democracies intact but we need to be aware and we need to be willing to allow those who differ from us to exist along side us.
I am going to make one last point here, it really deserves a blog of its own but it is really digging into me. I hear far to often the phrase ” We shouldn’t be helping others when we so many of our own suffering” or something similar. Firstly this usually comes from people who have no interest in helping anyone other than themselves, ie. people who think Saskatchewan doesn’t need a bus system because they don’t need it themselves. Secondly, we have the ability to do both, again this is an excuse created by the few at the top of the food chain in order to protect what they think is their entitlement of wealth, again, we can do both. Thirdly, and most importantly, there is no us and them, people in need are people in need. Just because we won the where you get to be born lottery and ended up in one of the wealthiest parts of the world does not absolve us of the humanitarian need to help lift others up to our level. Conversely it lays the responsibility directly at our feet. “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required,” Luke 12:48 KJV. This self entitled attitude of because I was born here I have a right to live better than 80% of the rest of the planet has to stop. Literally tens of thousands of people die daily on this planet for no other reason than having the misfortune to be born in the wrong place and time.
The essence of almost all religions is to be serve both God and those less fortunate, the goal of almost all religions is to attain a position in the good graces of God. Somehow I don’t see the accumulation of wealth power and personal comfort as a leading contributor to any of this.
I believe that almost all of us do too little and put myself at the head of that list. At this point of time in my life all I have to offer is words and they are only useful if some they contribute to action. I need you to justify my words by acting, save your religions, save your selves but most importantly save those most in need. ric