This article was updated Sunday 23 November to clear up some grammar issues, and in doing so I have provided some updates to let you know what is currently happening, and to better enhance my arguments.
My friends, last week I had something occur that was so troublesome that I had to report it to certain Federal law enforcement authorities as well as a nationally known advocate for religious liberty issues.
Since the Feds are still doing their investigation I have to wait to post the article. I spoke with and I am in contact with the head of that group. Like me he is waiting to see what the investigators report. As things stand right now I expect that it may be sometime in December before I can publish in any detail what happened.
Conceivably this could end up getting some media attention because it involves a military member, civilian or contractor working for a military command that deals with IT issues. It is an organization which has been accused of hacking people and organizations across the political spectrum. Stupidly the individual did not think that I could look up his IP address and in this case track it down to the exact base, command and building where it originated.
The individual used the government network to post demeaning and harassing posts about my religious beliefs on this site under a pseudonym. What they said,their pseudonym and e-mail moniker left no doubt that they are some kind of politically minded and motivated right wing Christian intent on shouting down their opposition.
I cannot go into any more detail but it is troubling. If the comments had come from a civilian network I would blow it off as the work of a crackpot. The person may be a crackpot, but I figure that based on where this message originated it was someone working for the military who has a Top Secret security clearance. Why such a person would be attacking me, a senior Navy Chaplain and combat vet about my religious beliefs from a military network is beyond me.
But then maybe It all depends on what your definition of being a “Christian” is, and based on the religious-political hyperbole of the Christian Right, I don’t think I am a Christian anymore. But then being a “Christian” really does depend on what your definition of being a Christian “is” to use the words of former President Bill Clinton.
I am not a Christian if it means…
Elevating your interpretation of the Bible over Jesus…
Using your interpretation of scripture to damn other people to Hell or anywhere else, including Mississippi, even if there are equally valid interpretations from other Christian sources…
Elevating partisan political issues above the commands of Jesus…
Being more concerned with maintaining your political power than caring about people…
Demonizing anyone that disagrees with whatever pet doctrine that you hold dear, even if that doctrine was condemned by other Christians throughout history to be heretical…
Accuse others of the most horrible, unbelievable and false conspiracies and then claim that God told you to do it…
Claim a right or privilege for yourself based on your Christian Faith, and the use the police power of the state to enforce it, all the while denying the same rights to others…
When you are criticized by the very people that you condemn to Hell, or use economic boycotts against, or use the power of the state to condemn claim that you are now the victim of persecution…
The funny thing this is not new.
Such behavior by Christians goes back over a millennium.
In 1054 the Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox split over one word in the Nicene Creed that described the precedence of the Holy Spirit.
The Protestant Reformers elevated their interpretation of scripture over the Roman Catholic instance on scripture being interpreted through Church Tradition and the theology of Thomas Aquinas.
The Radical Reformers insisted on believer’s or adult baptism over infant baptism…
Early Pentecostals, as well as some today, insisted that unless one had been baptized in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of “speaking in tongues” that you were not a Christian…
Sadly, the trend continues as every new Christian sect insists on its own version of “the truth” being absolute truth. History shows that nearly every time such religious absolutists gain control of a civil government that they either by legislation or fiat make their religious law the law of the land.
Among these various denominations and sects these doctrinal issues are still officially in place, even if many church members don’t understand. The only difference is now that many of these people, who I would say are sincere in their beliefs have come together under a political banner, condemning secularists, atheists, and other non-believers to ensure that the Christian franchise remains on top.
This was the whole intention of the Manhattan Declaration of a few years back. Throw aside centuries or actual theological and doctrinal differences in order to keep political power, yes that is the Christian way.
After the Emperor Constantine made Christianity the state religion of the empire a theological dispute between Trinitarian and Arian Christians became political. Whenever an Arian Emperor was in charge Trinitarians were persecuted, and when Trinitarian emperors were in power the payback was hell.
The Cathars in France were exterminated in military crusades by the Roman Catholics.
The early reformation led by John Huss in Czecheslovkia was not only condemned theologically but led to a series of wars as the Catholic Church and the Holy Roman Empire sought to suppress it.
Martin Luther united with the “anti-Christ” Roman Catholic Church to exterminate the “enthusiasts” and Anabaptists during the Peasant’s Revolt.
Ulrich Zwingli executed his former students who had become Anabaptist and been re-baptized to demonstrate their new faith by “re-baptizing” them until they drowned in the Rhine River.
John Calvin ran a religious theocracy in Geneva where any dissent was punishable as heresy. and his government routinely executed “heretics” who did not hold his truth.
The Roman Catholic Church ran the Inquisition in conjunction with with the Spanish crown, as well as other Catholic monarchies, condemning anyone who strayed from the Catholic faith to persecution, imprisonment and often death.
Of course there was the Thirty Years War in which nations with state religions, Protest or Catholic launched wars of brutal extermination against each other, wars which devastated Germany and which the ruins of castles along the Rhine testify to even today.
The Anglican Church in conjunction with the British crown made Catholicism an act punishable by death, and persecuted other dissenters from the state church including early English Baptists, and the Calvinist dissenters who eventually came to the new colonies as the Pilgrims and Puritans….
The Puritans in the Massachusetts Bay Colony had the exclusive rights to the franchise, and persecuted early Baptists and Quakers often executing them, and in the case of female dissenters accusing them of witchcraft…
Sadly many in the Christian Right under the sway of a Neo-Calvinist political theology called “Seven Mountains” or Christian Dominionism are working at the local, state and federal level in this country to institute a theocracy in this country, with them, like their Puritan and Genevan ancestors having the franchise….
I could go on as there are plenty of other examples that I will not cite here. However, forgetting doctrine and even forgetting Jesus to keep power is nothing new for Christians.
Be assured that if all the groups that the now supposedly politically unified Christians now oppose were wiped out and no longer existed, that these same people would start fighting each other again to gain the exclusive franchise of a state religion. That is the unalterable nature of humanity. That is the unalterable nature of religion, that is the unalterable nature of life.
If you are a “true believer” in any of these Christian traditions you may disagree with me. But in your heart you know that I am right because you know that you are right, and if you are right then no one else is. Thus your power and status must be maintained regardless of the cost. That my friends is the nature of the political Christianity which is more grounded in politics and power than it is in Jesus. Eric Hoffer wrote about people that he called the “True Believers”:
“A doctrine insulates the devout not only against the realities around them but also against their own selves. The fanatical believer is not conscious of his envy, malice, pettiness and dishonesty. There is a wall of words between his consciousness and his real self.”
Disagree with with me if you want, but since I paid a lot more attention to church history, systematic theology and philosophy in seminary than most people do I can whip this stuff out without even looking at my notes.
The fact is that once an external enemy is defeated, those within the politically motivated Christian churches turn on themselves. Christians of different denominations or are different must also be defeated, humiliated and destroyed.
That my friends is the truth of history. That is the ever present witness of supposed Christians who value their political power, their economic position, and their place and status above all others. Alliances between various Christian sects are almost always temporary, never once have Christian sects who have united to face down what they think is an existential threat to themselves have maintained their unity after the threat is eliminated.
And so it is… For such people it is not about a truth, nor is it about really about faith, nor is it about love. Those are ruses used to justify the naked brutal power and domination that they strive to achieve. Power and domination that is only satisfied when the ones seeking it have eliminated all opposition, even that of former allies.
That is why I say that it is all about “what your definition of Christian is.”
So if my belief and trust in Jesus is not enough for the true believers… I am okay with that.
If the fact that I am baptized, confirmed and even ordained is not enough for the true believers… I am okay with that.
If the fact that I have had a “born again” experience where faith in Christ became real is not enough… I am okay with that.
If my belief which is grounded in scripture, tradition and reason is not enough for the true believers is not enough… I am okay with that.
If I do not use the name of Jesus to bludgeon non-believers and if I do not ally myself to the Christian true believers who seek their political power and are willing to make temporary alliances with those that they despise in the process…. I am okay with that.
If all of that means that I am not a Christian…
Then I am not… and I am okay with that.
I guess that if valuing the rights of Christians above all others and forcing others to follow whatever version of the Christianity is allowed by the state means to some to be a Christian then I am not a Christian… and I am okay with that.
If being a hateful, self righteous person who despise all that do not believe like them,mor do not meet their slitmus test of what it is to be a Christian then I am not a Christian… and I am okay with that too.
If those are the things that are now what are the marks of being a Christian, then I do not want to be one… I am okay with that. I would rather follow Jesus than be labeled that kind of Christian.
After all, in the end it is about what God thinks, and not what your definition , or my definition of what being a Christian is.
I guess that Bill Clinton was really on target when he said that it all “depends on what your definition of is is” especially for politically minded Christians. People who have sold their souls to maintain political power but who don’t give a wit Jesus. Who don’t care about what their churches actually teach until they eliminate external opposition; and who then can concentrate on eliminating the “heretical” Christians who were at one time their allies.
That is the ugly truth of “Christian” history.
Condemn me if you want. But before you do please take a look at history, especially the history of other Christians who once they eliminated external threats persecuted other Christians that did not believe just like them.
As far as me, I am now no longer on the defensive. I am taking the offensive against people who value their privilege, power and place in society more than they do the simple command of Jesus. That command of Jesus, to love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself matters more than political power.
As far as me, I will fight and protect the rights of the same people that condemn me to Hell. I do this because as an American who believes deeply in the ethos of our Declaration of Independence says that “all men are created equal” and because of my office and oath to the Constitution that am demands that I defend them.
I am obligated to give them the protections and freedom that they refuse to give others. That being said, when they decide to mock me, attack me or threaten me using government equipment on taxpayer time, I will not play the victim. I will use every legal and moral option available to me to expose those that do for what they are.
So I cannot say anymore about what is happening regarding what I mentioned up front, but I will update you when I can.
You cannot believe how much that I want to expose those that attack me using the freedom that I by my service and oath strive to protect. But at some point I will.