She has written a new piece On "Real" Christians and Christian Privilege that is provocative, addressing the tendency especially on the religious left to say that those whom they believe mis-use tenets of religion are not "real" Christians.
I thought it would be interesting to discuss, given that much of this community finds itself at odds with some parts of their own church. This is particular apparent on some of the other liberal TEC blogs in the comments right now, where several commenters on the left are angrily slamming the door on conservatives, some of whom are obviously equally happy to fling terms like "heretic" and "apostate" around as they slam in return. There's a battle over "real" Christianity on both sides.
Frequently, when I write about religion, of my lack thereof, I get requests to distinguish between "real" Christians (those Christians who centralize personal beliefs of love and service, and are generally more progressive) and "Christianists," or some variation thereof (those Christians who centralize cultural beliefs of evangelism and control and seek to impose/legislate their beliefs, and are generally more conservative). Often, Christians in my life identify themselves to me as "real" Christians by approximately this measure. Occasionally, a reader will even request that I stop identifying certain people as Christians.I think this is the crux of it. Who gets to decide who claims the term, "Christian"? The right certainly does this, but so does the left. And it's much the same thing.
And my answer about distinguishing between "real" and "unreal" Christians, beyond noting that there are Christians who try to impose their beliefs on others and those who don't, is .... no.... They might not be the same kind of Christian as you are, but they are nonetheless Christians. ....
Frankly, it's hurtful to me when Christians address what happened to me by saying, "Those aren't real Christians," expecting me to salve their discomfort about the baggage of privilege by not disagreeing. People who would never in a million years think to try to console a victim of a hate crime with "All [white/straight/cis/abled] people aren't like that!" nonetheless responded that way to me when I was targeted and threatened by droves of self-identified Christians.You should read the whole thing.
I already know that all Christians aren't like that—and everyone who said it to me knew I was well aware of that fact. But in the wake of large members of a certain segment of Christianity attacking me, most of the Christians I knew felt obliged first and foremost to distance themselves from the group that hurt me, and do it in a way that protected their idea of Christianity, that reasserted their privilege—a privilege that is shared by the very people who attacked me, solely by virtue of their calling themselves Christians.
So who gets to decide what the label "Christian" means? Isn't this just another form of exclusion?