The exact numbers in this Rachel Held Evans piece, which show that almost all young American non-Christians and even most self-identified young American Christians think that the primary tenet of Christianity is hating on the gays, are a little higher than I've seen from other public opinion surveys. But the general shape is the same. The Millenial Generation has broadly equated Christianity with the political project of conservative Christians at the national level. Which is to say, opposition to abortion and gay marriage, with little room for anything else. ...
This should really serve as a wake up call to church leaders. The once near-universal brand of American Christianity is being associated with an ever-shrinking size of the American public.. [T]he window of opportunity where people might be willing to consider a more relevant form of modern Christianity is closing.
It seems that liberal Christians are starting (finally) to speak out against the efforts of the evangelical right to claim the word "Christian" for themselves. Ken Locke, a Presbyterian pastor in TN, contemplates why it has taken so long.
Many moderates avoid confronting extremism because it is unseemly. Castigating someone on television would be embarrassing. And yet, it appears that that is the only way to get one’s views across. It seems that only by staking out an extreme position, and vehemently denouncing anyone who even timidly disagrees, is it possible to join the public debate.He goes on to enumerate the values of liberal Christianity:
Furthermore, thoughtful, nuanced ideas do not lend themselves to brevity. Reduced to sound bites, our positions lose the important context and thought process that gave them birth.
Finally, most moderates are pretty busy. We have parishioners to care for, meetings to chair, weddings and funerals and worship services to lead. Our time is taken up with caring for our flocks, not sharing our views with the world.
But if we do not share our views, how will they be spread? If we don’t say something, how will anyone ever come to appreciate that many people of faith are much more broad and welcoming than our extremists make us appear?
• The Earth is the Lord’s, and when we pollute it, we are destroying God’s property. Issues of global warming aside, we desperately need to radically reduce our pollution.And finally (my emphasis):
• Science and Christianity are perfectly compatible. Evolution is real. The world was not created in 144 hours.
• Marriage between consenting adults should be perfectly legal regardless of sexual orientation. Legal protections for both heterosexual and same-sex couples should be equal.
• Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus et al must be treated with respect and consideration. They are God’s children just as much as Christians. Their salvation is in God’s hands, not ours.
• Young people have sex. Young women get pregnant. Abstinence is preferable, but birth control is sensible.
• No one has an abortion on a whim. Legally defining the beginning of life at conception is an act of power against the powerless. The decision to abort should be between the mother, the care-provider and God.
• No single branch of Christianity has a complete and pure understanding of God’s will for humanity.
• Faith has a role in every aspect of life, but often that role is more informative than prescriptive. The Bible says nothing about gun control, capital gains taxes or the U.S. Department of Education per sé. Anyone claiming it does is cherry-picking the text.
• God cares desperately for the poor, the immigrant and the powerless. We neglect them at our peril.
• Life belongs to God, not to the state. Capital punishment is not only failed policy, it is also usurpation of God’s prerogative by the state.
• God does not love any one country more, or less, than any other.
I repeat, I am not the only one who believes this. There are lots of us in every denomination. I say to those aching for an alternative to the loudest voices, if you will tune them out and listen to the heartfelt whispers, you will certainly find one that makes your heart sing.
And I say to my friends and colleagues — now is the time to get over our shyness. We must find time and venues for declaring what it is we believe. Our message is too important to allow it to be drowned out by hysteria and hyperbolae. In season and out of season let us proclaim our message of tolerance and openness until every heart sings with joy.I think that nails it (to the wall, even). I hope that all liberal Christians take this year, this election year, to throw open wide the closet doors and come out!
And while I don't think you should claim that the other side "isn't Christian" (as Rick Santorum famously did of liberal Christians), a robust push back against their rhetoric is essential. Beginning with a regular, strong protest every time they claim that their opposition to liberal values is "because I'm a Christian". That means, write every paper, email every news channel, speak out in every conversation, and say "They don't speak for Christianity!" All of you!
Go, do it!