Monday, April 29, 2013

How the sequester contributes to the decline of American Christianity

The sequester is a failure of ethics, from people who claim precisely the opposite. From the Washington Post op/ed:
Imagine you are taking a Christian ethics class, and as your professor I give you this multiple-choice question on a quiz: ‘Which is more ethical: A) turn away cancer patients from needed chemotherapy treatment, or B) decrease airport delays for the flying public?’.... 
Now, Congress has seen fit to repeal just part of the sequester, the part that affects them, long lines at airports, and their wealthier constituents who fly a lot. But they chose to leave unaddressed the truly morally repugnant results of the sequester such as denying chemotherapy to Medicare patients at some cancer clinics.
Repealing the small part of sequestration that affected Congress itself and the donor class, while letting cancer patients go without chemotherapy, seniors go without meals on wheels, pregnant mothers go without nutritional assistance, and children get kicked out of Head Start programs, is a new low in our debased public morality.
Let's remember that the stallwart supporters of the sequester are card-carrying "Christians". And yet, some wonder what the fastest growing religious group is "nones".  My heavens, it's a wonder people aren't running screaming away from what they see as American Christianity.

It strikes me that much of what drives this unenthusiastic response to religion, at least in the case of Christianity, centers on the apparent (at least to observers) unwillingness of Christians to live like Jesus. The "Nones" have heard endlessly about Christianity and how everybody would be better off if the world would just believe the stuff Christians believe...
So, here's the thing: Christians can't just believe stuff. People want an answer to the question: "So what?" They want to know what turns on these much-discussed beliefs, what difference these beliefs make in our lives. Do they help us care for the poor, feed the hungry, clothe the naked or welcome the outcast? Or do these beliefs merely represent a golden barrier that offer protection against blame? 
In short, people who've lost interest in Christianity might just like to see Christians for whom believing "this stuff" is merely the first step to actually living it out.
Think about this for a minute, though: What if part of the reason the "Nones" are so underwhelmed by organized religion isn't because they don't find Jesus interesting, but because it appears to them thatChristians don't find him sufficiently interesting enough to take seriously? 
That's what ought to give Christians nightmares.

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