14 February 2008

"Not Really Christian"

There's an interesting article about how the Officer's Christian Foundation is browbeating other military members about their (the others') faith, namely, that they're "not (or not really) Christian."

This is the sort of idiocy that leads to - for example - Air Force members having to fight to be allowed to have a Christmas breakfast instead of a "Holiday" breakfast to celebrate - gasp - Christmas. No one was prevented from hosting a Hanukkah breakfast/celebration or a Kwanzaa event, but it took a good deal of protest to get the "Holiday" breakfast changed to its more truthful name. Forbidding individuals to associate the event with Christmas would be anti-religious policy, in case you're wondering.

Allowing people to honor their religion is far different from endorsing it.

But these anti-religious policies are in place because of misguided (some might say "useful") idiots like the so-called "Christian" ones mentioned in the article. Harassing others because of their faith is wrong, regardless of which faith they practice. If you're blowing people up because of their beliefs, whether it's at an Iraqi marketplace or an abortion clinic, you're a nutjob. As the saying goes, "the right to swing my fist ends where the other man's nose begins."

The thing that really gets me is that these (not all, but some) OCF members seem to exemplify what is wrong with "evangelical" culture in the US: hating and persecuting others because they don't agree with your religious viewpoints. Calling others "not Christian" when they claim they are, or "not Christian enough." You'll be hard-pressed to find anything in Christ's ministry that says "hate, label, and afflict those who are different from you."

One quote from the article that really got me (aside from the general annoyance at how people just can't manage to get along) was:
As a soldier, many times you want to believe you're fighting on the right side. It's easy to kill someone if you believe that they're going to hell and that they are religiously opposed to you.
Actually,shouldn't the thought of sending someone to hell make you less willing to kill them? I mean, as a true Christian living Christ's message of love and service?

And shouldn't you already know you're fighting on the right side? You don't have to hate other people to know that you're fighting for right things.

(Just as an aside: with the terrorists we're fighting right now, you have plenty of reasons to conclude they're horrible people without regard to their religion. You know, stuff like raping teenage daughters of political prisoners to death and other things I can't mention in good conscience because they still haunt me).

Evangelicals in the US tend to think that pure religion consists of confessing Christ as your savior, and then whether they accept your confession. But the leaders Christ taught himself gave a different definition:
Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
-James 1:27
Let's work on practicing pure religion, regardless of our chosen faith or that of others. It makes all of us much happier!

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