The Christian faith continues to suffer from the rhetoric coming from our brothers and sisters on the more conservative side. They are a loud and extremely divisive bunch of people. Unfortunately, their extremism is causing many to view the Christian faith as only supporting their views and, in turn, causing many to either abandon their faith or see Christians as narrow-minded people using their faith as a cover for their prejudice. People are seeing churches protesting funerals, movies that advocate a one-size-fits-all approach to salvation, and even churches giving away firearms to try to boost attendance. Due to these and other extremist voices coming from a section of Christianity, the Christian faith often appears as one where no one unwelcoming unless they are like these particular people. It is time for those of us who are more to the center or even left to speak up to save our faith!
Ironically, our conservative Christian brothers and sisters call what they are advocating “religious freedom” or “religious liberty”, yet what they are advocating is that these ideas are only valid if the people agree with them and their way of worshipping the Creator. Recently, the United Church of Christ filed a lawsuit against the State of North Carolina saying that the state law against the solemnizing of same sex marriage violates the right of their denomination, as well as other denominations, to practice their religion freely. Yet, the very same people from the conservative side of Christianity who champion religious liberty and religious freedom remained either silent or spoke out against the United Church of Christ. This is hypocrisy and shows that the goal they have is not for all religions to practice freely, but only the ones that they (the conservative side) think are valid.
The people who created what is now the United States of America were, for all practical purposes, predominantly Deists. As such, they believed that no religion should hold sway over the government of, for, and by the people. While I cannot speak for all who are center or to the left in Christianity, I think it is safe to say that most of us stand for this same ideal. While we are Christians, we also know that not everyone follows this same path. The Creator calls each person to believe as best suits him or her. Considering the multitude of different forms of Christianity that are in existence, this should not be a difficult concept for even the most uneducated person to understand.
The essence of Christianity is found in the two main commandments that Jesus gave to us. The first of which is to love the Lord your God with all you heart, mind, and strength. In addition, the second is to love your neighbor as yourself. This is what Christians should practice. It is not about forcing particular beliefs on anyone. While Christ called upon his followers to “make disciples of all nations”, he did not say to force them into it.
Christianity is accepting and open, not unwelcoming and closed. Our conservative brothers and sisters act as if they hold the only keys to Heaven. They do so no more than we who are considered center to liberal Christians. Only the Creator holds those keys. In addition, at least for myself, I believe the Creator leads people to Heaven in different ways that all need to be respected as such. We need to speak up to show that our faith is more than what most have been hearing.