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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

When Did Christianity Become So Unfashionable?

Link: Wikipedia on Religion in the United States.

(Before reading the post today, please keep in mind that what I write is solely my opinion.  It is not my intention to inflame, or aggravate, any person who holds opposing viewpoints.  If you have difficulty with the idea of a pluralistic society and freedom of expression for all, then maybe you should stop reading this and go pick up last month's issue of Mother Jones.  Cheers.)

I have always been fascinated by the need to portray every U.S. presidential candidate as a "devout church-going Christian".  When I was just a boy, I decided (a bit prematurely, it turns out) that as soon as I was an adult, I would quit going to church because it was so "boring".  Then I see these guys, fighting tooth and nail to be president, making a show of their absolute thrill of being in church, at least as long as the camera was rolling.  I have to give credit where its due: President Barrack Obama doesn't pretend to be a churchgoer.  He is our first president to not attend church (except on those annoying important days, like Christmas and Easter).  If there is one thing that really pisses me off, its affectation.  I don't believe that people should do things just for appearances sake.  If Obama doesn't agree or appreciate what is being expressed on the pulpit, then he should just head to a Golf Course somewhere (no reason to waste the day).  I do have a bone to pick with the president when it comes to religion, though.  As much as I appreciate his candidness today, where was that candor for the past twenty years?  The Obamas were regular attendees at the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, and they had the unique opportunity of hearing Reverend Jeremiah Wright speak every Sunday.  In fact, Reverend Wright baptized both of Obama's daughters.  I'm sure everyone remembers the controversy regarding Reverend Wright and his sermons, which regularly included hateful lectures directed at white people.  And we're not referencing just a few sermons.  Reverend Wright believes that white people purposely enslave blacks in America, and he considers the USA to be rotten at the core.  President Obama claimed that during the almost two decades that he attended Rev. Wright's church, he couldn't recall ever hearing that kind of message.  Interestingly enough, others who attended during the same time period, couldn't recall ever NOT hearing that kind of message.  So this is my observation: President Obama does not feel the need to attend church regularly now that he's in the oval office.  We can assume his daughters will receive whatever religious instruction the Obamas, as parents, believe is appropriate.  Obama attended church in Chicago.  He doesn't attend anymore, now that he lives in the White House.  Let me explain the difference between Chicago and DC.

President Obama is not a closest Muslim, although many Red-Staters chose to believe otherwise.  If Obama is a Muslim in hiding, he's in trouble.  Remember, Muslims have five obligations that stick around for life.  I have yet to see Obama pull out the prayer rug, and say a prayer in the direction of Mecca five times a day (Salat), and I think any diet choices because of Ramadan would have been detected.  In fact, I don't believe that Obama is a Christian, either.  He might be.  Most self-identified Christians no longer attend services on Sunday, so its possible that the Obamas fit into that group.   Personally, I don't buy it.  If anything, Barrack Obama is religious about his politics.  He wants badly to affect change in our society, because he views our country as terribly flawed.  He continued to attend Rev. Wright's sermons because the good Rev. Wright wasn't actually preaching about religion.  He was demagoguing about social justice and political action.  Obama has no problem attending religious events and ceremonies as a speaker, because he can control the message he is delivering.  And the line between religion and social justice is fine indeed......if it exists at all.

I have a number of great friends who are Mormon.  I also have friends who are Methodists and others who are Lutheran.  I recently met an amazing young man named Kevin who I'm convinced will one day be President himself, and Kevin is a regular, church-going Baptist.  Just in regular conversation, I learned that each of these Christian denominations are active overseas, working to feed people, build homes and vaccinate children.  And I don't believe for one second that their assistance is contingent upon a Baptism Ceremony.  I am referring to people who have accepted the truly rewarding obligation of helping others.  As a Roman Catholic who has spent a bit of time researching the Holy See, I am aware of the countless outreach efforts that the Catholic Church sponsors.  You will find Priests feeding the hungry and treating the wounded in Syria, and you will find Nuns burying the deceased and treating the sick in Ebola-ravaged Sierra Leone.  No one has a monopoly on philanthropy.  But I find the approach from the U.S. government to be confusing.  When George W. Bush was in office, the government went out of its way to assist private charities and aid organizations, regardless of religious affiliation (if any).  Bush made it a hallmark of his presidency to encourage young people to return to volunteer work.  I'm curious if Peace Corps numbers increased during the Bush years;  I'll check and get back to you.  In 2015, the Obama Administration continues to encourage people to volunteer resources and time, but anything with a religious tag needs to be avoided.  I understand that it can be a slippery slope.  If the US government works with one religious charity but choses not to work with another (possibly because it presented fraudulent documents, etc.), then Uncle Sam can be accused of playing "religious favorites".  But the avoidance of all things religious goes way beyond charity or the First Amendment.  I used to live in DC, and recently I returned to visit a friend.  We set aside two days to visit the White House and the Capital Building.  In fact, we did the loop; we started at the White House, walked to the Lincoln Memorial, around to the Washington Monument, hopped across 15th Street, up past the Smithsonian and on to the reflecting pool and the Capital Building.  I love DC so much and I recommend it for tourists unreservedly.  But something has changed about the Capital.  Religion has disappeared completely.  You won't see a mention anywhere.  It was a Sunday, and I couldn't find anyone who appeared to be either on their way, or returning from, church services.  I heard no bells ringing, and no historic tours with a religious theme at any of the museums.

I can't say, in good conscience, that religion has become unfashionable.  Au Contraire.  Its cool to pop into a Hindu Temple and educate yourself a bit, and Buddhism can be fascinating as well.  Linguists teaching Arabic are a valuable commodity in DC, as young diplomats at Foggy Bottom and young diplomats in-training at Georgetown University buy up all the Barnes & Noble copies of "The Idiot's Guide to Islam".  But Christianity is, like, yesterday's religion: a bit stale, old-fashioned, and boring.  Please don't quote me.  This is what I assume is going on in the minds of twenty-somethings nowadays.  And our president manages to be the most uber-cool of all.  he goes on Jimmy Kimmel, he makes out a NCAA basketball bracket, and he no longer goes to church.  The truth is, America is changing, and its not Barrack Obama's fault  In fact, if you're a Christian, you have to have faith that all of this scary, bad news fits into His plan somehow.  Before 2008, the United States still seemed determined to find its own way, and let others follow.  Now its 2015, and we are right in step behind Europe, which is exactly where the Progressives like Obama believe we should be -BEHIND Europe, not leading, but following.  When I think of the fundamental changes that have occurred in the United States over the past six years, I almost lose my breath.  The number of folks who are dependent on Washington DC for everything, from food to wiping their ass, has skyrocketed.  And if you try and motivate people to do for themselves, you are a cruel, racist, hater.  Our military is shrinking, and veterans continue to have trouble finding appropriate medical care.  I have to say that the disappearance of Christianity from everyday life has coincided with a host of bad news.  Its high-time we embrace the simple message in that statement, and turn this ship around.

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