11/22/2012 | Share this article: View CommentsBy Rev. Ex-Evangelist ~
We just got through an intense presidential campaign. It's nice that it's over. I will tell you upfront that I supported President Obama's re-election. I know others on this site may have supported Gov. Romney or other candidates. All well and good. I'm not trying to get into any political debates or controversies here. Nevertheless, we all know that The Religious Right has become a powerful and influential force within the modern Republican Party (although I know Republicans who don't like this and wish they would leave).
So, anyway, I said all that to say this: I have a Facebook page and friends who go back to my elementary school days (I'm now 58!). I grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee (USA), which is the Buckle of the Bible Belt, as evidenced by the hundreds of fundamentalist churches and five conservative, Christian colleges in the area.
Chattanooga has never been a haven for liberal forms of the christian faith. No sir! People in Chattanooga like their gospel preaching hot, heavy (handed?) and hard. Heaven is for the righteous and a burning, eternal hell awaits the unbelievers! Even the "liberal" churches in Chattanooga are conservative. Heck, even the Unitarians try to get you saved! (Just kidding(;>]), but you get the idea).
My Facebook friends reflect the stages of my own Christian fundamentalist/humanist journey. I became a solid skeptic when I graduated from seminary at age 36. My christian friends on Facebook show by their postings on my Wall that they are fundamentalist in religion and hard-core (paranoid?), right-wing in their politics. (Just as I use to be). And they view their political beliefs as an extension of their rigid, fundamentalist faith. Politics and faith are not compartmentalized; they are all part of the same cloth.
My pre-humanist Facebook friends often post ridiculous things. For instance, they will post that President Obama is a secret Muslim who is going to stealthy replace our American Constitution with Islamic Shariah Law. And then they will turn around and post something which claims he is a "communist," "atheist" and the very Anti-Christ from The Book of Revelation! The fact that one cannot be a fundamentalist Muslim and at the same time be a communist/atheist seems to escape their notice.
So, anyway, I got into a little Facebook debate with one of these fundamentalist, religious-right, political friend's over the budget and the coming "fiscal cliff" concerns we are facing. You know, just typical radical, un-regulated free-market capitalism vs. Keynesian economic theory (government intervention in the market place is a good and desirable thing) debate. We were not into any religious and hot-button social issues: we were strictly debating economics and how best to fix our budget issues. He'd make his arguments and I would counter with my views.
The economic debate came to a screeching halt when he lobbed this grenade of a reply at me:
"Larry, I see no point in continuing a political discussion with you. You believe the lie. You have been blinded. One has to believe in absolute truth. You believe you know the truth, but you instead believe the lie. I believe you got out of the military and went to a state university on the G.I. Bill and were brainwashed by ultra liberal professors. Now you think you are smart and know the truth. It is unfortunate that only 1% of college professors claim to be conservative. Larry, I get my truth from the Bible and the truth from the Bible tells me that people like Obama are dangerous and anti-Christs. . . I pray everyday that his campaign will fail miserably and that blinded people like you will ultimately see the truth about this dangerous man. Larry, time will tell which of us is right. If Obama is re-elected, then we all will get to see the real Obama. I've already seen him and want no part of him or his Marxist plans for our nation. . . It's been nice talking with you. . . my last words: WAKE UP!"
I replied to him with this:
"Thanks for your comments. I leave you with this: assertions are not facts. Write down what you fear will happen in a 2nd Obama term and then at the end of four years see if any of them come true. Fair enough? I bet you will find your concerns are 'much ado about nothing.' Peace."
Ok, I had to laugh at his statement. I know the bible does not endorse any particular modern, economic position; although care for the poor and needy is emphasized. The bible does present the daily realities of agrarian, bronze-age economics of the "biblical" world in which women, slaves, etc. were ok things to barter and trade. And executing people for very minor things, or at least poking out their eyes, was a normal thing to do. The idea that we can deduce from the bible the principles for our modern, global, world economies is a bizarre assumption; but religious fundamentalists claim that it does.
My spiritual blindness had carried over into me now being economically and politically blind as well! And supporting President Obama's re-election proved my utter blindness!In the end, I think what happened was once my friend ran out of proofs for his economic position he dodged the evidence I had presented and made it about how spiritually deceived I had become. In other words: my spiritual blindness had carried over into me now being economically and politically blind as well! And supporting President Obama's re-election proved my utter blindness!
His response was mind-boggling. I use to be exactly like him. Back in my days as an evangelist and christian apologist, I had said similar things to people when I ran out of solid debate ammunition. Back then, I too told people that they couldn't see my truths because they had become blinded by Satan. I would then knock the proverbial dust off my saddles and leave. You know, no need to cast my "pearls" of spiritual or political wisdom before the swine whose hearts are full of darkness!
And back in those days, as I walked away from someone who could not see my divine truths, I would feel extra-holy and smug for the rest of the day knowing that I had been thoroughly "biblical" in how I handled the "deceived" individual. Of course, I would humbly ask "God" to open their spiritual eyes.
I now realize that by focusing on how "deceived" they were, I wasn't allowing myself to consider whether any of their views had merit. No, no, no. I was walking in THE TRUTH and they were walking in ERROR. No need to think anymore about the matter! Even considering that the other person had a point could open me up to "demons of deception" and I knew what that could lead to.
I'm so glad I can think, weigh, evaluate and re-evaluate anything I believe and no longer have to be continually asking myself, "What is the mind of The Lord about this matter?"; "What does the bible say?"
I no longer have to defend some dogma that has no defense or real evidence. Truth is evolving. Now, I simply go where the hard, scientific-based facts led me. I finally learned that all my emotionally-charged, dogmatic, religious assertions that had adsorbed from loud, dramatic preachers did not make something a fact.
I now know that something is not true just because some schizophrenic, goat-herder, two to three-thousand years ago in ancient Palestine thought something was true and wrote it down. I don't have to make his pre-scientific understandings of the world the basis of my modern ethics, politics or decision-making.
What a crazy, alternative universe my friend lives in. What a crazy, out-of-touch with reality world I use to live in. IT'S GREAT BEING FREE!!!