In a historic turn of events, Democrat Doug Jones of Alabama won his Senate race last night, making him the first blue senator from the state in about 25 years. It was also a win for proponents of equal rights everywhere. But for the Christian Right, it may well be a sign of the End Times. If not the end of the world, then at least the beginning of the end of their reign in American government.
In an op-ed for Christianity Today, editor Mark Galli lamented the “biggest loser” of the election, even before the results were broadcast: The Christian faith.
When it comes to either matters of life and death or personal commitments of the human heart, no one will believe a word we say, perhaps for a generation. Christianity’s integrity is severely tarnished.
Even as a believer myself, my first thought was, No shit, Sherlock.
Talk about a complete lack of self-awareness. Christianity’s reputation in America has been tarnished for literally centuries, starting with the enslavement and genocide of indigenous peoples in their own land. (It’s also strange to say Christianity lost when the winner of the race, either way, was going to be a Christian, but I understand his point.)
From moderate and liberal brothers and sisters, conservatives have received swift and decisive condemnation. They call these conservatives idolaters for seeking after political power. They call them homophobes for wanting Christian bakers to legally follow their conscience. They call them racists and Islamophobes for wanting secure borders. These moderates and liberal evangelicals are so disturbed by the political beliefs of their brothers and sisters that many say they don’t even want to be associated with them anymore; they seem to view these brothers and sisters in Christ as tax collectors and sinners.
This paragraph is especially galling when published during Advent: the season leading up to the birth of Christ, the child of poor, refugee parents. Jesus even had the gall to align himself with the marginalized over those in power, and He became a symbol of rebellion against a corrupt government. Other Christians, and non-Christians alike, have more than enough grounds to view the hypocrites of the Right as the money changers that Jesus himself drove out of the temple with whips.
To his credit, Galli does mention the hypocrisy of the evangelicals who doubled down on their support of Roy Moore after his abuse allegations were revealed. But he nonetheless affirms the Right’s belief in the steady moral decline of America:
Nearly everyone does what is right in his own eyes, which results in moral, psychological, and social suffering unheard of in our history. The gap between rich and poor, the number of abortions and fatherless children, the steady rise of drug addiction, the increasing sympathy with euthanasia — these are but a few indicators that something is deeply wrong.
It’s frustrating that Christians like Galli have such tunnel vision when it comes to their history. Within the last few decades, Jim Crow and segregation were championed by American Christians — and slavery in the century before that. In many fundamentalist circles, victims of sexual abuse are forced to apologize to their rapists, and domestic violence is thought to be “cured” if the wife (always the wife) prays and submits more to her abusive husband. Divorce, even in situations of life or death, is forbidden.
Why so much focus on issues like euthanasia and the rights of bigoted bakers when there are plenty to focus on within Galli’s own house? His tone deafness here is obvious, yet unremarkable. What else would you expect from the editor of a publication that believes committed gay and lesbian couples are “destructive to society” then has the audacity to lament about why people look down upon fellow evangelicals?
The problem with many Christian conservatives is this: They believe they can help the country become godly again by electing people whose godliness is seriously questioned by the very people they want to influence…It’s just that when we do engage in politics, we so often end up doing and saying things that make us sound and act like we don’t care about the very values we champion.
On this, we can agree. But this editorial barely begins to the scratch the surface of everything that’s wrong with the Christian Right — which can be documented long before Doug Jones entered the race against Roy Moore, and long before the election of Donald Trump as president.
Galli’s pontificating is as useful as rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic: his ship has been sinking for some time, and it will be best for everyone to let it happen.