Christianity’s Media Makeover

Posted on January 31, 2021

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Good Sunday Morning, Freethinking Friends! Welcome to the Sunday Service.

I hope you are in good health and in good spirits on this fine, snowy, blustery day.

For the past several years, the media has broadcast the weaponized MAGA message and image of American Christianity: a white supremacist, patriarchal, misogynist, rape culture fueled by rage and entitlement; armed and dangerous; a threat to democracy through an attempted coup–and human life through their science-denial of the coronavirus pandemic.

Now, with President Joe Biden’s very public practice of Catholic Christianity, the media has undertaken the project of rehabilitating the image of American Christianity into a more humane and sane enterprise.

The New Yorker Radio Hour explores how Joe Biden, the Second Catholic President, practices the religion while promoting racial equity, gender equity, human rights, civil rights, voting rights, democratic practices–and prioritizing saving human life by enacting evidence-based measures that will, if followed, allow the USA to return to “normal life,” as so many other nations have.

Reverend William Barber, leader of the Poor People’s Campaign, promotes his vision of Christianity: if it’s not focused on easing the suffering of those in poverty, the most vulnerable people, through direct action and public policy, it’s “heresy.”

For Robert Jones, White Supremacy in Christianity drove him, like me, to reject Christianity. Unless White Christians suddenly and whole-heartedly being LIVING antiracist principles, we doubt that the religion can be redeemed as a unifying force in civil society. When equality is seen as oppression by so many, it’s hard to believe they would consider taking on the Christlike attitude of sacrificing oneself for others.

Along the same lines, exvangelical expert, Chrissy Stroop explains why the religion of redemption is unredeemable in Stop Trying to Save Jesus: ‘Fandamentalism’ Reinforces the Problem of Christian Supremacism:

But wait, you say, Jesus would of course disapprove of Trump! Let me respond with a modest proposal, as it were: Jesus does not need you, or anyone, to save him, so perhaps you could hear me out? If you do find yourself becoming angry on Jesus’s behalf as you read this, I would ask you to take a breath and try to consider how your very defensiveness might be belying a subtler, but still problematic, form of Jesus fandamentalism. 

As I’ve argued on a number of occasions, Christian supremacism is baked into the American public sphere to the extent that it’s very difficult to get many people to see how American cable news and legacy media outlets whitewash the power and breadth of Christian Right extremism. They let “respectable” evangelicals dominate the conversation unchallenged by critical outside researchers, ex-evangelicals and those who are most harmed by white supremacist patriarchy. When the trauma and abuse inherent in fundamentalism and Christian nationalism come to light, too often they are represented as mere “hypocrisy,” while the Christians behind them are dismissed as “fake Christians,” conveniently shielding Christianity from any systemic criticism. 


I can appreciate the humane, social gospel aspect that good people profess, however, I still reject all supernatural claims and religious doctrine. I find it highly disturbing that in a secular democracy, public officials take the oath of office on a religious text rather than the American Constitution, that religious rituals such as prayer are part of civic ceremonies and government affairs, and that harmful religious dogma rather than established scientific evidence influences public policy. I agree that Biden’s showing the nice face of Christianity, but the existence of this part of the Christian population does not erase toxic Christianity or disarm all of its adherents who are currently in positions of power in a secular democracy.

Andrew Seidel, author of The Founding Myth, addresses the issue with insight and clarity:

A new analysis by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, for which I serve as Director of Strategic Response, of the 147 members of Congress who refused to certify the electoral college results shows that nearly all the members had strong Christian nationalist ties: 98 percent of the 147 were Christian, compared to 88 percent of Congress. Christian and Christian nationalist are not the same thing, but FFRF’s analysis makes a convincing case that most of the 147 fall into the latter category, including Greene. 

Greene’s Christian Nationalism is obvious in that oath video to the very end. One of her fellows says, “The bottom line is that sharia law is not compatible with America.” Greene readily agrees, “Yup, that’s the bottom line.” That is the essence of Christian Nationalism: our holy book and our religion is the law of the land, not the book or religion of non-white, non-Christians. Neither is true. In America, our godless Constitution, which separates state and church partly as a way to guarantee genuine religious liberty for all, is the law of the land—not a holy book.  

Christian Nationalism is a deliberate repudiation of this founding American principle (and many others). Green and her ilk are as ignorant of law and history, as they are breathtakingly arrogant. The entire Christian Nationalist identity is built on myth and disinformation. That is its weakness. If we are going to disarm the Christian Nationalism threat and begin to unite this country, we must exploit that weakness with the truth


A Closing Prayer

If we want to make American a secular democracy with racial, gender, and economic equality, we have to get BUSY! The Christian Nationalists have been busy for decades, and they’ve had the mainstream media mic for the last five years. Nobody can do everything, but everyone can do something.

Black Lives Matter Protests Forced Biden to Push Racial Equity, But More Is Needed. Join a local, democratic, political, legal, or social organization; advocate for humane and equitable policies in your workplace, school district, local, state, and national governments. Please find ONE group that aligns with your values and get involved. Democracy is a participatory enterprise. All hands on deck.

Thanks for coming to today’s edition of the Sunday Service at Citizen Teacher, friend.

Benediction

As Black History Month begins tomorrow, I offer one of my favorite Black History songs: Stevie Wonder’s Black Man.” Enjoy.

Peace & Love. See you next week! Be well.


lisa eddy is an ATHEIST writer-for-hire, researcher, educator-for-hire, youth advocate,  musician, and gardener.

On Twitter: @lisa_eddy

On email: lisagay.eddy1@gmail.com