Mitt Romney’s visit to London this week – a visit he handled so disastrously that both the prime minister and the mayor of London (Conservatives both) were piqued into mocking him publicly – has brought many Brits face-to-face with this year’s U.S. presidential election for the first time.
Britain and America have been described as two countries divided by a common language, but the bewilderment extends well beyond the linguistic: it spills over into religion and politics as well. Indeed, in the U.S., the First Amendment notwithstanding, religion and politics seem largely intertwined: right-wing politics especially.
And here our puzzlement only deepens. For in the United Kingdom “Christian” tends to be seen as a shorthand for “trying to be kind; trying to care about others; trying not to be selfish; trying not to be judgmental.” In short, it amounts to “trying to be a good person,” which , of course, those of us who don’t think of ourselves as Christian are trying to do too.
Concern for others and a sense of obligation towards them have long been a part of the British national character, or so we like to think. Our National Health Service, for instance, is one of the few things for which we notoriously reserved Brits can be depended on to show passionate support: our provision of healthcare, free at the point of delivery, for all who need it, regardless of ability to pay, is a source of real national pride to us.
The fierce, often vicious, opposition to “Obamacare” in the U.S. therefore left us completely baffled. All the more so because the most passionate resistance seemed to be coming from the very people most likely to claim their lives are based on Christian values.
READ MORE via How would Jesus vote? – Guest Voices – The Washington Post.
I am interested in other opinions about this editorial. It’s not just the Brits who are puzzled by the strange brand of American Christianity that seems to applaud ignoring the downtrodden, even kicking them when they are down. It seems that the Second Amendment and convenient portions of the Constitution are worshiped more highly than the teachings of Jesus Christ in the Bible. Making a lot of money is a virtue, while being poor makes one lazy and undeserving of compassion. I know plenty of Christians who are NOT this way, but on the political front, this brand of Christianity is winning. It disturbs me that Christian values are being cited to cut benefits for hungry children and to deny an entire segment of the population equality.
On Facebook, I have reunited with many of the people from my Christian school that I attended throughout my young life. I already knew that they were extremely conservative because of their literal belief in the Bible. I respect that, though I no longer share their convictions. However, I am continually shocked by their opinions on gays and reproductive rights, even to the point of abolishing birth control! I don’t understand it at all. I also detect racist overtones in their references to our president. I am both ashamed of and disappointed in their opinions, because these were some of the people I considered “real” Christians, who only wanted to “spread the word” of God’s love.
The population of migrant workers to the area where I grew up is on the rise, which has correlated to a rise in hateful, racist assumptions made about their immigration status and perceived drain on welfare benefits. These “Christians” post their hateful and offensive comments proudly on their pages, daring people (me) to disagree. On occasion I have commented on their hatefulness, only to bring down the judgments and wrath of the entire clique. I am accused of “hating God” and being misguided by liberals who have drawn me away from the truth. Many of them say they feel sorry for me and that they will pray for my soul, which at this point looks damned because I don’t hate gays and immigrants and I am pro-choice. Funny thing is, I AM damned, because I am no longer a “believer.” At least not in this vengeful, hateful, racist brand of religion. I have been “unsaved.” I don’t want to wash myself in the blood of this bizarro-Christ that has nothing to do with unconditional love, forgiveness, and acceptance.
Thomas Jefferson, a slave-owner, excised all portions of the New Testament other than the teachings of Jesus Christ. Taken as a whole, and unadulterated by other men, these words are illuminating. This revolutionary and rebellious man is shown to be a true spiritual leader of independent thought. This man would be horrified by American Christians, who ignore his teachings and twist the Bible to a degree that makes The Satanic Bible look like child’s play.
“Our nation needs to stop doing for people what they can and should do for themselves. Self reliance means, if anyone will not work, neither should he eat.”–Michele Bachmann
Suffering, if you’re a Christian, suffering is a part of life. And it’s not a bad thing, it is an essential thing in life … There are all different ways to suffer. One way to suffer is through lack of food and shelter and there’s another way to suffer which is lack of dignity and hope and there’s all sorts of ways that people suffer and it’s not just tangible, it’s also intangible and we have to consider both.”–Rick Santorum
“So if you don’t have any teeth, so what? What’s applesauce for? Isn’t that why they make applesauce?”– Rush Limbaugh, responding to Rep. Louise Slaughter’s telling of a woman with no teeth and no health coverage who was forced to use her dead sister’s dentures
“[Passage of the Matthew Shepard hate crimes bill would mean that] if you’re oriented toward animals, bestiality, then, you know, that’s not something that can be used, held against you or any bias be held against you for that. Which means you’d have to strike any laws against bestiality, if you’re oriented toward corpses, toward children – you know, there are all kinds of perversions . . . pedophiles or necrophiliacs or what most would say is perverse sexual orientations.”–Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert
“If this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies and saying my goodness what can we do to turn this country around? I’ll tell you the first thing we need to do is take Harry Reid out.”– Nevada Republican senatorial nominee Sharron Angle
“My grandmother was not a highly educated woman but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why? Because they breed. You’re facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don’t think too much further than that. And so what you’ve got to do is you’ve got to curtail that type of behavior. They don’t know any better.”– South Carolina Republican Lt. Gov.
“Why should I not hate mine enemies―if I “love” them, does that not place me at their mercy?”–Anton LaVey, author of the Satanic Bible