Monday, May 6, 2013

Culture Shift Backlash

This morning a parishioner sent me a link to a CNN Belief Blog link,  "When Christians Become a 'Hated Minority'". The article discusses the comments of Peter Sprigg, a spokesperson for the Family Research Council. He states that when Christians stand up and say that homosexuality is condemned by the Bible, that they face discrimination. In fact, more people would stand up and speak if they did not face negative repercussions for their belief.

The notion that Christians are an oppressed minority in the United States is a stretch. Even if we only put evangelical or conservative Christians in that category, I'm not sure "hated minority" fits. 

I have read this argument before, not only in connection with protests against the rights of LGBT people, but in discussions of prayer in public schools, religious symbols displayed in public places, and human reproductive rights.

Those who express negative opinions about the LGBT community or equal marriage rights and find themselves in the minority must be quite surprised and disappointed, but this is far from being hated or oppressed. 

I like to think that in times of change it is good to look for the core values of Jesus' ministry on earth that span the centuries and last through the rise and fall of nations. We know those values do not include cultural and economic institutions like slavery, apartheid, and segregation. We know they do include care for the sick and outcast, generosity, mercy, forgiveness and grace. And the values of Jesus also include a call to follow him in faith.

Psalm 85, "Justice and Peace Shall Kiss".
Public Domain, USA, Wikimedia Commons
I believe what many conservative Christians are experiencing is a fundamental culture shift. Public opinion isn't what it used to be and the Bible has little authority for the majority of Americans. In the midst of the shift, we have heard calls to return to the Christian values of the founding fathers of this nation, although historians argue about the true nature of our founders Christian beliefs. We have heard calls to "take back America" by ballot and appointment of the right Supreme Court justices. And now, those who still struggle against the tide of a changing culture are calling "foul" as an oppressed minority. 

Change happens. Big change happens to nations and cultures, no matter how comfortable segments of a society become with the status quo. The good news is that Christ, if not our cultural interpretation of Christianity, endures.

Rather than pit one group of people against another, rather than complain about being oppressed, rather than protect one's stand by attacking and tearing down others, I want to be the Christian who embraces all, offers words of hope and follows Jesus.

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