There’s a lot of talk going on these days about what it means to be a Christian. There are lines being drawn: specifically between the Christianity of the white evangelicals who claim #45 as one of their own and continue to bless his behaviors, actions, and policies and the Christianity of those who see Jesus as the champion of those most impacted by those behaviors, actions, and policies.
Jesus Suddenly a Hot Topic of Conversation!
I’ve been noticing Jesus popping up in unexpected places. Just this past month, I’ve noticed that on MSNBC’s The Last Word, Lawrence O’Donnell has been unabashedly preaching about Jesus in reference to the latest immigration nightmare (see ” These are Animals” and “From Abhorrent to Evil”. Although I am a Proud Member of the Religious Left, it was (pleasantly) startling to hear on a left-leaning network.
And Now There Is a Movement!
The Reclaiming Jesus statement was released during Lent this year and signed by many leaders of a variety of Christian denominations. And on May 24, Reclaiming Jesus held a vigil and demonstration in Washington D.C. to protest #45’s “America First” policies:
. . . we reject ‘America first’ as a theological heresy for followers of Christ. While we share a patriotic love for our country, we reject xenophobic or ethnic nationalism that places one nation over others as a political goal. We reject domination rather than stewardship of the earth’s resources, toward genuine global development that brings human flourishing for all of God’s children . . .We pray that we, as followers of Jesus, will find the depth of faith to match the danger of our political crisis.
However . . .
I will admit to some hesitancy to endorse this statement. While I applaud the inclusion of issues of racism, misogyny, treatment of the most vulnerable, authoritarian political leadership, and the “regular purveying of falsehoods and consistent lying by the nation’s highest leaders,” I was struck by what was not included. There was no mention of respect and support for members of the LGBTQ community. I suspect that it was a line that some signatories could not cross. I did hear that some of the speakers at the worship service before the vigil did affirm our LGBTQ neighbors and denounced homophobia from the pulpit. But I wonder how we can use the document without adding another “We Believe” and “Therefore We Reject” paragraph.
Who Else Is Missing?
I’ve also learned that the probable reason for there being no Lutheran signatory to the Reclaiming Jesus statement is some theological differences. Well, I’d expect that there would be some differences, seeing the list of signatories all the from evangelicals like Tony Campolo and Jim Wallace to progressives like Walter Brueggemann and Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. I don’t know what Presiding ELCA Bishop Elizabeth Eaton’s theological issue was. I do know there were many ELCA members, both clergy and lay, at the demonstration.
So here’s the quesiton: can I be critical of the ELCA for not signing on because of theological differences while I myself am critical of the statement’s exclusion of LGBTQ folks, which is probably itself a theological difference? This is where the intrafaith rubber hits the road. IF Christians of varied stripes – and it’s a big if – can come together in agreement that something has got to be done to counter a Christianity in service to empire, then we can be a powerful force for good.
What do you think? Are there lines in the sand you can’t cross? Can you be part of a movement to reclaim Jesus even if you disagree with some of the other participants?
Hmm, maybe what we need, in order for us to reclaim Jesus together, is an intrafaith conversation! It might be the most patriotic thing we can do.