You Know What They Say About Assumptions…

February 1, 2008 at 12:17 am 18 comments

Christian Commentary

Can you smell that? Smells good doesn’t it? Yes, it’s the political season in the States, and there could be nothing sweeter! I understand that some of you here may not be as much as a “political junkie” as me, but don’t worry, I’m not going to get into the nitty-gritty of everything. Although if I may…Obama ’08!! Okay, it’s out of my system, let us continue.

Now as sweet as the political season smells, at times it can be a bit too bitter; a little hard to swallow; downright sickening. Why? Well, the natural reasons of course (mud-slinging ads, shady practices, and my favorite: never answering a question directly!) Personally though, I am disgusted at the way contemporary politics bundles groups of people together as if they are a prize to be won. Case-in-point: the “evangelical” vote.

Pundits talk about “winning the votes” of evangelicals all the time. Sadly, when they say this they are making gross assumptions about Christianity – in particular, that all Christians think and believe the same way. They then “target” these individuals like they are some kind of wild game. What a shame (not to mention insulting). Frankly, politicians categorize voters in a million different ways. Heck, they’re even starting to talk about the “atheist” vote a little (don’t feel too happy though, you kind of lose your identity through the process).

Let’s be honest, all Christians aren’t the same. Good example: me. I’m pro-choice (I can almost see the vains popping in the strict fundamentalists already). But get this, I’m not democrat either! I’m blowing all kinds of conventions now! Chances are, some of you (not YOU of course…but the other ones reading this post) are getting their “boxes” blown apart too. Just proving a point: assumptions about people are convenient, but these assumptions are hardly ever accurate.

So what does all this have to do with anything? Everything! What assumptions are you making this election? What assumptions are your favorite political candidates making? Call me new-old-fashion (I made that term up), but the political process is a gift (from God?) that many people pass up because they would rather make “assumptions” about candidates…it’s easy and it doesn’t require a lot of thinking. Hey, while we’re on the topic, what assumptions are you making about people? About faith? Be real with yourselves now, let’s not make assumptions about your assumptions!

::::end of lecture:::: :-)

God Bless,

Justin

P.S. I know I’ve been absent for a while, I apologize. I am finishing up my last semester of Business School and preparing for the release of my book… Until next time!

Entry filed under: Justin. Tags: , , , , .

“You’re Just Angry at God!” On Dealing With Christians

18 Comments Add your own

  • 1. carriedthecross  |  February 1, 2008 at 1:42 am

    Justin, good thoughts. As a Christian I was often frustrated that it was a terrible heresy for me to be a Democrat. My old youth pastor told me he would not respect me as a Christian if I voted for Kerry. Whats even more frustrating is that the data shows that all Christians truly are not the same in their voting behavior. Check out Barna Group’s polling on the subject.

    I’m interested on your thoughts, though, on how much of this type of stereotype is perpetuated by those who claim to be leaders in the evangelical world? Do you think that the pundits take their cue from the Dobsons and Robertsons? Are Christians (as a group, not as individuals) in some way guilty of allowing the so-called Religious Right to be the primary voice on their behalf in the political spectrum?

  • 2. Quester  |  February 1, 2008 at 2:25 am

    I’m not American, and will take your word that there’s a difference between Republican and Democrat. I know nothing about your political process and I’m afraid one of my assumptions is that I don’t have any need to know anything about it.

    If you want to broaden the conversation outside of the American political scene, I make a great many assumptions about people and faith. One assumption is that I’m always willing to be proven wrong. If you want to talk about assumptions in a field larger than American politics, but narrower than ‘people’ or ‘faith’, I think we might manage an interesting conversation.

  • 3. TheNorEaster  |  February 1, 2008 at 3:33 am

    Politics operates on the basis of power, which is antithetical to grace.

    For this reason–and many others–the first candidate who runs on religious platform is the first one to lose my vote.

    As for assumptions…

    …I support a woman’s legal right to make a medically safe decision about whether or not to have an abortion.

    …I left my old fundamentalist church because, in part, my old Sunday school teacher started every class and Bible study with some political soliloquy either supporting Republicans or denoucning Democrats.

    …I was once called “Satan’s little helper” because I never voted for George W. Bush.

    …I cringe in disgust when I see a sign or a sticker opposing gay marriage because it always reminds me of my friend who was murdered–sixteen years ago–for being a homosexual.

    …I get immensely–almost insatiably–angry this time of year (especially Valentine’s Day), because it’s the anniversary of my friend’s suicide and after they heard what happened a lot of my Christian friends–and my friends who are not Christians–stopped returning my calls, but…

    …I am still a Christian.

    …I don’t force my faith onto others; I try to live it.

    (Got a little off track there. Sorry.)

  • 4. orDover  |  February 1, 2008 at 12:05 pm

    Just to play devil’s advocate here, it’s a understandable why someone would make assumptions about a group that is united by a single doctrine (The Bible). While there are many Christians who cherry pick which rules from their holy book they actually want to believe in, I would argue that the majority share a very similar world view. I grew up in an extremely Christian family, my grandfather is a pastor, my aunt and uncle worked their whole lives for Campus Crusade, I attended a nondenominational Christian school for 10 years, and in my entire time amongst this community I saw very little fluctuation, especially regarding political issues. I would say that assuming Christians are against abortion is one of the safest assumptions anyone can make. Obviously there are those who are Christians and have a different view, but I would imagine, based on my experience, that they are severely in the minority.

  • 5. Marge  |  February 1, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    Here’s a fun read. “Where Have All The Leaders Gone” by Lee Iacocca
    Ok, it has nothing to do with religious topics here but it does address the assumptions we make and he gives a very interesting basis for assessing candidates based on their ability to lead, not just their platform and rhetoric. Check it out.

  • 6. LeoPardus  |  February 1, 2008 at 2:41 pm

    orDover:

    You’re partially right. Among conservative Christians a pro-choicer would be uncommon. Also if you go back in history, the pro-life position is almost totally dominant. But in the Christian church as it is today (and for about the last 50-100 years) you’ve got the whole mass of liberal Christians out there, and pro-choicers are fairly common there.

    Of course we could always just say they aren’t really Christians. :)

  • 7. karen  |  February 1, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    Thanks for your thoughts, Justin. I was also one of those marginalized liberals in a fundamental church universe. Damn, it was annoying!

    Every election I had to suffer through the slings and arrows of all the conservative Republicans in Sunday school class. I had to grit my teeth when handed the “Christian voter guide” on the Sunday before the election – the guide which completely trashed all the Dem candidates and glorified the Reps. My husband (also a Dem) and I were once asked to be part of a political panel discussion at our church because we were the ONLY liberals they could scare up to take part!

    From what I’ve read, only 10% of weekly-church-going, conservative Christians are liberals. It’s a lonely place to be, I know. One specific comment:

    the political process is a gift (from God?)

    Our U.S. democratic political process is a gift from our deistic, Enlightenment founders. In contrast, the bible is squarely set in the political system of its day, which was hardly representative democracy, and it doesn’t promote anything different.

  • 8. karen  |  February 1, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    I get immensely–almost insatiably–angry this time of year (especially Valentine’s Day), because it’s the anniversary of my friend’s suicide and after they heard what happened a lot of my Christian friends–and my friends who are not Christians–stopped returning my calls, but…

    NorEaster, that’s horrible. I’m so sorry about your friend and about the treatment you got in response from your other friends. :-(

  • 9. Justin  |  February 1, 2008 at 5:33 pm

    Hi CarriedTheCross,

    Are Christians (as a group, not as individuals) in some way guilty of allowing the so-called Religious Right to be the primary voice on their behalf in the political spectrum?

    Christians in the United States, in my very unprofessional opinion, are subject the strict fundamentalist movement that evolved during the 20th century.

    I think your initial hunch about the pundits taking “cues” from people such as Robertson is a correct one. I mean, people like Robertson have money for a reason – they have successfully sold their version Christianity.

    So how do politicians see this? It’s an opportunity of course! What better way to “get votes” than to befriend a leader of an idealogical perspective.

    I guess the next question is “can Christians do anything about it?” I don’t think so. Besides, let’s pretend that a group of Christians with a more liberal approach to the faith organized and gained power. Well, then politicians would only address them, and other viewpoints would be unfairly marginalized.

    The bigger theme here is that politicians should stay away from persuasion through religion, and focus more on persuasion through policy. Unfortunately, there are many who don’t care so much about the latter…

    Hence our troubles today :) haha

    God Bless,

    Justin

  • 10. artisticmisfit  |  February 1, 2008 at 6:14 pm

    1., are you sure you do not mean fundamentalist when you say evangelical? 2., I am pro-choice and I am a skeptical Christian. I have been blacklisted which is why I write in a pen name. I have also been shunned. I am also not democratic, I am green. I am also voting for Jesse Johnson in the primaries.

  • 11. HeIsSailing  |  February 1, 2008 at 6:48 pm

    Karen:
    “I had to grit my teeth when handed the “Christian voter guide” on the Sunday before the election”

    Correct me if I am wrong, but aren’t churches as tax-exempt organizations, forbidden by law to endorse one candidate or one party over another?

    I won’t speak of politics anymore. The candidate I was pulling for, Bill Richardson, dropped out long ago.

  • 12. LeoPardus  |  February 1, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    It’s interesting to me that by my observation, de-conversion seems to have been presaged for many people by a move to liberal Christianity, and to be accompanied generally by becoming politically liberal.

    My case of moving into more conservative Christianity before de-conversion, and remaining mostly politically conservative after de-conversion, seems to be unusual.

    Oh well. Just goes to show that I’m unique……. like everyone else. :)

  • 13. TheNorEaster  |  February 1, 2008 at 10:07 pm

    Karen:

    I really appreciate your concern. I know something of your own experience and I know your concern is authentic. And I do want to say that of all the words I’ve read on here, some of your comments have helped to understand de-conversion in ways I never thought possible. You come across as a very spiritual person. (And I do not use that term in a religious sense at all.) For instance, you recently said (somewhere) that in order for a Christian to accept that others could be de-converted, that individual would have to admit that s/he could be de-converted. I remember when I was backsliding I didn’t think of it as “backsliding.” I had actually reached a point where I no longer believed in God. I do now. But there certainly was a time–after conversion–when I did not. And there have times–even recently–that I have shaken my fist at God in a maddening rage over my grief. Like they said in GriefShare, “He already knows how you feel. You might as well be honest about it. God is not insecure about your emotions.” I know some people here may not believe that, but being honest–truly honest–with God has helped me immensely. And, quite frankly, it just feels good to get it out when I need to get it out. One of the assumptions I obviously, and perhaps inadvertantly, ended up examing earlier was that I have not recovered nearly as well as I had thought. Or it may just be this time of year. I’m not sure. I have an Essay running around my head that about what happened in the months after she died. I’m still trying to decide if I want to write it. And if I write it, do I want to posts it? I don’t know. It’s such an impossibly difficult thing for me to address honestly. But, getting back to where I was–”Can I be de-converted?”–the most honest answer that I can come up with is, “Well…not today.” That may sound cynical to some Christians, but I’ll still take the honesty of it over hypocrisy and arrogance and &c.

  • 14. carriedthecross  |  February 2, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    Justin,

    “The bigger theme here is that politicians should stay away from persuasion through religion, and focus more on persuasion through policy.”

    Unfortunately that will never happen.

    Leo,

    “My case of moving into more conservative Christianity before de-conversion, and remaining mostly politically conservative after de-conversion, seems to be unusual.”

    Thats interesting. I began moving more liberal my last two or three years as a Christian, and as a de-convert I’ve drifted back toward the middle.

  • 15. karen  |  February 2, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    Correct me if I am wrong, but aren’t churches as tax-exempt organizations, forbidden by law to endorse one candidate or one party over another?

    Oh, sure. But that doesn’t stop a lot of them!!

    Actually, the voter guides were given out in front of church or on the bus on the way to church. They weren’t handed out in the sanctuary and my last pastor did not endorse candidates. But we certainly got the message about what we were “supposed” to vote for and against!

    The candidate I was pulling for, Bill Richardson, dropped out long ago.

    I really like him too. I’d like to see him included as a vice presidential candidate or in the cabinet of a new Democratic administration.

  • 16. karen  |  February 2, 2008 at 6:54 pm

    And I do want to say that of all the words I’ve read on here, some of your comments have helped to understand de-conversion in ways I never thought possible.

    Thank you, NorEaster. That’s so kind of you. Having been on both sides of this divide, I decided that anything I can do to promote understanding in each camp is worth my time as part of my goal to make the world a better place in my short life.

    As many of us can “speak the lingo” of the religious, yet understand the mindset of the non-religious, we’re in somewhat of a unique position and can be useful toward bridging the gap.

    I have an Essay running around my head that about what happened in the months after she died. I’m still trying to decide if I want to write it. And if I write it, do I want to posts it? I don’t know. It’s such an impossibly difficult thing for me to address honestly.

    I understand. There are traumas in my life that I think about at times but am not ready to write about yet. I may never be. That said, if you do post your essay, please let us know where to read it. I’d be interested in it.

    But, getting back to where I was–”Can I be de-converted?”–the most honest answer that I can come up with is, “Well…not today.” That may sound cynical to some Christians, but I’ll still take the honesty of it over hypocrisy and arrogance and &c.

    I think that’s a very honest answer, and not cynical at all.

  • 17. artisticmisfit  |  February 2, 2008 at 7:36 pm

    Karen, I made the mistake of publicly denouncing conservatives in my parish fellowship. Oops. I am learning that politics and religion don’t mix, at least not my politics and my religion. I said I was striving to be apolitical, but I guess that is a lie, because I am a member of the Green party, and that is definitely not apolitical, and I have selected a candidate I am voting for in the primaries, and that’s not apolitical either!

  • 18. Thinking Ape  |  February 3, 2008 at 8:35 pm

    Justin,
    In the 2004 election, Americans who identified themselves as “Evangelical Christians” voted 87% in favour of George W. Bush. As much as it sucks for the remaining 13%, it is hardly unfair, at least by looking at the numbers, to group an “evangelical” into your opposing political view.

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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

de-conversion wager

Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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