Christian, Public Enemy


Over the last two years, full-page advertisements have appeared in major American newspapers (such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and San Francisco Chronicle) criticizing the current administration's domestic and international war on terrorism, denouncing the U.S. involvement in Iraq, and questioning the legitimacy of George W. Bush's presidency. Using "Not in Our Name" (NION) as both a slogan and name, the antiwar group has enlisted a number of recognizable names to its cause — the usual mix of academics, writers, dissidents, and celebrities, including Noam Chomsky, Ramsey Clark, Ed Asner, Howard Zinn, Studs Terkel, and John Cusack. Over 13,000 citizens have signed NION's most recent statement, an 800-word document referred to as their "new statement of conscience," which is running with their current ads and can be found also at their website.

Were the statement simply an expression of political dissent, believers would have little cause for alarm. The United States boasts a rich and varied history of dissenters, among whom Christians can be counted. The war in Iraq has attracted its share of detractors from conservative camps and evangelical Christians. In November, Jack Hook wrote a provocative essay on the Biblical versus Constantinian concepts of "just war," which is sure to stir healthy debate among Christians. However, believers can agree that men's hearts can only be truly changed by Christ, and that a nation whose focus has shifted from God to its wealth and might is certainly doomed.

What is sinister about NION's new statement of conscience is how perfectly acceptable it repesents its unmitigated prejudice toward historical and Biblical Christianity. The advertisements are cloaked in righteous solemnity and understated graphic design, but underneath the surface, Not in Our Name seethes with a hatred toward true Christianity that cannot be ignored by believers. While the vitriol in their words is largely directed toward one man (Bush), it is clear, upon reading between the lines, that the true object of their contempt are Bible-believing Christians.

In 2 Timothy 3:5, the Apostle Paul wrote that, in the last days, there will be people "having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof: from such turn away." NION's mission statement reflects the broader push among secularists to reclaim spirituality, particularly Christianity, for themselves, especially in light of last November's election results. The irony is surely not lost upon the humanists (lovers of irony all) that, for the purposes of political expediency, they have chosen to co-opt a system of belief which is so loathsome to them. Nevertheless, the kind of rhetoric which syncretizes incompatible beliefs (e.g. Christianity and Islam) and pays lip service to Biblical Christianity is gaining ground with an apathetic public, including nominal Christians. For this reason, it is not merely endemic to antiwar groups such as Not in Our Name, but prevalent across the political spectrum.

An excerpt from NION's 2005 statement of conscience:

The Bush government seeks to impose a narrow, intolerant, and political form of Christian fundamentalism as government policy. No longer on the margins of power, this extremist movement aims to strip women of their reproductive rights, to stoke hatred of gays and lesbians, and to drive a wedge between spiritual experience and scientific truth. We will not surrender to extremists our right to think. AIDS is not a punishment from God. Global warming is a real danger. Evolution happened. All people must be free to find meaning and sustenance in whatever form of religious or spiritual belief they choose. But religion can never be compulsory. These extremists may claim to make their own reality, but we will not allow them to make ours.
Consider for a moment the outright demagoguery and propaganda in those words. The declarative statements, self-righteous indignation, and hubristic presumptuousness contained therein would be condemned by NION were they in the service of a Christian group.

Once again, the semantic hydra known as "Christian fundamentalism" rears its ugly heads in yet another example of unsubstantiated communistic groupthink. Although the label has become a caricature of itself over the years, the secularists have wielded it with great success, particularly to divide Christians. As a useful piece of propaganda, its disingenuousness is manifold. One obvious aim of calling certain Christians "fundamentalists" is to lump them together, in the public consciousness, with Islamic fundamentalism and, by association, the abridgment of human rights. The myth that cultural, rather than fundamental, forms of a belief (whether Christianity or Islam) are its true representatives is reinforced further. The intelligentsia also seek to separate "Christian fundamentalism" from the main body of Christianity by insisting that it has shallow theological roots arising in the late 19th/early 20th century. The likelier reason for their resentment is that fundamentalism steered Christianity back to Scripture and historicity and rebuffed the preceding two centuries of humanist dogma. Although NION makes a point to describe the Bush government as imposing a "form" of Christian fundamentalism, this minor distinction will be ignored by their intended audience. Instead, all Christian fundamentalism will be read as "narrow, intolerant, and political" and as a dangerous threat to democracy.

Just this week, American television talk show host Bill Maher made comments equating Christianity with Islamic fundamentalism:
We [Americans] are a nation that is unenlightened because of religion. I do believe that. I think that religion stops people from thinking. I think it justifies crazies. I think flying planes into a building was a faith-based initiative. I think religion is a neurological disorder.
Not leaving any stone unturned, NION's statement labels President Bush's "form" of Christian fundamentalism an "extremist movement." The name-calling belies an intolerance of opposition which they would normally attribute to a totalitarian regime squelching its enemies. If NION is indeed correct in describing the Bush presidency as "marginal" and "extremist," then it is a marginal and extremist movement voted in by at least half of the voting populace. It's a case of the pot calling the kettle black. A group that claims 13,000 like-minded academics, politicians, and celebrities can only be defined as marginal, as well. To describe themselves as one elitist group fighting over the hearts and minds of the masses with another elitist group would, at the least, seem like a more honest assessment of their goals. When secularists question the legitimacy of "Christian fundamentalism" on the grounds that it is on the "margins of power," it sounds a lot like the uneducated rhetoric historically directed toward racial and religious minorities.

While the establishment clause in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides for no state-sponsored religion, the free exercise clause does provide for the freedom of religious expression. Although humanists adore the former, they irrationally resist the latter, at least when it comes to Bible-based Christianity. Not in Our Name asserts that "all people must be free to find meaning and sustenance in whatever form of religious or spiritual belief they choose." Yet it is not the U.S. government that is banning the Q'uran or yoga or psychics, but rather schools and universities that are censoring Bibles. There is widespread abuse of religious freedoms in the U.S., but they are not being directed from the federal level. Newspapers, television, and local governments are violating the First Amendment by increasingly expunging any and all references to God, Jesus, and Biblical morality. NION states that "religion can never be compulsory," although humanism has become the compulsory de facto religion of most Western nations. Deviation from its "truth" results in a slap on the wrist, at best, or imprisonment, at worst.

NION's hypocrisy is matched only by their arrogance. Their statement declares "evolution happened" — a facile statement amongst peers, but it ignores the growing evidence in scientific fields that the theory is in doubt. They go on to make remarks about AIDS and global warming that, taken together with the evolution declaration, suggest that Bible-believing Christians are hopelessly uneducated. Worse yet, NION implies that believers would Scripturally refute the statement's AIDS and global warming declarations, as if these two issues were at all similar to the debate over evolution. To claim that fundamentalist Christians seek to "strip women of their reproductive rights" and "stoke hatred of gays and lesbians" is such brazen emotional manipulation that one would think it'd be rejected outright. It is not because, by and large, the prevailing popular culture is on the side of secularist causes. The homosexual and secularist agendas owe their success to natural man's desire to elevate Self over God. Moral objections are rendered as hate speech because they threaten the status quo. It's like the class bully demanding that the kids he beat up have no right to dislike him. Christians have complied.

Reacting to the born-again Christian assertions of one elected official — George W. Bush — Not in Our Name ludicrously labels his entire administration as Christian, revealing a certain willful ignorance (shared by many secularists) of the realities of U.S. government. That somehow President Bush's beliefs are shared by or influence hundreds of administration members and officials (many of whom are holdovers from previous administrations and do not share Bush's constituency) is quite a stretch. The system of checks and balances has, if anything, stymied reform even remotely harboring theocratical intent. The real effort here is to slant Christianity by associating it with governmental failure. Humanists are creating false fears of politicized Christianity to malign Christian beliefs in general.

The Apostle John wrote in John Chapter One:
5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
Not in Our Name champions "spiritual experience" and "scientific truth" — two terms at the core of humanism's unsubstantiated presumptions. They've had a powerful semantic influence. "Spirituality" and "experience," when combined, describe a personal revelatory event that is untouchable and unassailable from higher criticism. And "science" and "truth," when combined, have the effect of subconsciously equating the two. These terms form a wall of intellectual hubris which prevents only the most half-hearted and apathetic from seeing that the emperor has no clothes. It has nonetheless been effective. Bible-based Christianity is portrayed as the enemy of science, scientific method, logic, and rational thought, yet "spiritual experience" is allowed to trump all of these on the basis of emotion and subjective truth. Secularists mock the Bible as being provincial and irrelevant to modern life but welcome alternative faith-based beliefs without reservation. Humanists are unsure which to emphasize more — spiritual experience or scientific truth — but they are allied in their distaste for these words from Jesus: "I am the way and the truth and the life." (John 14:6)

In their statement of conscience, NION asserts,"we will not surrender to extremists our right to think." However, the humanist elite will make others surrender their right to think by controlling what children learn in schools, by closing down intellectual debate to only one system of thought, by expunging media and entertainment of any traces of true Christianity, by discriminating against those who express a sincerely held faith in Jesus Christ, by ignoring scientific challenges to evolution, and by celebrating behavior that is a public health risk. Because of widespread thought oppression in the Western world, more and more children are growing up with tremendous emotional problems and mental inadequacies. Karl Marx, 19th century author of the Communist Manifesto, once said, "religion is the opiate of the masses." Today's secularists view God as a threat to their authority over what is right and what is wrong. In their minds, the course of man is determined by man and man alone, and that power wielded by "good, tolerant" men is the answer to the ills of society.

The sad tragedy is that, amongst the thousands who have signed the Not in Our Name statement, there are individuals who have declared themselves as "Christians" or seminarians or church pastors/ministers. Although the document does not conceal its contempt for Christianity, NION has convinced these particular signers that it sincerely aims to rescue Christianity from itself. The disastrous confusion of nominal Christians will only lead to further prejudice toward Bible-believing Christians until it is too late for them to realize that their rights have been taken away, too.


Anonymous said... on 2/20/2005 8:51 PM  

sad indeed..

Anonymous said... on 3/03/2005 4:02 PM  

Nice. Good points re: banning in America, comparison of various agendas and Christian reaction to bully and class, and NION's implied attempt of rescuing Christianity from itself. Particularly in reference to the last point mentioned above, it seems that many Christians and non-Christians alike attempt to do just that. The "If you could just see the light," implicitly condescending attitude toward born again or Bible-believing Christians--that's what is between the lines. These nominal Christians also tend to opt in for a faith that's pasted-on, a "God" of convenience and "as I (human) understand it (the Word/Bible)," rather than the humble, hungry stance of the Christian truly seeking God and an ongoing, deepening relationship with Him-- which has as its center the goal of making God the Captain of the ship, not ourselves. Still, I think it's also important to touch on the hope before us: such as that presented by the very readers perusing this, and those of us who know Christ and have an obligation to "represent", which is only made possible by that relationship with God. Thanks for your hard work.

Anonymous said... on 3/06/2005 8:54 AM  

Well said. If one is looking for an explanation of the growing "force" of groups like NION, then pick up a copy of Bruce N. Shortt's, The Harsh Truth About PUBLIC SCHOOLS.