Yesterday I wrote a about Christianism and it’s heavy hand in US politics. Some of my clergy colleagues may not agree with applying this term to fellow Christians. I recognize that there are many Christianities. We come in a variety of flavors, so to speak. But there is a distinct difference when political leaders move to legislate restrictive and discriminatory policy in the name of any religion.
Texas Governor, Greg Abbott, recently acted in a way that bears all the markings of Christianism. Dallas CBS affiliate reported that Robert Morris, Pastor of Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas, was asked to urge his massive, multi-campus congregation to influence their state representatives to vote for the controversial “bathroom bill.” The Texas Senate has already passed the measure, but Texas House Speaker, Joe Straus, has been opposed to such move, saying it will harm the state’s economy. Religious leaders speak on public matters all the time. So, what is the problem here?
Abbott has been known to post scripture and Christian based content to his Facebook page. But there are numerous Christians, including myself, that do not support legislation that sets apart or reduces any group for any reason, including the LGBTQ community. I am particularly concerned when a politician maneuvers to legislate such discrimination, hide behind religious beliefs and then call on mega church, or any church, pastors to do the dirty work of stirring the emotions of their congregations over a problem that doesn’t exist. This is Christianism, which is just another form of fundamentalism.
I know that many of my fellow clergy are taking note of this and are having meaningful dialogue with their congregations regarding difficult issues, especially when the issues directly involve ostracized people. But we need more. I believe the conversation must expand through relationship building, education, and calling what the likes of Gregg Abbott and Robert Morris are doing for what it is; attempting to define public policy according a narrow “religious” viewpoint. There is nothing to say people of faith cannot act on their faith in the voting booth. But there is a boundary between the secular state and religious ideology for a reason. Keeping that separation in place prevents us from becoming a theocratic state.
*The image below was recently posted on Gregg Abbott’s Facebook page along with the biblical citation for Isaiah 14:27, which is about God’s prophetic promise to defeat Israel’s oppressors. I find this ironic given the recent bill he signed banning “sanctuary cities.”