Whenever there is a disaster, natural or human-caused, it seems that an evangelical will make a statement that it confirms God’s wrath. And each time I hear a new pontification regarding Holy punishment due to gay marriage, legalizing pot, or for debunking trickle-down economics, I am compelled to look critically at their religious cause.
Evangelicals are a strong political force within the conservative movement and while I have no problem with the expression of deep faith, I am always a little confused by the contradiction between their pageantry and Matthew 6:1: “Take heed that ye give not your alms before men, to be seen of them.”
Where religion is concerned I seek humility and my world view is non-exclusionary, allowing for all religious and non-religious people to “follow their bliss.” That phrase was coined by the late mythologist, Joseph Campbell, who believed that all world religions contain the same fundamental, transcendent truths.
The original evangelical movement started in the 17th century and rose from Lutheranism to de-emphasize ritual and ceremony in the Church and to instead focus on pietism. They were, in fact, non-conformists. Today, however, “evangelicalism” has come to mean strict social conservatism, devout adherence to Scripture and a clear establishment of Christian doctrine in politics.
That zealotry leads some to anti-scientific theory and conformity that can compromise solutions to real world problems. That, in my opinion, is dangerous.
A poll by the Public Religion Research Institute and Religion News Service, questioned respondents about God and natural disasters, and it revealed that 60% of the evangelicals polled (more than any other group), believe that natural disasters are signs from God.
Other denominations hovered around 30 to 40% but that is still a staggering number of people who feel that solutions, even the ones within our human grasp, may be as simple, and as exclusionary, as piety.
After the Newtown massacre former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee came onto Fox News and opined, “We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we’ve systematically removed God from our schools.”
A columnist wrote in a Texas paper that “their deaths could be attributed to God’s displeasure with our culture’s moral collapse.”
Years ago I had dismissed Pat Robertson after he blurted out that “the earthquake in Haiti was a result of a Haitian pact with the devil” but, a new email circulated with hundreds of names attached stating such disasters are “because we are becoming a Godless nation.”
Hang on a second.
Doesn’t that betray the very nature of God? I have children and when they ignore me (which is most of the time), I hardly wish for them to perish in a flood.
Then I thought…..
What if…this fundamentalist notion is all wrong? I mean, what if, in fact, it is exactly wrong? What if God is angry at many of the people inside His church?
What if God is angered by those who recited the Gospel yet went to work and pillaged the credit of the less fortunate and plundered the investments of his hard working flock?
What if He is appalled at trusted servants who would first choose to protect themselves before innocent children?
Maybe God is angry at those who want to repeal health care reform that can help over 30 million of His children to have more security in their lives.
Maybe God is less insulted by those who would remove prayer in schools, than He is by those who cannot separate religion from the laws of humankind.
Maybe…maybe, God gets upset with those who would deny civil rights to others who wish to show their love and devotion through marriage.
OR…what if…there is no divine punishment and the presence of God is a measure of our compassion and His word represents the responsibility we have to care for one another and for this planet?
What if…solutions to the problems we face depend on how we accept each other, as we are, and not whether or not we share the same piety?
Could that be the transcendent truth?