There is a new trend among Evangelicals in the US that is most interesting. It seems all at once all, realizing that the demographics of the United States is changing, many of the churches have now started including the word “International” in their names. This is most interesting and I must admit I have actually visited a couple. What is most apparent, when visiting these churches, however, is that there is little new or “International” for that matter. The hierarchy of the church is not representational of the congregation, in fact the only time you really see an “international” face is in the choir, taking the offering or guiding visitors to their seats. Other than that the old guard is still very much in place.
My friend in Florida attends one of these churches and I remember when she came home after services the Sunday before the 2004 elections with a very forlorn look, to announce that we had just lost the election. As you recall the movie “The Passion of The Christ” had been released that year and church members had flocked in droves to see it. Turns out that on this particular day, her church and many others had received a video from a conservative group that was to be played on the precise Sunday before elections. The video featured Jim Caviezel who played the role of Christ, basically telling people how to vote, because to do otherwise meant voting against their families and would be outside the “will of God.” In short, for those who could not separate an actor from his role, “Jesus” was in effect telling them to vote for George Bush.
This type of Republican strategy is nothing new and is in fact what you expect from a group whose target is always the emotional appeal and who thinks that being an “intellectual” is somehow a bad thing. What is mind boggling is the fact that many Jamaicans have bought into this type of madness. Even today in 2008, after all that has transpired and the fact that we know unequivocally that Bush took this country to war and destroyed thousands of lives based on a lie, these folks still cling to him as if their life depends on him. My family member in Atlanta told me just a few weeks ago that the church they attend in Atlanta is still espousing the Republican worldview. These people still clearly believe George Bush was put in office “for a time such as this” and that the Republicans are on a crusade to save the world.
After many heated discussions I have pretty much given up on them because the Republicans clearly have the perfect scam going. Yell abortion! or gay marriage! and watch otherwise rational people flock to the polls to vote against their own best interests, while the “good old boys” laugh all the way to victory. I have not met one of these conservatives, Jamaican or otherwise, who has yet been able to address the hypocrisy of a party that claims to be so moral, yet would ridicule Barack Obama for working as a community organizer to make people’s lives better.
None have been able to show me one former Republican President who has done anything for anyone since leaving office, even as examples abound for Democrats such as Jimmy Carter who works tirelessly for Habitat for Humanity and Bill Clinton whose work in Africa is well known. Who’s kidding whom here? I thought Christians were identified by their works not words. And while we’re on the subject of abortion, no one has been able to explain what makes one life sacred and another not. I am pro life except in instances of rape, incest or when the mother’s life is in danger, yet no one can tell me why we fight to protect the unborn, yet treat the lives lost in Iraq as if they have no value, are they just “collateral damage.” Are Iraqis not also made in God’s image? And why does being a card carrying member of the National Rifle Association make me a better Christian, am I not called to be salt and light to the world. While we’re talking inconsistencies, let’s not forget Cheney’s daughter, a lesbian who along with her partner have adopted a child, why is that discussion off limits, even as papers Michelle wrote in college are being scoured for anything incendiary. I wonder had it been Chelsea Clinton or Amy Carter instead of Palin’s daughter who got pregnant, would they too have been defended by Focus on the Family and other members of the religious right, or would it have been chalked up to “well after all they are Democrats and one really can’t expect any better.”
Personally I think we’re in a dangerous place when we think we understand the mind of God so well that we can appoint ourselves arbiters of his will. The God I serve has many times used imperfect humans like David, or even Rahab the harlot, who found her place in the lineage of Christ, not because they were touting their own self righteousness, but because they were willing to surrender themselves in total humility and be used for God’s glory. This Republican God who wields power with arrogance, I can say without a doubt, I have never met. There are things you learn while growing up in Jamaica, including a strong sense of self and a large dose of common sense. No one ever wants to be asked “you fool, fool.” To see my people fall time and again for what amounts to nothing more than a ruse is truly disappointing.