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Authentic Christianity Does Not Urinate on the Rights of Others.

July 6, 2022

Heads up: It’s Political!

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Pennsylvania retired teacher and blogger, Peter Greene, brought to my attention an organized push “to disincorporate the Establishment Clause (no state religion)” in an effort for individual states “to establish religion within their borders.”

I did a double-take on the idea that there is an organized push to enable states to formally declare Christianity as an official state religion. That’s what this is: A far-right attempt to pee on the telephone pole of America, thereby marking it “for Christians only” and further exacerbating division in our country In the Name of Jesus.

I write this as a Christian: Such efforts stoke self-righteous egos and sow dangerous discord.

So, as I was flipping channels on my TV on July 03, 2022, hearing a Southern Baptist pastor mockingly use the phrase “separation of church and state” caught my attention. Sure enough, the point of his sermon was to promote a return to Christianity as the established religion on the state-level.

I recorded his sermon and transcribed it in order to write about it on this blog in a future post (not this one). It is a harsh, hard, self-centered promotion that I have some more work on editing and proofing prior to posting.

The point of this post is to present the words of another pastor, one I heard as I was recovering from the awfulness of transcribing the harsh, self-absorbed guy. This second pastor, Andy Stanley, who founded North Point Ministries in Atlanta, has a refreshingly different message, which he happened to deliver on the same day (July 03, 2022), and which shows that not all Christian pastors with major platforms are buying into the terrible divisiveness of some state-by-state, Christain Nationalism:

Christian nationalism tends to treat other Americans as second-class citizens. If it were fully implemented, it would not respect the full religious liberty of all Americans. Empowering the state through “morals legislation” to regulate conduct always carries the risk of overreaching, setting a bad precedent, and creating governing powers that could be used later be used against Christians. Additionally, Christian nationalism is an ideology held overwhelmingly by white Americans, and it thus tends to exacerbate racial and ethnic cleavages. In recent years, the movement has grown increasingly characterized by fear and by a belief that Christians are victims of persecution. Some are beginning to argue that American Christians need to prepare to fight, physically, to preserve America’s identity, an argument that played into the January 6 riot.

The relief I felt at hearing Stanley’s words– and the profound, soothing contrast his words made after my spending hours transcribing this other guy– I found so encouraging that I decided to transcribe Stanley’s talk (which I recorded on my TV and for which I can find no link) and present it to my readers before I post my transcription of what surely supports Greene’s unsettling post.

Thus, the point of this post is to present a truly Christian take (as in “love your neighbor as you love yourself”) prior to any post reeking of the stench of Christian nationalism.

Stanley entitled his talk, “Like Stars in the Sky,” which he gave as an episode on his weekly, 30-minute program called “Your Move with Andy Stanley.” His audience is likely predominately evangelical Christian, though not exclusively, and he verbally recognizes as much.

Unlike the far-right pushers who alienate all but their kind, Stanley promotes respect and honor for others, period. As such, his words directly confront any Us vs. Them, Christian ugliness.

The point of this posting is to show that at least someone with a major, Christian speaking platform is publicly countering extreme views on the dangerous path to authoritarianism.

Given the length of the transcription, I include below three excerpts from Stanley’s talk, but I really only scratch the surface by doing so. I invite my audience to read the full transcription by clicking the link at the end of this post.

Andy Stanley

From Andy Stanley, “Like Stars in the Sky” (July 03, 2022):

This week, we are celebrating Independence Day, the birth of a nation. I don’t know if it’s just the leader in me, or the entrepreneur in me, I’m not that entrepreneurial, but, from time to time, I think, and I know this is kind of strange, so bear with me, a lot of you have started a company, or you’ve launched an initiative. Imagine starting a country. “Hey, let’s start a country!” I mean, we can’t even imagine that, right? The United States of America.

Now, the challenge, of course, right now is that we don’t feel, and it doesn’t seem like we’re very united these days, and I think that bugs most of us. It seems like everything automatically gets divided up into one of two buckets, even though we’re the United States of America. Everything either goes in a red bucket or a blue bucket. No matter what the issue is or whatever the topic is, immediately, there’s a view that divides. It’s like whatever view you hold, its like, “Ohhp, red, everything.”

You’re like, “No, no, no, I’m not a 100 percent red.”

“You’re looking pretty red.”

“Blue, you’re blue.”

“No, I’m not.

“No, yeah. You’re blue. That’s your view on a particular topic. You go in the blue bucket.”

Two buckets, right and left, red and blue. And, I don’t think anybody’s happy about that, are we? Are you happy about that? I mean, normal people aren’t happy about that. Normal people don’t like to be pigeon-holed.

“Wait a minute, all I said was…”

“Well, then, clearly, you’re Republican.”

“Well, no I really…”

Normal people don’t like that. But, don’t tell anybody I told you this:

Some people love it.

Some people love the division, and the reason is, there is a lot of money to be made by keeping us divided, amd there’s a lot of power to be preserved by creating the sense that we’re more divided than we actually are. I mean, you’re adults. You know this:

Suspicion is profitable.

Fear is very profitable.

Division, consequently, is profitable.

I mean, if you convince me that there is somebody I should be afraid of, and if you convince me that you will protect me from that person for a donation and a vote, I’m going to give you a donation and a vote so you will protect me from those evil people.

I mean, has division ever led to a solution? If it has, it’s the exception, certainly not the rule, right? I mean, can demonizing, and this is the, you know, this is the part, we should just, this should just drive us crazy:

Can demonizing half the population based on party affiliation, or skin color, bring us together?

Can demonizing and criticizing half the population because of party affiliation, or the way somebody acts, or the way somebody believes, or the way somebody looks, can demonizing a whole group of people that you don’t even know, I don’t even know, can that possibly bring us together?

The answer is no.

Here’s an idea: Why don’t we, why don’t we despise division as much as we despise people who don’t vote like us?

The enemy is not the Republican or the Democratic Party. Our enemy is not a party. Our enemy is the division. Because it slows everything down, and it causes people to be hurt, and it causes people’s voices not to be heard when the pendulum swings from one extreme to the other.

So, why don’t we all just decide, “You know who the enemy is? The enemy is the division.”

So, here’s what I’m going to do for a few minutes. And this is going to be uncomfortable for some of you. I understand it, and I’ve asked you to do this before. For just a few minutes, and if you’re new, if you’re watching for the first time, I know you’re suspicious, you’ve got your guard up. I understand. You should, you know. I would like for you to try to take your political filter off your face for just a few minutes. I just want you– it’s just for a minute. If you’ll take it off, set [it down], and then, when I’m finished, you can just put it back on and go out and, you know, be whoever you want. But I just want you to try to listen for a couple of minutes, all right?

One thing– to start with some common ground because I think to move forward, we’ve got to find the common ground, the common ground– one thing we all appreciate about our nation– I hope we all do– is our Bill of Rights. Bill of Rights is the collective name for the first ten amendments to the US Constitution.

(Slide: Bill of Rights: Speech, Press, Assembly, Religion, Bear Arms, Due Process, Jury Trial, Search and Seizure, Cruel and Unusual Punishment, Quartering of Soldiers)

It was created, as you know, to protect individual liberties because the founders were so amazingly smart. They looked into the future and they realized, “You know what? What is so relevant for this generation may not be as relevant for the next one.” So, they came up with the Ninth Amendment, that’s kind of the catch-all amendment, the “kitchen sink” amendment, just in case– well, not “just in case” because they knew in the future there would be other individual rights, there would be other individual rights that they wanted to make sure that people of the United States knew there was room for, that these, that those weren’t the only rights protected. So here’s how the Ninth Amendment reads:

“Amendment IX: The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others (other rights) retained by the people.”

It’s like, what?

So, basically, they’re saying there’s going to be some other things that come down the road. And so, this isn’t saying this is the only list, so this is kind of the “kitchen sink.” So, I think– it’s my opinion– if we were to rewrite the Ninth Amendment– because it’s a little legalese, a little stilted– our version of it would look more like this. It would be like this:

“Amendment IX– Amended: The right to do what I want, when I want, with whom I want, as long as it doesn’t interfere with anyone else’s rights.”

My rights so long as my rights do not interfere with the rights of others. And that’s how it should be.

To anyone tempted to force some state-established Christianity down the American throat:

Authentic Christianity invites. It includes. It respects. It cares.

It does not impose.

It does not carve a pathway to authoritarianism.

As promised, here’s the link to my transcription of Stanley’s complete, 30-minute talk:

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7 Comments
  1. J Lynne permalink

    Once again, you’re on the money. I’m Canadian, but so much of what happens in the US influences your northern neighbours. Christianity does not impose, it invites, just as you said. Government sanctioned morality is a very slippery slope.

  2. I’ve been trying to explain this to my unchurched friends since the Roe decision. Andy Stanley is one of my favorites. He knocks it out of the ballpark here. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Leo Laventhal permalink

    Thank you. What you write and quote here gives solace to those who aren’t Christian. Those in that group, including me, and are increasingly worried to see intolerant folks impose their own religious views on others. Recent Supreme Court decisions are making things worse.

  4. Daedalus permalink

    Our country was ‘founded’ on the concept of ‘religious freedom’ because the Brits had set up a series of religious States in North America, and for those States to become a ‘Nation’, they had to work together and agree that anyone could do whatever they wanted in church. We can certainly thank the brilliance of Thomas Paine (a Brit) for that vision, as well as a few others. Without that understanding, we would not have a Southern Baptist Convention. None of the original colonies were ‘Baptist’.

    But, it goes way back. Consider the plight of poor Constantine. He thought that bringing together a bunch of representative Christians at Nicea, he could create peace. This, after all, had been the pattern all over the ancient world. Simply pointing out that ‘your god’ was simply ‘my god by a different name’ was the way to coalesce larger societies, however those were not monotheistic societies. To a monotheist, my god is RIGHT, your god is the DEVIL. Constantine had never before encountered such nonsense, Nor had he suspected that one faction of ‘Christianity’ in Greece had purposely exclude another from the conference. Imagine his surprise when the people that ‘agreed’ immediately declared those who were not there to voice their opinions ‘heretics’, and therefore liable to incur violence.

  5. Linda permalink

    Fox News, 7-11-2022
    “Catholic Vote Launches $3 Mil. Midterm Ad Campaign Aimed at Kicking Catholic Dems Out of Office”

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Mercedes Schneider: Authentic Christianity Does Not Urinate on the Rights of Others | Diane Ravitch's blog
  2. More About That Push for “State-Level Christianity” (Shaking My Head…) | deutsch29: Mercedes Schneider's Blog

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