Faith Column: The downfall of the Christian nation
In American politics, things change and yet stay the same
It’s over. Finally.
A year-and-a-half of attack ads and shallow debates combined with a staggering $6-billion of expenses has concluded in… well, what appears to be the exact same government that the United States had prior to this chaotic election.
Obama’s still in charge. The GOP holds the House. The Senate’s blue. Nothing’s really changed.
Looks are always deceiving in politics: in fact, a tremendous amount has shifted. We’ve witnessed a dramatic jump in the representation of women, religious minorities and people of colour in the House and Senate, the electoral decimation of Tea Party politicians and the stunning reversal of archaic legislation banning marijuana and gay marriage. Things that the far-right feared have happened.
So it’s not just the convoluted, frustrating election that’s over. What’s happening is the beginning of the end of the Religious Right’s rule.
Christian evangelicals have finally lost their complete stranglehold on politics in America. Of course, there’s no pretending that the likes of Michele Bachmann and Paul Ryan are gone, but their tax—, abortion— and Obamacare— hating army lost irreversible ground in the span of 12 hours.
The subsequent outcry from the evangelical camp has been predictably hilarious, with thousands of Facebook and Twitter profiles mourning the loss of their mythical Christian nation.
Take this one for example, poached from a friend’s wall: “As a nation we have turned our back on God. Now we reap what we have sowed.”
That’s the general perspective: that their beloved white, androcentric, homophobic and classist “nation” has died. But rather than use this opportunity to take personal shots at brainwashed Christians, which is perhaps my all-time favourite activity, it might be a wiser endeavour to consider the future of the whole religion and its place in society.
It’s a big question, but there’s no better time to start. After all, something has to grow out of the same dirt that the Religious Right died into during this election.
The old Christian platform — complete with tax cuts for the rich and contraceptive cuts for the poor — no longer corresponds with the direction that America and the rest of the world is pursuing. Or, for that matter, the story of the very religion that the NRA card-carrying, anti-gay libertarian tends to profess adherence to.
Christians have an extensive history of compassion, pacifism, generosity and communal living — spanning from the church of Acts (“No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had”) — to Francis of Assisi, to Mother Teresa.
Most of the values that were represented by such people are generally accepted today as egalitarian, humane and worthy of praise (except the whole evangelism part).
In other words, the Christian narrative is full of socialists, or at least people who would be revolted at movements like the Tea Party.
Unfortunately, such stories have been completely ignored by the Religious Right, who has instead chosen to conjure up a highly individualistic version of politics, which punishes the oppressed and glorifies the greedy.
But it’s no longer relevant. They’ve been beaten, harshly. Christians can re-define their participation in politics.
This is probably too optimistic. It’s more than likely that this election will only antagonize conservative Christians, inspiring them to start more Super PACs and protest outside abortion clinics. But I have hope.
Some 10 per cent of voters were Hispanic, half of whom are Christians. Almost three-quarters of them voted for Obama. It’s same with blacks in America: over 80 per cent are Christian, but over 90 per cent voted Democrat.
As Obama puts it, our time for change has come.