Sunday, November 19, 2017

“Churchianity” & “White Protestant Evangelicals”

Churchianity displaced Christianity a long, long time ago, perhaps beginning in the first century A.D. when the Church in Jerusalem (Jewish) confronted the Gentile Churches of Asia Minor  (Acts of the Apostles).  “No word in our language,” wrote Harold Bell Wright at the beginning of the 20th century, “is more abused, misunderstood and misapplied than the word ‘Christian.’”  But the same could have been said of the word “Christian”  in the 2nd, 4th, 6th and 19th centuries, and it certainly can be said today.  The “Church” (of whatever denomination or grouping) with its rules, dogmas, creeds, and doctrines, has determined what Christianity is for its members.    

The Fundamentalism of the early 20th century grew out of FEAR, as did the so-called Moral Majority of the mid-twentieth century.  It was and is the same FEAR that has created the group erroneously labeled the “White Protestant Evangelicals” of today.  In the early twentieth century that fear stemmed from broad changes in the American culture (growing awareness of world religions, the teaching of human evolution, and the rise of biblical higher criticism).  The fear stemmed, too, from the social changes of the time  (“old stock whites” felt displaced by the waves of non-Protestant immigrants from southern and eastern Europe, felt betrayed by politicians, resented the elitism of professional educators, deplored the teaching of evolution in public schools, and felt like the Bible was being attacked and destroyed by modern science).   

The Moral Majority was a fundamentalist Christian organization founded by televangelist Jerry Falwell in 1979 and was based on the same fears.  Its goal was to preserve “traditional” American values (which were from their perspective Christian values) and to combat the increasing acceptance of movements and cultural and social changes (which had only multiplied since the earlier days of the century) by aligning itself with the Republican Party.  Critics said of the movement:  “The Moral Majority is neither.”  It was short-lived as a political organization, but, with the Fundamentalist Movement of the early part of the century and its followers, the Moral Majority produced the Christian Right or what is called the “White Protestant Evangelicals” of the present.  This group, too, is founded upon fear—the fear of losing what to them is holy ground. Four-fifths of this group voted Republican in 2016, even though the Party views did not fully safeguard the holy ground they seek to save.  

Just as Churchianity displaced Christianity, so “white Protestant evangelicals” may displace their own holy ground by their penchant for the GOP no matter who the candidate may be.

The ancient door is still open.

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