Several weeks ago, I had a conversation on facebook about Christianity. It was occasioned by Anne Rice's public rejection of Christianity; a friend posted an article commenting on Rice's decision. I expressed some disappointment with the way the article portrayed Christianity, and my friend asked me to clarify. I said, "It just implies that Anne Rice decided to turn away from the Christian religion as a whole because her beliefs didn't agree with either the Catholic or evangelical churches. It comes across as 'Catholic + evangelical = Christianity'." To which my friend responded, "To those of us outside Christian culture, that's exactly what it looks like."
With apologies to Catholics and evangelicals - because I know many of you do not conform to the stereotypes - my friend's words highlighted for me a dramatic and serious problem in our culture today. I can't say I blame her (or Anne Rice, for that matter). If I didn't spend so much time in churches and seminary classrooms, I'd think the same thing. If my view of Christianity came only from what I see in the news, I'd want nothing to do with it.
In the name of Christianity, people are burning copies of the Quran this weekend. In the name of Christianity, people are spouting messages of hate and violence against gays. They are claiming that the earthquake in Haiti - or the tornado in Minneapolis last summer - are God's punishment. They murder doctors in the middle of a church. And those are just the things that make the news on a regular basis. These people also, day in and day out, threaten non-Christians (or fellow Christians!) with eternal torture and damnation.
This is appalling. It makes me both angry and depressed to see the faith which has had such an impact on my life be slandered and abused. It's broadcasting a warped and despicable image of Christianity to the world. I am tired of it. I'm tired of these people monopolizing the name "Christian" in the public eye. It's both wrong and unfair.
And so I feel compelled to speak up and speak out.
I am a Christian. I am a Christian, and I support gay rights. I am a Christian, and I am pro-choice. I am a Christian, and I am a feminist. I am a Christian, and I belong to a church body that allows gay marriage and the ordination of women and gays. I am a Christian, and I like drinking beer and playing violent video games. I am a Christian, and I believe Muslims in this country deserve the same religions freedoms that I enjoy on a daily basis. I am a Christian, and I do not want to convert you. I am a Christian, and I do not have all the answers. I am a Christian, and there are many more like me.
I am a Christian, and in my imperfect nature, I strive to follow the living God. The God who became flesh and blood, who lived and died in solidarity with the poor and marginalized, who calls Christians to be Christ-like. Amen.