Opinion: The "Christian Agenda" Spreads Too Much Hate in America

Walter Rhein

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Many people express the opinion that the troubles in our society come from a lack of traditional values. I think the opposite is true. I believe that much of the division and hatred in our culture stems from intolerant beliefs that are spread by individuals of religious faith.

The question is not academic. The conservative-stacked Supreme Court recently made a ruling which blurs the line between the separation of church and state. Many people believe that this decision could have devastating consequences on a society that’s already divided and struggling.

In two cases this term, the conservative majority on the Supreme Court made it abundantly clear that there’s little room for the separation of church and state in its regressive constitutional framework. For nearly 75 years, the court has recognized that both of the First Amendment’s religion clauses are vital to protecting religious freedom: The Establishment Clause protects against governmental endorsement and imposition of religion, and the Free Exercise Clause ensures the right to practice your faith without harming others. No more. The court has increasingly treated the Establishment Clause as a historical footnote, threatening both the independence of religion and the religious neutrality of the state—The Supreme Court Benches the Separation of Church and State

The American public is now facing a future that might contain government-mandated religion. Students in public schools are now more likely to be exposed to religious teachings that are not of their faith.

I believe that religion already divides people. American Christians already demonstrate extreme prejudice against members of the LGBTQ community.

The issue of LGBTQ2 equality, the full acceptance of gay people, and the performing of same-sex marriages are perhaps the most divisive issues facing contemporary Christianity. Indeed for many conservative Christians, the litmus test for faith is less a belief in Jesus Christ than a rejection of homosexuality, which is bizarre in that the subject is hardly ever mentioned in the entirety of Scripture, and Jesus never refers to it at all!—LGBTQ people and 'the harm being done by the Christian religion'

When I am driving through a small town and I see a church, I don’t think of it as a place of worship. Instead, I think of it as a center for hate speech.

With all the problems in the world, why are American Christians so concerned about what consenting adults do in the comfort of their own homes? Even worse, American Christians often conflate the caring relationships of the LGBTQ community with the abusive relationships that the church has too often been guilty of enabling.

Nearly 1,700 priests and other clergy members that the Roman Catholic Church considers credibly accused of child sexual abuse are living under the radar with little to no oversight from religious authorities or law enforcement, decades after the first wave of the church abuse scandal roiled U.S. dioceses, an Associated Press investigation has found—Almost 1,700 priests and clergy accused of sex abuse are unsupervised

Attacks from American Christians against the LGBTQ community dominate national headlines. However, few headlines underscore that the members of the faith community are the most likely to be abusers.

In one study, 93 percent of convicted sex offenders described themselves as “religious.” Perhaps surprisingly, many sexual predators consider churches as “safe havens,” Vieth said, with trusting, forgiving adults and easy access to children—Most child molesters ‘religious,’ often target church members

I feel that American Christians use their loud denouncements of consensual LGBTQ relationships as a smokescreen to hide their abusive behavior. Every time anyone points out the potential for abuse from the faith community, people come out of the woodwork to respond with unfounded accusations against innocent LGBTQ individuals.

There is too much hatred and intolerance in America. It’s not difficult to believe that every institution that promotes hatred contributes to the excessive level of violence that puts all innocent people at risk.

The connections between violent actions and the conservative community are easy to find for anyone who cares to look. Take, for example, the perpetrator of the Highland Park shooting on the fourth of July:

The mainstream media has downplayed or simply refused to report evidence that Crimo was a Trump supporter and part of the fascistic milieu being built up by the Republican Party. Covelli said at his Tuesday press conference that the police have not established the killer’s motive—As death toll rises in July Fourth Highland Park shooting, more evidence emerges linking gunman to pro-Trump fascist circles

Americans live in daily fear that they might be murdered in yet another mass shooting. Meanwhile, churches across the nation conduct ceremonies where they bless semi-automatic weapons.

Hundreds of couples toting AR-15 rifles packed a church in Pennsylvania on Wednesday to have their marriages blessed and their weapons celebrated as “rods of iron” that could have saved lives in a recent Florida school shooting—Couples lug AR-15 assault rifles to Pennsylvania church blessing

Why is it that we can’t rely on members of our faith community to denounce the possession of weapons of war in our communities? Don’t they believe in the sanctity of life?

American Christians should be the first to denounce military weapons in the hands of private citizens. They should be the ones calling for all Americans to “love thy neighbor.”

Instead, too often we find people who identify as “Christians” leaving hateful comments and even death threats on social media.

This week I received what is certainly not my first death threat, nor, I’m sure, will it be the last. Almost daily, I get what I would consider to be hostile emails from devout Christians (who have mostly not read our book), threatening everything from boycotts to bodily harm – even death—DEATH THREATS FROM CHRISTIANS

I, too, can attest that I’ve received death threats from American Christians. I don’t understand why it’s not possible in the United States of America for an individual to express an opinion without having to endure threats on his or her person.

American Christians have been some of the most violent and intolerant people I’ve ever met. That’s why the Supreme Court’s decision to erode the division between church and state is so troubling.

There is already too much division in the United States of America. Our faith leaders need to recognize the problem and adopt a greater emphasis on tolerance and love rather than judgment and anger.

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Walter Rhein is an author with Perseid Press. He also does a weekly column for The Writing Cooperative on Medium.

Chippewa Falls, WI
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