Can Green Passion Match Evangelical Passion?
What the Green Movement can learn from the Evangelical Christian Movement.
The whole idea of being alive is a little terrifying. Here we are, trapped in these organic bodies. We are at the mercy of the fleshly shell that we live inside, as well as the environment that surrounds us. Add to this the certainty of death, and it’s really too much to bear.
It’s no wonder that so many people turn to tobacco, drugs, and alcohol to “get the edge off” or provide a new reality. But all these “life coping” chemicals have long-term effects on your organic body and they impact your health and the functioning of your brain, both physically and psychologically. Really, it’s better to ride this mother out with no aids at all.
When I was in college I met the Jesus Hippies and saw how reality distortion was another way of coping with life. I went to one of their churches and as they were lifting their hands up and speaking in tongues, I saw how their religious rituals gave them comfort. I even tried doing Jesus drugs for a few years myself, but I was always too skeptical and questioning to get into the role.
What many people don’t think about is that we are born into a time in history and we don’t understand how our beliefs and behaviors developed over time — sometimes over generations and sometimes over millions of years. If we could understand better we might be more tolerant.
For instance, Christian evangelicals are a powerful political group in the U.S. that have aligned themselves with the Republican Party. As I write this post Georgia is in a political runoff for two U.S. Senate seats. The two Republican contenders are multi-millionaires who are using their senate positions to get even richer. Opposing them are two Democrats — one of God’s chosen people (Jewish) and a distinguished minister. Now, it would seem logical that all the Christians in Georgia would support the minister and Jew, but instead, they will vote for two of the wealthiest people in Congress, who only care about trading their massive stock investments to get even richer. The love of money belies the teachings of Christ, but it doesn’t matter.
Evangelicals are a relatively small percentage of the Christian denominations in North America, but they are well-organized, passionate, and vocal. Any Republican who wants to win has to court them.
Many evangelicals believe their way of worship is the “one right way,” yet evangelicalism didn’t even come into being until the 1700s, and was primarily created by John Wesley during the First Great Awakening.
Even more interesting is that the invention of the “rapture” was cobbled together in the 1830s by evangelists who pulled scriptures out of Revelations and Thessalonians to create a creepy end-of-the-world narrative. It is this narrative that has influenced U.S. foreign policy and the American Zionist movement, where supporting Israel’s expansionism and continued suppression of the Palestinians will hopefully bring to them a self-fulfilling prophesy — Armageddon.
Most people, including myself, assume that it was Jerry Fallwell Sr., the Moral Majority, and the abortion issue that made evangelical Christians a pillar of the Republican Party. But, no, the evangelicals began morphing into Republicans even further back, partly in thanks to a Christian political organizer named Paul Weyrich. He was actually the founder of the Moral Majority, as well as The Heritage Foundation, and other right-wing organizations. Shockingly, it was segregation that triggered conservative Christians to jump into the GOP bandwagon. Hey, wait, wasn’t the segregation issue resolved in the 1960s? Supposedly, yes, but it continued on in a more sinister way. As Southern whites pulled their children out of segregated schools, they moved them into church schools, and churches, in turn, created universities that were thinly disguised white havens. Most notable among these schools was Bob Jones University. Starting at the end of Nixon’s term big controversies broke out about the tax-exempt status of these racist institutions, which helped to engage evangelicals in the political process.
It was not until 1978, five years after Roe v. Wade, that shrewd political organizers dropped the issue of government intervention in racist religious schools and switched the focus to abortion and the “homosexual agenda.” The gay-bashing campaign, disguised under the name of “family values,” is now losing steam, but abortion still resonates and galvanizes the evangelical political faction.
You’ll have to excuse me, but those of us on the left are mystified and horrified when people claiming to be Christians show cult-like support for a Sunday golfer who has had several extra-marital affairs and who lives a life the complete opposite of the example shown by Jesus. I don’t get it, but when I see how evangelicals also fell behind Ronald Reagan, an infrequent church attendee who didn’t even understand the term “Born Again,” I can understand.
Where’s the Passion
I’m not here today to judge, for I actually admire the Christian evangelicals for their passion, organizing skills, and powerful voting bloc. Along with them is the extremely passionate gun owners who are a cult themselves. In my 16 years of blogging, most of what I say is unread or ignored, but if I say something critical about guns or conservative religion, I suddenly receive some emotional comments. So, my question is: Why can’t we environmentalists have the same kind of passion? The problem with the Christian Political Party is that they have to put their cognitive dissonance on full power and ignore their massive hypocrisy so that they can push for more millionaire Republicans to get elected, while most of the country is barely scraping by financially or even sinking. Suddenly, they want to be moral champions and they will rally behind the most immoral leaders to achieve their goals. But, yes, we environmentalists are stinking hypocrites too because we are part of this wasteful, materialistic world. Only if you live a carbon-neutral life with minimal waste can you not be a green hypocrite. But, you see, I at least acknowledge my hypocrisy and I grieve every day for the harm I’m doing to the planet. Evangelicals, on the other hand, use delusion, conspiracy theories, and confirmation bias to distort their reality until it accommodates their hypocrisy and religious fairy tales.
I am shocked that just 50 years ago African-Americans were required to use “Colored” restrooms and sit on the back of buses. This is appalling to me. I am shocked that even into the 1970s police were raiding gay bars to “clean up neighborhoods.” Gay people are docile, kind, and productive members of society. To use them as a target to galvanize your political movement infuriates me. And you do this to force women to have their unwanted children, and you give votes to millionaire Republicans who buy their office with no political experience and primarily push tax cuts and other policies that only benefit the wealthiest 1 percent. And I am shocked that a political faction with a racist past would borrow the “pro-life” issue from the Roman Catholics and use it as their rallying cry for 42 years. I think it’s time for some new political models.
Of interest, there is an evangelical megachurch in my town that’s now for sale. It seems like all those rock concerts and “practical” message sermons couldn’t keep the masses engaged. I’m not sure what actually happened there but if you want to buy a giant church, click HERE. If you want to read about how this former church engaged in right-wing political activity, click on the article below, titled, “A Nation Under God.” If you want to find many more church buildings for sale, you can do a Google Search. The point being is that I’m hoping the dark era of minority-bashing, gay-bashing, and women-bashing, all under the Christian flag, is coming to an end. It’s another sad period in our history. I applaud Jimmy Carter who has spent his long life modeling how a Christian actually SHOULD behave. God bless him.
And, funny, because now Christian evangelicals have switched roles and are claiming they are the persecuted ones. They falsely say that Donald Trump ended the “War on Christmas,” even though such a war never existed. And now they are pushing “religious liberty” bills in state legislatures across our land. They have flipped the issue — they claim small businesses should have the RIGHT to refuse serving gays if it conflicts with their religious beliefs. I find this utterly disgusting. Screw your so-called “religious beliefs.” Maybe just remove that nice-sounding label and say what you really are — a homophobe.
I appreciate Owen Morgan of Telltale, a popular YouTube Channel that examines cults and oppressive religions, for inspiring me to write this article. As he mentions in one of his videos, morality always flows in the direction of justice. We have made great progress against the persecution of minorities, gays, and women. I am proud of these accomplishments. I see climate change as a moral and social justice issue as well. I see the destruction of green space and woodlands as a moral issue. And I see the wiping out of other animal species and the pollution of our land and seas as moral and justice issues. I want to live long enough to see a Green Great Awakening where we consider the rights and wellbeing of our planet and all living creates as part of green justice and peace.
An Excellent Documentary on the Evangelical-Republican Marriage
A Nation Under God, by John Sugg, Mother Jones
The Man Who Mobilized The Evangelical Vote | Al Jazeera
Owen Morgan of Telltale YouTube Channel.
The Great Tribulation, Wikipedia
Invention of the “Rapture” Idea, Prophecy Reformation Institute
Top photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash