By Shannyn Moore for the Anchorage Daily News
I grew up in the First Organic Free Range Christian Church of Homer. OK, It didn’t say that over the door, but it seemed like it at the time. I played piano for the congregation and was always asking questions. I know. You’re shocked. Irreverent? I didn’t mean to be. I just wanted to figure it all out. I had patient teachers and living examples and was on the winning Bible Bowl team.
I no longer attend a church. I have a hard time reconciling what many churches say with what Jesus said.
This week a friend sent me a photo of the sign in front of the Valley Baptist Tabernacle, in Palmer.
“VOTE!! AND REMEMBER, TRUE CHRISTIANS DON’T VOTE LIBERAL.”
First, I agree. Vote. I think everyone eligible should vote. If politics were a religion, voting would be the sacrament — in remembrance for the blood shed to ensure your right to do it.
The rest of it? Rubbish.
“True Christians”? What does that mean? Were “true Christians” the ones responsible for the Crusades, witch trials, Spanish Inquisition? There’s been a spotty record of good deeds; the Valley Baptist folks may not want all that scrutiny.
That brings us to liberal.
I guess all the free health care Jesus was handing out was lost on these folks. The one guy who remembered his lunch to go see Jesus speak shared it, through a miracle, with 5,000. There’s no verse that says, “Oh, and all you hungry will remember to pack a lunch next time, won’t you.” Clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, visiting those in prison, taking care of God’s creation, I mean HAVE THESE PEOPLE EVEN READ THE BOOK?
Jesus was a liberal. A radical. An insurgent against the established and corrupt church. He asked for those killing him to be forgiven but he raged with a whip against the miserable money changers and rip-off artists running the church. Did you get that part? Sometimes I think the most audacious atheists are those running churches. They can’t possibly believe in a higher power who sees the content of their hearts or they wouldn’t behave the way they do.
This politicalization of religion isn’t new. It’s not just local to a church in the Valley. Sorry to pick on you but it is your sign. I’m sure your potlucks are lovely.
Top contender for Jesus, Inc., CEO is Jerry Prevo over at the Anchorage Baptist Temple. Almost two decades ago he blamed “Liberals” for a possible financial collapse of the United States. (That was during the liberal Clinton years.)
“Let me tell you, the liberals know what’s happening. I think I’d be for gun control too, I’d be for banning guns too, if I were a liberal. Since I’m not, I’m not for it (gun control). I may want to use one, one of these days. The only reason I would not take a gun and do it is because of God. That’s the only reason.”
Well, praise the Lord! The only reason he isn’t shooting a liberal is because of God? So, God is for gun control? Hmmm. And by the way, this is Alaska — liberals have guns too.
People drive to church, every church, on roads paid for, maintained and patrolled by public funds. When there is a fire at a temple, the publicly-paid-for fire department shows up. If there is vandalism, the cops respond. Churches aren’t taxed. You know, that separation of church and state thing works in their favor when it comes to rendering unto Caesar but when operating as a Political Action Committee it gets a little squishy. Pick one. Pay your taxes and endorse away — freedom of speech and all, or stick to the red letters and stay out of politics.
Here’s an idea. Tax religious institutions. Have a list of deductions they can apply to their property tax. (Yes, Jerry, all of your properties.) The list could come from the book of Matthew. Something like, “For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me. … Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.”
Then we’ll call it good and you can tell people your version of great voting.