2005-05-25

The trouble with liberal religion.

Via Austin Cline

Infidel in Exile: What do we do?

In order to function as Christians, liberal Christians must reconstruct their entire religion, downplaying or eliminating its sexism, racism, and inherent authoritarianism, and ditching ideas like The Fall and Hell and the vengeful Old Testament God that moderns find repugnant. Why bother doing all this?
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The problem is that decent loving liberal Christians are acting as enablers for what is essentially a cult of authority that will neither rest nor sleep nor stop until each and every human on earth is a Christian and all other forms of belief have been stamped out, world without end, amen.
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Protestantism, begun with the laudable goal of letting each person worship God according to his own conscience, has simply evolved a variant on this authority structure. Having killed the Pope, Protestants promptly erected a thousand little Popes in his place. Modern progressive Christians want to discard the authority but keep the structure, but the result is an odd compromise: progressives discard the authority of the Church over themselves, but the authority itself remains. Thus the problem of Authority remains unresolved. One sees this in liberal Catholics who ooze reassuring warm fuzzies about their local churches, and their declaration that "Rome does not rule here!" which does nothing for the problems that progressives the world over will face as a result of the appointment of a hidebound German reactionary to the highest seat of the Roman Church, nor does it address the inherent wrongness of a religion run as a fuedal authoritarianism rather than a progressive democracy.

Thus, the problem is not that someone has "hijacked" Christianity and turned it into a cult of authority -- it always *was* a cult of authority whose core values must be radically reconfigured in order to make them compatible with a loving, democratic, and progressive worldview. Rather, the problem is that liberal Christianity is providing ethical, social, and financial cover for the malevolent version of Christianity that is currently overruning the United States. Even if the current effort to preserve a democratic United States is successful, this problem of Christianity-as-Facism will only recur. Authority-worship is built into the structure of Christianity as a missionary religion whose mandate is vested in Divine Authority, in a Jesus to whom "every knee must bend." In other words, Christianity does not prepare Christians to be loving members of a democratic society, but to be unquestioning followers of an Authority Figure -- and then makes them missionaries for that belief. The liberal Christians opt out of and even actively oppose this system does not make it go away. The time has come for those of us, Christian and not, who value pluralistic, secular, democracy, to start seeing Christianity as a recurrent, long-term problem, and stop enabling the spread of an inherently undemocratic authority-belief that is inimical to a loving, progressive society.

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