I’m A Christian

That’s what the caller said to the talk radio host.  Then he proceeded to make his comments about health care reform.

I can’t help but wonder what, “I’m a Christian,” means or why he invoked his faith as preface to his comments about a hot political issue.  Actually, I’ve heard many people declare their Christianity as part of their expression of their opinions, which, as it turns out, were mostly offered as absolute facts rather than their personal opinions.  What does the caller’s thinking he’s a Christian have to do with health care reform?  Sure, we can manufacture a connection; still, the more interesting part of this is his intent of saying, “I’m a Christian.”

Does he want us to ascribe certain values to him because of his pronouncement of his religious beliefs?  Are we supposed to see him as merciful or generous or caring?  Of course, I’m making up those qualities, since the caller didn’t explain the meaning behind his declaration, but that was the sense I had.  And isn’t it odd that he would find it necessary to make this religious declaration, as though we would then know something useful about him?

James Earl Ray said he was a Christian and then he murdered Dr. Martin Luther King.  Robert Chambliss was the ringleader of the gang who blew up the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963, killing four little girls as they sat in their Sunday school class.  He said he was a Christian, too.

Less dramatic but insidiously damaging are the fervent Evangelicals and people on the religious far right who are certain in their beliefs, clearly unable to discern the difference between their beliefs and truth.  They have a satisfyingly simple view of the world: They got it right and anyone who disagrees with them is wrong.  Unfortunately, there are, they believe, consequences to being in the group they call “wrong”, as they announce with impassioned, vaguely compassionate certainty that all who don’t believe as they do are damned and will go to hell.  What a bummer for so many of us.  They may pray for the salvation of the wrong-ies, but either way they call themselves Christians as they marginalize and sometimes demonize all who are not just like them.

King Ferdinand II of Spain was the 15th century poster boy for that kind of thinking and he was all about action in support of it.  He murdered everyone who would not declare themselves to be a Christian. He, too, it seems, saw himself as a Christian.  There were a number of popes like him, some of whom sent armies to kill the non-Christians in the middle-east.  What could be more Christian than that?  It turns out there is something.

Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater, Inc. (now called Xe Services LLC), the “contractor” hired by Cheney-Bush to kill Iraqi’s, thinks he’s a most devout Christian.  He wants to eliminate Islam and kill all three billion Muslims in the world.  He must really be a Christian.

When people invoke their Christianity as some sort of placeholder for values they think ascribe to them by such a declaration, rest assured that they’re only creating a smoke screen, something to hide behind while they believe whatever they believe and go about doing whatever they do, either good or evil.  So, if you’re inclined to preface your opinions by declaring you’re a Christian, you can save the pious label, because, knowing that it’s used to justify nearly anything, I have no idea what it means.

Copyright 2024 by Jack Altschuler
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