“No Religion” overtakes Evangelicals. GOP tries to ruin Christianity, but a gay mayor may save it.

This just dropped, and it’s shocking:

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The past few years have been tough for those who identify with major religious groups.  A plurality of Americans now identify as having no religion. This decline has continued since the 1990s, as the new generation seems to be speeding up the process.  

Washington, UNITED STATES:  Reverend Dr. Jerry Falwell, founder and chancellor of Liberty University, speaks during a Christians United For Israel(CUFI) news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, 19 July 2006. CUFI is a new association of 3,000 Christians urging Congress and the public to strengthen defense of Israel.            AFP PHOTO/Jim WATSON  (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Jerry Falwell: “Christians, like slaves and soldiers, ask no questions.”

It doesn’t take a star researcher to figure out why. 

As I’ve often stated, the separation of Church and State was not just to protect the government from religion, it was to protect religion from the government. It started in the 1980s, when a few wealthy men, masquerading as pastors, decided to convert their cult-like followers into right-wing disciples for personal and political power. This meant, however, that they had to diametrically oppose virtually all of Christ’s teachings. They did so with glee.

“Love they neighbor” became hating gays and immigrants, while embracing guns, bigotry, and war.

“Blessed be the poor” was replaced with condemnation of the less fortunate: 

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“Feed the hungry, heal the sick”?  Gone. Out. 

And even though every book in the New Testament illustrates Christ railing against greed, the rightwing leaders concocted a bizarre, new theology that preaches the opposite: that Christians in poverty suffer because of lack of faith. Greed is now celebrated, which has led to things like this:

Sadly, many people today, spurred along by the media who refer to these false prophets as our nation’s “religious leaders”, identify this cult of right-wing zealots as synonymous with Christianity. As their evil deeds and hypocrisy expanded, religious belief in this nation suffered tremendously. Furthermore, their recent, strong embrace of the living embodiment of the anti-Christ these past few years has only made it worse.  Really, how could religion NOT be in decline in this nation?

This livestreamed National Call to Conscience will include a sermon by Rev. William Barber and a call to action by local clergy in Charlottesville, VA, inviting faith communities around the country to join us in rejecting the evil ideology of white nationalism.
Rev. William J. Barber: “Jesus set up free healthcare clinics everywhere he went. He healed everybody and never charged a leper a co-pay.”

True Christian followers on the left in the mold of Dr. Martin Luther King—such as Rev. William Barber, James Martin, Jim Wallis, and Lisa Sharon Harper–have largely been ignored by the mainstream media. 

These men and women actually follow the Bible, and have a real agenda—which happens to be the same one that Christ laid out.

And that brings me to Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

The mayor of South Bend, Indiana recently had a massive fundraising haul of $7 million, and went from dead last in Iowa polling to currently holding third place.  

At age 29, when he was first elected, he was declared a “turnaround mayor” for his aggressive policies and investments that reversed his town's economic death spiral.  

Pete Buttigieg
Pete Buttigieg serving his nation in Afghanistan

He briefly left his post as mayor to serve in Afghanistan. 

He's a Rhodes scholar, and speaks 8 languages: English, Spanish, Italian, Norwegian, French, Maltese, Arabic, and Dari.

Right before his re-election, he decided to come out as gay–and still won.

LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 13:  Political analyst David Axelrod attends a Democratic presidential debate sponsored by CNN and Facebook at Wynn Las Vegas on October 13, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Five Democratic presidential candidates are participating in the party's first presidential debate.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Axelrod on Buttigieg: “His fluency on faith and his willingness to speak about it is an asset. Carter, Clinton, and Obama — they all shared that quality. It was one of the cues that opened the door to voters.”

All of this is impressive, but none as much as how he is able to talk so openly and freely about his devotion to Christ.

The right wing thought the gay mayor would prove to be a perfect foil, assuming he’d have as much trouble—if not more—talking faith as other Democratic leaders. 

That didn’t go as planned.

Instead of allowing the right wing zealots to attack him for being gay, he openly schooled them on what it means to be a follower of Christ.  He points out that although abortion and homosexuality existed in Christ’s time, Christ never mentions either of those things in the Bible—which the “religious” right has been allowed to falsely set up as litmus tests for Christianity.  Rather than rejecting Christianity, which is what many young progressives have been driven to do, Mayor Buttigieg instead rejected this twisted perversion of Christianity.

I love this man because he doesn’t just “defend” his faith, he promotes it—and correctly points out that if you truly follow the Christian tenets, you simply can’t be republican.

When I think about where most of Scripture points me, it is toward defending the poor, and the immigrant, and the stranger, and the prisoner, and the outcast, and those who are left behind by the way society works.

And what we have now is this exaltation of wealth and power, almost for its own sake, that in my reading of Scripture couldn't be more contrary to the message of Christianity

Amen.

You can’t follow Ayn Rand and Christ at the same time.

In fact, Mayor Pete took it a step further. 

He rightly points out that  “Christian faith is going to point you in a progressive direction.”

Finally. I’ve been waiting for a candidate to speak to that truth. 

Mayor Pete isn’t just embracing Christianity, he’s trying to take it back from the usurpers.  He’s propping up the ignored voices of the religious left—the ones who led the fight for civil rights and social justice.  These men and women actually help the poor, heal the sick, and love thy neighbor, just as they were commanded to do.  You know, Christian stuff.

Mayor Pete also correctly stated that you can’t claim to be a follower of Christ while worshiping a fattened golden calf, in this case, one with a hairpiece who steals from charity, wanders in teen dressing rooms, lusts after his daughter, cheats on his wives, brags about sexual assault, enjoys ripping families apart, and refuses to ask forgiveness for any of it. 

Mayor Pete has the spiritual gravitas to call Trump out:

It’s hard to look at this president’s actions and believe that they’re the actions of somebody who believes in God.

When Trump was asked for his favorite Biblical quote, he couldn’t name one—of course.  Pete gave several, including one that called out the fake leaders who are propping Trump up:

And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others.

–Mathew 6:5

Perhaps the most shocking thing about the graph at the beginning of this article isn’t how much Christianity is in trouble in the US, but rather the fact that those most responsible for its decline—the “religious” right in our country—actually don’t mind.  Contrary to Christ’s teachings, they’ve made it abundantly clear that they DON’T want everyone to be brought into the Church. They want to kick people out.  They want to mock and ostracize them while holding themselves up to their followers as persecuted prophets—ones that deserve your donations,  or even “seed money”.

Yet these right wing zealots don’t know how to handle someone like Mayor Pete.  He isn’t playing their game.  If he would simply accept their definition of Christianity and reject it, then they could cast him aside as a demonic agent. Yet Mayor Pete isn’t doing this—quite the opposite. He’s very comfortable with his faith, and he is calling THEM out.  Even worse, he’s going after their misguided followers. He implored people on the left who support LBTGQ rights to:

…beckon people onto the right side of history (rather) than … drag people there. If someone feels harassed and put upon by us, at the very moment we're demanding tolerance and acceptance, one consequence is that we can leave them with nowhere to go but the religious right.

Ignore the impulse to viciously attack. Try to understand why they are where they are and reach out to them. 

Wow. What a Christian thing to do. 

Here’s the crazy thing: it’s working. Mayor Pete is expected to win a portion of the Evangelical vote, many of whom are waking up to how they’ve been played. Wouldn’t that be something.  The religious right might just be defeated over a man who represents everything they hate:

Christianity. 

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