And so I give you Rev. Gregory A. Boyd, pastor of one of these evangelical (distinctly UNliberal) mega-churchs (this one in Minnesota) with thousands and thousands of members. From an article in this morning's New York Times:In his six sermons, Mr. Boyd laid out a broad argument that the role of Christians was not to seek "power over" others - by controlling governments, passing legislation or fighting wars. Christians should instead seek to have "power under" others - "winning people's hearts" by sacrificing for those in need, as Jesus did, Mr. Boyd said.
"America wasn't founded as a theocracy," he said. "America was founded by people trying to escape theocracies. Never in history have we had a Christian theocracy where it wasn't bloody and barbaric. That's why our Constitution wisely put in a separation of church and state.
"I am sorry to tell you," he continued, "that America is not the light of the world and the hope of the world. The light of the world and the hope of the world is Jesus Christ."
Mr. Boyd lambasted the "hypocrisy and pettiness" of Christians who focus on "sexual issues" like homosexuality, abortion or Janet Jackson's breast-revealing performance at the Super Bowl halftime show. He said Christians these days were constantly outraged about sex and perceived violations of their rights to display their faith in public.
"Those are the two buttons to push if you want to get Christians to act," he said. "And those are the two buttons Jesus never pushed."
Some Woodland Hills members said they applauded the sermons because they had resolved their conflicted feelings. David Churchill, a truck driver for U.P.S. and a Teamster for 26 years, said he had been "raised in a religious-right home" but was torn between the Republican expectations of faith and family and the Democratic expectations of his union.
When Mr. Boyd preached his sermons, "it was liberating to me," Mr. Churchill said.
Since Rev. Boyd started saying this stuff, he has lost 1,000 of his 5,000 members. I get the feeling his attitude about that is pretty much, "Forgive me, O Lord, but good riddance."
It might split some congregations, neighborhoods and families, just like the hawk:dove stance on the Iraq war has done, but pretending the divisions don't exist and papering over the cracks is no way to repair them and rebuild a sound, respectful and tolerant foundation.
The most encouraging part of this story is that Rev. Boyd preached his landmark sermons two years ago, before the last election, concerned "that the Christian message is being compromised by the tendency to tie evangelical Christianity to the Republican Party and American nationalism, especially through the war in Iraq". And he's not alone amongst evangelicals in his concerns, as the full article details. Read it all.