I was raised in the United Methodist church by parents who very much lived their faith and values, and who taught my brother and me to do the same. Questioning and discussion was certainly permitted, even encouraged, and we had many lively conversations over the years about faith and action and beliefs.
As a college student, I took required religion courses at my church-related college, and studied not only the Bible, but many theologians. Again, discussion was encouraged by my professors.
Over the years I've attended and been active in various United Methodist churches and an active participant in many social justice issues and on various boards and committees, many of them ecumenical. I know a fair amount about many other churches, denominations, and religions.
I'm no longer involved in a church. But I am a spiritual person. I have a strong moral code and beliefs that have evolved from my earliest experiences with the church. I try to live my faith and my values, and I believe in God, in a Higher Power.
But I am just absolutely baffled by those who call themselves conservative Christians but whose actions are anything but reflective of what Jesus taught us about God and about forgiveness and tolerance and love.
I don't understand how a person can pepper a Facebook page with proclamations of God's love and "Praise Jesus" and then on the same page, even the same day, post or re-post vicious condemnations of gays and lesbians, of Jews and blacks and Catholics and Mormons and Muslims. Attack our president for his support of marriage for gay people as well as heterosexuals. Declare that women are not capable of making their own reproductive choices for any reason, but some man knows better than they do and will make it for them!
I don't understand how on the one hand they can pray to Jesus to sell their house or get a new job or a new car or help them through a divorce or a custody battle or other of life's difficult times, and on the other proclaim that everyone who is on disability or who receives welfare benefits is a drug addict or lazy, fat, freeloader.
Or how they can love Jesus soooo much but not forgive someone who hurt them in the past or even to consider that perhaps that person has changed. Or to bear a grudge that is rooted in something that happened decades ago. Shun a person who they believe has wronged them, without explanation, without discussion or even attempts at reconciliation. But Jesus can heal all, Jesus will save us, Jesus forgives our sins? Huh?
Or somehow rationalize that it is all right to kill a doctor who performs abortions, safe and legal abortions, and to condemn those women who might seek one for any reason as 'babykillers.' How does that make sense? How does that demonstrate love and compassion?
This is not the Christianity I was raised with.
Instead, Christianity today seems to be increasingly populated with those claiming to be 'good' Christian people who advocate -- or at the least turn a blind eye to violence, discrimination, anti-Semitism, and prejudice. They are anti-gay, anti-women, anti-immigrant, anti-Jew, anti-black, anti-poverty. They consider their brand of Christianity to be the ONLY way, and if you don't believe as they do, you are clearly going to hell, and might even deserve to be punished, if not outright murdered.
Jesus was a Jew. He hung out with former prostitutes, tax collectors, thieves, the poor, the mentally ill, the crippled, the unpopular people. He taught tolerance and caring and compassion for everyone. He taught that loving others as much as we love ourselves is the right way to live.
I'm not seeing it. Not by those who pray the loudest anyway.