R Scott Okamoto
It Was You, Jesus- It's Time to Let Christianity Go
Updated: Jan 5, 2022
Originally posted 1/9/2021
We sometimes refer to a moment of reckoning as a “come to Jesus” moment, as if returning to Jesus is akin to submitting to some kind of universal truth. When I was a “progressive” Christian, I believed that submitting to Jesus’ teachings pointed the world towards a progressive point of view. The fact that most Christians did not see things the same way did not deter my feeling that I was right and a few hundred million of them were wrong. Now that I am solidly agnostic, I find myself forced to admit that they were right, and I was wrong. Jesus, however he exists in an evangelical’s dull mind, is the problem. And let’s get real. That’s the only Jesus that matters today.
The image of a gigantic “Jesus 2020” banner being paraded up the steps and into the nation’s capitol atop the shoulders of armed terrorists heaven-bent on destroying American democracy should be a wake up call for us all. The Christians are the bad guys. And they always have been. I was one of them.
Moderate or progressive Christians in 2021 need to have a “come to Jesus” moment. This means they should actually walk away from Jesus. The western Jesus they worship. The GOP trickle down jesus. The white one. The one rushing the nation’s capitol with the country’s biggest morons. Yeah. Fuck that guy. Walk away.
Christianity has not aged well. History and time have not been kind. And yet almost no one seems to have noticed that the Christians who worship a “Prince of Peace” have forged their religion in violence and oppression from early on. Manifest Destiny gave the world wars and crusades and the taking of North America. More recently, as society has attempted to shed itself of racism, misogyny, and anti-LGBTQ beliefs, Christianity has found itself at best whistling and twiddling its thumbs in the back of the room, and at worst waging all out war for the wrong sides of history.
When was Christianity ever on the right side of history? Civil War? That was split with Christians on both sides. Civil Rights? Nope. That was literally only Black Christians and the Quakers. MLK wrote a book chastising white American Christians for not supporting the movement.
And a quick glance at any ex-evangelical facebook group or twitter thread reveals how much pain and destruction a Christian life brings to its followers, especially to women. Internalized guilt for human feelings and desires destroy a person’s soul. The brave people who finally break free from Christianity are broken but hopeful for a life free of toxic fundamentalist rules. They emerge like Neo in the Matrix after waking up and seeing the real world for the first time. It’s a long, hard road to recovery.
And society has largely given Christians the benefit of the doubt, allowing Christianity to exist in opposition to and unscathed by the progress of the rest of the world. If anyone noticed a direct connection between Christianity and slavery, it never got discussed. Christianity is directly tied to white supremacy. It’s tied to misogyny. It’s tied to greedy capitalism. It’s tied to violence against LGBTQ people. Oh, but let’s hear from a beloved pastor of a megachurch about peace or goodness. Let’s allow Christians to be the “family values” people or “pro-life” people. These are people who live and vote against the interest of homeless people, LGBTQ people, people of color, women, and anyone they deem to be “other.” Hell, even Obama had a vile megachurch pastor give a prayer at his inauguration. Yes, I think Rick Warren is a terrible human.
It's time for big name pastors and little old ladies in church pews to not be symbols of “goodness” or “morality.” That little old lady just armed herself and broke into the nation’s capitol, spurred on by her pastor.
Of course Christianity is not the sole cause of all these terrible things. Other religions contribute as well. And secular institutions and governments certainly have their fair share of blood on their hands. I tend to believe that people are simply capable of tremendous evil, regardless of religion. But christianity is the weapon of choice wielded against American society.
The assumption has always been that Christianity is “good.” Jesus was good. Martin Luther King was good. Mother Teresa was good. The fact that we are hard-pressed to think of another example of a historical figure whose Christianity was central to their life’s work hasn’t stopped society from giving Christianity a pass as some kind of positive force for good. Despite all the horrible things done in the name of Christianity, the assumption has been that a few bad apples didn’t represent the whole barrel. Sound familiar to another situation of a blue hue? Also, it’s best to not ask about MLK’s views of LGBTQ issues.
And then Christianity tipped its hand/hood in 2016 and gave unto the world one Donald J. Trump. I heard so many people say, “How could Christians support someone that evil?” Answer: Because they are evil.
The question is so important because acknowledging the answer could change everything. It was the Matrix moment. In 2016 all Christians had to make a choice: keep up the ruse that they were some universally good force or take off the hoods and just admit that they were who they were. 80% of Christians went with the latter. Donald Trump is exactly as Christians believe Jesus to be. To them, he “tells it like it is,” is “tough,” “anti-liberal,” and “pro-choice.” And his assumed wealth is all most Christians need to know. God has richly blessed Trump, so who are they to question his divine, anointed goodness? He is the embodiment of a white male Christian.
Of course there are “good” Christians who actually care about the world and live lives dedicated to helping people outside the stained glass windows of their churches. They are the outliers. I respect the hell out of them, but their adherence to a “biblical” life and identification with the name “Christianity” tarnishes them still. You can’t claim to be a “good” Christian any more than you can claim to be a “good” Q-Anon or Proud Boy. You simply are one of those things with all the complexities and characteristics of the identity. Different kind, same kind...you're one of them.
If you don’t believe what they believe, maybe you’re just not one of them. A reclassification or rebranding might be in order. Get out now while you can.
It’s just a name, after all. It isn’t even used once in the bible.
But this isn’t about Christians. It’s about the rest of us.
We have to stop coddling and enabling evil. Even if the evil is committed by Christians. Especially if evil is committed by Christians. Christians are responsible for Trump. They are responsible for most of the atrocities of the 20th and 21stcenturies. Do not try to make the argument that those aren’t “real” Christians. That has been discussed on this blog here and by other, more eloquent writers like Chrissy Stroop here, and Brad Onishi on his Straight White American Jesus podcast.
It hasn’t been because of a few bad apples. That was GOP Jesus leading the way up the Capitol steps. It’s who they are. Let’s see them for who they are instead of what we assume them to be.