By Ryan Self, Student Reporter
During one of those deep conversations that inevitably come up during college while on a 20-hour road trip to California, a question was posed. “What would you like to see happen in the next 10 years?” The answer, which seemed odd, especially coming from my friend who is a Christian ministry major, took a while to sink in. “I would like to see Christianity become more marginalized.”
While the answer at first threw me off, after our discussion it made perfect sense. In America we enjoy tremendous religious freedom. Nearly 75 percent of people claim some form of Christianity as their religious belief. It is mainstream, and that is perhaps what has become the problem.
I cannot illustrate this any better than my experiences growing up in the Bible belt. Nearly everyone I knew went to church. Nearly everyone I knew also partied and did the typical high school stuff: drinking, smoking, drug use. Plenty of pictures on Facebook showed the good times with Jose Cuervo right after pictures of various mission trips and community outreach projects.
It is cool to be Christian. A vast assortment of merchandise from T-shirts to bumper stickers to Christian music can display your love for Christ. What becomes the danger in all of this is Christianity slowly becomes a brand. The beliefs and teachings of Christ become catchy slogans rather than higher standards to live by.
What is equally frustrating is when the Bible and a belief in God are used to gather voters for a political campaign or a cause that has little depth other than the leader’s ability to quote Scripture. A belief in God is an attractive quality in a candidate, yet it should not be the defining factor. The ability to quote Scripture in a speech does not necessarily translate into wisdom and experience over issues and matters concerning national security, education and the economy.
Republican is not a synonym for Christian, and Democrat is not an antonym for morality. A case is often made that those who belong to a particular political party adhere to a higher moral standard. A politician, knowing his political base, may shroud himself in the word of God or portray himself as a devout believer, not because it is true, but because it gets him votes.
The danger in wrapping the values and ideals of a belief system around a person or political movement is that these things are human, and human beings fail. A failed political idea or a wayward religious leader is not a reflection on the beliefs of Christianity. When these humans fail, it is only a reminder of who our trust should truly rely upon.
Christ did not spread his Gospel through a political movement. His message was not spread through bumper stickers or T-shirts with catchy slogans or celebrity endorsements or Christian publications and talk radio. The teachings of Christ spread like wildfire because the message was coupled with action. It was genuine and it was carried by people unconcerned whether Christianity put them in opposition to the mainstream ideas of the day. Let people know you are a Christian by your actions, not by the metal fish on the back of your car.