No one really knows when it happened. Perhaps it was during the Crusades. Maybe during the Salem witch trials. Or maybe it came about in even more modern times, like after the shooting of an abortion doctor. It’s difficult to pinpoint an exact moment when it happened, but what is evident is that somewhere along the line being a Christian ceased being synonymous with being “good” or “righteous.”
I am a Christian and an American, not an American Christian. If the institution of Christianity had paid attention to the foresight of our genius Founding Fathers like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, we would all understand the importance of that distinction. We would have erected a strong and sturdy wall between church and state long ago. But we didn’t, and that endangers both the church and the state.
It’s important for Christians to note the importance of that last part. We instinctively invoke the separation of church and state as a means to protect the state from religious influence. That same figurative wall, if it existed, would also serve the important role of protecting the church from political influence.
Sadly, this wall barely exists anymore between Christianity and the government. It remains intact for other religions though, and tends to be highly restrictive. When a school district in Orange County, Florida decided to allow religious materials to be distributed in public school, that sounded like a good idea to the school board. They allowed it, and caught the ire of non-Christian religions.
Enter a local Satanic group who put together a coloring book for students and requested that it also be sent home with them. This could not have provided a more clear example of the hypocrisy in forcing the Christian materials on students while not allowing other religions to distribute their own materials.
That hypocrisy is just the tip. It would be one thing if Christians were able to claim some kind of moral high ground over Satanists, but we can’t. Perhaps there was a time when we could, but that is long gone.
We can no longer truthfully paint Satanists as devil worshipers. The Satanic Temple doesn’t actually worship Satan, nor do they perform ritual blood sacrifices or eat children. In general, Satanists are actually agnostic. They don’t necessarily believe in the existence of a literal Satan.
What we’re truly comparing here are the actions of the institutions.
Shortly after the terrorist attacks in Paris last November, there was a sudden spike of anti-Muslim hate crimes in the U.S. This left many Muslims in America fearful to even leave their homes. Thanks to the Republican primary, we have Donald Trump telling Americans that Muslims in our country should wear ID badges, calling for surveillance of Muslims, and finally just outright banning Muslims from the country. This was spurred on by various Christian leaders not distinguishing between Muslims and terrorists. That led to incidents where the face of Christianity becomes the woman who poured coffee on a praying Muslim.
While some unruly Christians like her were out there giving a bad name to the faith, many other Christian institutions offered prayer and empathy, but no monetary or physical assistance.
The Satanic Temples of Minneapolis and San Jose were doing something:
And people noticed:
Because the Church has gotten so large and spread out, it’s fairly difficult to compare anything to the institution of Christianity as a whole. I have seen churches doing wonderful things in their communities, and doing it with no desire for acknowledgment or thanks.
I also see a church that pickets the funerals of fallen soldiers; whose members walk around with signs that say “God Hates (insert slur here).” I saw that same church picketing the funeral of murdered abortion doctor George Tiller, carrying signs that say “God sent the shooter.”
But then I see the way Pope Francis has made selflessness popular, and I see other churches practicing a righteous tolerance and engaging their communities to see how they can best help those in need.
Being a Satanist or a Christian doesn’t determine whether or not you’re a good person. Being a good person determines if you’re a good person. Righteousness is not defined by the titles we give ourselves, but rather by the virtues we uphold.
Christians, when someone leads a lifestyle that you abhor, you can either smite them or love them. But before you make your decision, you should consult with the namesake of your faith. Can you guess how he would respond?
Featured image courtesy of World Religion News.