While having dinner with friends a couple of weeks ago, they asked me if I considered myself religious. I thought about it for a moment and said, “well, I am a Christian, so I suppose in some ways I am religious.”
The conversation drifted into talk about a recent study, which found that over half of Britons say they are non-religious. Though this is significantly lower than the U.S., our Christian numbers are slipping every year.
Why is that? Why are these once Christian nations now living in post-Christian society?
A lot of it has to do with approach.
“Religious Christianity” is a parasite ripping its way through good intentions, the Joel Osteens of this world (note the previous link was taken from a conservative-leaning website) promising people they will be “blessed” if they contribute to his lavish lifestyle, while the likes of Joyce Meyers persist in hatefully yelling at you to have joy. Right.
And here’s the thing: those of us who dare speak out against the so-called prosperity gospel, the TBN televangelists of this world, are suddenly not “Christian enough” for the Cool Kids Religious Club.
The wailing and flailing and associating politics with religion to the point that you’re unwelcome certainly doesn’t make me very interested in stepping foot in a church — and I was practically born on the front pew.
Where does that leave the rest of the world?
Less than motivated.
While walking through Manchester on Saturday, the soothing sounds of prayers and light music wafted through an area with a large amount of foot traffic. As I came closer to the origination of the sound, I saw it was an Islamic outreach. Two large tables were full of varying types of informational books, and the people in charge were standing some distance away, enabling people to freely wander up, observe, and learn at their own pace. I was surprised by how calm it felt and suddenly understood why this is a religion increasing in number. These lay people made it feel approachable.
Because irony is a thing, I continued meandering down the walkway and into a large square in downtown Manchester. As I made my way along, I started to hear someone yelling — was there a fight? An accident?
And then…”oh no,” I thought. Dread crept upon me like vines tightly encasing an old brick building.
There he was in all his glory.
A red-faced, loud mouth with a crackling mic, yelling at people, “know the one, true living God! You are not from chimpanzees. Evolution is not real!”
His small set up included a handcrafted wooden cross, a t-shirt on a mannequin (not sure if they were for sale or what)…and that’s it. A man and his soapbox.
People were snickering in clusters from a safe distance away, giggling at the “crazy guy” talking about Jesus.
It’s symptomatic of the larger issue with Christianity: the right-fighters. Notice he didn’t speak about the love of Christ or how He died on a cross. He didn’t even mention the concept of sin and how there is forgiveness. He pushed a political and scientific agenda and attempted to angrily convince passersby that this behavior somehow, some way, meant his religion was superior.
Tell me — if you were among the 53% of non-religious UK residents, which religious approach would have interested you the most? Or at least not closed the door to the positives of said religion?
Jonathan Edwards’ “Sinners at the Hands of an Angry God” is one of America’s most important and fascinating religious texts. And while I believe in Jesus and the tenets of Christianity — though I stumble, God knows — Edwards died in 1758, and the world is now a very different place.
Maybe it’s time that approach died, too. Maybe it’s time the religious right stepped off their self-righteous pedestal and learned to study the Bible without their Evangelical politics. Maybe it’s time to give people a safe space to feel welcome and explore instead of yelling religious dogma in the streets.
(image credit: Pixabay)