Why Are All Christians Painted With An Evangelical Brush?

Some folks who criticize my writing are people who have the same views as mine on most issues.  They are Christians who share with nonbelievers concern about social justice, gay rights and women’s rights on the abortion issue.  Their comments go something like this, “I have the same problems you do with the right wing of the faith.  I am not one of them.  So why do you lump Christians like me in with the ones I could not possibly agree with?” 

Their criticism is valid.  The problem comes from the vast arena called communications.  One of the oldest rules in the media is that stories which confirm sterotypes make great news item. 

Some examples of Christian sterotypes that have been in the news recently are Terry (burn the Korans) Jones, the late Jerry Falwell, Ted Haggard and  Fred Phelps.  These are all representatives of the Christian right, but they have come to represent “Christians” in general.  

The Christian right’s anti gay rights and anti women’s rights are out of step.  I think youth are leaving Christian churches in general because the faith is associated with its right wing, not its left.

It was not always this way.  The Catholic church some decades ago carried the image of social justice.  Today it’s activities toward social justice are virtually never mentioned they do not match the current sterotype.

It will be hard to change the current Christian sterotype because the large demoninations have, within themselves, both left and right wings.

3 Responses

  1. Maybe if church leaders ever said anything publicly to distance themselves from the Christian fringe, it would be more difficult for people to lump them all together.

    1. Rayman

      I stumbled on this today, and I’m inclined to agree. The reason that much of the public associates Christianity with the people mentioned is that those are the only ones loudly and openly declaring their beliefs. More liberal or social-justice oriented Christians just sit back and don’t try to confront them. Sure they may say, “Oh, we’re not all like that” in private, which may be true, but if nobody hears it then they may as well not have said it at all.

      Until the liberal arm of Christianity speaks up openly, clearly and directly, then the right wing will continue to dominate.

      1. Thanks for the comment, Ray. It is a shame, really, that folks who interpret the Bible literally (or who claim to while ignoring that parts they do not like) would be lumped into the same “religion” as those who see the Bible as teaching-through-story-telling. While there are some aggressive authors who take on the literal wing, Spong (Why the Christian Church Must Change or Die) and Brian McLaren (A New Kind of Christianity), they do not seem to have a street-level tenacity to replace the media’s current stereotype of “the Chrisitan”. Atheists seem to be making more headway with their own stereotype of the cranky critics. The other force of change is the “emerging church” which seems to be an underground and out-of-sight movement which may taking the wheels off both the literalists and the liberal wings of the organized Christian church.

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