The iconic line from the Christopher Nolan Batman movie The Dark Knight has District Attorney Harvey Dent say, “You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”
For the most part, the Christian religious right has done this. At one point, they remained silent on politics. During the Civil Rights movement, they went as far as to criticize Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and others for mixing politics and religion. In many parts of America, not just the south and rural eras, church was part of life. You went to work. You went to ball games with your kids. You went on vacation to the Poconos. You went to church on Sundays.
But the Civil Rights movement bred the Moral Majority whose goal was initially to stand behind Bob Jones University as integration was becoming popular among many schools. The days of George Wallace using the Alabama National Guard to prevent black students from going to college or people screaming at young black kids going to school was over. The Moral Majority realized it had to change tactics and focus on abortion, but the tracks had been laid. Church officials and religious organizations could use strong-arm tactics and grassroot public shaming to get changes.
Even though he is more religious than President Jimmy Carter, they were able to get the Christian conservatives to vote Ronald Reagan into office, but things were changing especially after the Cold War ended. Christian conservatives were able to use the threat of Communism to cause changes. But there’s a reason Wile E. Coyote never catches the Road Runner.
By the mid-1990s, the Cold War was over. Jimmy Swaggart had been exposed for his philandering behavior. Accusations of sexual assault and other criminal activities ruined Jim Bakker and the PTL as people gave him money in a fraud scheme. And the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case where Larry Flynt published a fake ad on Jerry Falwell proved that God may be infallible, but church officials aren’t.
The threat of an apocalypse around the turn of the 21st Century might have temporarily put butts in pews but the Catholic Church sex assault scandal soon made them empty. And as the George W. Bush administration started a Holy War in the Middle East, a lot of people couldn’t sit still anymore, especially now they were grown and weren’t being forced by parents to attend church.
The campaign of President Barack Obama and his election further solidified the divide in America that some Christians were very racist and bigoted. The Birther movement and calls that he was actually an Islamic terrorist changed the opinions of Millennials and Gens Xers and Gen Zers. They weren’t seeing what their parents and grandparents were seeing. In fact, it was the exact opposite.
Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) said that Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) was a jihadist, but she is actually the more dangerous person with a criminal history to boot. In the past five or six years, conservatives and Christians have turned Donald Trump into an idol, even though idolatry is one of the worst things to do in the Christian faith. I can go on, but more and more people are really seeing the veil being lifted. Ironically, that’s what “apocalypse” means.
Even as young children can now receive the Covid vaccine, many religious figures are still vehemently telling people not to get it. The pastor at the Patriot Church in Spokane, Wash., has said that he’s going to shoot people and brandishes a baseball bat life a rifle in an online video. Many people have said churches have been one of the biggest super spreaders of the vaccine. My mom and cousin got it last year when his daughter contacted it from Georgia Tech. Recently, when my brother got married at a Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, a lot of our family got sick after. I’ve even heard from one of the women who works at the convenience store near my house that the church she attends will close down every now and again for two or three weeks as someone tests positives.
With the Internet and social media, churches can broadcast their sermons online, so why didn’t many lead the change for the safety of others? Because they were following Trump and the Republicans who felt the virus wasn’t as extreme as scientist said. It became a faith versus science fight. People still say God will protect them if they have faith. Currently, there are about 770,000 people who have died of Covid. According to Census figures, the entire state of Wyoming has about 576,000 people. Imagine the entire state population of Wyoming being killed by the virus with over 200,000 more deaths.
The ironic part is that for a religion that has always said so much about the end of the world and speaks of plagues and diseases, why are Christians so hesitant? Wouldn’t they see this as the End Times? Who knows? Are they afraid if they get the vaccine that’s the same as the Mark of the Beast?
I think while social media helped spread Christianity in the 2000s, it’s also helped lead to its downfall. While many Xers, Boomers and Millennials were more than willing to post on their profiles about their religious affiliations for people they didn’t even like from their schools and community, TikTok and other social media have shown the ugly side of religion and Christianity. More videos are being posted every day about the toxic households or churches they were in.
In the 2010s, the Church of Scientology took a hit as past members exposed what was happening but I’m not seeing any difference when it comes to Christianity. Extremism is always going to be in any religion, but while Christians have been wagging their finger at it in Islam, Scientology, Hinduism, Sikh, etc., they seem to be afraid of talking about it amongst other Christians.
Or at least they were.
In many way, Trump changed all that. When the SCOTUS more or less made gay marriage legal, the war was on. Kentucky court clerk Kim Davis refused to issue them citing her religious beliefs. And Trump continued the divide throughout his campaign exposing the racism that is common in many conservatives and Christians. Even though people from Central America are very religious, Trump and the Republican Party were able to paint them as rapists and dangerous.
Reports of Trump’s affairs and even his own words implicating himself in sexual assault fell on deaf ears. Christians didn’t want anyone but a white man in office. They could make them a Christian if it was a white male Republican. Then, Hulu’s hit series The Handmaid’s Tale premiered showing viewers Gilead which is America after a religious coup changes the country. People can to draw similarities as Republican legislators are passing laws targeting women.
Christians are no different than the Islamic extremists they rally against. The only difference is they see their ways as a commandment from God. Unfortunately, this has led to many younger voters turning their backs on all forms of religions. And that has created a problem, because people who used to attend church as easily and commonly as they did any other events are dying off left and right. Young voters don’t care about religion.
Even worse, they are pushing back. Chris Pratt has been hit with backlash as he and his wife, Katherine Schwarzenegger, are members of Hillsong, a church that has been accused of promoting anti-LGBTQIA rhetoric. Just six years ago, Pratt was at the top of Hollywood with Jurassic World, the LEGO Movie and Guardians of the Galaxy on his recent filmography.
People aren’t taking it anymore. And that’s what Christians extremists fear. They’re losing their grasp. Trump will be dead one day. Mitch McConnell who stacked the courts including SCOTUS will be dead as well. They need to get as much Christian political power as necessary to turn America into a theocracy. Michael Flynn recently said America should be a Christians nation only.
It’ll never happen. I don’t ever see America turning into Gilead. Too many people are willing to fight back at whatever costs. Also the hypocrisy of the Christian right grows every day. I’m actually surprised they have been quiet over the past month concerning the Kyle Rittenhouse murder trial. I was almost certain I’d see a photo of that little murderer and his mother as they are welcome with open arms into some church for a lousy photo op.
But maybe the churches around Kenosha, Wash. or Rittenhouse’s home town with the ironic name of Antioch know better than to play with too much fire. About half of America’s population claim a religion, this could cost Christians more members.
Which brings me to my final point and that is some Christians extremists are so hell bent on using violence as their only resort. Some Christians feel they’re is a Holy War being fought and they are on the right side. The problem is they don’t see anything wrong with this ideology. If they die, they become martyrs to the cause. They have been taught they have a fast pass to Heaven especially if they take out demons and sinners on Earth.
People who never see themselves as wrong are always the most dangerous.