All Saints’ Day honors those now in the greater presence of God. The comfort that joins our sweet memories flows from the deeply held conviction that death does not have the final word.
This life-over-death belief permeates our faith from the Easter experience to all aspects of daily living. At least it should.
However, this purportedly defining conviction now contrasts with an unimaginable culture of death that dominates much of the politics of white Americanized Christianity.
Those who claim so loudly to be “pro-life” have largely embraced a political agenda that devalues humanity, puts physical lives at high risk, and treats the most vulnerable among us as expendable. It shouldn’t be that way.
The very experience of Christian conversion is framed in terms of life over death. As Paul told the Romans (6:8): “We died with Christ. So, we believe that we will also live with him.”
However, today’s highly-conservative, politically-driven, white Americanized Christianity — that so often ignores the life and teachings of Jesus — is something of a death cult.
It doesn’t hand out poison-laced punch like Jim Jones, but it serves a primarily destructive purpose that devalues and often destroys human lives.
This may sound harsh, but examples are aplenty — from overwhelming evangelical support of unbridled access to highly-destructive firearms to deep participation in sowing seeds of distrust in proven, life-saving vaccinations. These simply top a long and growing list.
Look no further than the refusal of government leaders — in states considered largely “Christian” and often where poverty rates are high — to expand Medicaid that would provide needed medical services in rural areas.
This hostile opposition is not due to the lack of need, but a matter of political spite. Because these available resources are part of the Affordable Care Act — or “Obamacare” as it’s commonly known — they would rather have people die than to accept something life-giving from one they deemed their enemy.
Also, evangelicals overwhelmingly support politicians who smirkingly play games with undocumented migrants who are treated as political pawns rather than desperate families seeking refuge from threats and conditions unimaginable to us.
“We have to remember these are human beings…” said former presidential advisor Jared Kushner to Fox News after one such stunt. And when Jared Kushner is your moral compass, you’re lost.
These latest deceptive abuses of asylum seekers pale in comparison to the intentional and strategic ripping of children from the arms of their parents with no concern about future reunification. It is cruelty in religious wrapping.
Opinions on immigration policies can vary. However, if one’s response to any crisis is to demean those suffering the most as a result, there is no Christian high ground to be claimed.
This applies not only to migrants, but also to women with challenging pregnancies, religious minorities and others in powerless positions.
Is it fair to place such blame on a large segment of American evangelicalism? Absolutely.
While white evangelicals may oppose certain aspects of this death-over-life agenda, the results are the same when continually supporting the political operatives carrying out this agenda.
Simply put, the current and proposed policies and political stunts that demean and damage human lives would not exist without the reliable undergirding by those who self-identify as evangelical Christians. This is a new norm that would have been unimaginable less than a decade ago.
Unfortunately, the conversation about the devaluation of life tends to start and stop with abortion — just like the political operatives who introduced the wedge issue intended.
But when claims of protecting fetal life become a license for supporting all kinds of life-threatening and life-taking measures, then it is not a pro-life orientation. And it is not a perspective that aligns with the life and teachings of Jesus.
In this fear-based religious/nationalistic mindset, freedom is cast as self-indulgence and both common sense and common good get sacrificed.
And love of God and neighbor — which Jesus said form the greatest commandment and summarize all the laws and prophetic teachings — simply disappear.
It has been rightly said that not only does perfect love cast out all fear (1 John 4:18) but, conversely, fear casts out all love.
Participation by professing Christians in the misguided anti-vaccination movement alone has resulted in countless deaths with more to come. It’s heartbreaking to hear friends tell of losing family members to COVID-19 because some conspiracy-consuming church members told them it was no big deal.
Gun violence by those with unrestrained access to high-powered weapons of destruction keep adding to the unnecessary death totals.
The execution of prisoners continues, though DNA and other studies have proved the barbaric practice to be unjustly administered and unfairly applied to the poor and nonwhite persons.
It should be unimaginable to think that the strongest political support for efforts that devalue life would come from those whose faith tradition is rooted in the one who expressed the godly value of every human being — and in whose resurrection there is life over death.
Yet, there is much in the tragic history of white conservative Americanized Christianity to see a pattern.
But the truth remains: the gospel stands in stark contrast to any belief or behavior that stems from devaluing the lives of others in order to make one’s own life feel more secure and comfortable.
Executive editor / publisher at Good Faith Media.