Christian values and family values aren’t what they used to be.
Perhaps, like inflation that has diminished our buying power, the so-called “Christian values” of today are profoundly diminished. It is also true that Christian values are adrift from the historic faith from which these values supposedly are moored.
It might just be that religious leaders today exceed the hypocrisy of the religious leaders who questioned, heckled and ultimately rejected Jesus. Those are harsh words, but tragically true in my view.
Political leaders who are loud about who they don’t like, who they won’t help and who they hold in contempt, are also short on whom is worthy of their time and attention.
For example, the “Reawaken America” tour is a traveling circus of fear mongering and hate mongering, and they exemplify the twisting of biblical faith and the values the Bible espouses. The speakers are a litany of people who are unschooled and unencumbered by truth or biblical knowledge.
This tour has been traversing the country pushing election lies, conspiracy theories, misinformation and a dangerous Christian nationalism which, in some venues, is attracting large crowds.
So, what we have in this aberration of heresy woven with corrupt politics is a sideshow that has nothing to do with any spiritual awakening or any real understanding of what America is truly about.
In reality, this tour is offering the same old fear and hate mongering which has plagued the nation for most of its history. There is nothing new or helpful being offered, and certainly nothing that promotes Christian or family values.
What is most troubling to me, however, is the lack of widespread voices denouncing this travesty of faith and healthy patriotism.
From the religious community, there is an appalling silence from all but a few prophetic voices regarding this hijacking of our faith that is morphing it into some grotesque monster that is drained of compassion, kindness and empathy.
Over the years, I have learned that when someone parades around in the “name of Jesus” but lacks the virtues we see again and again in the Gospels, we are seeing a counterfeit faith, a bogus religion and a dangerous perversion.
From the politicians, the silence against this theater of the absurd is equally disconcerting. It is disquieting when men and women of good will who see themselves as making a contribution to the nation through serving in government refuse to speak out when members of their own party are spreading lies aimed at discrediting and destabilizing democracy.
We are witnessing militant cowardliness on display. The sane voices of reason, thoughtfulness and wisdom are silent, hunkering down and hoping not to be seen, heard or, worse, quoted. Only in private conversations is the truth spoken, but fear is rampant in corridors of power and the halls of the churches across this country.
Silly me, I thought “Christian values” were looking out for the widows and orphans, the poor and powerless, the marginalized, the ostracized, the downtrodden and the broken down.
I thought “Christian values” were teaching integrity, honor, respect for authority, respect for one’s government, and the protection of children and those vulnerable in our communities.
I thought “family values” was about placing the safety of the most vulnerable in our homes, in our neighborhoods, and in our communities above other interests.
I thought “family values” was teaching our children respect for all and, most of all, modeling that respect in our daily lives toward all.
I thought “family values” and “Christian values” were all about making sure the most vulnerable were protected, not exploited, abused or despised.
I also believed “Christian values” were about calling out those whose conduct and speech fell woefully short of the standard they espoused as the guides for their lives.
Where are the courageous? Where are the leaders with integrity? Where are the real prophets?
These are the questions for our time.