The title of an opinion column in the Birmingham News certainly caught my eye this morning. "Modern Christianity out of step with Jesus' teachings."
Ok, many of us have recognized this for years. Many of us have been driven away from churches or denominations for this reason. Many of us are appalled at the modern "church's" influence on society and politics. Many of us have found Jesus' teachings to be inspirational, along with the teachings of other spiritual leaders, and have learned to use them to guide our lives without the need to be controlled by a man pretending to be God (whether that is what many pastors and priests claim or not).
So this column by Leonard Pitts Jr. was a must read.
Pitts starts out by quoting Rev. Hayes Wicker of (no surprise) First Baptist Church of Naples, Florida, who called same sex marriage a "tremendous social crisis, greater even than the issue of slavery." Who is more insulted there? American blacks for whom our history is tainted with their sweat and blood, and without whom this country would never have reached the status that it did, or gays whose inequality is championed as being even worse?
Pitts says that remark is in step with much of modern Christianity, and I agree. One does not have to look far to find a preacher demonizing gays; local television one Sunday morning recently had a local church broadcast where a black pastor was sending gays to hell right and left.
Pitts quotes James Lawson, an icon of the civil rights movement, who supports gay rights, "The human rights issue is not a single issue. It is about all humankind. And all humankind has been endowed with certain inalienable rights." Responding to the Wicker quote, Lawson said "Obviously he does not know anything about 250 years of slavery or the 143 years since slavery as the nation has largely failed to deal with the issue of slavery and its consequences...And he knows even less about the gospel of Jesus."
I will continue to quote Lawson. "Much of Christianity in the United States has been more influenced by violence and sexism and racism and greed than by the teachings of Jesus."
Pitts closes with "Lawson is out of step with modern Christianity. Thank God someone is."
OK. But Lawson is not getting the headlines, Jeremiah Wright is. Gee, if we study the teachings of Jesus and begin to apply them to America, we might just realize that Wright's sermons irritate us not because they are so radically anti-American, but because they expose the truth. America is embarrassed by much of its history (as well it should be) and we have a strong desire to ignore that which pains or embarrasses us.
I for one am glad Rev. Wright has begun to explain his statements. Listen and learn, America.