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Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Compulsory Christianity

Listening to the best of the Majority Report tonight, I heard them kicking around poll stats that at first blush sounded really alarming. The exit poll takers in some states asked people if they thought that the U.S. law should be based on the Bible, and something like 40% of Bush voters said yes and 16% of Kerry voters said yes. Of course, the question was meant to suss out how many people in this country would support a theocracy, and the numbers that they got were pretty alarming.

But I caution calm. I guarantee that more than half of the people asked just heard a jumble of words involving values and beliefs and the word "Bible" and they answered yes. Not because they want theocracy. Not even because they base their own life choices strictly on the Bible. Mostly because they have absorbed the notion that if it's Jesus or the Bible or something, then they should support it because it's The Right Thing to Do.

Just as many voters don't know that much about the candidates or politics, most Christians aren't particularly up on their belief systems. They identify as Christian, but don't go to church much or study the Bible. But they don't disrespect the faith and are proud to be included. They are set-up perfectly therefore to spew bullshit. They don't want to get tagged as uneducated in the faith or worse, unbelievers, so they just sort of go with the flow and automatically honor anything someone tells them is "Christian" so that they don't ruffle feathers.

I grew up around a lot of this stuff. People would say whatever was asked of them as long as it was deemed Christian. It was compulsory Christianity and it would create some pretty silly situations. Suffice it to say, if you walk up to some random person in my hometown who you know for a fact sleeps off hangovers on Sunday instead of attending church and said, "Do you believe Jesus Christ is our Lord the Savior?", that person would automatically say, "Yes," even if he had never even given it a moment's thought in his life. I think a lot of that is driving the supposed religious turnout at the polls.

It's fun to talk to people who are half-assed Christians, and it's easy. Most people who call themselves "Christian" are half-assed about it. Growing up around Catholics, you get to see this tendency out in full force. The Church rails and rails against birth control, and a good number of Catholics treat this about as seriously as hearing their mother tell them to always wear a hat in cold weather. People appreciate and respect the Church, but they don't see it as the dominant force in their life. But put a question to them that seems to be asking if they believe in God or not, and they will assent.

65 Comments:

Blogger zuzu said...

As a half-assed Catholic myself, I'm not sure your final example holds together well. I mean, it's one thing to ask if you believe in God and another to ask whether the laws should be based on the Bible. It's a lot easier to reject the Vatican than to reject God, at least in my experience. But because of the Vatican, I don't want any religion in my secular law. (You got secular law in my religion!)

OTOH, I still like the ritual and the ceremony.

11/25/2004

 
Blogger Amanda said...

That's a perfect example, though. Most Catholics I know reject the straight anti-sex teaching and enjoy sex and their religion. But put on the spot, many would parrot what they're told even though their behavior is different.

11/25/2004

 
Blogger zuzu said...

But put on the spot, many would parrot what they're told even though their behavior is different.I don't think of this as true, though. Most people I know who have either lapsed or go only half-heartedly don't "parrot" (a word I hate in this context, given its associations with the whole idea that the Vatican installs a chip in our heads) the Church line on issues of sex, they openly disagree with it. It could be that I was brought up in a particularly loosey-goosey guitar-Mass kind of parish, though.

11/26/2004

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OTOH, here in Arkansas, as well as in 10 other states, we just voted in a law about gay marriage, based on religious belief.

What I'm saying is, people may or may not be actual Christians, and may or may not (if they really knew what they were doing) want their laws to be based on Biblical texts. But if some guys running campaigns can talk them into voting Biblically-based laws into place, the rest of us are going to be stuck with them.

Delagar

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Anonymous Christian blogger said...

Hi Amanda, I've been searching around for God blogger related blogs to get some ideas and possibly trade links with. I found this entry
(Compulsory Christianity) in my search so I thought I'd post a quick note to let you know. Anyway I have a new "Christian" blog called Ugly Blog, so feel
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