So, this is how it works.

1.  Start with unreconstructed conservative Christianity, which takes as one of its premises that it possesses a uniquely true creed which offers the only genuine salvation in a world where every human being is headed to either damnation or salvation.  Then, roaming among the enormous and highly varegiated world of Christians, find some Christians who sincerely believe that being a Christian obligates them to offer their proprietary “salvation solution” to everyone who is not a Christian.  Then note that, with the stakes as high as eternal-life-or-eternal-suffering, the question of what it actually means to be a Christian is freighted with angst.  So some of these Christians feel anxiety, not only about the easily-identified damned (e.g. atheists, witches) but those whose piety is too lukewarm or not Christ-centered enough, or not belonging to the right tradition.  

2.  Now take a man who’s an unreconstructed conservative patriot.  His father graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy.  He himself was an honor graduate from the U.S. Air Force Academy.  For ten years, he serves as a Judge Advocate General in the Air Force.  He’s a White House lawyer for Ronald Reagan for over three years, and also serves as general counsel for Ross Perot.  When his youngest son goes to the Air Force Academy, he’s the sixth member of the family to attend.  (At one point he does the math: in his immediate family, there are over a hundred years of combined active-duty military service from every combat engagement from World War I to Iraq/Afghanistan.)

3.  Make the man – we’ll call him Mikey, because that’s what everyone calls him – Jewish.  Then let his kids, as they attend the Air Force Academy, encounter some of these Christians who don’t understand the discourtesy involved in telling someone, “Your whole family is going to hell, and unless you join Team Jesus, you will, too.”

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The blogger Jeremy Hooper has posted one of the most fascinating documents I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading, through all my reading related to the collision of gay rights activism and conservative Christian activism. A man changed his mind. Wow. It does happen, people. The man is named Louis Marinelli, and for a while he had a very close relationship with the organization NOM, which (in spite of its acronym) is not about the ravenous consumption of yummy food but instead is attempting to agitate and lobby against the institutionalization of same-sex marriage. Marinelli went from being an enthusiastic supporter to a repentant sinner asking for grace. Not to misrepresent things: the man is not a Christian. (More fascinating still, he is not exactly a supporter of the set of sexual choices often called “homosexuality.”) This is not a man who has switched camps. He just recognizes that there is a truth external to our biases and leanings and sometimes a day of reckoning comes when you have to adjust your point of view in accordance with that truth. We who profess faith should all have such a spiritual experience!

Hooper emailed him, asking: “On record, I’d ask you to go through the list of comments you have written/ Tweeted/ blogged/ Facebooked and repudiate any/all that you now see were objectionable.” Marinelli’s response is below. Read the rest of this entry »

the ACLU and the Kingdom

January 29, 2009

A church in Brookville, PA started a homeless shelter without asking permission, and NIMBY led to a showdown between the ACLU and the borough’s local authorities. While it would have been great for these Christians to have found a way to play peacemaker in the situation, rather than bringing a lawsuit (which can’t be good for neighborly relations), how encouraging to find them refusing to treat preaching the gospel and helping the homeless as separate ministries. And how fantastic that the ACLU should affirm this as well. Read the rest of this entry »