Who’s a Real Christian, Who’s Not

Two priests demand a heretic to repent as he i...

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With a scripture to support each belief, Daddy denounced just about every form of fun there is: dancing, drinking alcoholic beverages, playing cards. I wasn’t allowed to wear pants or lipstick or nail polish, and when the time came for me to marry I was to be submissive to my husband. African-Americans, Daddy believed, were inferior because they were descendants of Ham, who’d been cursed by God. Homosexuals were headed for Hell.

An adult now, I play cards every chance I get; I wear jeans, lipstick, and nail polish, have an occasional glass of wine. No one who knows me would say I’m submissive to my husband. I consider African-Americans, gays, and lesbians children of God and worthy of every right that I have (including marriage).

If he were alive, Daddy would denounce me as a non-Christian.  And he’d be wrong. Oh, I don’t use salvation language, but I try to live my life according to the teachings of Jesus: loving my neighbor as myself, caring for the poor, the imprisoned. I am opposed to war and honor the beautiful world God created. I respect the beliefs of Jews, Muslims, and Hindus. For sure I don’t measure up to Jesus’ teachings, but I consider myself a Christian nonetheless.

So when I hear voices in the Republican Party question whether President Obama or Mitt Romney is a Christian, I take it personally. Sure, Franklin Graham said in Tuesday morning’s interview on MSNBC that he cannot judge what’s in a person’s heart, and if Obama says he’s a Christian… But then Graham went on to manipulate the audience to do the judging for him—by saying  Muslims consider Obama one of them, and that Obama only started going to church because someone said he’d be more effective as a community organizer if he did. (Though Obama has said that by going to church he became a man of faith.) Santorum has accused the President’s environmental policies of being the result of a phony theology.

Republicans throw around the word elite a lot these days, accusing the President and Democrats of thinking they know best what’s good for the country. More frightening to me is the religious elite who are convinced they are qualified to decide what the rest of us should believe. Everything else is heresy.

So here we are: Inquisition 2012.

And yes, Daddy, I am a Christian.

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