The Establishment (AfroPunk) Version
When I tell my Christian friends some of the social problems of being Pagan or show them my column, I am met with various reactions but the reactions that stand out to me the most sometimes are that of NALT Christians. Term borrowed from sex columnist Dan Savage, NALT Christians are the ones that says, “Oh, we’re not all like that” and suggest I’m making a mountain out of a mole hill. Of course a Christian wouldn’t act foul towards me, that’s against the tenets of the religion and my Christian friends themselves have never seen this kind of treatment.
Of course not, they’re Christian. They’re part of the accepted norm; no one is going to tell them they’re going to burn in Hell for not accepting Jesus Christ and run from them just because they have a Bible. What Christian is going to threaten their life for being Christian? Who is going to tell them flat out to their face, “Your God does not exist” or “He can’t hear your prayers”? Just about no one. The perspective is different when you’re in the majority versus the minority.
NALT Christians are right though, not all Christians are like that. But a good amount of them are or else whole posts in this column would not exist (Coming out of the Broom Closet, Mental Mentality, etc) and I wouldn’t receive so much mail and comments from readers talking about their grievances with Black Christianity (and Christianity as a whole). We know not all Christians are wicked little things or else we would all have a naturally nasty disposition to every Christians we meet instead of incredibly cautious. Some Christians actually do honor the Bible and are wonderful practitioners but on average, often Christians, Black or otherwise, can be pretty hypocritical and vicious in the name of their peaceful Lord. They give Christianity a bad name because they forget the prime scripture “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31, KJV) Hmmmm, stop. Think about it. Bad Christians (or at least the average Christian), let that marinate for a second…
Unless Christians have some major religion-wide self-hate issue going on, in theory all Christians should be good, rational, loving people. Good, rational, loving Christians should not be in the minority, that is a problem. Big problem. A problem like that makes Pagans (and other non-Christians) like me completely jaded about Christians. I also read the rest of the scripture as well: “And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord.” (Mark 12: 28-29, KJV) I think it’s a lovely scripture that remarks upon a good foundation of the religion, that Christians are to believe that there is only one God and one Lord, which is totally fair. See, that’s where we differ: Christians believe in one god and Pagans believe in a multitude of gods, goddesses and spirits. In short, Christianity stays over there, Paganism stays over here and there isn’t much fuss. When Christianity wants to spread over to Paganism and other religions because it is “the wrong religion” (I guess Christianity isn’t very aware that many religions say the same thing, that they’re the one true way) and becomes violently persistent about it, emphasis on the violent, that’s where the problems begin. Tell me about your religion, it’s really pretty. Christianity has done some really nice things such as influencing leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks to do what is right and has been such a cornerstone in Black leadership, that is irrefutable. Gospel music is amazing down to its core and the strength and love the religion lends to its followers is simply a sight to behold. But then you have the jerk Christians that stumble throughout the Bible and metaphorically puke all over what makes Christianity such a lovely religion for Christians and non-Christians alike until it is a sickly mess of hatred, war, troubled and tortured sexuality, blatant hypocrisy and wicked ulterior motives. That’s when I don’t want you to tell me about your religion, it’s getting ugly and very untrue.
Note when I said “tell me about your religion,” I never said “please force it down my throat.” There’s a difference between sharing your loving experiences with the Lord and forcing me to listen to your loving experiences with the Lord. I always love hearing people share their religious experiences because it shows me what they really find true in their beliefs. I like hearing Bible stories, they’re really interesting. I also like listening about the Four Noble Truths and Eightfold path of Buddhism as well as the stories of various pantheons. I just really dig mythology, it’s totally awesome. I don’t want any of it forced down my throat, however. I like listening to these stories because they’re interesting, not because I’m interested in changing religions. I’m happy with my religion, I just want to hear the stories and experiences of other people. That means, while evangelism is nice (and thoroughly irritating), it’s not entirely necessary. Non-Christians generally know who Christ is, are aware of his background story (okay, mostly the beginning and the end), and that he is the Christian saviour, it’s real spiffy. We’re aware of his existence but do not follow it for a variety of reasons or simply do not feel a sincere and impacting love for Jesus Christ and his sacrifice of life on the Cross that would be a completely useful feeling to have when practicing Christianity – to truly believe, mind and soul, that Christ loves you and you love him. I like Christ, he seems like a nice guy but I don’t gel with the religion enough to want to become a devoted follower to Him. I imagine that if I didn’t feel that devotion deep within me, big troubles could be abound because there would be inner conflict that could lead me successfully down the path of temptation and away from my precious Lord. Yep, don’t want that. It could pervert my mind and in turn my interpretation and practice of Christianity. Nobody needs a screw up like that, especially evangelizing to others and potentially give them a super slanted view of Christianity without warning. The newbies may come into the religion in a lopsided manner themselves, only to conflict within themselves and towards others and even possibly start a nasty trend further and further away from the truth and teachings of Jesus Christ. Soooooo, I’ll stay snug as a bug in a rug inside the religion I am happiest and gel the best with, m’kay?
As I have said before, this is not to say the NALT Christians perspective isn’t valid, of course it is because they’re right, not all Christians are harsh people. Although their perspective is sound and true, so is mine. While not all Christians are terrible people that misuse their own holy book, there are quite a few who are and some of them in pretty high places such as government and mainstream media. To ignore these people would be to ignore the fact they don’t want me around and have the power to convince others that they don’t want me around either. Pretty hard to ignore.
I don’t need to be told that not all Christians are like that but I feel the Christians that are very much out of line do. They should be informed that hate is not a Christian value. Prejudice is not acceptance. Preaching God’s word and Christ’s teaching doesn’t mean harming someone else’s way of life. There’s a lot more to being Christian than going to church and attending Bible study after partying hard Saturday night. There are ethics and values and picking and choosing convenient morals isn’t one of them. If you like to party hard the night before church, party hard the night before church, just don’t say a word to me about how my soul is in danger of condemnation simply because I switched religions. These people, “fake Christians”* they are often called, should be spoken to about the uniformity or lack thereof of Christendom. Tell the wayward lambs that until they learn better, they ought to keep their mouths in the same style as their minds: closed.
I understand why my NALT Christian friends feel the way they do. With modern Christianity, it is an uphill battle between the good and wicked for them. Every religion, Paganism included, has a small pie slice of spiritual practitioners, and the majority are literalists. I believe the problem simply expands the more widespread the religion so Christianity is going to have a bigger problem with staunch literalists than Pagans. Spiritualists embrace the word of their religion, literalists just take it at face value and can have a tendency to push it into everyone else’s faces. The result of that, among many, is the NALT Christian picking up the slack and doing whatever damage control possible for something that is truly not their fault but the fault of the “fake Christians” for not fully understanding their own belief system and lacking stability in their own faith.
Are all NALT Christians definitively “true Christians” as opposed to the “fake Christians” that I so often run into? Maybe, maybe not, it depends on the Christian. What makes a Christian true in my eyes is how they embrace others and are so comfortable in their own skin. They don’t mention Christ every five minutes and pray over everything like they’re really sucking up to God. NALT Christians merely are Christians who debate that not all Christians are mean, not all Christians are like that. They are just defending their religion and the rightful those in it they feel I’m taking relentless potshots at as if I didn’t know the difference myself.
NALT Christians, we’re aware that not all Christians are like that. Don’t tell us, tell them.
Happy 2011! I hope everyone had a nice new year’s! I was interviewed by the African American Wiccan Society for New Year’s, listen to the podcast now!
Alrighty folks, it is the first column post of the year, I am very stoked. Black Witch has had a very successful 2010 (okay, 7 months of 2010) and I hope to have a very successful 2011 full of spiffy stuff! This year I will be introducing series, something I have been meaning to get to earlier but Black Witch is still in its first year so all is good. I want to do a series a year every March but because I have been meaning to get these first three series out, it will be between two Marches that I will roll out these series. After that, it’ll be more steady. Plus I will be getting a P.O. Box so for those that would like to write letters or simply are scared to email Ask Black Witch questions (everyone has their reasons), you can use that option there. Please, no creepy stuff. These are some of the things I have planned for BW this year as the first year of BW draws to a close and I have a set motion for the next oncoming years.
* – I use quotes because it is how they are often described and it isn’t fair to disown someone simply because they won’t play by the rules or throw said rules haplessly out of a window. If Pagans can’t catch a break, neither can Christians.