Sunday, September 04, 2011

A Christian preacher I respect

Today is Sunday, the day in which Christians attend church services. I haven’t been in a church for anything other than weddings or funerals (or tourism…) in probably more than 20 years. That’s not going to change.

Because I’m so critical of rightwing Christians who I consider to be, to use their own terminology, “counterfeit Christians”, one could get the impression that I’m against all religious people. I’m not. While I have no personal use for organised religion, I’m well aware that there are people for whom it is very important. I respect that, just as I expect them to respect the fact that I don’t need organised religion.

While there have been times I’ve tried to make these same basic points in the past, I’m not sure that I’ve talked about any clergy person I feel positively about. Well, I think a Sunday is the perfect day to change that.

In the video above, Don Lemon talks with Jay Bakker, the son of televangelists Jim Bakker & Tammy Faye Bakker Messner (here's my post from when Tammy Faye died). I hadn’t heard of him until a few months ago, when someone re-Tweeted something he said. I went to the website of his church, Revolution Church, and downloaded what was at the time his most recent sermon. I liked it—a lot, actually. While I didn’t relate to it personally, I was glad to hear him saying the sorts of things I said when I was still a Christian. He does that in this video, too.

I have no patience whatsoever with religious fundamentalism of any kind. As I’ve said many times, I consider it the greatest threat to freedom, liberty and democracy the world has ever seen. Religious fundamentalists—Christian especially—have drawn me into battle as they try and force an overtly rightwing political agenda on everyone, abandoning the very teachings of their religion’s founder.

Jay Bakker is different: He’s the kind of Christian preacher I can respect. He believes that his god is loving and accepting, rather than judgemental. His ministry is inclusive of gay people, and he supports marriage equality. He emphasises grace over rigid authoritarian dogma. This basically describes what my own theology was when I was still Christian.

If there were more preachers like Jay Bakker, I have no doubt the culture wars would be over. As I said on the blog where I first saw the video, Bakker gets Christianity, and he’s one of the few even remotely prominent preachers I can think of who does (obviously, plenty of church pastors get it, too, though no fundamentalist preacher I’ve ever heard of does).

Oh well, at least we know there’s one.


Dave Faulkner said...

I also haven't been to church in many years! There is a right wing religious element but Christianity need not be politically slanted. I was raised Methodist and I always remembered the way people were judged by what they wore (they turn on each other when there is no outside demons) their hair, their cars etc etc.

Arthur Schenck said...

I agree with you, Dave. The mainstream religion of my youth was not political, as current rightwing religionists are.

I also experienced exactly the same sort of judgementalism (as an aside, the only anti-gay discrimination I personally experienced was carried out by Methodists!). My Lutherans could be every bit as judgemental as your Methodists, though obviously with excruciating politeness. ;-)