The Politics of Communion

I had an interesting phone conversation last week.

Today, America will choose who will be President for the next four years. Our church building is a polling center. And we are participating in the Election Day Communion event.

These facts all mean that last week, I had to call our county’s Board of Election to figure out exactly what sorts of signs we were allowed to put up. And since we’re offering communion throughout the day, for voters to partake in after they vote, I wanted to be sure we weren’t violating any poll laws.

The person with whom I spoke (who was helpful and kind) essentially told me any political signs had to be 100 feet away from the entrances, but when it came to communion, we could do whatever we wanted.

The County Board of Elections clearly doesn’t consider receiving Communion to be a political event.Continue reading

Muslim Monsters

Before 9/11, Islam was just another weird world religion that the vast majority of American Evangelical Christians didn’t really think about – in the same category as Hinduism and Buddhism. But in the wake of 9/11, we realized that over a billion people in the world are Muslim. And many of the countries most hostile to America are mostly Muslim.

For the last decade, we’ve demonized Muslims. But using Dr. Scott Poole’s methodology, we know that our monsters say more about us than about those we monsterize.

What does the Monster look like?

Is this representative of all Muslims?
Is this representative of all Muslims?

The picture of Monstrous Muslims we have in our collective Evangelical imagination looks roughly like this:

Muslims are hell-bent on conquering the world. They’ve established a beachead in Detroit and are going to kill or convert every person in America to Sharia law. They hate women and freedom. They embody a particularly insidious brand of religious fundamentalism. And this isn’t just fringe Muslims. This violent fundamentalism is woven into the very fabric of the Islamic faith.

That some Muslims believe these things is certain. The question is whether those beliefs are representative of all Muslims.Continue reading

Obama the Muslim, Romney the Christian: Why Can’t We Vote for Someone Who’s Not Like Us?

As election day inches closer, the campaign rhetoric continues to heat up. And as in previous years, religion is at the forefront. This year, however, Evangelicals are faced with a dilemma we’ve never faced, at least not in our lifetime.

Most Evangelicals have traditionally voted Republican (74% voted for McCain in the last election), and every Republican candidate in the last 50 years has been at least Protestant if not Evangelical.

Republican candidate Mitt Romney is not an Evangelical. He’s not Protestant. He’s not Christian. Mitt Romney is a practicing Mormon.

And Barack Obama is a practicing Christian, a long-time member of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago.

But primarily because of Obama’s views on Abortion (he’s pro-choice) and Gay Marriage (he favors it), Evangelicals as a whole – and especially Evangelical leaders – have been unwilling to support Obama despite his Christian faith.

In the last election, between two Christians, this wasn’t a problem for Evangelicals because McCain was a Christian. This election is totally different.

Because Mitt Romney is not a Christian, Evangelicals must choose either to vote for a Christian candidate whose politics they disagree with, or a non-Christian candidate whose policies they affirm.

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Following Jesus Beyond the Culture Wars – Jonathan Merritt

A Faith of Our Own: Following Jesus Beyond the Culture Wars
Click to check out A Faith of Our Own on Amazon

American Christianity is experiencing head-snapping change. Specifically, Christian political engagement is changing with the emergence of the new generation. What kind of change?

The 1950s were they heyday of Christian Civil Religion. Church attendance grew from 31% in 1950 to 51% by 1957. This was the decade that saw “Under God” added to the Pledge of Allegiance and “In God We Trust” adopted as our national motto.

Then came the Shock. Beginning in the 1960s, a wide variety of cultural factors challenged American Christian Civil Religious hegemony: Vietnam, Environmentalism, Civil Rights, Feminism, Gay Rights and Biblical Criticism, to name a few.Continue reading

The Oval Office

This series of posts is my attempt to demonstrate that the language of the Revelation was actually symbolic code that was very intelligible to a first-century Jewish Christian living in the Roman Empire.  I’m re-writing the Revelation to communicate the same message, but to a twenty-first century American Christian audience, using symbols we understand.  This section parallels Revelation 4-5; if you want to catch up, here’s a PDF compiling all the entries so far: The Revelation to JR – Chapters 1-5.

After this I looked, and there in Heaven I saw an open door.  And the first voice – the one I’d heard that sounded like a jet engine – said, “Come up here, and I will show you what’s going happen next.”  I was immediately pulled into a vision and there in Heaven I saw an Oval Office, with a large desk at the center of the office and someone seated at the desk.  The person seated at the desk was more beautiful than the Hope Diamond or any other collection of jewels you could imagine.  I saw a wedding ring surrounding the desk, running throughout the whole Office.

Surrounding the desk were 50 more desks, and at each desk I saw a Congressperson, all dressed in white suits and wearing gold medals around their necks.

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