16 Apr 2007 A Former Footsoldier of the “Christian Right”

My wife has posted quite capably on the “Formerly Known” series of essays sweeping across the websites and blogs of we the disenchanted with the institutions and traditions that have appropriated the name Christ gave to those dedicated to a life following Him: “The Church.” Her contributions have been posted both here and at her own blog. One thing however, I believe to be missing. Please find that missing element – my meager contribution to this discussion – below.

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A Former Footsoldier of the “Christian Right”

I am the one who, at age 13, began writing letters to the editor of his local paper, reminding readers of the need to remember the true meaning of Christmas, the original intent of the Constitution, and the importance of prayer in schools.

I am the one who made repeated calls to Capitol Hill when Congress tried to take away my right to an education as I and my parents saw fit.

I am the one who interned in my Congressman’s district office as a freshman in high school.

I am the one who, too young to vote myself, convinced my parents not to vote for Bob Dole in the Republican Primary of 1996 because he was not conservative enough.

I am the one who, in high school and college, engaged in public debate for pro-life and pro-marriage issues.

I am the one who participated in both the Young Republicans and the Campus Crusade on the grounds of my overwhelmingly liberal California community college.

I am a three-time attendee of the Conservative Political Action Conference

I missed the 2000 inauguration of President Bush only because I was away from my college campus near D.C., participating in a mock court debate over whether or not religious expression should be allowed on public property.

I am a former footsoldier of the Christian Right.

I watched as my parents and the rest of the voting-age population handed Congress to the Republicans in 1994, and I rejoiced. I watched as the Clinton administration was succeeded by President Bush, and I cheered. I believed both of these events to be signs of God working in the government of my country.

Along with my fellow students, fellow church members, and friends, I spoke out against government intervention in personal matters, and in favor of a constitutional ban on homosexual marriage.

Along with these same fellows, I argued against the war in Bosnia because it was a “foreign entanglement,” and in favor of invading Iraq because it was a “national security threat.”

I claimed that it was a crime for President Clinton to lie about sexual relations with an intern, but that President Bush needed the ability to authorize torturing captured prisoners.

I derided the government’s desire to track those who buy guns, while supporting the PATRIOT Act that allows them to track those who borrow books.

I am a recovering hypocrite.

By all appearances, it seems that those who desire to live from a logically consistent worldview tread a lonely path. Everywhere one turns, another church, politician or interest group is touting the right to free speech – while attempting to stifle an opposing point of view. Once upon a time I believed this activity to be strictly on the part of “the liberal left.” Those who saw the same tendency from the other side decried a “vast right wing conspiracy.”

We were both wrong.

Power corrupts, whether one is republican, democrat, conservative, liberal, Christian or athiest. Double-standards do not respect religious or partisan boundaries.

Politicians, pastors, and pundits, Christian school presidents and para-church organization leaders beware. The time in which you can isolate us, manipulate our thought processes and bend us to your will is coming to an end. We are learning that we are not alone.

We are learning, as well, that where once you may have hoped to further the cause of Christ, now you work to further the cause of your own ability to control us.

We are tired of hearing that abortion and homosexuality are “God’s topics,” while poverty and racism are not. We believe that God cares just as much about a family struggling to find its next meal as he does about an unborn baby.

We walk through the woods and see the same pile of strewn trash and abandoned beer cans that you see – but where you lament that people are partaking of alcohol, we grieve that they are despoiling God’s creation and denying us the ability to enjoy the same pristine environment that hosted their celebrations.

We are tired of hearing that it is our God-given duty to open our checkbooks to your building funds or election campaigns. Some of us call ourselves “emergent,” or “missional,” or “outchurched.” I call us “Christian Libertarians.”

We are discovering that we do not need you anymore.

We are learning that God does not tell us which party to vote for. We are learning that Scripture contains no “pastoral role.” We are discovering that you are not necessary to organize, motivate, preside over, or govern us.

We are remembering that Christ urged us to “give to Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and to God the things which are God’s” – and we are realizing that in this equation, you are nowhere to be found.

We are discovering that you are only relevant as long as we allow you to be, and we are beginning to revoke that permission.

We are the former footsoldiers of the so-called “Christian Right”

. . . And we are defecting.

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17 Responses
  1. Kevin says:

    Nice post. We’re a small band, those of us who believe in liberty without licentiousness. May our tribe increase!

    Let me know if you ever get a chance to read the book that book I passed on through Heidi.

    - Kevin

  2. Kelly says:

    Very nice piece of writing. I know it’s not really even on topic, but I was drawn in by the tone throughout the piece, and excited by the very strong ending, as if “oh, I could defect too…”

    *grin*

    I can’t wait to have time to write again!

    ~K

  3. Jim says:

    Along with your wife, your post has moved me to write my own. We come from completely different experiences and backgrounds and yet arrive at the same place. Please see http://lordibelievehelpmyunbelief.blogspot.com/2007/04/tribe-formerly-called-quest.html and let me know what you think.

  4. [...] the unedited life: A Former Footsoldier of the “Christian Right” Lord, I believe; help my unbelief! A Tribe Formerly Called Quest [...]

  5. [...] Two More: I meant to add this a few days ago: A Former Footsoldier of the Christian Right [...]

  6. [...] A great article from “Copernicus’ entitled A Former Footsoldier of the Christian Right [...]

  7. [...] It all began with Bill, and his rather delightful polemic, The People Formerly Known as the Congregation. Bill was thinking out of the box a little and using a rubric that had been used in another format in order to get our collective attention. He accomplished that. Several others jumped aboard the train (Grace, Jamie A-R, John, Lyn, Greg, Dan, Heidi, Copernicus, Sola Gratia, Brother Maynard, and Paul) and wrote other pointed pieces that continued in that vein and I think we are now up to parts 9, or perhaps 10. I dont know, my reading turned to skimming somewhere around part 5. I just got sad. I began to see backlash on institutional church blogs; people who are linking to these in anger and bitter humor. [...]

  8. Philip says:

    I am not an American (New Zealander). But I also was politically active getting a political degree etc and then becoming a pastor. I also have arrived in the same place as yourself. I think that if we are true to our faith this is a sensible place to land.

  9. [...] Part 8. A Former Footsoldier of the Christian Right – Mike I am a recovering hypocrite. [...]

  10. [...] We’ve written a lot here about Bill Kinnon’s “Formerly Known” meme that has become increasingly popular across the internet, and to which Heidi and I have both contributed. Yesterday, I read a post from a blogger who has captured my attention on a few occasions, which is not a part of that meme . . . but which perhaps should be. It’s called “My Ex-Gay Survivor Story” and was written by Eric over at the Two World Collision Blog. [...]

  11. M says:

    Let’s ALL DEFECT!!
    Fantastic post! I whole heartedly agree.

  12. Your post resonates with millions of disaffected former lemmings of the ‘Christian Right’, brother.

    Having said that, at least here in America, the citizen has the right and responsibility of self-government. I beg your indulgence on a matter of ‘Christian politics’, however.

    As Davidson & Rees-Mogg posited ten years ago in “The Sovereign Individual”, technology is mooting institutions, including nation-states and their huge redistributionist machines. The same is occurring to other traditional ‘gatekeeper’ institutions: universities, colleges, seminaries, denominations.

    As was the case when the incunabulum began educating new masses of prior ‘simpletons’, the world’s institutions have yet to come to grips with this blessing from God, but that it IS a blessing, there can be no doubt. And this revolution shall be more profound than even the birth of the printing press.

    In my view, it’s disastrous to take a Constantinian view, that Christianity should be used for political ends; but that’s what careerists in the Christian Right have done for decades.

    Perhaps more disastrous still is the thought of Christians to leave the field of civil duty (self-government under rule of law) as though it soils our hands. True, politics can save no one, and will never change anything. But as this socio- and geopolitical transition takes place, the Christian’s duty for righteous self-government by enforcing the law will be critical to reclaiming God’s manifest blessings in our communities and our 50 States.

    Click on my name for just one idea of a way to lawfully, peacefully bring a new balance to the civil government in America by using one simple principle: we can and should hold corrupt officials accountable before the law, in the courts of the STATES, and not at the federal level. This is the most straightforward application of the Supremacy Clause that one can imagine: the people and the States enforcing the Constitution, against those who have trampled it.

    Another very “radical” action that a law-abiding, Christ-following American can take is to support “Tax Honesty”, a growing 40-year-old movement the principles of which which I explain in detail at the American Glasnost blog on Blogspot.

    Most of the major figures in the Tax Honesty movement are Christians, and some of the most passionate ones are former IRS personnel. Yet strangely, pastors and elders are the first to recoil at the idea of Tax Honesty, crying “render unto Caesar!”

    Why? Because every 501c3 fears losing its revenue stream when people stop running from the IRS, and begin simply demanding that Congress and the IRS OBEY the LAW! An estimated 67 million of us have walked away from the largest financial fraud in history, but pastors and elders are notably absent from this exodus. Interesting.

    Along with removing our kids from government schools and leaving counterfeit churches, Tax Honesty is one of the most critical Christian issues in America today, in practical terms.

    It doesn’t merely change a family’s economic picture — for many this would mean bringing Mommy home from her career paying Daddy’s IRS bill — it also can one day change the calculus of 300 million people striving for liberty and self-government under the rule of law amidst a $3 trillion per year Leviathan State with multiple layers of defenses in the private ‘parasite’ sector.

    The financial embargo of corruption also makes millions of foreigners a great deal safer from attack by what President Eisenhower called “the Military-Industrial Complex”. It also hastens the day of reckoning for the political class that created an illegal, worthless U.S. Dollar.

    Politicians really can do next to nothing; a remnant people can do much, but only if our heart is trained on Christ and His righteousness, not on politics. The ‘Ron Paul Revolution’ isn’t about one statesman against hundreds of politicians; it reflects a deep-seated longing among millions of Americans for justice, mercy, and an end to the madness.

    As politics — another false god — topples, let us not expect Utopia in a vacuum. Defection from the status quo ante is a very good plan, brother; but there is still a civil, economic, and legal/constitutional aspect to life in Christ here in America.

    As I posit in my upcoming book “This Bloodless Liberty” (shameless plug!) these are civic duties that wilt the hearts of religious men. Yet millions are finding liberation from failed or corrupt institutions of ‘Church’, State, school, and corporation.

    You can too; but intestinal fortitude and due diligence is demanded. Orwell said, “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act.” In the public square as well as the Church, we’re increasingly seeing the truth of this.

    As nation-states grow increasingly moot or ineffectual in cyberspace, politics will take different forms; but sin and corruption we will always have with us. While voting becomes increasingly pointless, citizen enforcement at the State judiciary level, of the Law of the Land, against corrupt federal politicians and bureaucrats — will become increasingly important if we are to avert much harder things ahead. Only by the grace of God will cataclysm not logically follow our centuries of rebellion.

    By all means, defect from the ancien regime, but don’t walk away from your citizen duty in Scriptural and constitutional context.

    Blessings on your house.

  13. [...] A Former Footsoldier of the Christian Right – Mike [...]

  14. Bible Study says:

    I think the honesty you have with your own self is truly inspiring. If only everyone could be honest with themselves, we would have more mercy and less judgment, more love and less hate. Truly an act to follow.

  15. Lot's Wife says:

    I enjoyed your post. I am a recent defect as well. Scary in some ways and completely liberating in others. “We are tired of hearing that abortion and homosexuality are “God’s topics,” while poverty and racism are not. We believe that God cares just as much about a family struggling to find its next meal as he does about an unborn baby.” Loved this quote especially.

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