Modern conservatism is incompatible with ChristianityBy Caroline Builta | 10/04/2017 10:39pm
The people who knew me in high school are consistently shocked by how outspoken I have become about my liberal views, because this hasn’t always been the case. I have very clear memories of arguing against abortion access, I genuinely believed that despite the United States having no official language, immigrants to this country should have to learn how to speak English fluently. I wore a purity ring starting in the seventh grade; I was in church every Sunday that I possibly could be.
I didn’t see yet exactly how incompatible conservatism and devout Christianity are.
There are few greater proponents of social welfare in human history than Jesus Christ. The Bible teaches compassion for and servitude toward the impoverished, and yet, there is no bigger proponent of “pulling yourself up by the bootstraps” than the Republican party. Matthew 28:19 says, “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations” – and yet, the candidate who gained the overwhelming support of Christians during last year’s election cycle preaches that the only way forward is with an “America first” mentality.
Pew Research Center found that in the 2016 Presidential Election, 58% of Protestants voted for Donald Trump, along with 52% of Catholics (of note – 60% of white Catholics) and 81% of white evangelicals. They voted for a man who once stated that his base would remain strong even if he were to stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot someone, and now, after the deadliest mass shooting in the history of our country, is tweeting “God bless” to the victims.
I fully believe in the separation of church and state, but I also believe that politics are personal. Your beliefs and your morals are what inform your political views and your religion is one of many factors that informs your beliefs and your morals.
How can you go on mission trips to foreign countries and see the devastation that is surrounding you and then support an ideology that is entirely hateful towards immigrants? How can you put “love thy neighbor as thyself” in your Instagram bio while voting for a man who slanders anyone who disagrees with him, from comedians to the mayor of a city in a territory ravaged by a natural disaster? How can you believe that the Son of God laid down his life on the cross and then have so little respect for the value of human life that over 50 dead and 500 wounded is not enough for you to prioritize them over your guns?
Conservatism says “me first.” That is not what Christianity preaches. That is not the mentality of those who strive to be Christ-like. Giving the spare change in your pocket to the collection basket on Sundays means nothing if you want to gut important social welfare programs.
Many people come to college and find themselves and that has been true in many ways for me. I could not have guessed that coming to the Deep South would make me a bleeding-heart liberal. I also couldn’t have predicted that it would move me towards identifying with agnostic theism, but seeing the way that Christianity is warped to fight right-wing motives has further scared me away from a religion that I felt abandoned by a long time ago.
I was never a perfect Christian and I wouldn’t claim to be, but in all of the ways that I misinterpreted the Bible, using it to justify judgmental and unforgiving viewpoints is inarguably the worst. Christianity can be a beautiful religion when it’s based off of the teachings of Jesus Christ and not fitting into a cookie-cutter version of what it means to be a part of the American South.
It’s hard to watch the same people who pander to the NRA post on social media about how they’re praying for the victims of the Las Vegas shooting. We’ve been praying – we’ve been praying since Columbine, since Sandy Hook, since Aurora, since Virginia Tech, since Orlando. Our prayers are not working. It’s time to take action, because if you can justify allowing the continuation of suffering in the name of our Founding Fathers, it’s time to re-evaluate the way that you are reading the gospel.
Caroline Builta is a senior majoring in social work. Her column runs biweekly.