So the other day on NPR they were talking up for a bit how different christian institutions are responding to the flippin’ awesome #marriageequality thing. You know, one religious university says “sexual activity outside the of a man and woman married couple is against our code of conduct. So we won’t give benefits to the spouse of a gay employee.” And another religious school says “h’okay, gay marriage is allowed under law, so gay employees’ spouses get benefits.” Stuff like that. Or there’s the issue where the guvvmit says “No minister, church, or religious entity will be forced to violate its own beliefs. Seal team six will not infiltrate your church and force you to marry homos. Don’t worry. We’ll leave you alone, and you can run your religion like you want, k? Constitution.” To which some paranoid types say “I don’t believe you! You’re destroying my country and my God! Obamacare!” (It always comes back to a dig at the ACA with these people).
Okay, so that was the topic, and the voices coming out of my dashboard moved on to the broader topic of how religious groups are having to admit that they’ve LOST THIS ROUND OF THE CULTURE WAR and are having to pull back and adapt to existing within a culture that is more liberal than them. They even had a religious scholar type come on and explain, like it was this big deal, a profound leap of thought, that it was probably time in America for church groups to; “turn our energies inward, focus on our spirits and our faith in God and strengthen our own communities.”
And I thought to myself “Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaatttttt?”
That’s um… isn’t that what church communities are supposed to do? Provide a solid foundation of faith and moral guidance for people who want that sort of thing? You don’t run the policy and culture of the whol nation, you take care of your own. Right?
People, people, where’d you ever get the notion that you’ve got some duty to convert the whole country? That’s not a good ambition. It’s very bad. Stop comparing evangalism to war. Stop using the word “war” altogether unless you are referring to the use of force to conquer or defend. You want to be there with open arms and accept people who come to you, who jive with your values and want to be part of your group? That’s great. That’s perfect. That’s what religious groups should do. Like gaming clubs, running groups and pubs. Be there for people when they need you. Welcome them in, and you’ll grow.
But to push outward, to believe that it’s your duty and your holy war to make the whole nation’s value system fit your own, well, that didn’t work well for the Nazis, and it isn’t going too well for the Islamic State. That’s an ideological stance that isn’t going to help you, and it is founded on some deeply un-American values. This is not a nation of any one religion. It is a nation founded by those fleeing persecution and intolerance, who had a dream that a nation governed by reason and intellect could be a place where all faiths and ideologies could find safe harbor.
Think about it. All different religions – Evangelical, CotFSM, Mormon, Muslim, Catholic, Unitarian, Jewish, Seikh, and on and on and on – they all exist within a country that PROTECTS them. You are allowed to practice your faith here. You can have your community. You can follow your ways. Heck, you can worship a water stain on your ceiling if you want, provided that you don’t harm or infinge on the rights of any others. No government entity will block or harm you from being and believing how you want. (Don’t get me wrong – we have plenty of citizen assholes who will try to stop you. I apologize for our jerks.) In fact, you will be protected. (Not perfectly. Sorry again, but like I said, there are a lot of #citizenassholes.) That all these religious groups areequally protected is amazing and wonderful. But these people are freaking out because they haven’t managed to forcibly convince the entire country to conform to their views? Because being allowed to exist and worship and believe as they want is not enough? Just because every American isn’t sayyyyy an Evangelical bible-thumper, that is considered to be Losing a War? Living in a country where everyone is allowed to practice their own religion is a VICTORY, not a loss. You want a universal American value? There’s one right there.
So stop freaking out, and for the love of god, or dog, or bog, or bob, stop saying “culture war.” You can have your space, your church, your meeting hall, your university, and run it accoding to your own belief system, and you’ll be left alone. Follow your own beliefs within your life, your community, your spaces. And just deal with the fact that, yeah, when you mix it up with the public, you’re going to run into all sorts of ideologies. Queers, athiests, goths, geeks, old hippies, new hippies, muslims, bankers, refugees, sculptors, fucking hipsters, veterans, agoraphibics, catholics… so so so very many people who are not like you. In the onfines of your own behavioral choices, and your own groups and private spaces, you adherre to the ideologies that work for you, so long as you harm no one else, and you’ll be left alone to do so. When you interact with the weird mingling public, you have to use reason and common decency to get along with all the #other types of people you’ll meet. You don’t have to like their life, and they don’t have to like yours. Just onduct your business and get on with life. You don’t need to save anyone – they’re as likely to convert to your way of life as you are to convert to theirs.
You can relax, and stop being so angry and pushy. There is no culture war. It’s over. Your group is allowed to exist safely in this culture, alongside every other group. The war is won, and we’re all victors. Rejoice.