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Omaha, Nebraska, United States
I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Religious prejudice in the USA

Because I am a known Christian (one of the characteristics of being a pastor), I get to experience religious "prejudice" every now and then. What I mean by "prejudice" is that people pre-judge me based on what they think they know about my religion. Some people, for example, think anyone who believes in God is an idiot. When they find out I am a Christian they therefore think I am an idiot--based solely on the fact that I believe in God, not whether they think I am an actual idiot or not. (Although I probably am an idiot, I prefer to think of myself as a "fool.")

So these people then hold me to certain beliefs I don't have because they know other Christians (sometimes only characterizations of Christians) that hold those beliefs. A classic case is "free will." I don't believe humans have free will, and if we do, we always choose wrong anyhow, so what's the sense in calling it "free?" I do not mind being lumped in with all the Christians of the world, past and present, there is as much good as bad to it, and I do believe in God's love for the world through the power of the Holy Spirit in the death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ. I can't choose my relatives! But I don't necessarily believe everything my relatives believe.

Sometimes the prejudice (pre-judging) works the other way too. Sometimes people believe things about me positively without looking at me. So people assume I am honest, trustworthy, patient, faithful, and all other kinds of noble stuff when I am never that...Most of the time I don't know what I am doing, and what I am doing I do because it seems fun or interesting, but I am not trying to behave my way into heaven.

One of my favorite professors years ago once said he was no more prejudiced, biased, racist, or sexist than anyone, and that we all are those things at some level. I think that's still true...so I try to keep my prejudging to a minimum, and try not to worry too much about my failures in being the "perfect" Christian in someone else's mind...I'll try to love God, and I'll look for my neighbor to be better, richer, stronger, and healthier than me...that's just the kind of Christian I am.

May your tables be full and your conversations be true.

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