Monday, April 03, 2006


Lifting the Taboo

Nora Gallagher, the author of “Practicing Resurrection,” has written a fascinating and challenging, if badly mistitled, commentary for the Salem Statesman Journal, "Lumping Christianity with politics is unfair."

Gallagher gets off, in our opinion, on the wrong foot, writing that it's "become fashionable to take shots at the Christian religion. In a lot of otherwise civilized circles, the faithful and the faith itself are an easy object of prejudice; and worse, it’s a prejudice you can get away with."

In RSR's opinion, this is simply untrue. In our experience, nonbeleivers have bent over backwards to be tolerant of views that most of us find utterly inexplicable. It has only been the absolute determination of some fundamentalist Christians to write their biblical literalism into the public school science curriculum, their insistence on school prayer, the Ten Commandments, and agitation to write their views on abortion, stem cell research, and gay marriage into the laws of the land -- based on a very selective reading of the Bible, at that -- which has provoked a backlash from those who support separation of church and state.

By and large, most secular criticism, with a few notable exceptions, has been not of Christianity, but of this politicized fundamentalism.

After a shaky start, however, Gallagher surprised us by writing that "when I search my heart and mind, I understand some of the resentment and rage that lie at the core of the callous remarks... The connection between Christianity and political power is enough to make this believer hang her head."
The best of the recent critiques of religion suggest that we should lift the taboo against conversation about religion at our dinner tables. I agree. Christians who see the world differently from George W. Bush and James Dobson must find a way to speak up and not only defend but fully describe our faith.
If Gallagher could, she writes, she'd "return to early Christianity, before it became a state religion under Constantine, before its connection to the state, when it was a company of friends whose inspired leader once said that the one without sin should pick up the first stone."

Red State Rabble has always found the practice of religion personally unattractive. Theology intellectually uninteresting. However, we are equally aware of the power of belief. Much great art is the product of fervent belief. And, as Gallagher points out, belief has produced leaders such as Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. just as easily as it has produced those who come more readily to skeptical minds.

Like Gallagher, RSR believes it is time to lift the taboo. She seems like someone we could have an interesting and productive dinner conversation with.


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