The Inharmonious Quartet.
In the field of Medicine, specifically Pediatrics, there is a phenomenon called atopy in which certain allergy-based diseases tend to co-exist in certain families. Thus, children with asthma tend themselves to suffer from eczema or seasonal allergies, or else have siblings or close family members who also have asthma, eczema or seasonal allergies.
A similar phenomenon appears to happen in the social/cultural lives of some Americans who live in certain regions of the country. On admittedly thin personal experience, there appears to exist a link between bigotry, fierce nationalism, guns and religion. We all remember Obama's now infamous remark about people "clinging to guns and religion", a remark that first Hilary Clinton, then Sarah Palin attempted unsuccessfully to use to political advantage. In the heat of the political campaign it was impossible to discuss this issue rationally.
Now that the election is over, it perhaps is time for political operatives to more fully and seriously examine this issue. But not political types only--Christians too need to examine this relationship. The recent well documented increase in the sales of firearms coupled with the doomsday laments in some Christian circles in the aftermath of the election results is troubling indeed.
I have three questions:
1) Is there really a linkage between bigotry (racism), fierce nationalism, love of guns and religion in America or is this a misrepresentation pushed by the media?
2) If a linkage truly exists, what, from the historical standpoint, is the basis of this linkage?
3) Finally, why is this linkage supposedly concentrated in certain regions of the country?
The most disquieting component of this inharmonious quartet, for me, is religion. How did religion or, for that matter, Christianity come to keep company with such sorry bedfellows?
Interesting is the fact that bigotry, in particular, once interred in an individual, tends in many cases to stay resistant to the influences of increasing education and wealth. Case in point: the perpetrators of the hateful acts of noose hanging on the campuses of a few reputable Universities in the election aftermath; thankfully these examples are uncommon.
Far more disheartening, however, is the fact that organized religion--not to be equated, necessarily, with, but often conflated with the fellowship of Christ's followers--too appears not to be much of a modifier. One does not have to look far to find support for this assertion: places with the greatest outwardly show of religion, places where people go to church regularly and boldly declare their faith in God--also tend to be places where the worst kinds of bigotry/racism thrive. We may argue that these people are unregenerate Christians, Christians in name only, but still, what a poor witness this represents for the body of Christ as a whole.
Are we quickly--because of the poor testimony of a vocal fringe--in danger of becoming salt devoid of saltiness? If so, are we--the larger body--about to be discarded with the rest? We, who know what the Scriptures declare, of necessity and of alarm, need to avoid such a fate for the larger Christian body by boldly speaking about these issues and by challenging the standard but misguided orthodoxy of the “religious right”. It has been pointed out that Jesus reserved his harshest words for Pharisees. Perhaps, it is because we need to be most vigilant about those misguided doctrines that are closest to the truth. These, unlike those that are patently false (e.g., the teachings of the Sadducees), have the power to do the greatest amount of harm to the truth of the Gospel. - Gaius Dissentus.