I’ve been driving for a couple of days now, leaving Chicago early Thursday morning, spending the night with an old friend of mine in Memphis, and then driving again today through Arkansas and eastern Texas to Palestine, TX (pronounced pal’-e-steen). It’s been strange driving through the south. I’ve never driven through Arkansas or Texas before but in doing so, I’ve come to understand the term “Bible Belt” better. There are churches everywhere, scripture is quoted in the local newspapers, and there are countless radio shows devoted to Christianity. The part I’m struggling with, however, is the evangelistic tendencies of the church. I hadn’t ever fully understood the extent of it, but in listening to the radio through much of this drive, I’ve come to understand that the recruiting of converts (“disciples”) seems to be at the top of the agenda of Christians.
I’ve learned much about the crusades through the middle ages where millions were killed for either opposing the church or for simply having another form of spirituality. I’ve also been very aware of missionaries and how they’ve focused on converting poor people around the world, commonly through acts of generosity. I now see more clearly how strong that movement really is, and how it ties in to American politics as well.
Here are some radio quotes from the past couple days of driving:
- “We want you to do what Jesus would want you to do….. go fishing…… make disciples.”
- “We need the gospel in everything we do, including politics.”
- “Islam is factually wrong. It is an incorrect religion. The Bible is correct and has been proven to be correct.”
- “I took a taxi from the airport and the driver was Muslim so I told him about Jesus. On the way back, the driver was a Sikh, from India, so I took the opportunity to spread the gospel to him as well.”
- There was a huge emphasis on evangelizing to be a good Christian. One person said that every Saturday she takes her family to the only abortion clinic remaining in Louisiana where they now have to fly a doctor in. She felt like they had them “on the run.”
- I heard a consultant on the radio speak about sending “mystery shoppers” in to churches to assess how well churches are treating newcomers to their churches so as to teach them better to recruit new members..
- One commercial was trying to raise money for an organization which gives bibles to high school students which they then bring to school to share with non-christian students during break periods.
- A sign which said “Prayer – America’s only chance.”
- I drove by the world’s largest cross – http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/10913
- I saw a thrift store called Bibles for China – you can imagine their mission.
I’m starting to think that we may very well be fighting these wars in the middle east, not for oil, but to conquer Islam and replace it with Christianity. We may not overtly say that as a country, but I think a lot of people, on an undercurrent level, actually believe that and support the wars for that reason. It’s stunning to me that 24% of American’s can believe that Obama is a Muslim. Actually, it’s more than stunning, it’s kind of terrifying.
I’m not necessarily against Christianity. Many of you may know that I sang in a great gospel choir in a church in San Francisco for about 9 years. The evangelism of Christianity which is rooted in the perceived “correctness” of Christianity, is a little scary though. I certainly understand the term Evangelical Christian.