By Carl Carter
All my life, I have gone by the name “Christian.” No more. The term has no meaning for me.
We tried to save it by using modifiers like fundamentalist and evangelical, but those have become hopelessly muddled along the way. I saw the first signs in the late 1970s, when I was one of the first reporters in the country to start writing about a budding “Christian conservative” movement – before Jerry Falwell jumped in and announced his “Moral Majority.” They weren’t content to call themselves “fundamentalists.” They claimed the whole name of Christianity for their own narrow aims. They first flexed their muscle backing Ronald Reagan (an actor who hadn’t been inside a church in decades except to look for votes) over a truly devout Sunday School teacher from rural Georgia. The same year, the “Christian” political activists at Briarwood Presbyterian, Shades Mountain Independent and other churches went all-in for a Mountain Brook insurance man to oust a second-generation Baptist minister, John Buchanan, a Republican who had long represented central Alabama well in the 6th Congressional District.
I knew all these people well. Those who stole the name “Christian” didn’t give a whit for the good people who worshipped in the black churches. They cared only about a narrow range of issues like abortion, tax cuts, and making sure gay people couldn’t have sex without getting arrested.
They never missed a chance to cite Sodom and Gomorrah in their condemnation of gay and lesbian Americans. Meanwhile, they ignored their beloved Ten Commandments completely, especially the ones about bearing false witness against others (especially Democrats and moderate Republicans), adultery (they embraced adulterors as long as they voted right) and covetousness, which they elevated to an art form, turning greed into an idol they worshipped more than God.
And all that was before Donald Trump showed up with his third wife, his boasts about pussy grabbing, his multiple charges of sexual assaults, and his flagrant worship of money. The “Christian” leaders like Franklin Graham, Jerry Falwell Jr., Pat Robertson, James Dobson and Roy Moore scrambled to proclaim Trump God’s anointed.
So why not Roy Moore? Why would a little thing like forcing himself on teenage girls and raising a kid who’s been arrested nine times get in the way? After all, there’s a Methodist in the race, and these folks know Methodists aren’t real Christians. Besides, he wants to abide by the First Amendment and let people love whom they will. And he thinks being “pro-life” means taking care of children once they’re born. Such notions cannot be allowed among “Christians.”
So I’m out. I reject the label of Christian. I haven’t rejected Christ, but I want nothing to do with the hate, bigotry and perversion that word has come to define. You can call me a believer, a disciple, an Episcopalian, of any number of other things. And I know that a lot of folks will say, “He never was a Christian to begin with,” and by their definition, maybe they’re right.
I’ll sing the hymns and use the word of others, because there’s no way around it. But for me? No thanks.