Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Feeding The Political Stereotype of Christians

If it's not clear by now, my politics are mostly conservative though I like to think of myself as a moderate. I don't like extreme stances on any political topic, recognizing the political process is designed to force compromise. And few things make my blood boil as much as the mixing of politics and religion, as if voting a particular way makes me more Christ-like.

One issue that is always right in the center of the politics/religion debate is abortion. Another is... guns. Guns? Well, didn't you know the Bible Belt holds a holster? (insert laugh track here) When either of these topics come up, the Left almost always overreacts, regardless of whether religion is involved. But if you mix both of these with religion, you can imagine the reaction in the Main Stream Media and even more so on teh internetz. And both issues have come front and center recently.

First, a week ago ABC "broke" the news that a supplier of gun sights to the military has been encoding Bible versus in their serial numbers. I watched the news clip and I didn't get it. An example serial number would look like AOOCX32JN8:12 (taken from this photo). So you'd have to actually look for the serial number, care enough to read it, and notice the scripture verse at the end. To a Christian, the reference would be obvious with the abbreviation-number:number format. But to a non-Christian, it would be gibberish. And I say "broke" the news because as was quickly pointed out, this really is old news. Though there are several concerns: one, if the weapon falls into the hand of an enemy (in this case, Islamic terrorists) it would send the message that yes, the Global War on Terror is a "Holy War" (which it is, by the way, on one side anyway); two, that this is offensive to the non-religious; and three, that this violates the Separation of Church and State .

One and two don't hold water because they would first have to find and recognize the "code" and I highly doubt that would happen by accident. This did come to the media's attention because of number two however. Not because someone noticed the Scripture, but because he heard others talking about it, which caused him to make the argument of number three. Yes, the Federal Government purchased the sights, but a company supplied serial number, logo, or anything else does not represent the government, only the company. It's not as if there is a law that only Christians can use this weapon. Of course the media was quick to inflame the issue by noting the irony of using a gun with a Scripture reference to kill Islamic extremists. Of course, the point could be made without making pot-shots. (Funny, when I bookmarked this to use in my blog, there were only a few comments. As of this posting there are 168 while most posts on this particular blog average less than 10) And even if you legally prevented the company from putting whatever they want on their product, you cannot prevent a soldier from carving anything into his stock, painting the nose of a bomber, or writing a message on a bomb like "say hi to Allah for me". And if you think that doesn't happen, then you are willfully ignorant of the reality of war.

The other recent news is of an "anti-abortion" ad starring Tim Tebow for the Super Bowl. If you want to see an example of overreacting, just read the comments from the Women's Media Center. I personally love this gem, "By offering one of the most coveted advertising spots of the year to an anti-equality, anti-choice, homophobic organization, CBS is aligning itself with a political stance that will damage its reputation, alienate viewers, and discourage consumers from supporting its shows and advertisers." I wonder if they consider the benign ads by "the Church of the Latter-Day Saints, you know, the Mormons" to be homophobic after the backlash against that church after California's Prop 8? The National Organization of Women called the add "demeaning" even though the context given is actually celebratory of life. I wonder if they consider a baby shower, a christening, or infant baptism to be demeaning against someone who is pro-choice or has had an abortion, because it seems as though this ad is in the same context. Anyway, I appreciate CBS for sticking to their guns. But I don't know if the can withstand another week and a half of political pressure. Of course, this news wouldn't have even caught my eye if it wasn't for the broad-brush headline "Women Oppose Super Bowl Ad". You'd think if these organizations speak for all women, they would be just as outraged by GoDaddy ads. But that would be asking too much.

So what does this have to do with our personal walk as Public Christians? First, there are some whose devotion to the NRA is as strong, if not stronger, than their devotion to God. That is a real temptation that should be resisted. Second, we also have to resist the temptation to elevate celebrities to idol-like status as Tim Tebow has become. (This ad would have never been greenlit if not for his involvement) Yes, he's a missionary. Yes, he's pro-life. And as a football player, he has as much right to endorse his "product" as Payton Manning does DirectTV. But at the same time, we should pick our battles carefully and stand on our own convictions, not those of the Christian celebrity du jour.

"I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves" (Matthew 10:16) The shrewd part we seem to have figured out. Now we just need to work on our innocence.

No comments: