Opinion: Christian conservatism is inherently hypocritical
Christian conservatism in the United States is an oxymoron. You cannot be both a good Christian and a strong conservative at once; it creates far too much cognitive dissonance. In order to do so, one would have to ignore crucial tenets of one aspect of your identity or another.
First, I’m going to start by saying that you have probably heard this argument a million times before from other granola liberals who you think know nothing about your religion.
You’re probably thinking that your political views are entirely in line with your religion, and that I have nothing of value to say to you.
Well, the truth is, as most truths are, much more complicated than that.
There is a great deal of disconnect between the teachings of Jesus Christ and the ideals that the Republican Party perpetuates.
Before you dismiss my opinion as that of another ignorant liberal, I’ll give you a bit of information about my background. I grew up in a family of African Christians. For those of you who don’t know what that means, African Christians are some of the most conservative, fundamentalist zealots on Earth.
Most African Christians believe that every word of the Bible is the literal word of God, and yet, most African Christians manage to vote for Democrats.
This might seem odd to you, but it actually makes perfect sense. African Christians believe the literal words of the Bible, but they also look at the text and the religion holistically, rather than simply focusing on a few isolated portions of the text.
For example, many Christian conservatives claimed that their vote for Donald Trump was informed and guided by their religious beliefs. I disagree. Despite the fact that God commands us to “fear not” 365 times throughout the Bible, conservatives’ vote for Trump was informed and guided by fear – fear of the changing economy, fear of immigrants, fear of Muslims.
In no way is Trump a Christian, and he has never made any convincing pretense of being one. The Christians who voted for him on one isolated issue (usually abortion) and ignored all of Trump’s flagrant affronts to their religion were simply using abortion as an excuse for voting for the party that they probably grew up voting for.
In my opinion, most Christian conservatives simply vote for Republican candidates because they grew up believing that they were Republicans. Their religion and political affiliations have become so integral to their identities that they cannot accept that there is obvious dissonance between the two.
One obvious example is that Jesus makes it clear in Mark 12 that it is every Christian’s job first to love God, and then to love our fellow humans, just as we love ourselves. In 1 John 4:20, the Bible then states, “If a man says, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?”
In that sense, you cannot love God without loving your neighbor just as you love yourself.
How then do Christian conservatives justify turning their backs on Syrian refugees, who are literally running for their lives?
How can they justify tearing apart families and deporting immigrants who left at best bleak and at worst treacherous situations in order to build a life in this country?
How can they justify the recently flagrant, but usually insidious racism that the Republican Party perpetuates? After all, a 2016 General Social Survey found that 55 percent of white Republicans believe that African-Americans are worse off financially because they are simply lazy and 26 percent of them believe that black people are simply less intelligent than white people, despite the fact that, according to the Bible, we were all created in God’s own image.
In Proverbs 31: 8-9, the Bible commands that we “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy,” yet most Republicans make no effort to do so.
Instead, they work to disenfranchise the poor and People of Color. Republican lawmakers vote again and again to limit the rights of women and minorities through limiting access to women’s healthcare and working to change Voter ID laws in ways that make it difficult for poor people and people of color to make it to the polls.
In addition to this, conservatives generally have outspoken contempt for welfare and free healthcare programs, despite Jesus’ penchant for giving to the poor and healing the sick (for free!).
Conservative Christians argue that they need to vote Republican in order to protect the sanctity of life.
“All life is precious!” they claim, as they vote to expand capital punishment, reduce gun control, and restrict healthcare, and as they contemptuously shout down the people of color who protest police brutality against their communities.
Jesus never claimed that life was only precious while inside the womb.
Republican lawmakers are consistently against improving education programs, particularly in impoverished areas.
Conservatives have a newfound contempt for experts and scientists, even though the Bible praises the benefits of knowledge.
Proverbs 16: 16 – “How much better to get wisdom than gold! To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.”
I am sure that there are reasons why many Christians believe that they need to be conservatives, but those reasons are not actually rooted in their religion.
They are usually rooted in familial ties, financial incentives and fear.
It is imperative that Christian Republicans recognize that their religious doctrines do not actually correspond with their party affiliation.
This might free them to work on recognizing the real reasons why they vote the way that they do.