Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Conformity or Else!

You may not have heard the name Rich Cizik, but you probably have heard the name James Dobson. As Dobson's Colorado Springs-based "Focus on the Family" organization continues to push its right-wing, evangelical extremism into our government, it becomes less and less tolerant of divergent viewpoints, even within its core constituency. The most recent example is how Dobson has turned on Cizik, the career lobbyist for the Evangelical Association of America. Dobson led the charge to draft and gain signatures on a letter chastising Cizik.

What did Cizik do to be the recipient of "The Wrath of Dob"? Did he renounce his Christianity? No. Maybe he didn't focus on his family quite enough? Wrong again. Cizik's transgression was to be involved in environmentalism. He believes in taking care of the environment. For that, he is a persona non grata around the Focus campus.

You see, many modern Christian evangelicals believe that we are living in the last days; that Jesus is coming to rapture his own from the earth, prior to letting it enter the Great Tribulation, a time when the earth will be ruled by the anti-Christ. Then Jesus will return to set it all right and restore the earth under a 1000 year long theocracy where Christ establishes his government on earth.

This ridiculous fable has not only made enormous wealth for Tim LaHaye, co-author of the "Left Behind" books; it has caused many Christians to go against the climatic evidence, denying the compelling case for the reality of global warming. Rather than heed the words of their Savior to be good stewards over the earth, their motto seems to be, "Use it up, tear it up, because the end of the world is nigh anyway."

So when Cizik started speaking out for preservation of the environment, a true conservationist position, he is vilified by many of his fellow evangelicals. Dobson's heavy handed tactics show that many in the Christian community have no tolerance for differences of opinion in matters not of theological significance. This reveals the political nature of such so-called "ministries" such as Focus. They have much more to do with politics than with matters of theology & orthodoxy.

Unfortunately, in today's world the face of intolerance and bigotry comes packaged in the cloak of Christianity. As Sinclair Lewis once said, "When Fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross." Indeed, it appears that his words could be prophetic.

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