In Sunday’s column, I revealed a frustration I seldom have in public.
From the piece:
I haven’t shared this often, but one of the best things about being away from this area for a year (I was on a fellowship in Cambridge, Mass., then teaching journalism) was that I could get away from Christians.
Not all Christians, just the kind we seem to produce in the Myrtle Beach area in abundance, the kind who don’t realize there’s supposed to be a clear line between politics and faith, and many who know that’s true but just can’t help themselves.
Have you had similar experiences, or am I am mistaken for believing that the conflating of religion and Republican politics in this area has made it harder for many people to experience God?
I received a good bit of feedback from Myrtle Beach area readers about the column. Here is a sampling:
Dogmatic is the correct word for these people. For whatever reasons, they are in a large majority in this area and also for the most part, the whole state. They are also great followers. Independent thought is unheard of. It is for these reasons, I view these people as a herd of animals or a flock of birds.
FYI, because of the government these people have brought to roost, I decided not to vote this past Tuesday. I can't remember the last time I did not vote. Unfortunately, my hypocrisy only goes so far. How can I vote for someone for whom I have no respect or confidence. I would not even shake their hands.
Keep up the good work. I'm glad that someone still has some pearls they are willing to cast.
It is not about Republican or Democrat. You either follow Christ's teachings or choose to follow those of the world. The Bible hasn't changed but the world has changed. Christians know homosexuality is wrong and abortion is wrong. We tend to do what is wrong because we are sinners. To follow this world and political correctness does not make it less sinful. If it does not glorify Jesus, then as Christians it is wrong. Yes, it really is that simple. Isaac I met you when we were both young men . ... I admired you then and I still do. Peace and love to you and your family. Put GOD first and He will lead us home.
While I try not have political conversations with most people in my development they are aware where I stand on the issues you most frequently write about. I most definitely feel I am lacking in the “Love God” department but I would also add the “love of Country” department also if you do not “believe” in the GOP. As a born and raised New Yorker I at one time was a registered Republican but as I got older and especially when the party became more radicalized my views changed. Now I truly am grateful for having had the opportunity to buy a retirement home and live a middle class existence (along with Health insurance) in this warmer climate. I find most of the people here have the attitude “I have mine to heck with you” although most of them are living very well because of government pensions.
Sadly the very people who you try to reach with your column (at least the ones I know) refuse to read you because you are nothing but a (gasp) liberal.
Unfortunately the Sun News decided that you must pay for your newspaper whether you are on vacation or not so I cancelled my daily subscription and just get Sunday. I can handle just receiving one paper if I am away but that means I can only enjoy your column once a week now. Keep up the good work!!
When my letter to the editor (countering a prominent Catholic's letter implying Catholics as a matter of conscience could not vote for Obama) I angered many. Several folks have not spoken to me since.
A few of my co-workers are "super Christian/republicans" who have just joined one of these mega-churches. They all agree that if you vote Democrat, you might as well have horns.
For the first time, I'm coming out in an email to a stranger in Myrtle Beach: I'm not a Republican.
Thanks for your thoughts on how many in our area equate Republican with Christian. I felt it so keenly I stepped away from organized religion soon after joining a church here. I ... was bullied by many during Sunday School over every perceived misstep or social program. I lost my love for Christ for a while - not just the church, but God in general. And I can't write that sentence without crying. ... I was destined for public service, and I am proud of most of what we do. But more than that, I have worked hard to forge a relationship with God that could sidestep my experiences as a Preacher's Kid and just let love guide it. Moving to Myrtle Beach almost undid all of that.
Reading your opinion piece has reopened a lot of old wounds, but it's time to let them heal instead of hiding. Thanks for the open reminder that religion does not equal political party. For my part, I'll keep doing things to take care of the least of these and loving my neighbors, but maybe with my head a little higher.
Fascinating editorial. I am sure you are braced for incredible reaction. Your understanding of Christianity leaves a great deal to be desired. Christianity is the belief In Jesus as the only begotten Son of God (the God of the Old and New Testament) and the following of His teachings, all of them, not pick and choose what fits ones own thinking or preferences.
Jesus Himself was posed with the question, "how do we meet political and religious obligations at the same time?" His answer was simply, "give to Caesar what is his and give to God what is His." Jesus clearly indicated there is a difference and can be a separation between one's faith and one's politics. As you pointed out when anyone does not see that difference, hypocritical thinking and action can result.
I am from the very liberal state of NJ and am a conservative Christian. I am not alone. Millions and more embrace this same faith and following. However, political leaders do not always embrace my own faith standard. Nor does the majority of society necessarily. But the majority is not always correct. Read the history of the Roman Empire and you will read of a culture and society that fell due to moral failure of the people (majority of thinking and behavior) and not from outside forces.
Those like me who embrace the biblical life standards as explicitly outlined in the Bible, do so not necessarily because of growing up going to church and casually reading the Bible, but because we have studied the Bible and have concluded that God's plan for mankind not only makes sense, but when it is applied society will flourish. Read the biblical accounts of what happened when the people fell away from following God's lead. Devastation.
There is a reason for God's standards and I may not fully understand all of them, but I do not need to in order to follow them.
It is unfortunate you have spent so much time going to church, being in church and going to churches where man's opinions and thinking were propagated above God's standards. On some issues the scripture is very clear (Romans chapters 1&2 on moral issues) God did not give suggestions He gave command.
I would challenge you to read Lee Strobels book "Case for Christianity" and his several other books - he was a former reported for the Chicago Tribune, and then read the "Chronological Storyteller's Bible 60 Stories" for an overview of the entire Bible and rethink some of your long standing positions.
Christianity is not a pick and choose what is preferred and what is more palatable in Jesus' teachings, but fully following and being committed to those teachings; all of them. When government conflicts with those teachings, a true follower must take a stand and not compromise while at the same time "giving to Caesar what is Caesars" Christians are not to be viewed as pushovers or compromises but neither should they act or react as bullies, forcing others to embrace their own positions.