This morning in reading the paper about Scott Pruitt’s tenure and resignation as head of the Environmental Protection Agency, it was specifically noted that Pruitt was very religious and spent hours in prayer before his testimony before Congress. I winced.
Really, does the church any more bad press?
Alternatively, isn’t there some sort of pragmatic test of “religiousness,” even objective standards whereby we could question the label or at least clarify that faithfulness is not what someone professes, but how the person lives?
I guess I’m not willing to doubt that he did pray before appearing before Congress.
But if “religious” is to have any meaning, don’t we have to be able to name what its values are? I heard a discussion on the radio recently where speakers — commentators and the public — used “alt-right” and “Christian” as if they were synonyms. I shuttered. Do any of us feel that the values Pruitt evinced as the leader of the EPA demonstrate any religiousness?
I have shared before my frustrations as a Christian minister that people unfamiliar with “our kind of church” or progressive Christian theology immediately attribute to me unfairly and incorrectly characteristics that are not only foreign to, but opposed to my understanding of faith, that I am judgmental, puritanical, materialistic or fanatical. Or all of these. People jump to the conclusion that I intend or at least want to convert everyone around me. That I believe I have the whole and the only Truth.
But those are no more the ends where my faith leads me than I accept that Pruitt’s faith is the source of his graft and greed and grifting. “Grab what you can, exploit your insider status, lift nepotism to an art form and carom through the corridors of power with flashing lights and screaming sirens” is how the columnist Frank Bruni described Pruitt’s run as the EPA leader. Does that sound like someone who is following Jesus?
At the Women’s March the day after Trump was inaugurated, progressive Christian carried signs that painted a different picture, one infrequently associated with the church or Christianity today. Kristin Joiner (www.supportwomenshealth.org) summarizes the commitment of progressive Christian faith as:
In our church, we believe:
Black Lives Matter
Women’s Rights are Human Rights
No Human is Illegal
Science is Real
Love is Love
Kindness is Everything
The last commitment echoes a point Beth W. has been stressing to us for the past few months. I wish that Christianity was more often and more uniformly understood like this…
But my next question, I ask, ‘what it is that we are or are not doing that might get our brand of faithfulness a wider hearing / viewing / recognition?’ Who but us can raise a different explanation of what it means to be a Christian?
If when you read or heard from some contemporary news source or from anyone that someone is religious, doesn’t your heart ache for that to mean this person loves God and neighbor — meaning that we are to dedicate our lives to others, losing ourselves in committing our time and effort for individuals’ and communities’ survival, liberation, prospering, inclusion and dignity — FOR ALL who are God’s beloved children.
See you in church,