“The Bible says to love your neighbor as you love yourself, but what if Christianity has taught you not to love yourself? Then you hate your neighbor as you hate yourself – impotently, in despair.” –Lauren O’Neal, Empty the Pews
Earlier this week, New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted,
“When politicians use faith as an excuse to pass and uphold laws that seize control of people’s bodies but not guarantee them healthcare, feed the poor, shelter the homeless, or welcome the stranger, you have to wonder if it’s really about faith at all.”
I think she’s insinuating that certain craven, fascist Republican lawmakers ascribe to a faith that preaches caring for the sick, feeding the poor, sheltering the homeless, and welcoming the stranger, yet they are ignoring those lessons for an inequitable, authoritarian agenda. She’s assuming she knows the particulars of their faith based off the particular antique book they wave around – the Bible, of course. I’m an enormous admirer of AOC, I wish her all the success she desires, both for herself and for us. I normally agree with her, but this time I believe she got it wrong. Senate Republicans cheating the system to ram through a literal handmaid Supreme Court justice while refusing to take up a pandemic relief bill are not fake Christians. They are abiding by their Christian faith, and their faith is real; that you, or I, or the good Congresswoman finds it morally repugnant does not change that reality.
Chrissy Stroop is our long-suffering leader in beating the “Stop Calling Evangelicals ‘Fake Christians’” drum, you can and should read her brilliant and thoughtful analysis here. Consider my piece today the exhausted, simplified, we’re-two-weeks-from-a-stolen–election, my-husband-suffered-a-traumatic-injury-this-week*, Cliffs Notes recap.
The Bible can be cherry-picked to say whatever you want it to say, mined to find precise, if laughably stretched, justification for whichever outlook on life fits your personality, desires, and circumstances best. While the so-called Good Book does contain some beautiful poetry, entertaining stories, and sensible advice, it is also one of the most violent and self-contradictory books in our entire literary canon; if you want to read it as an edict for authoritarianism, you WILL find what you’re looking for.
AOC is simply wrong: it is about their faith.
Evangelicals subscribe to a faith that preaches dominion, oppression, white supremacy, and patriarchal power. This faith starts teaching children as young as five years old that they are bad people, depraved sinners who only have the tiniest bit of worth because Jesus Christ lowered himself to die for them in a most gruesome manner two thousand years ago. Their Christianity teaches male headship and complementarian relationship structures, which translates to: men are to grab, consolidate, and abuse power, women and children are to shrink themselves and submit to abuse without complaint. They believe children are inherently manipulative little monsters who must be physically struck on the regular for the explicit purpose of “breaking their will.”
They explicitly teach that “big government” or what I would now call simply a functioning nation-state, is idolatrous and wrong. I was taught that individuals and the church were obliged to fulfill the commands in the Sermon on the Mount, NOT and NEVER the state. Theirs is a violent and extremist religion, but it is their religion. Their beliefs are sincere, and these tenets motivate them and underlie their choices.
Calling evangelicals “fake Christians” is not only inaccurate, it’s also not constructive. No matter how you or I regard their values system, the vast majority are committed and devout. Their faith is absolutely real to them, and you make zero progress with anyone anywhere by derisively labeling it “fake.” While I understand the argument that we don’t have to show politeness and deference to fascists, calling them “fake” does further harm to the rest of us by downplaying the threat they pose. When we’ve categorized something as “not real” our brains automatically take it less seriously. The monster under your childhood bed turned out not to be real, and realizing that defanged the fear. The voices in your head trying to convince you that you’re incompetent aren’t real, so you start learning to brush them aside. But evangelical theocrats are real, and their faith kills real people. We have to take them seriously and confront them. And we can’t do that if we’ve decided that their faith is fake because they have some bizarre interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount.
As always, Stroop says it best: “If a large, powerful body of Christians insists that backing a strongman credibly accused of sexually assaulting numerous women in order to grab power is Christian behavior, then, empirically, it is Christian behavior.”
*We had a scary, turbulent week, but Mr. Wallace will be fine! He tripped on an uneven patch of sidewalk while running and the subsequent fall cracked his rib which punctured his lung. He is out of the hospital and home recovering. Recovery will take a few long weeks, but his prognosis is excellent. Thank you so much to everyone on my Instagram feed who reached out with love and support!
Spiced Yogurt Waffles with Toasted-Pecan Maple Syrup
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg (I recommend freshly grated, but it’s not crucial)
- ⅛ tsp ground cloves
- 1 ½ cups plain Greek yogurt
- ¾ cup + 1 tbs whole milk
- 2 large eggs, separated
- 3 tbs canola or vegetable oil
- ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
- ¼ to ½ cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
- ½ to 1 cup pure maple syrup
- In a small bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cloves. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, add the yogurt, milk, egg yolks, canola oil, and vanilla. Whisk well to combine.
- Add the egg whites to a medium bowl, then use a hand mixer or a whisk and a strong arm to beat the egg whites to stiff peaks.
- Transfer the dry ingredients to the yogurt mixture. Use a rubber spatula to fold the dry into the wet. A few lumps are fine. Now add the egg whites and carefully fold them into the batter, taking care not to deflate them.
- Let the batter rest while you preheat your waffle iron. Prepare a plate or baking sheet to receive the waffles, as you will likely need more than one batch.
- Once the waffle iron is ready, grease it with cooking spray, or by brushing on extra canola oil. My waffle iron has those really deep grooves, so I highly prefer cooking spray to ensure even coating.
- Spoon the batter into your waffle iron and cook according to the manufacturer's directions. Repeat with subsequent batches of batter as necessary until done.
- Meanwhile, add the toasted, chopped pecans to a small bowl. Pour the maple syrup over.
- To serve, drizzle the maple syrup liberally over the waffles, making sure to spoon lots of pecans to get in the good waffle divots. Enjoy!