Perez: Christianity shouldn’t be politicized

Zamone “Z” Perez, Op-Ed Contributor

In December, the Senate symbolically outlawed lynching when it passed the Justice for Victims of Lynching Act, making lynching a federal crime. Evangelicals aligned with the Liberty Counsel, a designated “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, urged the House of Representatives to take language including “sexual orientation” out of the bill, ultimately leaving LGBT people out of a major piece of protective legislation. Without including LGBT people in the bill, any baseless violence against them would not be considered lynching. The Liberty Counsel’s fear was clear: this bill would be a stepping stone to pass more laws concerning the rights of LGBT people.

In a radio interview, the president of the Liberty Counsel, Mat Staver, compared the bill to a camel getting its “nose in the tent.” Once the camel is even slightly in, “you can’t stop them from coming the rest of the way,” Staver added.

As a Christian, I became angry at this news, but this feeling did not just surface out of nowhere. It took over two years of watching my faith being turned into a weapon for the ultra-conservative right. I’ve seen people who love and believe in the grace of God support President Donald Trump, who bullies, barrages and belittles his critics — the exact opposite of Christianity.

A man who puts children in cages, wishes to deny millions of Americans access to healthcare and supports our military work with Saudi Arabia in Yemen does not adhere to the Christian faith or values. Any Christian has the freedom to support him, but saying that he represents the Christian faith is ridiculous.

The God that many far-right Christians follow does not represent what Christianity as a religion values — at least, what it is supposed to value. Jesus Christ — the son of God in the flesh — was the ultimate radical “social justice warrior.” He transformed religion to be about God’s unconditional grace, rather than about working for God’s favor. According to the Bible, he broke social norms regarding women; for example, he spoke and discussed theology with a Samaritan woman at the well. He healed the lame and the lepers, giving sight and life to those around him. He asked the most awful and broken people to follow him. But most importantly, he showed us how to love one another as he loved us.

I urge my fellow believers to not let the societal issues to get in the way of agape, the highest love of God for man and of man for God. Christians are free to keep their values, but we should never let these issues get in the way of loving those who might not live the lives we do.

I will concede that Christianity, at least morally, can be seen as inherently conservative. Many Christians believe in the union of marriage as between one man and one woman and in life beginning at conception. However, at the end of the day, Christianity should not proclaim any political ideology. Jesus was in the business of loving God and others, and I believe Christians today should do the same.

Zamone “Z” Perez is a Medill first-year. He can be contacted at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this op-ed, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected]. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.