Christianity needs to change

A group in Red Deer is attempting to recruit new members into its ranks. This group is not new and it is not just one large group; it is a conglomeration of smaller groups that are all competing with each other.

A group in Red Deer is attempting to recruit new members into its ranks. This group is not new and it is not just one large group; it is a conglomeration of smaller groups that are all competing with each other. They will tell you that they are all the same group, but you should only join this particular one or that particular one because the rest of them do not do things quite the right way.

Their recruitment attempts are blatant, but they say they are just trying to “help” people by sharing information. They advertise on city buses that they can predict the future. They mass-mail books and pamphlets to the public declaring that their traditions are the only reason for special holidays.

They place online classified ads for studies claiming to supply the answer to everyone’s questions about life.

The question is: are they genuinely trying to help or are they simply hoping the rest of the population will think and believe exactly as they do?

We are, of course, referring to the Christian churches of Red Deer. The situations mentioned specifically refer to the Seventh-day Adventists’ recent End-Times seminar, the Baptists’ mass mailing of simplified Bible books to “explain” Christmas and Easter, and the rather large number of Bible studies and churches placing ads on Kijiji within the last few months.

In the past few years, there has been an uprising of atheist voices in North American society that has the Christian community scrambling for ways to answer all the accusations, deflect criticism and corral their fleeing sheep. If you believe this is an exaggeration, read this quote straight from the horse’s mouth:

“Church attendance in Canada is declining rapidly. Atheism is rising. Christian moral values are being replaced by secular ones. Canada is no longer a Christian nation, and Canadian Christians will soon be a persecuted minority.”

— Jim Coggins

Wait. . . “a persecuted minority?”

Yes, many Christians — specifically evangelicals — are that paranoid. Believe it or not, many Christians consider an opinion article like the one you are reading to be a form of persecution.

They really have no idea what persecution is (if it does happen, at least they may understand how many homosexuals feel).

It is time to point out that this opinion article is not being written to rip Christianity apart. This article is a plea for change.

At some point, Christianity needs to bend or it will break.

Even worse, it could explode: there are some who believe that the United States is practically on the verge of civil war due to some suave politicians feeding the fears of Republicans and right-wing evangelicals.

True, this is Canada and not the United States, but the attitudes found within our own Conservative parties and evangelical churches are often just as right-wing.

Back to the point, evangelical Christianity states that only it has the answers for life, that only it holds the keys to an afterlife, that only it has the ear of God, and that any who disagree with them will end up in a place of eternal torment.

This is clearly not a religion designed to get along with the rest of the world. How can a religion like this work for billions of individuals and thousands of varied cultures?

It does not and it cannot. It is a closed system of religion with little room for the sharing of ideas. It does not accept that other truths exist within the human experience.

It is a modern-day version of the rule-based religion of the Pharisees and Sadducees — the very rule-based religion that Jesus spoke so harshly against.

It is this rule-based religion that atheists rage against today.

What the Christian church does not realize is the fact that they are largely responsible for the current upsurge of atheism in our culture today.

An extreme of any type is naturally going to create its polar opposite in any given situation. Extreme conservative Christianity is leading the way to extreme liberal atheism just as surely as extreme Catholicism led to extreme Protestantism.

Humans tend to take sides and rail at each other that only their view is the correct view, that only their opinion is the correct opinion, that only their way of life is the correct way of life.

This is why the human race repeats the same cycle of mistakes generation after generation after generation. This side-taking is, perhaps, a result of the human need to belong to something bigger than “self.” Unfortunately, this sense of belonging often comes at the sacrifice of individuality and a mob mentality becomes the rule.

This is a generalization, but in large-scale it rings truly as the United States Civil War and countless other world conflicts attest to.

If the people of Canada and all the other world’s nations are to ever get along with one another, a softening of extremes is needed.

Perhaps that softening can start right in Red Deer. Perhaps the Christian churches can begin to listen to the needs of people instead of preaching what they think people need.

Perhaps they can accept other spiritual practices instead of condemning them. Perhaps they can actually spread the love and joy they claim to hold the market on instead of the paranoia, fear and hate they advertise on a daily basis.

Christians, this is a plea and challenge for change. Humans create their own obstacles, their own adversaries, their own opposition, their own devils and demons. Your churches have done the same.

Be peaceful, open to discussion and change and you will find that your opposition is not as evil as you think it is.

Mark Stratton

Red Deer