My colleague in the English department, Michael Lackey, published a letter in our local small town newspaper, the Stevens County Times. I think it needs wider distribution!
Atheism is coming to America, and it is conservative Christians who are bringing it here. During the Nazi period, around 95 percent of Germans identified as Christian. But today, just a little more than 75 years later, almost 60 percent of Germans identify as either non-religious or atheist. What happened?
On the surface, it might seem that atheists infiltrated society and persuaded Germans to dismiss or reject God. But there is little evidence to support this interpretation. More likely is the following: Hitler and the Nazis were self-described conservative Christians. When Hitler first came to power he declared in a speech: “It is Christians and not international atheists who now stand at the head of Germany.” It was through their conservative version of Christianity that Hitler and the Nazis were able to make the case for criminalizing, violating, and eventually exterminating Jews, Gays, Gypsies, Immigrants, and many Others. Germans today know what a fanatical version of conservative Christianity can lead to (not all versions of Christianity lead to horrific behavior), which, in part, explains why so many contemporary Germans reject God and religion.
I don’t believe that Trump will do in America what Hitler did in Germany, but the overwhelming support for Trump by conservative Christians will lead, I believe, to the same cultural transformation in America that occurred in Germany. Many (and I even believe a majority of) Americans will eventually say: “Look at Trump and his conservative Christian base. These people support perpetual lying, belittling the disabled, criminalizing immigrants, degrading women and minorities, supporting white supremacists, and so much more. In good conscience, not only must I reject Trump, but I must also reject the conservative version of Christianity of which he is a part.”
In thirty years from now, when people ask the question, “who killed God in America,” the answer will not be “the atheists.” It will be the conservative Christians who supported Trump.
Sources: For the 95 percent statistic of Germans who were church-affiliated Christians, see James Carroll’s book Constantine’s Sword: The Church and the Jews (28).
For the nearly 60 percent statistic of non-religious and atheist Germans today, follow this link to the Washington Post article: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2015/04/14/map-these-are-the-worlds-least-religious-countries/
I’m slightly more pessimistic — one thing we’re seeing is how flexible Christian morality is, and while it’s obvious to some of us how hypocritical many Christians are being, the religion still has a lot of resilience. We shall have to wait and see if Trump finally breaks many peoples’ faith.
After that bit of pessimism, though, you have to read the other letter in the paper. The Morris community church is evolving, a rather ironic headline given that this is the local very conservative church, which does not believe in that heathenish notion of evolution. “Evolving”, in this case, means “Our attendance has plummeted and we can’t pay our pastor and we’re selling off our church building”. Yay!
After 30 plus years of having regular Sunday morning services, Morris Community Church is transitioning to a new model of doing church.
Over the last number years, there have been many changes to the paradigm of church life in America. Those changes and transitions have made waves in big cities, and we believe are now rippling to our small, midwest town.
MCC embraced this change by moving from weekly services to church as a lifestyle. Our focus is on discipleship, relationship, and being the body of Christ in and among our communities. Two major factors have brought us to this decision: spiritual and practical.
Spiritually, we feel it is time for our body to do something different in our community. We have the utmost respect for the other churches in Stevens County. In no way is our shift a judgment of them and what they feel God is leading them to do. We pray for blessing for each congregation that the kingdom can advance through their service to the community. At the same time, we feel God is leading us to a different model. Instead of brick and mortar, our foundations are relationships. In 1 Corinthians, Paul writes how we, the people, are the church. With that, church can be anywhere; a coffee shop, a garage, a basement, or at work. We will strive to bring the gospel everywhere we go and aim to serve those in need by being influences in our communities seven days a week.
Practically, our congregation size has dramatically decreased this year. Our senior pastor, Pat Franey, had to come off paid staff and currently is an IT Technician with Morris Electronics. We now meet as an corporate body twice a month; one Saturday for a potluck and worship service and one Sunday for a traditional service. We can continue to meet our financial responsibilities at this time, but it is clear that removing any debts would best fit our current situation.
Being true to the new model we feel God is calling us to, and embracing the practicals in front of us, we are selling our building in hopes to take the proceeds to bless those in need in our community and start from a clean slate.
Maybe Michael Lackey is a True Prophet.