Glen Beck, Sarah Palin and the Tea Baggers have done their best to claim Christianity and Christian values as their very own. Consequently, their message says that true American share their Christian beliefs and practices. Politically speaking there are all sorts of litmus tests. Christians, these true believers claim, have particular views on issues such as abortion, gay marriage and the like. This is all well and good, except that they are trying to convince church people that to be good Americans they must buy the whole package. Christians, we are told, are pro-gun, pro-life, pro-death penalty and anti-health care. It is an interesting mix and it takes a certain amount of creativity.
There is are a couple of interesting twists in this part of the problem. First of all, Glen Beck is not a Christian in the tradition, orthodox understanding of the word "Christian." Beck is a devout Mormon. This is a minor distinction in the political realm to be sure, but it is significant for many who are following Beck because of his, or their, faith. Secondly, there are many in the mainstream Christian church/media who have jumped on this bandwagon. Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson were a couple of the pioneers in this regard, but in recent years James Dobson and Steve Strang have worked to add the Christian element to the conservative/Republican cause. It is hard for me to see the relationship between my faith and higher taxes, however.
The other side- politically- is really no better. Jim Wallis and his Sojourners movement create an option for Christians on the left, but they are as myopic as the conservatives are. You are expected to fall in line for the left or your faith and/or faithfulness is called into question.
What we have is a conflict between biblical and cultural Christianity. I propose that what exists in our world today, at least as it is represented in politics is not biblical at all. We must do our best to get beyond these cultural biases at all costs and reclaim our biblical- and non-political- heritage.