I don't really go to church, and there are a few reasons why.
The main reason resonated with me when I went to the TEA Party meeting last Friday.
This is not to say I was met with animosity. Actually, I had a great time talking with very nice people who happen to be completely on the other side of the political spectrum.
It just reminded me of the people the TEA Party usually attract, and the reason many young people are turned away from religion: Christian conservatives, or fundamentalist Christians, if you will.
Certainly in the south (the only place I have lived so far), fundamentalists fill the church pews, and quite honestly, turn me off of church going. These are the people who take their religious views, skew them with conservative ideology, and come up with straight-lined, over reaching and outlandish claims about what God intended, when he allowed the United States to form.
Take, for example, immigration.
Christian conservative mantra teaches illegal immigrants are the scum of America. They come over here with the sole intention of taking our jobs, our healthcare and our money. Forget the fact they are the same poor, tired and huddled masses that our very own Statue of Liberty advertises for. If they aren't American, they don't get America.
The problem is this argument is in stark contrast to Leviticus 19:33-34 which says, "When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself…" It seems to me a sojourner might do well to come over and get a deal like Democrats are offering with a fast-track to citizenship that helps them contribute to the American economy.
But of course, that's not what God wants, is it? So the hard-line Republicans completely reject it.
There's also the common fundamentalist thought that the poor don't deserve our attention and help. Things like welfare, Medicare, food stamps; they've all become social and political stigma, something that represents laziness and mooching off the government.
What of the verse in Luke that says "blessed be ye poor, for yours is the kingdom of heaven?" Didn't Jesus once say it's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God?
When you read these passages then, hear TEA Party congressman Stephen Fincher from Tennessee mention Christianity in the argument for completely cutting food stamps, it makes you wonder how much some fundamentalists actually read the Bible.
I'm not here to say Christian conservatives shouldn't talk. After all, this is America and they have every right to have their views heard. I'm simply saying the overbearing language of Christian fundamentalists, and many in the TEA Party nationwide, are doing nothing to convince me that finding a church is something I would benefit from, and I'm not alone on this. Sure it helps with spiritual fulfillment, but I can do that on my own, and do that without the politicizing, without the sweeping statements, and without the apparent hatred that sounds nothing like Jesus' teachings in the New Testament.
I may not know everything there is to know about what God wants from me or humanity as a whole. All I know is I hear what you are saying way over there on the right, but it's making me turn more and more to the left where they hold charity in high regard, reach out a hand to the less fortunate, and want everyone to be able to enjoy the opportunities in America.
I truly believe that is the answer to "What would Jesus Do?"