Yesterday, I got into a short spat with Pastor Rick Warren on Twitter. He posted one of his routinely banal Tweets, the kind that go more for the five second, “Oh wow, that’s a great saying!” but mean nothing to people in the long-term. It’s the kind of thing you say that people like but almost instantly forget, and he posts these Tweets quite a bit.
It wouldn’t bother me if the guy didn’t have such a large following, but he does. He’s influential enough that when the President needed someone from across the aisle to give the prayer at his Inauguration, he chose Warren, who is seen as a “cuddly conservative,” the kind of conservative with whom you might disagree but wouldn’t mind hanging out with.
Rick Warren does this on a daily basis. His Tweets are either exceedingly superficial or offensive but not so much that it would inspire boycotts. He straddles a fine line, pandering to the conservative, religious masses but not pissing off liberals too much.
The Tweet with which I took issue was another banal saying about “truth” that is too ridiculous to state here, but it led to me asking him about Evolution. He replied that it’s just a theory, that theories have to be proven, therefore it’s not true, etc.
Warren was pushing the tired argument about fact vs. theory that many Evangelical Christians push without realizing that theory means something entirely different in a scientific context.
I’m not really smart when it comes to science. I slogged my way through college chemistry, and I struggled in physics. I made it through Calculus II successfully, but it was it was pretty damn hard.
I’m not naturally inclined towards science. I say this to emphasize how simple a concept it is to understand the meaning of “theory” in science circles as opposed to the linguistic understanding of the general public.
Even elementary students who are introduced to the Theory of Evolution are able to articulate that theory, in this case, is different because it simply means that something is founded on logical principles tested time and time again over a period of study. This is as opposed to the more speculative use of theory as in, “I have a theory Bob is stealing the donuts in the break room. Here’s why…”
This is a very simple concept, one that I want to reiterate even children can be taught.
And this is what I find is the biggest problem with Evangelical Christianity: It’s not really a lifestyle. It’s more of a hobby.
And I say this as someone who spent four years in Evangelical churches. They’re mostly nice people, but they’re not interested in applying critical thinking. They only care about concepts being handed to them, doing praise and worship, having the social aspect of Church, and some (if not most) do “Bible study,” which really means that they’re just reinforcing what they’re taught by pastoral leadership with a stunted approach to the Bible.
So, what you get is a lack of emphasis on the poor and downtrodden and more of an emphasis on “living morally” or “being accountable.”
This means no sex before marriage, homosexuality is a sin, abortion is bad, men are spiritually superior to women, etc.
You don’t have to really put forth a lot of effort to be an Evangelical Christian. Come to the Church, tithe (if you feel inspired to do so), and accept the “wisdom” of your Pastors without question.
It’s not hard. You can male it hard if you want. You could read a few hundred pages of the Bible daily, meditate on the Word, volunteer in your Church, etc.
But the baseline requirements are pretty bare. Show up, agree with us, and other than that, enjoy yourselves.
Evangelical Christianity is a lot like organized kids’ soccer games. You go to practice (though you don’t necessarily have to do so), you go through the motions of kicking the ball (doesn’t really matter if you kick it the right way), you don’t argue with the coaches, you get to play a few minutes, every game…
…and at the end of the season, no matter how bad you played, no matter if you missed half your practices or games, no matter if you stood in the middle of the field blowing bubbles in the midst of the soccer-kicking chaos around you, you’ll *always* get a trophy.
You win just for showing up. You’re told “good job” and get a pat on the back for putting on your uniform and coming to even half the games.
Evangelical Christians don’t have to try, they don’t have to have their beliefs held up to scrutiny, they don’t have to acknowledge that they might be wrong.
They get up, go to work (where religious debates are usually not held), come home to spend time with the family (also, very likely, Evangelicals), watch some Fox News (reinforcing Evangelical Christian culture), and hang out at Church or with friends from Church on the weekends.
It is a powerful bubble. Their beliefs are only challenged if they insert themselves into a situation in which they can be challenged, and unless they’re watching MSNBC or trolling on some online news site, their beliefs aren’t going to be challenged very often.
So, when they watched Fox News over this past year and were inundated with two main themes, 1) Obama is bad and 2) Obama will lose to Romney, of course they were shocked and pissed when Obama won.
Their bubble had been burst. Their trophy had been stolen.