In much of my writing, I use the term “fundamentalist,” or “evangelical” when talking about the religious right that dominate the conversation regarding Christianity in our political discussion. While it is sometimes accurate that these individuals may claim to be fundamentalist or evangelical, it hardly reflects the philosophy of all of individuals that identify with these groups. I was reminded of this error by my friend Fred Hood in his new book, The Religious Right vs. Right Religion. He correctly points out that he knows
“..a fairly sizable number of evangelicals who do not subscribe to
the ideology I am addressing and whom I hold in the highest regard. In
addition the religious right has Catholic, Mormon and mainline
In his book, Fred arrives at a unique and appropriate new term:
“I have used the phrase ‘Religious Imperialist’ to categorize this hodgepodge group. That term, which also may leave much to be desired, highlights its aggressive and dominating orientation along with its religious dimension. Their agenda is far more secular than spiritual and more economic, cultural and political than religious. Their goals are pursued more through secular organizations than churches. They are not people content to live and let live. They seek control above all else.”
Religious Imperialist is the perfect term to describe both their justification as well as their goals. They are religious, as they clearly use the bible to justify their suppression of the beliefs of “others” (i.e. the LGBT community, people of color, any faith not aligned with their beliefs, and women). Imperialism is the extension of power or authority over others in the interest of domination.
As Fred writes:
“Religious Imperialism, like any other imperialism, is an ideology of dominance. Equal treatment before the law is not satisfactory. Nothing short of preferential treatment is acceptable.”
It is not enough that they be allowed to pray in private, as Jesus taught them, they insist that if you don’t join them, that you are depriving them the right to worship as they choose. In fact, they carry it one step further by declaring that anyone who objects to a government-sponsored display or prayer is waging a “war on Christianity.”
In my book, The Non-Religious Christian, I provided my perspective regarding some of the social issues from a self-taught biblical student. As an active Presbyterian Minister and professor of American Religious History, Fred Hood is uniquely qualified to dissect the arguments being used by the Religious Imperialists in both a biblical and historic perspective.
If you have been wondering where the mainline Christian Community has been hiding throughout this long political dialogue, do yourself a favor and read The Religious Right vs. Right Religion available at www.principiamedia.com and Amazon soon.