Christian politics has reversed

To the editor:

As a teenager growing up in the middle of the last century, I had an older sibling who seemed to be the very fount of wisdom of the supernatural world. Christian fundamentalism and a literal interpretation of the Bible was the essence of absolute truth. The world was 6,000 years old, Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of Eden, a snake talked fluent Hebrew (or whatever), the Noachian flood really happened, the Hebrews fled Egypt and wandered for 40 years in the desert, and Jesus was crucified so that people could be forgiven of sins and not be cast into the fiery pits of hell. If you were a “born again” Christian, you were to be apart, not part of the world. It was a world of us versus them: “us” being the elect of God, and “them” being all the unsaved sinful people of the world.

Believers didn’t use alcohol or tobacco. They didn’t watch movies, own a television set or go to dances. Your attire was modest, and if a women showed up at church wearing lipstick, it was prima facie evidence of not being saved and everyone prayed that she would answer the altar call. Some believers at that time refused to participate in political life since that was being worldly. If they did vote in elections, it was to the most religiously conservative candidate available.

Surprisingly, in the last 40 years (40 is a favorite number in the Bible) there has been a gradual shift in the political views of many Christian fundamentalists. They now seem to be 180 degrees from where they were many years ago. Adlai Stevenson was the Democrat candidate for the presidency in 1952 and 1956, and even though being the most qualified person, he was defeated each time largely due to being divorced and religiously liberal – a Unitarian Universalist.

Shockingly, Jimmy Carter, a born-again Christian fundamentalist was defeated in the 1980 presidential election by a divorced, movie-making, second-rate actor. And now a twice-divorced candidate with no political experience is becoming the darling of many Christian conservatives: an egocentric, narcissistic, bombastic person appealing to the lowest common denominator of our sad political life. He is at odds with traditional conservative Christian values and likes to brag about his billions. Is it possible that this camel will be able to go through the eye of a needle?

David M. Keranen

Bakersfield, Calif.