With so much noise coming from south of the border, and many loud Christians condemning Same-Sex Marriage, we need to distinguish between conservative Christians and the Religious Right.
At first glance, the Religious Right and Conservative Christians look distressingly similar. They vote for the same parties. They read the same bible. They sometimes worship in the same churches.
But there are differences between the two. BIG differences.
The Religious Right are extremists. They believe the church is at war with the culture. They can’t distinguish between opposition and enemy. They have a persecution complex and fantasize about martyrdom. Their narrow political agenda looks more like a Republican playbook than the Gospel of Luke or the Letter of James.
Conservative Christians, on the other hand, are the first ones to open their wallet when a homeless person comes knocking on the church door looking for food. They’re the ones praying with the grieving strangers who come looking for words of comfort. They’re the ones who have deep–rooted convictions and moral lines clearly drawn, but also recognize that a moral life lived without love for neighbour is a tyranny that besmirches the name of Jesus.
Conservative Christians know that being pro-life means more than harassing terrified 15-year-olds who are trying to reverse a bad decision. It means helping people take responsibility for their behaviour and their lives. It means letting young girls weep on their shoulder after the operation. It means volunteering for groups like BirthRight. It means throwing a baby shower in the basement of the church when the young woman decides to keep the baby.
Being a conservative Christian means believing that churches can do a better job at dispensing charity and social services than government. This is not some nutty anti-government ideology because conservative Christians are the first ones to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty. Conservative Christians put their money and their labour where their mouths are. They believe in people working together to help other people.
The Religious Right demands that government adopt their narrow agenda. Conservative Christians are servants. The Religious Right speak with anger and hate. Conservative Christians speak truth tempered by love. The Religious Right is moralistic. Conservative Christians are moral.
The Religious Right draws attention to itself. Like my three-year-old, it doesn't care if its good or bad attention. Conservative Christians work hard, but quietly and devotionally, because the gospel is something that is lived graciously as its witness. They know the gospel is not a soap-box for a partisan political agenda.
So, don’t confuse conservative Christians with the Religious Right. The two are not the same animal. Not by a long shot. Conservative Christians put “Christian” before “conservative.”
I should know. I have a congregation full of them.