If I were to be nominated to the “American Board of American Christianity” to draw up a new “platform,” it would include the following suggestions:
Be apolitical - Do not align the religion with any political party or politician. Participate indirectly in politics by educating members in morality and Christian values. Encourage them to vote based on these values but don’t endorse candidates. Encourage them not to become straight-ticket or one-issue voters, but to choose those positions that will be best for all concerned regardless of religion, race, gender, nationality, etc.
- Become a faith that focuses on DO and not DON’T - Become a faith that emphasizes good deeds and service to others and not on shrill criticism of other faiths and people.
- Pick spokespeople that the faith can be proud of like Jim Wallis and other moderates instead of extremists like Pat Robertson, Franklin Graham, and the late Jerry Falwell. Make Christianity “friendlier” and less adversarial.
- Lead by EXAMPLE and not through engendering fear and guilt. People are starving for an inspirational leader who has the courage to live Christianity instead of just telling the rest of us how to do it.
- Don’t fight MODERNITY. Whether we like the world as it is or not is no longer a relevant question. Take this less than perfect world we live in and inspire Christians to improve it instead of wallowing in negativity. Focus on the present and the future instead of believing we can return to an idyllic past that never existed. EMBRACE SCIENCE and view it as a powerful tool to make life more meaningful and livable. Combating problems like global warming will save and improve the lives of millions of people going forward. The same for stem cell research and other scientific breakthroughs that will improve more millions of lives.
- Redefine EVANGELISM - Christianity has a powerful message. If Christians would spend more time living the faith instead of proselytizing, non-Christians would take notice and want to become Christians themselves. A positive example is far more effective in spreading the Word than using a “hard sell” approach that many find off-putting. If you’ve got a good product (and we do), people will beat a path to our door. Think of INCLUSION instead of Christianity as a private club for “do gooders.”
- Embrace CRITICAL THINKING. Encourage Christians to ask the hard questions instead of accepting spoon-fed dogma. If the concept of Christianity is valuable and legitimate, critical thinking can strengthen and not weaken it. Don’t incriminate those with religious doubt, but acknowledge it as normal and that it can be treated as a “teachable” phenomenon. Make Christianity a “thinking person’s religion” instead of one aimed at the purposefully ignorant and willfully gullible.
- STRESS TOLERANCE AND KINDNESS - Whether we like it or not, everyone is not going to become a Christian. Honor this decision and respect the right and those who exercise it. Let kindness and humility overcome our Christian arrogance, reminding ourselves that Christianity is but one of many religious choices. Individuals are no less good or moral simply because they are or are not Christian.