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Last July I attended the Celebrate Freedom concert sponsored by the Christian radio station in Dallas. So there I am, sitting on my blanket, half-listening to the different artists, and gazing out at the sea of people around me. To my left was the All-American Christian Family with Mom in her American flag baseball cap and Dad with a bald eagle bedecking his T-shirt...forgive my stereotypes, but he looked and talked like his greatest dream was to be the next president of the NRA.

Which, of course, got me to thinking how this stereotype got so intertwined with Christianity in general. Maybe it's just that I live in the giant gold buckle of the Bible Belt, but when I think "conservative Christian", the word association game in my mind plays out something like this:

And let me not forget Bob Enyart, who sums it up perfectly: "Absolute correct progress for someone who becomes a Christian: They're no longer a liberal."

I am a Christian, but nothing of the above applies to me! For so long I agonized over the fact that I might no longer be a good Christian, after having given in to the "liberal agenda." What a waste of time... after about four years of this nonsense, I have realized something rather important:

Jesus was a liberal.

That's right, folks. This was a man who did not try to push legislation through Congress to set limits on how many foreigners could immigrate into Jerusalem; instead, he told stories setting those damn Samaritans above the priests of the temple because they showed compassion. He hung around with the marginalized members of society, advocated nonviolence, and even livened up a party once in Cana. Most obviously though, he was responsible for the biggest shake-up of the Jewish faith since Moses saw a burning bush a few thousand years before. He could not be content with keeping the status quo, leaving the current system well enough alone, because he himself was going to be the catalyst for that change, in the faith and on the face of human history.

There's a lot of talk about "what would Jesus do?" these days. And sometimes, I wonder. Far be it from me to put myself in the place of the living God, but I think he would feel just at home, if not moreso, in the Third World than in middle-class America. I think he would be astounded if he went to church some Sunday and heard sermons about guns and Bill Clinton's sex life instead of the love, justice, compassion and mercy of God.

Thankfully I am reminded that the propagators of this stereotype are but a subculture within American society as a whole. There are and have been Christians out there like Oscar Romero, Mother Teresa, and the sweet little old lady at my church who wins our chili cook-off every year, whose first priority it is to live their lives in service and submission to God; personal and political agendas are secondary to this overarching purpose to life.

This is not to say that conservatives cannot be true Christians; who am I to judge that? There are many who sincerely believe everything this stereotype espouses, and although I disagree with it and find internal inconsistencies, I understand that there is always another way of looking at things that could possibly remove those inconsistencies. What I do encourage is that everyone, Christian or not, conservative or liberal, think through their beliefs and make them an integral part of their lives instead of a superficial political springboard or ticket into whatever in-group they wish to belong to. If the main purpose of religion is honoring $DEITY, then why do "religious people" spend so much time talking about Bill Clinton or mass media or homosexuality?

because we are human and cannot comprehend something so great as an almighty uncreated god so we elevate stuff we know about to the level of gods and worship or desecrate them instead, have mercy upon us

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