Christians Are Offended By The Wrong Things

Some Christians are offended by all the wrong things: Starbucks cups, Easter eggs, and now, the vicissitudes of the calendar. Instead, they should be offended by more vital things like ignorance, intolerance, and hate.

In Rev. Mel McGinnis’ latest mash-up of politics and religion, he says, “the culture war is just a proxy war for the far deeper spiritual war,” invoking one of the darkest parts of the evangelical agenda because it strongly suggests a link between spiritual salvation and secular, public policy.

On the enemy side of the culture war is a left-wing conspiracy of Democratic leaders, the LGBTQ+ community, Hollywood, and the Cartoon Network. The absurdity there is stark, but McGinnis’ spiritual war is more complex.

Fueled by Fox News, many Christians believe there’s an ongoing “War on Christmas”-a war which apparently has spread to Easter. This manufactured conflict points to a conundrum: Why are so many MAGA-leaning Christians so insecure about their faith? Truth is, they’re dangerously secure in the righteousness of their faith. And yet, they constantly cry that it’s under attack.

All too often, they define their faith through exclusion–ironically, not a very Christ-like thing to do. Try as they might to strip holidays like Christmas and Easter of their pre-Christian roots, those roots remain. I would argue that they enrich our experience, while not threatening Christian observance. The holidays are in no danger of being “canceled,” marginalized, or forgotten.

I’m reminded that the date of Easter is governed by the lunar cycle; it doesn’t get much more Pagan than that. But when Easter happens to fall on an entirely secular observation like the Transgender Day of Visibility (established in 2009, so hardly a product of the Biden era), McGinnis doesn’t see it as coincidence. He sees conspiracy and complains that Easter is being “depreciated.”

This complaint is made in tandem with complaints about acknowledging pre-Christian spring symbols like rabbits and eggs. So, what’s the connection? If there is one, McGinnis doesn’t make it clear. I can only assume that both the calendar coincidence and the Easter Bunny are seen as threats to a narrow definition of Christianity-fronts in either a cultural or spiritual war.

This fixation on flimsy conflict betrays the insecurity of those intent on defining right and wrong in all things. In this whataboutism, Black Lives Matter becomes “All Lives Matter!” and Trump counters the Transgender Day of Visibility with “Christian Visibility Day” (Election Day, no less), as if every recognition must be countered by an alternative to defend a beleaguered white, heterosexual, Christian, conservative chosen few.

It’s in repeatedly employing the term “gender confused” that McGinnis truly tips his hand. Such labels are offensive in that they’re designed to marginalize LGBTQ+ people as merely “confused” about their identities, insulting their intelligence and their right to bodily autonomy and self determination. Moreover, it raises the specter of disastrous Christian “conversion” efforts to help them “pray the gay away.”

Again, the subtext of exclusion isn’t hard to read. If you’re “gender confused,” Jesus is the answer. McGinnis asserts that “every person [deserves] respect and hospitality.” But if you don’t accept his remedy for “confusion” and persist in what is seen as a sinful way of life, that respect and hospitality evaporates.

McGinnis’ right to speak out politically in a secular forum like this newspaper isn’t the breach of the separation of church and state that I find disturbing. What I do find disturbing are the boundaries he challenges and the false dichotomies he sets up in his convoluted argument: politics versus religion, heteronormative versus LGBTQ+ identities, and gender “confusion” versus binary gender certainty.

McGinnis also has the right to say whatever he wants from his pulpit–on holidays, Sundays, or any day he chooses. That right is secured by the Constitution, but his insecurity about it speaks volumes.

Eric Jackson-Fosberg is a Jamestown resident.


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