“Real” Christians

cross.gifRecently, former NBA basketball player Charles Barkley commented to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that conservatives are “fake Christians”. Barkley plans to run for Governor of Alabama in 2014 and by golly, I plan to vote for him. His “fake Christians” comment drove the right wing into a tizzy calling for an apology and accusing him of religious intolerance.

Right wing bloviator talk show host Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson had this to say(warning: link to anti-progressive site):
“If a white conservative Republican commentator called liberal Christians who support Obama and Hillary ‘fake Christians’ he would be publicly repudiated by the liberal press,” said Rev. Peterson. “Barkley is getting a pass because he’s a black liberal Democrat attacking Christian conservatives. The man is a bigot and has no moral character. He should apologize for his remarks.”

Funny how people who call for constitutional amendments to ban gay marriage and adoption (and thereby gay families) scream ‘bigot’ when someone calls them out. The modern church seems almost obsessed with gay people and what we’re doing and with who and what we are wearing when we do it.
Jesus admonished his followers to take care of the poor, to abhor violence, and to welcome societies unwanted. With few exceptions, modern church leaders are asking their congregations for more money, using jets and driving expensive cars while many of their congregates live in utter poverty. These same pastors tout their financial success to God’s blessings and their own faithfulness, leaving those who scrounge up enough money for food and rent to wonder if maybe they aren’t being righteous enough. Maybe they still have some sin in their life that keeps them from God’s apparent truckload of money delivery.
The truth is that protestants have come full circle from the days of Martin Luther’s outrage at church indulgences.

Barkley is right in saying that conservatives are “fake Christians”. If the Jesus they served were to visit them today, it would be that whole moneychangers in the temple incident all over again.

For full disclosure I have to admit that I’m mostly atheist, with Buddhist leanings. I disagree with people like Professor Richard Dawkins when he says that there is no good to be found in religion. I think that sometimes, when focused correctly, religious beliefs can be a force for good in the world. Because I’ve had both good and bad role models for Christianity, I know what a real Christian looks like.
The real Christians in my life are people like my “gay dads” Ken Baker and Tony Hickman. My Aunt Kathy and Rev. Elizabeth O’Neill. Ken and Tony worked tirelessly to help those less fortunate (including me). When Ken died, the church was absolutely filled to the brim with people who knew and loved Ken. His partner, Tony, has loved me as if i were his own son. He even introduced me to his mother who was overjoyed to meet her “grandson”.

Kathy works with groups like Greater Birmingham Ministries that work to help the poor. Kathy also works with Equality Alabama a group Ken helped found that works to further equality for all citizens of our state.
Rev. O’Neill pastors Immanuel Presbyterian church in Montgomery. She is a beautiful person who truly reflects what Christianity should be. She took time each week, when I was coming out, to help me come to terms with my parent’s rejection and to help me see that not all Christians are anti-gay.
These are REAL Christians.
And while, yes, I may sometimes disagree with them theologically, I will always treasure them as shining examples of true followers of a man they call Christ.