A student described to me a debate — hosted by his church — in which two men attacked each other for almost two hours. The issue? Whether water baptism is required for salvation. This student, exhausted by the speakers’ anger, told me he’d decided it doesn’t really matter.
Another student told me about a Christian teacher — respected in the community — who made the claim that figure skaters, female gymnasts, and English teachers are prone to lesbianism. This student wanted to be an English teacher. Now she’s reconsidering.
A chapel speaker had students stand if they’d read any of the Harry Potter books. He told them that they’d opened themselves up to demonic influences and that they were in danger of experiencing the fires of Hell.
No wonder the Church is largely considered irrelevant and even destructive. Fringe Christians like these seem — more and more — to be stealing attention away from the majority. They claim that the only issues that matter are the sanctity of life (code for anti-abortion), the institution of marriage (code for anti-gay marriage), and other inviolable pro-family principles (code for anti-yoga, Halloween, public Ten Commandments displays, Supreme Court appointments, and any other politically-expedient social issues).
But these people don’t represent the thousands of pre-Civil War Christians who set their slaves free and hired them back as workers, paying them a fair wage.
They don’t represent the German Christians during World War II, who had to be told by their government — again and again in official announcements — to stop giving up their bus seats to Jews.
They don’t represent the community of Amish Christians who shocked the world in 2006, when they publicly forgave a man who had killed their daughters.
And I hope they don’t represent you.
No wonder the Church is largely considered irrelevant and even destructive.