Very often the terms “Christian” and “conservative” are used interchangeably in a derogatory manner. Let me correct a misconception: those two words are not synonymous.
Yes, the religious right exists but let us not forget the religious left and the religious middle-of-the-road. These latter groups love their neighbors – all of them—the atheists, the Muslims, the Jews, the gay couple down the street, and the exhausted young mother of four who couldn’t face having number five. They also love the snake handlers and those who speak in tongues. They even love you.
It is disturbing to see “Christian” equated with narrow-minded bigot or fanatic. It was a group of Christians who first came to this country to establish religious freedom. Many Christian clergy and seminarians (both white and black) participated in the civil rights march to Selma and were jailed for their efforts to register voters. I could go on and on with examples of “Christian” being the antithesis of “conservative” but I think you get the picture.
More fitting synonyms for Christian would be “accepting” and “tolerant”. A pastor I knew in Miami (one of the former seminarians mentioned above) used to say, “There are many different paths that lead to heaven.” He was the epitome of accepting, tolerant, open minded, and yes, liberal.
And what is wrong with being conservative anyway? I just ran that word through the thesaurus on my computer and came up with the following list of synonyms: traditional, conventional, conformist, unadventurous, old-fashioned, and old school. Certainly not on my “favorite words” list but not the bugaboo it is often depicted.
I recently saw a poll where participants were asked to list their favorite words. That got me thinking, not just about favorite words but also about important words. What to me is the most important word in the English language?
I consider myself a spiritual person so at first I thought about words like “God” and “belief.” I also like to think of myself as an intellectual so I thought about “wisdom” and “truth.” Being somewhat of a romantic I then thought of “love” and “family.”
However, I was looking for a word that encompassed all of those facets of my self. I thought of “trust.” That was good. I could tell I was getting closer.
When it finally came I knew it instantly.
That is what I practice as a Christian. That is why I defend your right to believe otherwise. Please grant me that same right.
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