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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Nightmarish "Christianity"

I know, you don't have to tell me: "Consider the source". I'm still debating whether Max Blumenthal is aspiring toward that higher vision of what journalism should be, or if he's got some kind of agenda. But I'll say two things in this instance: his research and writing is quite good. That, and I'm compelled to agree enough that he's on to something here that I felt led to post about it.

The Nation's website has publishedan excerpt from Blumenthal's new book Republican Gommorah: Inside the Movement That Shattered the Party. The selection, titled "The Nightmare of Christianity", is about Matthew Murray, who shot and killed four people during attacks at a missionary training facility and then a church in Colorado two years ago. Murray may or may not have had severe problems already that should have been addressed. But to hear Blumenthal describe it, Matthew Murray's struggles were hopelessly complicated by his family's hyper-religious demands and expectations... until finally he snapped and took five lives, including his own.

Here's some of what Blumenthal writes...

But as soon as Murray enrolled at YWAM's training center in nearby Arvada in 2002, he found himself trapped in an authoritarian culture even more restrictive than home. He realized that, as another student of YWAM bluntly put it, the school's training methods resembled "cult mind-controlling techniques." Murray became paranoid, speaking aloud to voices only he could hear, according to a former roommate. He complained that six of his male peers had made a gay sex video and that others routinely abused drugs. Hypocrisy seemed to be all around him, or at least dark mirages of it. A week before Murray was scheduled to embark on his first mission, YWAM dismissed him from the program for unspecified "health reasons." "They admitted that I hadn't done anything wrong, just that they had prayed and felt I wasn't popular/'connected' and talkative enough," he recalled.

Two years later, Murray raged at two YWAM administrators during a Pentecostal conference his mother had dragged him to attend. The shocked staffers promptly warned Loretta Murray that her son "wasn't walking with the Lord and could be planning violence." Within days, an ornery local pastor was allowed to burst into the young Murray's room, rifle through his belongings, and leave with a satchel full of secular DVDs and CDs--apparent evidence of his depravity. Murray's mother searched his room for satanic material every day afterward for three months, stripping him of his privacy and whatever was left of his love for her. After the trauma-inducing raids, in which Murray estimated his mother and her friends destroyed $900 worth of his property, he concluded, "Christianity is one big lie."

There's a lot more in Blumenthal's extensive article about Murray and the kind of "Christianity" that he was forced to experience, including this song that students at a south Florida "Christian"-based charter school are made to learn:
Obedience is listening attentively,
Obedience will take instructions joyfully,
Obedience heeds wishes of authorities,
Obedience will follow orders instantly.
For when I am busy at my work or play,
And someone calls my name, I'll answer right away!
I'll be ready with a smile to go the extra mile
As soon as I can say "Yes, sir!" "Yes ma am!"
Hup, two, three
Sounds like something out of the Hitler Youth movement, don't it?

I wouldn't be bringing this article to anyone's attention if I didn't think it merited some thought. Because I know it does. Matthew Murray obviously had issues that should have been given sincere treatment. But if Blumenthal's reporting is anywhere even remotely accurate, I have no doubt at all that the kind of "Christianity" inflicted upon Murray destroyed his spirit, his mind, and ultimately his life.

I have written about it before many times on this blog: that Christianity is not supposed to be about having power in this world at all. To follow Christ means a putting to death of the old nature with each new day... but because we desire to, not because we are made to. But that is precisely how too many alleged "Christian leaders" have gained and maintained power and control over others.

Don't believe me? Look at this pic that I snapped from the website of Bill Gothard, cited in Blumenthal's article as the one most responsible for the insane regimen that Matthew Murray's parents subjected him too...

They "formed an army" and started a "movement of power"?

How is that anything near to demonstrating the love and grace of Christ to others?!

To follow Christ is to be in this world, but not of this world. It means saving the lost from a dying world, not saving a dying world from the lost.

(And if you can suffer an hour or so of your own blood boiling, I would also recommend watching the documentary Jesus Camp: one of the most disturbing looks at American "Christianity" ever produced.)

When I read stories like that of Matthew Murray as Max Blumenthal is conveying it, I can't help but envision Jesus turning down Satan's offer to give Him all the power and authority over this world. Jesus rejected it... but a countless multitude of men and women instead began screaming "PICK ME! PICK ME!"

Neither can I but believe that Satan smiles and says "Of course I'll pick you. And you will be fine. After all, you are only doing what He should have done. I'll even let you do it for Him."

People like this are not trying to win America for Christ. They are trying to win America for their own "Christianity". For their own religion. But to sincerely follow Christ has never been about something so mere as "religion".

And in the end, Christianity of this sort can only hurt and destroy lives, not build them up. Matthew Murray was but an extreme example.

Am I making too much of this? Folks, I don't know if I could make nearly enough of it. So much grief could have been avoided, and still be avoided, had some among us professing Christ only taken the admonition of Proverbs 3:5 to heart...

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding."