To the churches, parachurch ministries, televangelists, Christian media companies, and family members who have been proselytizing to me my whole life, I have felt silenced by voices who have tried to dominate and monopolize the conversation, and to declare themselves the authorities in the social, economic, and political lives of the world. I am breaking my silence.
“But if I say, ‘I will not mention his word
or speak anymore in his name,’
his word is in my heart like a fire,
a fire shut up in my bones.
I am weary of holding it in;
indeed, I cannot.”
— Jeremiah 20:9
I believe the Bible. I believe what it says about religious people who close their ears and will not listen to the Spirit. The rocks are crying out, because the people who bear the name of Christ are using his name in vain. They do not believe the scientists who are translating what the rocks, and the trees, and the fish of the sea are saying.
The Word became flesh. God is communicating through everything that he has made, not just a book that gives us a few clues. Christians are ignoring everything but what was written down around 1,600 years ago by a council of old men for a pagan empire, believing that we must follow the model of imperfect people, writing imperfect stories about who they thought God was, living imperfect lives, building imperfect systems that they have declared the final authorities on the nature and identity of God. The book is not infallible or inerrant. It is a record of our ongoing ability to distort words into laws, traditions, and habits that do not resemble faith, hope, and love at all.
Why would Stephen give religious people a sermon about history? Because those people completely missed the point of their sacred books. Their Messiah had been living in their midst and they didn’t recognize him. Instead, they killed him.
“At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him.”
— Acts 7:57
Who are the least of these? Jesus is all the people that Christians have been conquering and oppressing for 500 years. Every day, Christians self-righteously proclaim that you must believe their book or suffer eternal conscious torment for eternity (which is not what Jesus said, by the way). Meanwhile, they rape and pillage the earth, installing reality TV celebrities and billionaires as their chosen one, their king. God told the people what would happen if they wanted a king. The king would take all the riches for himself and oppress them. The whole story of the Old Testament was about people who were determined to do whatever they thought best, building temples, palaces, and empires. But the job description for humans was to tend the garden, not to build empires.
Who are the least of these? The people and the creatures of the earth who do not have a voice in our social, economic, and political power structures. We are the empire. We are the ones who do not have ears to hear. We are the ones closing our ears to what the Spirit is saying. We are the ones yelling crucify. We are the ones throwing stones. We are Laodicea. Christians are sacrificing their children to Capitalism, sacrificing them in the actual fires raging through California and the Amazon rain forest, because they refuse to believe that climate change is real. They also pledge allegiance to the President of the United States of America, refusing to believe that he is a criminal, and denying that they have become the greatest empire the world has ever seen, an enormous religious, military and economic power that has dominated the world for the past century.
How to Hide an Empire
'Wry, readable and often astonishing ... nimbly combines breadth and sweep with fine-grained attention to detail. The…
Scientists are showing us what justice and righteousness look like. They are listening to the cry of the poor.
But Christians are closing their doors, building walls, dropping bombs, polluting the earth, and turning the world into an uninhabitable ruin, because they believe it is their God-given right to do so. Winning the war against the pagans and the unbelievers proves to them that God is on their side.
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.”
— Matthew 23:15