Thursday, June 16, 2016

Popular Attitudes

I love Pew surveys, and over time it becomes clear to see the secular world's opinions of Christians. There are legitimate criticisms, there are good things Christians do, then there are criticisms of those good things, and finally secular alternatives which typically escape such criticism. I made a small table with these learnings over time.

Adoption Harmful to relationships when a parent is present but cannot care for a child due to financial or other difficulty Presents a stable home with loving parents
There are several secular people adopting kids, especially rich celebrities who receive little criticism and much adulation
Soup kitchens None noted Generally admired None noted
Few secular alternatives
Schools Narrow curriculum The good schools foster learning outside their worldview but students must subscribe to the statement of faith
Prayer, teaching of faith matters considered an intrusion into the student's private matters; other aspects such as respect for life considered out of bounds for educational institutions
Secular schools, especially higher ed, are rife with active atheistic and agnostic teaching. There is also open mockery of faith and discrimnation among faculty and students.
Hospitals Not enough alternatives for those who cannot pay or are undocumented immigrants or visitors who cannot afford care; money-minded Christian hospitals are  understood to be dominant in this area, so there is no particular praise though it is acknowledged Again, politicized agenda topics such as abortion, contraceptives, euthanasia, etc. are hot buttons; federal funding is another.
Though not dominant, there are many hospitals funded bysecular  universities, which attract none of the criticism- though the same issues of funding, money and denying care to the outliers also apply.
Short term
Increases dependency and corruption Not admired Criticized as being culturally hegemonistic, and for religious proselytization
Some secular alternatives, like Peace Corp and Habitat for Humanity (though founded by people of faith)
Long term missions Cultural hegemony
Admired sometimes for great sacrifice like those working to treat Ebola
Typically criticized for their faith-based efforts None noted
Conversion Cultural hegemony Not admired
Nearly everything about conversion is misunderstood and vehemently criticized: (1) the idea that conversion means a denigration of deeply held beliefs and traditions; (2) a foreign idea that encourages violence between existing faiths; (3) a subscription into a dominant institution; (4) the idea that missionaries "buy" allegience with material offers, and many others
None noted; although activist secular people routinely market ideas and attitudes through the media and other interaction. This is not as visible or organized but intentional and effective.
Political engagement Infringment into the rights of others; winning battles suited to a moral code at the expense of others' "Social gospel" The social gospel is criticized when it is associated with a church that affirms the exclusivity of the Christian faith. Otherwise, as many of the issues align with the world's priorities, it is not criticized.
Several secular movements, most taking root from Christian efforts such as in civil rights, are active.
Preaching Bringing in money, exclusion of others and such matters into the content Not admired Preaching is typically seen as hypocritical and brainwashing.
Just as in the matter fo conversions, secular preaching is not as visible but intentional and effective.
Cultural hegemony Bringing cultural prerogatives into native traditions Sometimes, when culture and righteousness conflict, such as in the matter of female genital mutilation, culture must be laid aside Everything Christians do is viewed through the prism of winning souls, so there is gernerally not acknowledgment of the good things
Secular movements are typically not international with some exceptions. However, just as in the matter of conversions and preaching, secular cultural hegemony is not as visible but intentional and effective. Social liberalism is actively proselytizing.
Political leaders Christians are seen as useful idiots for manipulative political leaders, with very dalid precedents Some genuine leaders such as Carter have led the country with Christian principles.
By and large Christian leaders like Carter are not criticized, mainly because the truly hot button aspects of their faith have not been exercised during their leadership
The US (and in indeed the world) is very gullible in following a leader of any stripe. This applies to secular people as well.
Money There is real corruption in many churches which have forgotten that money is the root of all evil. After all, money is simply the currency for power. Power is the antithesis of grace. Christians give the most. The overwhleming majoroity of charitable giving comes from them; and out of this, most comes from evangelicals. Everything Christians do is viewed through the prism of winning souls, so there is gernerally not acknowledgment of the good things
Secular giving exists, but the causes are mainly the celebrated ones- breast cancer, heart disease, saving endangered animals. The worst issues in the world- ebola, earthquake relief, long-term community building- are mostly addressed by Christians.
Adultery Not just adultery but the problem of lust is real and present in the church, not just among leaders. Despite all the problems, Christians affirm that they may be wrong in their actions, but the Bible is right on secual practice. There is secular criticism of lust in the church, and then there is secular criticism of the Bible decrying both lust and the world's sexual practices.
By and large, the secular understanding of sexual desire if not based on any written code or philosophical understanding, rather on feeling and pragmatism.

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