There has been a disheartening rise in religious, as well as ideological, extremism in America. You can see it in the comment sections of Facebook.
You witness it when someone you once respected uses the word “crisis actor” or when a church advocates a political platform “in service of almighty God.” I’m not particularly keen on inviting the ire of these extremists, but at the same time, I’m not in the mood to explain to my grandchildren that I was one of the “good Germans,” either.
The problem with extremism in America is that it is a growing reactionary movement to cultural change. That in itself is historically normal, but the extremist factions have amplified societal schisms and resisted these changes to the point of violence.
Even more troubling, the extremists’ views have hijacked Christianity much in the same way the Taliban hijacked Islam in Afghanistan; neither are accurate representations of their faith, and both are fueling a culture war.
The radicalized conservative “Christian” (we’ll call them Talibangelicals to avoid confusion with real Christians) has married their convictions to politics and extreme ideology.
It is the Talibangelicals who allow select Caliphs like news sites or their religious leaders to dictate the terms of their cultural Jihad. They do this by promoting narratives that fear-monger and alarm.
They do not seek out differing opinions, because they are secure in their politico-religious views, to the point of accepting and spreading misinformation across social media (and all the unfortunate consequences that come with that).
Now again, this isn’t unique to any one group, but once you look at the politics of the extremists, you start to see a familiar pattern: a desire to arm their communities, a heartfelt belief that their faith should have authority in government, an allegiance to a single, often flawed narrative that reinforces their religious and extremist views.
You know, ISIS stuff. Now before I go further, I need to address what some of my readers are likely thinking. These extremists are liberal fake news, and I’m instigating a war on Christians.
First, you are part of the problem. How long have white conservatives chastised African-Americans for supposedly not “policing their own community and taking care of their own problems?” I’m white and Christian, and so, apparently, are the mass-shooter terrorists and right-wing militant groups that have sprung up in recent years. That’s a problem. I’ve seen the vitriol and the exponential growth of these views, and I want to address it.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit liberals can also be extremist. But flavor of the month groups like Antifa and Occupy Wall Street are nothing compared to the power of the Talibangelicals. To further that point, let’s quickly compare America’s extremist groups.
Antifa, Occupy Wall Street and, well, I don’t know any other extremist liberal groups. Native Americans trying to protect their version of a church? College professors? I guess if you’re the kind of jerk who thinks “Black Lives Matters” is the slogan of an extremist group, that’s one. But radicalized liberal groups are generally working toward the protection of something, be it minority rights, ecological rights or worker rights. Do they always go about it the right way? Oh hell no, but that’s to be expected when you’re fighting for what you believe in and the deck is stacked against you.
Now let’s talk about the other side: the MAGAs, the white nationalists, the Twitter patriots and all the other hardline conservative groups. They, too, are fighting for what they believe is right, but they are also better armed, better at information warfare and better funded. Super PAC donors and massive Christian networks, whether they intended to or not, have supplied their supporters with weapons, words and hardline views.
I guess my greatest fear is that the God the Talibangelicals believe in is real, that he does want me to give money and efforts to policing marriage, that I should own any weapon and not pay taxes and resist globalism. That a man can act as sinful and vindictive as he wants, but it’s okay as long as he somewhat represents the political needs of the church while in office. That Jesus blesses the faithful with monetary wealth and is also on the side of Western culture.
But I don’t think that’s what God is like, and I don’t believe that’s what Jesus taught. I know many who agree. So I encourage the conservative Christian community to get their house in order and denounce radical Christianity. It’s okay if you don’t value my words, as I’ve always encouraged independent research. But America popularized judging the many by the actions of the few. So let’s work towards being a source of good in the world, not strife.
Colin Roberts is a senior English major. He can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]