Church Signs #12: I Call Bullshit on This One.18 November, 2008
My (((Wife))), while working her street corner in the south end of town, noticed a sign out in front of a Baptist church. Today, as we drove by, she pointed it out to me. The sign?
“To Embrace Diversity is to Embrace God”
I did a double take. Then, for good measure, a triple take. Since when has Christianity ever been about diversity?
The earliest Christians were, to be fair, a very diverse bunch. Some believed in one God, some in two, some in three, some in hundreds of Gods. Some saw earth as an accident, some saw it as a plan. Some saw Christ as a human adopted by God, some as pure spirit, some as part man and part God, and others as totally human and totally God at the same time. Some early Christians believed that, to be a Christian you had to become a Jew first (with all the dietary restrictions and the minor surgery required). Some thought that Jesus had come to fulfill a promise made in what we today call the Old Testament, others that he invalidated the Jews covenant.
Even the Bible, the unerring word of God, has been through hundreds of major and minor versions and revisions. Some of the Pauline letters show signs of latter insertion of new material. Many of the Gospels didn’t, shall we say, make the cut. Christians did not even decide which books were holy (and which were not) until about A.D 393. The pre-printing press reproduction of the canons introduced an unknown, but large, number of changes. Part of the problemwasthatthelatinusedintheearlybiblesdidnotrecognizepuncutationcapitalizationorevenspacesbetweenthewords. Then, of course, came the translations into the vernacular.
So Christianity does have a long history of diversity. Of course, the central authority of the church, from the First Council of Nicaea (and the various rewrites) up to the present day, has sought to eliminate diversity. Diversity creates heresy — wrong belief. Heresy means heretics, and heretics create multiple churches — Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Calvinist, Anabaptist, Baptist, et cetera ad nauseum.
So the history of Christianity (even the history of God — Though Shalt Have No Other Gods Before Me!) would tend to argue against the toleration, much less the embrace, of diversity. Even more to the point, a large majority of the Christian sects (mostly the more conservative groups) have actively opposed any toleration of diversity. Atheists, homosexuals, blacks, miscegenists — name the group and chances are pretty good that a Christian group has actively opposed their integration into society.
When the idea of gays serving openly (or clandestinely) in the military, it is the religious right leading the hate in the name of God. Any campaign — through the courts or through the ballot — to legalize gay marriage (or even allowing it under a different name (separate but equal?)), the religious right opposes the civil rights of their fellow Americans in the name of God. Any diversity is anathema to organized religion and thus to the God created by the adherents. Diversity is perceived as a threat: it allows freedom of thought and freedom of action.
So, based upon both the recent history and ancient history of believers in God, I call bullshit on the church sign.