“Christian” Is A Meaningless Word

There are still quite a few people out there who consider themselves “followers of Jesus”, in some sense. There's no coherent way to refer to them anymore, though.

In 2021, “Christian” can mean anything from “homophobic nazi and/or rapist” to “philanthropic social justice activist”, and it's not always obvious who is who. Just look at any of the countless high profile Christians who have been outed as utterly despicable human beings, despite leading lives that appeared to be outwardly good for humanity, on the whole. Or the rampant homophobia, racism, sexism, and anti-semitism among so many people who identify as Christian today.

Look at Theodore McCarrick, the highest-ranking member of the Catholic Church to be exposed as a pervert in recent years. Or Jean Vanier, who many followers saw as virtually a living saint. Or Jerry Falwell Jr., or Ravi Zacharias. Those are just the ones I can remember hearing about in the last few months. If you really want to see some horrible things people pull off in the name of Jesus start at /r/PastorArrested and follow the links. Beware the endless rabbit hole.

It's not surprising that people are horrible. Everyone learns that eventually. It's definitely not surprising that an organization selecting for charismatic, enthusiastic public speakers as leaders is a literal cesspool of perverts. What is surprising, though, is that the rank and file stick around. The average church goers. “Pew sitters”.

It's probably fair to say that the average church goer doesn't know much about the exploits of their leaders. A lot of pastors are worshipped as demigods, their words held up as divine ordinance, authoritative and true. Suggestions of impropriety are brushed aside, and people who know too much to ignore are threatened to stay quiet.

But there's too much evidence, now. Turning a blind eye has turned into willfully enabling it to go on. Every single one of the movements led by these disgraced perverts still has thousands of followers, if not more. They are exempt from the normal standards of decency we expect from secular society and permitted to continue existing, despite their indifference to the egregious obscenity they enable.

How have we not learned that the way we do church is fundamentally broken. We literally lift up the most odious individuals in society to positions of leadership, then let them exploit and abuse their power for decades with no accountability, no consequence except for a tarnished legacy. How did this emerge from a movement started by a desert peasant who just wanted to help the poor?

And where does that leave us? People who are actually interested in that pursuit, in the wisdom of the Jesus stories? Back in the desert, I guess.