I saw a Bud Light commercial with Peyton Manning and Emmitt Smith. For those who do not know about the controversy, Bud Light used a transgender influencer, Dylan Mulvaney, who made jokes about a Bud Light given to her by Anheuser-Busch to celebrate her one year anniversary of transitioning. Anyone who has taken the time to see this 15 second video would find it amusing.
Yet, it blew up. Conservatives who were anti-LGBTQ? boycotted the product, so much so that this year, Bud Light saw a 30% reduction in sales for Bud Light (11% overall). The employees who recommended this influencer were fired. The company is trying to repair its image by getting endorsements from a known conservative (Peyton Manning) and a famous African American running back (Emmitt Smith). It is not working.
I support boycotting products that go against one’s values, and I do so myself. But the reaction to her 15 second video was extreme (shooting up cases of Bud Light) and Miss Mulvaney has been viciously attacked by conservatives who refuse to recognize her gender.
According to the media, this boycott is supported by the Christian right. And that is the source of my problem, the term Christian right. The media has equated conservative and Christian values.
That is not true. The conservative “Christian” agenda is not a Christian agenda that I recognize. It is a conservative agenda and we need to stop linking it to Christianity.
A conservative agenda includes preventing gun control, denying climate change, eliminating abortion and other women’s rights, passing legislation against the LBGTQ? community, and decimating the first amendment (separation of Church and State).
I am a Christian and I disagree with all of these positions. Yet, the media linking the conservative agenda to Christianity labels all of us Christians as conservative.
In fact, this conservative agenda is not dictated by the Christian religion, most items are not even addressed in the Bible.
Trampling on the first amendment, the separation of church and state, is the opposite of Jesus’s teachings. Jesus stated, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Matthew 22:21). It doesn’t get clearer than that.
Arguably, the most controversial agenda for conservatives is the right of women to have control of their bodies. Emotions are high and I strongly support women; yet neither my perspective nor the conservative one is supported by the Bible.
In fact, one could argue that by its exclusion from the Bible, there is a tacit Biblical support for abortion. Biblical historians have known that women in this era tried various techniques to induce miscarriage, including herbs, manual labor, and other home remedies. Yet, the Godliness of this behavior was never mentioned in the Bible. Deuteronomy, Leviticus, and Numbers have 613 laws, some pretty esoteric, yet none address the Godliness of terminating a pregnancy. Anti-abortion, conservative Christians use the sixth commandment that prohibits killing as its justification. But that assumes that a fetus is a full human being with a soul, which is a subjective belief. The Book of Genesis (in its creation story) implies that the soul enters the body with the first breath.
So while anti-abortion is a rallying cry that many people feel very strongly about, the Bible is relatively silent on this topic. So, again it is a conservative agenda, based on the belief of when human life begins.
Let’s look at the others. Climate change didn’t exist in Biblical times.
Jesus never discussed the right to bear arms.
And while there are verses that may be interpreted as against homosexuality, there are more verses against adultery, implying that adultery is the greater sin. Yet, the conservative agenda is focused on LGBTQ? and not on adultery. Homosexuality played a relatively minor role in the Bible. The Bible has a lot of verses about rules that Christian do not practice today, such as slavery, polygamy, animal sacrifice, and Kosher laws.
So the agenda that fundamentalists preach is a conservative one, tangentially based in the religion of Christianity. It is us and media that have made the mistake of linking conservatism and Christianity. Many of these policies are coming out of the South, not rooted in Christianity, instead rooted in their history of slavery and oppression.
The Bible is a complex book with multiple versions of well-known stories such as creation (reading the Bible from start to finish was one of the few New Year’s resolutions that I kept), Jesus’s resurrection, and how events in the Old Testament are told differently by the Northern and Southern Kingdoms.
My church practiced a different way of worship. It’s philosophy was “don’t check your brain at the door.” It offered courses about Biblical times, the different versions of well-known stories, and questioning if some stories were teachings rather than reality (e.g., Job, Creation).
Other forms of Christianity, such as Catholicism rely on the religious leader to set the Christian agenda. In the South, the preacher is more of a benevolent, nurturing dictator, who determines what the Bible says and worshippers follow his dictates. In the Christian Church in which I belonged, we were encouraged to question, because by doing so, it strengthened our faith. We viewed the Bible as man’s relationship with God. It didn’t matter that there were multiple versions, or that some of these people may have been composites, parables, or limited to the times they lived in. That is the Christianity that I practice.
The ways we practice Christianity are different; but none of us can call the other wrong. Because the Bible very clearly states that only God, not man, can judge.
So, what does all of this mean? It means that no political group should carry the mantle of Christianity. I am as guilty as the media, using terms like Christian right. Instead, I ask all of us to give Christians like me a chance to call ourselves Christian without being categorized. We must stop using the term Christian right, and instead replace it with its political agenda–conservative, ultra-conservative, right-wing, moderate, liberal, etc.…without the Christian designation.
Let me be clear, I am not saying that conservatives are not Christian. I know and love many conservatives who are Christian. But I would like that the media not create the impression that all Christians are right-wing conservatives.
The only way that I can get my Christianity back is to separate politics and religion. Fortunately, that is not a novel thought, it is in the Constitution.
Angela Rieck, a Caroline County native, received her PhD in Mathematical Psychology from the University of Maryland and worked as a scientist at Bell Labs, and other high-tech companies in New Jersey before retiring as a corporate executive. Angela and her dogs divide their time between St Michaels and Key West Florida. Her daughter lives and works in New York City.