Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to talk about an old subject. For 5 decades, I have been told to resist Peer Pressure. Coming from a religious, evangelical and Pentecostal back ground, we were always warned about the dangers of giving into the temptations of this world. Typically, this was meant to say never hang out with people who drink, smoke, curse, look different or acted differently than you'd been taught. It's funny how a constant threat of eternal hell will often ensure obedience in a guilty soul. As I grew and learned that other people could actually be a good influence and that everyone else wasn't headed for hell, I found myself questioning almost everything. There was no ill intent on the part of my parents and they were simply doing what they thought best. I have given into peer pressure and I've influenced others along the way and I've made lots of good and poor decisions thus far. Everyone has to choose their own path and direction comes from knowledge.
These observations bring me to my point. I have fought and struggled for many years with the concept church and politics mixing. I remember when Ronald Reagan was running against Jimmy Carter. My Sunday school teacher made a point to state that Jimmy Carter was evil and Ronald Reagan was a great man. I spoke to her after class and asked how she had arrived at this conclusion? She said that all Democrats were sinners and all Republicans were good because they were anti-abortion. Yes, that's correct, they used to be called anti-abortion instead of pro-life but through market research, they had a name change. I told her that my Grandfather was a Democrat, my parents were Democrats and I was. I went further and asked her if that made us evil? She shrugged off the question and reiterated how Christians needed to vote Republican. Shortly after this episode, our new pastor began to echo the same lines from the pulpit. I meet with him and turns out, he listened to Rush Limbaugh everyday and took Rush's words for truth. I gave Rush a few listens as well as another radio guy named James Dobson. At the time, Dobson was portraying himself to be just an evangelical outreach but it quickly became evident that he was a Rush homer as well. He would often reference that he understood if listeners wanted to turn away to a "certain" other radio host. I also often heard Rush state that his audience didn't need to have their own opinions, he'd tell them what to think. Between Rush, Dobson, Jerry Falwell and the rise of fox news, there has been a relentless war against Liberalism for at least 40 years. It's ingrained in the church, it's indoctrinated in the South and has lead to untold violence and extremism. Every Sunday, we would eat at Grandmother's house and Jerry Falwell would be pimping his hit piece video tapes against Bill Clinton. This single action lead to the militia movement and the Oklahoma City bombing. These vile actors have also encouraged the killing of Doctors who provide abortion services and the bombing of clinics. It's the reason why people hate planned parenthood, it's the reason why so many believe the lies about Babies being cut into pieces and sold, it's the reason why the right wing is home to the racist majority in America and it's a huge reason why Donald Trump was elected by those who consider themselves to be about family values. Is this right wing / conservative movement not a great example of peer pressure? Allowing yourself to be so distracted by lies and fear that you condemn entire groups is not a Christian value. Sowing hate and discord is not a Godly virtue. Discrimination against other races, religions or sexual orientations is evil incarnate. Isn't it funny how people claim that we can't change our doctrines or documents when in reality, we have always done both? Remember when slavery was accepted as a Christian practice, when it was bible sanctioned to discriminate, support segregation and to oppose mixed marriages? I sure as hell do. I've often said that in order to remain relevant, the church will have to change and accept others including same sex marriage because how is this issue any different from the past change regarding racism? They also must change in their sexist ways and in how they view women as a collective. The current Republican, Conservative church is so eager to cry that they are being persecuted but I say to you, how can you be a majority and be persecuted? How can you complain simply because you can't influence and control others? Can you even say the word persecution after reflecting upon the plight of the Jewish people in Germany or the Native Americans who we decimated as a culture in this Country? I think it's time that we practice what we have preached and we resist the peer pressure to do wrong, to be evil and to treat others poorly. Stop putting your faith in man and start putting it in your fellow man. Stop building kingdoms of gold on earth and start directly helping those who are in need. We all participate in ancient human behaviors and being your brothers keeper and evolving into a better human race are perhaps the greatest practices. Can we stop being political fodder and start forming our own opinions? Perhaps throw the entire algorithm into default by not being a predictable clone and a useful idiot.
The Southern Donkey