Ezra Klein: The Separation of Church and Hate The NY Times profiles a conservative evangelical preacher, the Reverend Gregory A. Boyd, who's getting fed up with the unholy alliance between conservative Christianity and conservative politics. He’s written a book called The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power Is Destroying the Church, which is based on a series of six sermons entitled "The Cross and the Sword." The sermons, which he gave before the last presidential election, "said the church should steer clear of politics, give up moralizing on sexual issues, stop claiming the United States as a 'Christian nation' and stop glorifying American military campaigns." His megachurch congregation was not totally pleased. By the time the dust had settled, Woodland Hills, which Mr. Boyd founded in 1992, had lost about 1,000 of its 5,000 members. But there were also congregants who thanked him—those who feel relief from the burden of expectation that being a Christian necessarily means being a Bush supporter, and those who are increasingly concerned that the conflation of religion and politics is doing a disservice to both. "More and more people are saying this has gone too far — the dominance of the evangelical identity by the religious right," Mr. McLaren said. "You cannot say the word ‘Jesus’ in 2006 without having an awful lot of baggage going along with it. You can’t say the word ‘Christian,’ and you certainly can’t say the word ‘evangelical’ without it now raising connotations and a certain cringe factor in people. Because people think, ‘Oh no, what is going to come next is homosexual bashing, or pro-war rhetoric, or complaining about ‘activist judges.’" Spot-on. Jesus has been hijacked as a political operative by people who have forgotten that the separation of church and state was designed to protect the church as much as the state. Christianity’s central figure cannot be redesigned as a gun-toting, gay-bashing, flag-draped ideological icon without fundamentally and inexorably altering the religion itself—particularly how it is regarded by those outwith its margins. Christians who don’t want to be associated with the reimagined Jesus have a right—and an obligation—to denounce his being co-opted into the spokesman for Überpatriot Dominionism. Christian Supremacists are rebranding Christ, and hence Christianity. This is nothing if not a marketing war. Understandably, it’s a game that Christians who don’t regard Jesus as a mascot don’t want to play, but the Christian Supremacy movement in America is a business. Millions and millions of dollars are raised every year by people professing to preach The Word in exchange for a few dollars (and a few more, and a few more) in the collection baskets, but all they’re really doing is selling a product—a way to cope with a changing world that robs bigots of their undeserved dominion, that tells them they really, at long last, must share equality with non-Christians, the LGBT community, strong women, minorities, and immigrants in the public sphere. They are losing control they were never meant to have, and Christianity 2.0 sells them the righteous anger and victimhood they need. Follow the link for the complete article.