Elizabeth Sholes of California Council of Churches IMPACT asks: “Who is a Christian in today’s world? Inquiring minds want to know.”

Published On: August 6, 2021|Categories: News, Top News|2 Comments|
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Preachers, and pastors, and priests – oh, my!

There is a lot of imprecision about Christianity as it exists today. It’s very confusing to most people when they hear a distinction made between “Christians” and Catholics, between “Christians” and Protestants, or a wholesale inclusion of Evangelicals as the fount of today’s Religious Right. Even those of us who work inside faith organizations sometimes find our eyes rolling to the back of our heads in confusion.  So let me see if I can unpack this a bit. 

From the origins of the Common Era (CE), there ultimately became one church we now know as Roman Catholic. With the 15th C. Reformation, Protestants – those literally protesting against Catholicism – arose in many ways, but all without deference to the Pope and many of the Catholic principles. Lutheran, Presbyterians, Calvinists were but a few branches of Christianity that set out new ways of interacting with God and metaphysics.  

Overall, however, Protestantism split very early into two main branches: one was based on the teachings of Jesus leading people to search for justice and truth. The other was salvationist leading people to focus on their status as the saved.  All of them suffered persecution from the dominant Church. Most survived and grew stronger as institutions and patterns of faith practice. 

In America Puritans, Anglicans, some Quakers, and a handful of Catholics (confined to Maryland) were the original faiths. The first smattering of what became evangelical began with Roger Williams’ ousting from Massachusetts and founding of Rhode Island. His “divine light” views eventually became the American Baptist denomination. Until 1776, these were the only significant Christian churches in the colonies. There were numerous theological disputes that existed, but institutionally these were the prevailing organized faiths. 

Because the Crown was trying to re-establish Anglicanism as the state church in the colonies, and because Puritans utterly dominated New England without tolerance of other faiths, the founders of the Constitution erected the Jeffersonian “wall” separating church and state and rejecting any religious test of loyalty to any faith at all. Free practice of religion and belief was essential to preventing the new evangelicals and other faiths from being overrun by any other religion. 

 With the formation of the United States and rapid migration to the frontier, The Great Awakening that accompanied that expansion began a major split between Protestants and what were now the new Evangelicals. The latter, born a great deal on the frontier where preachers were animated by the spirit but poorly educated about the meanings in the Bible (if they could read at all) put emphasis on emotion, zealotry, charismatic leadership, and focus on the self.  Personal salvation and its rules for obtaining it were pervasive where life was hard, material support scarce, and the future unknowable. The promise of paradise was all many had. Social justice was irrelevant or inimical to the idea that you were solely responsible for your own salvation and only your own. You could proselytize but you shouldn’t intervene in someone’s suffering. They had to accept Jesus as their savior.  He would provide, not man. The material status quo was not for humans to change.  

Simultaneously the mainline churches, confronted by slavery and the civil war, were being challenged to pursue justice. Many denominations, notably Methodists, Congregationalists, Quakers, were openly and powerfully abolitionist. Personal salvation, if it mattered, was to come via works of justice.  There is no perfect single thread here, but overall mainline Protestants and Evangelicals split very cleanly during this period.  Mainline churches were more oriented to preserving the union and ending slavery.  Evangelicals favored slavery with slaves responsible for their own salvation and emancipation in heaven.  

By the 20th C. c.1901 the Evangelicals gave rise to another splinter” Pentecostals. Even more conservative than Southern Baptists who were, in the Pentecostal view, too worldly, Pentecostals became a growing force and quickly took leadership of yet another movement started c. 1935 The Family or The Fellowship.  

This brand of religion openly rejected social justice and its secular manifestations – the New Deal. All uplift in their eyes came from turning over your life to Jesus (and to the church leaders) who would save you, bless and reward you on earth and heaven. Thus was born the worship of power and money as manifestations of your salvation, the “Prosperity Gospel”. It required no work, no pietism, no changes in behavior in the world, only total submission to the movement.  Over the following decades, the goal was to take over secular institutions and “turn them to Jesus”” with domination of the world as the ultimate goal. Preparing for the End Times, this dominance would pave the way.  Hence – Dominionism was born even if adherents don’t use the term at all.  In the pews this became the New Apostolic Reformation.  In politics it is the “C Street” people, the televangelists with megachurches, the advocacy groups such as Focus on the Family all of whom seek their dominion over the earth – and everybody who disagrees with them. 

They now believe they are the ONLY actual Christians on earth. Nobody else deserves that term, in their view. Today this has political consequences when Dominionists want to reserve all rights to ONLY Christians.They don’t mean Protestants and Catholics. They mean only themselves, “born again” Pentecostals and evangelicals. They don’t even include liberal evangelicals of whom there are many.   

Meanwhile, mainline Protestants became more devoted to justice work and thought especially through the civil rights movement and into the anti war efforts.  Today, all mainline Protestants embrace a separation of church and state and believe the state must be an arm of justice. Charity was insufficient to heal the injustices.  People in need are not victims of non-belief but of systematic social constructions that reinforce their inequality.  These mainline Protestants uniformly accept full participation of all people as equals in society including LGBTQ rights, women’s rights, racial equity, and immigrant rights. Most of all, this view upholds the equity of belief, the preservation of religious diversity.   

This pits mainline Protestants against Dominionists (that have incorporated most of the evangelicals though not all) meaning there is a necessary distinction to be made between Protestants and Dominionists. The people MRFF is standing against are Dominionists.  Dominionists embrace the “7 mountains mandate” to control all aspects of our secular society from the military to Hollywood.  Protestants as well as Catholics are a target of Dominionist wrath since they do not accept domination by this one, narrow view and reject the Dominionist desire to ‘break the wall’ separating church and state. They also continue to believe we ARE our ‘brother’s keeper” via social programs not just the whims of charity. 

This is why only in the most technical sense of “not Catholic” are Dominionists “Protestant”, they aren’t Protestant anymore. They have their own new religion, one that worships the acquisition of power and money as the highest good.  In fact Pat Robertson once dismissed these denominations all as non Christians, “mere Protestants”.   

The quest for global domination has been successful in many ways. However, it is beginning to fall apart as Dominionist operations have been made public.  According to the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) last year Dominionism took a nose dive on followers making mainline Protestants the largest force in religion.   That threat to their hegemony actually makes Dominionists far more dangerous – they are enraged by their declining power and refuse to let go.   This is why California Council of Churches IMPACT stands with Mikey and MRFF. Everything we value of faith and Constitution is on the line.   

And we Protestants don’t ever wish to be lumped in with Dominionists. We are radically different and wish to stay that way. Dominionists aren’t Christians.  Christians aren’t Dominionists. It’s a whole new world, and we need those – not their – distinctions.

So there’s my thumbnail sketch of US religious differences.  Any good theologian would gasp in horror, but it is reasonably accurate if rather over simplified.

Elizabeth Sholes
Public Policy Advocate
California Council of Churches/IMPACT

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  1. reX August 21, 2021 at 6:38 am

    The first Puritans to arrive in America aboard the Mayflower in 1620

    AND – Only 59 of these 102 Mayflower Puritans survived the first winter after arriving to America.

    None of these remaining Puritans 59 Puritans are recorded or known to have ever persecuted or harmed anyone. And the Salem witch trials did not even take place until February 1692

    THIS IS 72 YEARS AFTER THE MAYFLOWER PURITANS ARRIVED TO AMERICA

    72 years AFTERWARDS ! – these original puritans were not even alive to defend or accuse the indicted witches that were killed for witchcraft.

    I wonder if the ORIGINAL TRUE PURITAN COMMUNITY had ever persecuted anyone at any time.

    From 1629 through 1643, – approximately 21,000 people CLAIMING to be Puritans immigrated to New England – and the Salem witch trials did not even take place until February 1692 , 72 years after the first Puritans began arriving.

    Could there have been thousands of people simply claiming to be Puritans who would go about persecuting others that they wanted out of their way in order to profit and benefit ? we do not see any connection to the Original Puritans aboard the Mayflower connecting these families or their grandchildren to conducting violence or persecution

    Also, England had already begun dumping and criminals and deviants and convicted criminals into America since 1610 – ten years before the Puritans even began moving to America.

    Could it be that the original TRUE Puritan majority truly had any influence or involvement with executing or persecuting anyone and from 1629 through 1643, – approximately 21,000 people CLAIMING to be Puritans immigrated to New England – and the Salem witch trials did not even take place until February 1692 , 72 years after the first Puritans began arriving.

    I am contemplating the possibility that anyone could claim to be a Puritan, and by the 1700s there were around 250,888 Europeans living in America.

    In conclusion – I ask – what if much of the history involving the Puritan community is false and has been manipulated ? I just wonder if any real original Puritan would have persecuted or harmed anyone.

    And this violence conducted by Puritans was 40 – 70 years after the ORIGINAL Puritans aboard the Mayflower had arrived.

    How can we expect any accuracy in an environment so manipulated and unorganized with thousands of mostly criminal and desperate immigrants flooding and rushing into America? how many people were in America from Europe working to manipulate and destroy the reputation of the original religious communities, while simply high jacking the name of Puritans. ?

    When we study we find that none of the “ Original Puritans “ who came to America were involved in persecuting anyone – anywhere.

    THE FACTS – after the ORIGINAL PURITANS arrived in America – by 70 years they were surrounded by hundreds of thousands of prisoners, murderers, the mentally insane the feeble and elderly and masses of the most criminal and deviant and evil people that were in England.

    King James had already been flooding the Colonies with all of the unwanted of England – even five years before the Puritans arrived – as early as 1615 – and the Puritans arrived in 1620

    + The Puritans came to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1629,
    + the Saybrook Colony in 1635,
    + the Connecticut Colony in 1636,
    + and the New Haven Colony in 1638.

    The SALEM WITCH TRIALS were in – 1692

    There were Between 50,000 and 120,000 British convicts shipped into the colonies this is not including the mentally insane and the poor and elderly and the people England, Spain and France had been bringing to America to seize control and power – over everything.

    Also, there was French and Spain that were shipping in individuals to influence and seize control of the colonies – all of this – combined with the war that Europe was stirring up with the Native American Indians

    Would it be impossible – 70 years after the ORIGINAL Puritans arrived for this very small and minority community to have any control of anything around them – The Original Puritans were forced to depend upon the greater community – and were a very, very tiny minority.

    To me it seems impossible for the ORIGINAL EARLY PURITANS who were seeking religious freedom to have any influence upon their community – under these circumstances 50 – 70 years after they arrived. This minority, were not in control and simply had no control over sentencing and executing or judging anyone for anything.

    ORIGINAL EARLY PURITIANS quickly became a minority group among a massive tidal wave of hundreds of thousands of pagan barbaric European PAGAN Trinitarians who simply were using the PURITAN NAME and some of the PURITAN core faiths to persecute others around them.

    Has history has labeled the Puritans as promoters of persecution – without any real evidence ?

    Who has promoted this history ? – Trinitarians.

    The Only EVIDENCE is showing that by 1692 – 70 years after the Puritans first arrived there were hundreds of thousands of evil, barbaric individuals and criminally insane and powerful influences from Spain, France and England who would have easily rewrote history and blamed the very tiny and very small minority group of Puritans for killing and persecuting others – when they were the ones who orchestrated all of these events.

    This was the goal and the objective of all of Spain’s, France’s, and England’s Catholic and Protestant TRINITARIAN Governments and powerful elites to suppress, undermine and drive the ORIGINAL PURITAN COMMUNITY INTO THE DUST.

    I believe these Trinitarians in Europe succeeded in destroying the Puritan Community and destroying their reputations forever. This was their objective – it was what they were actively working to do.

    HOW COULD THEY { TRINITARIAN EUROPE } FAIL ? –

    they threw everything they had into America to destroy the ORIGINAL EARLY PURITANS – by 1692 the Puritan Community was not the same community.

    Nearly half of the first ship of Puritans died of starvation the first year they arrived –

    other small groups of ORIGINAL Puritans – soon thereafter arriving – who were good and decent and caring and defenders of others religious freedoms arriving in America would quickly become a very, very small minority – so small to even imagine – surrounded by the hundreds of thousands of criminals and unwanted insane barbaric that England had pumped and dumped into America.

    Coud these larger communities simply have used the Puritan name and twisted their core beliefs and labeled their criminal activities against others as Puritan motivations.

    THE GOAL OF THE EUROPEAN TRINITAIRANS – WAS TO COMPLETELY DESTROY – OUTNUMBER – OVERWHELM and BURDEN THE PURITAN COMMUNITY AND DESTROY THE ABILITY TO PROSPER AND INFLUENCE OR GUIDE ANYONE.

    I BELIEVE IT IS POSSIBLE THAT THE TRINITIANS OF EUROPE COMPLETELY SUCCEEDED and did it very easily.

    I am open to any facts concerning these events.

  2. reX August 21, 2021 at 7:09 am

    The Trinitarians of Europe overwhelmingly succeeded in exterminating 6 – 8 million Jews in just six years and one day

    they also succeeded in inventing and fabricating a completely altered and false perversion of their New and Old Testament, but it took Trinitarians nearly 2000 years to complete this task.

    The dominance of the Trinitarian Popes of Rome, King James and Martian Luther has truly been hailed.

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