‘Christian’ and ‘social conservative’ can be mutually exclusive

Sept. 16, 2013

Shelby Shively
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I consider myself a Christian, but I rarely admit this in public.

I also consider myself pro-choice and an LGBT ally, not to mention accepting of others’ religious beliefs (rather than an evangelist out for converting the heathen masses).

That said, it’s hard to be vocal about where I stand because right-wing extremists have taken over the image of a 21st-century Christian, and they have infiltrated much of the political system.

Even after people get to know me and my beliefs on social issues, they often struggle with this stereotype when I reveal my religion.

Other reactions include, “Whoa, but you haven’t tried to convert me once!” or “I didn’t know cool religious people existed.”

I am confident there are more of us than there are extremists, and I am certain that there is a full spectrum of tolerance and acceptance within the Christian community.

Despite this nation’s claim of separation of church and state, religion and politics have been intertwined for centuries.

Many people interpret this ideal as a policy meant to keep the state out of the church’s business and not vice versa.

It is much more likely that the intention of this statement was a full separation with each institution owning its own sphere.

These assumptions and stereotypes harm many political, religious and personal groups, and those that identify as LGBT who consider themselves Christians may not feel welcome in certain churches – or maybe in any churches.

Their personal lives shouldn’t be the center of political issues, but they are because religious fear and hatred are being used to deny LGBT basic civil rights.

Abortion is a very personal issue, and there are a variety of reasons people may consider this option.

If people wish to consult their personal religious community when considering abortion, that is their choice and their business.

If the government wishes to consult the religious community when considering abortion law and LGBT rights, it should do so even-handedly.

Republicans lean toward smaller, decentralized government with larger state power, but they are suffering from the assumptions that their political affiliation automatically situates them in a religious extremist camp.

Christians should not be pigeonholed into one party or ideology due to the extremism of a small, vocal minority.