I was going to title this “Progressive Christianity Is A Demonic Lie” which seems right to me but that’s probably a little over the top. I apologize if this is disjointed but this arouses strong emotions in me so I will try to explain myself as best I can.
The idea of conservative Christianity as a negative social force, conservative Christians as mentally rigid, inflexible and intolerant people, and conservative Christianity as harming children are widespread and commonly accepted. The idea that this is true of progressive Christianity is held by almost no one, except me. But I think this is the case, first from my own personal experience, and also from my observations of life and the world.
My parents were Irish Catholic New Deal liberal Democrats born in the 1920’s, and believed totally and completely in the doctrines of the Catholic Church and all the progressive ideas from the 1930’s to the 1960’s. The two don’t differ that much- the Roman Catholic Church is theoretically an independent theological and intellectual entity with doctrines that far predate modern politics, but as a matter of practice the Irish Catholic North American church has always conformed to liberal and progressive policies except those relating to sex. My father was a little less liberal than my mother- he told me once he couldn’t stomach voting for McGovern, so he voted for a third-party candidate in 1972.
My parents strongly believed the central idea of progressivism, which is that poor people are special, and because they are poor are exempted from social norms, up to and including criminal law, but on a more common level such simple things as politeness and courtesy. Since poor people are oppressed, they must be forgiven and forborn any kind of bad behavior, and should be corrected, if at all, only by approved people such as social workers or liberal clergy in the most mild way possible.
You can reach this conclusion by Gramscian Marxism or by cherry-picking some things Jesus said. He certainly never said anything like this, but combining selective quotes with Buddhist or Hindu ideas and Victorian social ideas results in the social gospel, which reduces Christianity to being nice to and doing things for poor people.
There is a concept of sin here, but poor people are exempt from it. Rich people are regarded as evil, rich liberals excepted, although I’m not sure how they do this; so they are pretty much written off. Poor people are saints, especially poor non-whites, so the main focus of progressive Christianity is bullying middle-class people into serving poor people without question or resistance, to doing what the professional moral class, people such as teachers, social workers, and other government employees, progressive clergy, and rich liberals think they should do.
This works out fine for the moral elite of progressive Christianity- middle class people who are moral by virtue of working as advocates for the poor in some way, or rich people who support liberal causes. They only encounter poor people in controlled situations, or not at all. For those not so insulated, it’s not so great.
My parents were not well off, or not well off enough to insulate us from actual contact with poor people, or the uneducated common workers who pass for poor in the US but are actually pretty well off and treated pretty well. In my encounters with these people, I saw a wide gap between what my parents believed about them and the way they actually were. They were far from meek, humble, timid, needy, and oppressed; quite the contrary, they were usually aggressive, arrogant, cruel, sadistic, proud, and had a lot of material goods. They despised the type of behavior that my parents thought was appropriate- politeness, modesty, humility, and kindness. If you looked weak, they attacked you.
I suffered a lot of cognitive dissidence, between what I was taught was right, and how I was expected to behave at home, and the way people actually are. To the extent that I had trouble with these people, my parents, especially my mother, had the same answer- “Be nice”. That was it. If someone was being mean to me, it was obviously my fault for not being nice enough. My older brother was sort of able to make this work, being a more outgoing and social person than me, so he gave me the same message as well. My mother went nuts doing this, and died early of cancer. She believed one should never be angry at anyone about anything, and yet was one of the angriest people I have ever known, and believed deeply in social equality, and yet was one of the biggest snobs I have ever known.
I reached a point where I figured I was just not going to have a good life and I should just try to be a good Christian of the type my parents thought I should be and get my reward in the afterlife. Then the thought came to me- I remember it pretty distinctly, standing outside church one day- that, “No, this is not right. I don’t deserve to live like this and I don’t have to.”
My parents were educated people and had a variety of books. One was “The Story of Philosophy” by Will and Ariel Durant. I was particularly taken by the chapters on Schopenhauer and then Nietzsche.
I had a much better explanation of what was going on. People didn’t hate me because I was a terrible person who was not nice enough. People hated me because I was better than them. I was very intelligent, nicely formed, and kind-natured. The belief system of my parents was a social control mechanism to keep people of a more excellent type, such as myself, under control.
We had moved to a new town, from an environment where I was mostly around the children of scientists and engineers to a blue-collar/lower middle-class community of high school graduates, who at this point in the mid-70’s were enjoying the new freedoms from social conformity and so being hedonistic dicks whenever possible. The adults were pretty much checked out and doing their own thing, which probably aggravated the feral environment among the children. Sixth grade was pretty bad, seventh grade a little less. Then I saw class assignments for eighth grade, and I said to myself “oh shit”. I was in with some really bad kids, so I went to my mom- this was not easy, she didn’t want to help me with anything- and asked her to go to the school and get me in another class.
She was non-committal. “See how it is the first few weeks” was her answer, and then maybe she would do something. I despaired. They weren’t going to move students after the start of the year. I was screwed.
I remember being particularly freak out over two guys. “Paul Kelly!” I thought. “Joe Hernandez!” I thought. (I include the full names because they are very common.) Paul Kelly I actually dealt with. He was poking me from behind one day, so I gave him a sharp elbow and he left me alone after that. Joe was another story though, a huge Mexican from the colonia- the kind of person my mother thought was particularly saintly- and I didn’t want to die. The idea of always standing up to bullies has its limits, I think. Kids about my size or a little bigger I would tangle with. Violent kids a lot bigger I did not. I always was ashamed of that, but years later I realized getting seriously hurt was not worth it, and wouldn’t have preserved my honor.
My confirmation class during eighth grade was particularly farcical. It was run by a childless couple who were humorless purveyors of the party line. Almost all the kids treated it like a joke. I took it seriously and actually asked some questions and I was the one who got smacked down. At the end of the year I went to my mother and told her I didn’t want to be confirmed. She was shocked. “Don’t you want to lead a Christian life?” she asked me. I didn’t say anything but my answer was, “No, fuck no, not if it means getting my ass kicked by people and loving them and forgiving them and not having any negative thoughts towards them.”
My mother insisted I call the lady running the class and see what I would need to do to do it later. The lady told me I would need to do it all over again, the whole year. The intent was to intimidate me into going along with it, but I wasn’t going for it. My mother chose to treat it as temporary insanity, to be remedied later.
I didn’t start the class the next fall, but the spring fo my freshman year in high school they had a short class which my mother insisted I attend and insisted I be confirmed. I went along with it, I figured a little oil on my forehead wasn’t going to hurt anything.
I thought maybe the Bible didn’t really say what my parents and the priests claimed it said and at some point I would read it myself and see. And it turns out, it doesn’t. The progressive reading is very selective and distorted.
The Nietzschean view of progressivism and socialism is mostly correct, as far as it goes. Progressivism is a social control system to give one group of people power over others, not the best, just the most manipulative.
Charles Dickens saw how this worked and had a character named Mrs. Jellyby, who was obsessed with helping people in Africa while neglecting and abusing her own daughter. Progressives are worse than this though- they actively hate non-elite white people and enjoy seeing them hurt by their pets, criminals and badly behaved non-whites.
A lot of people hate Christianity and think it’s crazy and evil, most publicly for its conservative aspects, but I think largely too for the get-out-of-jail-free card it has for badly behaved poor people like criminals and drug addicts. I can’t blame them. All I can say is read the Bible and come to your own educated conclusions.