To My “Christian” Friends

Crucifix.  Photo By Callen Harty.

Crucifix. Photo By Callen Harty.

Let me start by saying that this is not for all of my Christian friends. It is for those who profess to be Christian, yet seem to live in a world of hatred, revenge, and violent rhetoric that does not fit my understanding of the religion you purport to espouse. It is for those whose ideals and movements through their daily lives seem to contradict the love and compassion that Jesus taught. It is for the hypocrites, those whose greed and twisting of the word of God so angered Jesus in the temple.

Let me say that I love you. I have known you in the core of your beings to be kind and generous people. This is why you remain my friends. I have known you to help your neighbors in need. I have seen you love your families and friends. I know that you have the innate capacity for deep compassion.

But when I hear you suggesting that all Muslims should die, or that politicians you disagree with don’t deserve to live, then I have to question your beliefs. I have to question your understanding of the book that you claim as your life guide. When I see how much you hate I have to question the presence of Christ in your life. When I see you using the Bible to justify war, discrimination, the death penalty, I have to question whether you have read the book at all.

Whenever I hear you spout hatred or generalizations about classes of people certain remembrances of Christian teaching from my youth come to my mind. I hear how you use the Old Testament, particularly Leviticus, to justify your political beliefs and I can’t help but think of how Jesus said that he came to replace the old law. And yes, I know there are right-wing theologians who will argue this was not his intent but it seems quite clear that he did intend to replace the old law with the new while understanding that he was fulfilling the prophesies. He did not negate the Old Testament–he fulfilled its story line and its promise and he started a new one.

When I hear you talk about retribution I cannot help but think of Jesus asking his followers to turn the other cheek and to love your enemies. Oh yes, and “judge not lest ye be judged.”

When I hear you spout hatred of Muslims or gays or African-Americans the phrase “love thy neighbor” comes to mind.

You have the right to your opinions, political or otherwise. You have the right to hate whomever you choose. But please stop doing it with the Bible as your defense. While I am not a Christian I was raised one and I have great respect for those who live authentic Christian lives–people like my mother who have always given of themselves for the betterment of their community, like friends who work to bring together nations and people instead of tearing us further apart. But I do not respect your religion. I do not believe it is Christianity and I believe that if Jesus returned today you would not be drawn up into Heaven in rapture. Instead he would wrap you in his love and try to teach you the true meaning of his lessons. My guess is that you would not listen to him. You might even crucify him again.

I am saddened by what you have become because I know the essence of goodness underlying your being. I try not to judge it, but clearly there is hatred calling you to action. There is hatred in your words. You have left the family of Christian love like a Prodigal son. My hope is that you return to that place of love where you started as an innocent child. Like the Prodigal son you will be welcomed back with open arms.

About Callen Harty

Originally from Shullsburg, Wisconsin Callen Harty is the author of four books and numerous published essays, poems, and articles. His most recent book is The Stronger Pull, a memoir about coming out in a small town in Wisconsin. His first book was My Queer Life, a compilation of over 30 years worth of writing on living life as a queer man. It includes essays, poems, speeches, monologues, and more. Empty Playground: A Survivor's Story, is a memoir about surviving childhood sex abuse. His play, Invisible Boy, is a narrative with poetic elements and is also an autobiographical look as surviving child sex abuse. All are available on (and three of them on Kindle) or can be ordered through local bookstores, He has written almost two dozen plays and 50 monologues that have been produced. Most of them have been produced at Broom Street Theater in Madison, Wisconsin where he started as an actor, writer, and director in 1983. He served as the Artistic Director of the theater from 2005-2010. Monologues he wrote for the Wisconsin Veterans’ Museum won him awards from the Wisconsin Historical Society and the American Association of State and Local History. He has also had essays, poems, and articles published in newspapers and magazines around the country and has taken the top prize in several photo contests. His writing has appeared in Out!, James White Review, Scott Stamp Monthly, Wisconsin State Journal, and elsewhere. He has had several essays published online for Forward Seeking, Life After Hate, and The Progressive. Callen has also been a community activist for many years. He was the co-founder of Young People Caring, UW-Madison’s 10% Society, and Proud Theater. He served as the first President of Young People Caring and as the Artistic Director for Proud Theater for its first five years. He is still an adult mentor for the group. In 2003 he won OutReach’s Man of the Year award for his queer community activism. OutReach is Madison, Wisconsin’s lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender community center. He also won a Community Shares of Wisconsin Backyard Hero award for his sex abuse survivor activism work. He has been invited to speak before many community groups, at a roundtable on queer community theater in New York City, and has emceed several events. In 2016, Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault named him their annual Courage Award winner for his activism, writing, and speaking on sexual assault.
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2 Responses to To My “Christian” Friends

  1. “Might crucify him again”? I have NO doubts that we would. And I’m a Christian. You point out some deep truths, but I’m glad that you don’t lump everyone in one pot. Thanks for a thought provoking article, Callen!

  2. Sam Burns says:

    Thank you for expressing your views on this issue. I have long struggled with the hypocrisy of those claiming themselves Christians. I share your heartfelt emotions and hope this helps people take a look at who they claim to be, and what their actions really prove.

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