Last weekend, I had the opportunity to watch "The Purge: Election Year." It was full of not-so-subtle political statements, but that's an article for another time. One of the major themes addressed in the movie was that of religion and politics. It specifically targeted Christianity and Catholicism.
As a Catholic, I was kind of uncomfortable as these scenes played out. The entire concept was way overdone. There were so-called "Christian" politicians rejoicing in the deaths of others, killing people in a church, and praying and "baptizing" people in an extremely dramatic way. Some guy who was dressed like a priest or deacon came into a room full of statues and religious images with a gun and started shooting up the place. The "Christian" people who were portrayed in this movie were in favor of the Purge (which is a night during which all crime is legal). It was wrong and disrespectful, to say the least.
I respect and understand the opinion of the producers of this movie. They have as much of a right to portray those things as I do to write this article. They hit the target many times while addressing other political issues, but they have this one all wrong. I speak for myself in this entire article, and my opinions may not reflect those of other Christians.
I would like to begin by acknowledging that there are extremist Christians. There are people who label themselves as Christians and spread hate. These people should not be regarded as paradigms of the Christian faith. When you see these people in the news, please remember that they are extremists, and that much of what they preach is probably not right.
Christians do not always sweat and tremble when they pray. It is not as excessive as it is in the movie. From my personal experience, the loudest some of us get is when we sing in a church. Prayer can range from a quick moment of silence to an hour of reciting prayers to a quick jam session at a service in a church. It is true that you may see some of us do the sign of the cross before we eat sometimes, and you may see us take a moment of silence when we watch the news and find out that someone has passed. But that's it, though. It usually doesn't get as out of hand as it did in that church in "The Purge." I, as a Christian person, can attest to the fact that the film's portrayal of prayer is absolutely out-of-hand.
And I don't shove my faith down anyone's throat as they do in the movie. I would be offended if someone forced me to believe in something I don't. Likewise, I would consider it wrong to do so myself. Now, that's not saying that the topic of Christianity will not come up in conversations. Please remember that we regard our faith as the truth, and that is evident in some of the things that we say and do. Our duty as Christians is to spread the message of our faith, but most of us understand the concepts of boundaries and respect.
Lastly, not all of us are super-conservative old white men. The Christian leaders in America who endorse backwards-thinking politicians do not -- I repeat, do not -- represent who I am or what I think. Much (not all) of what I believe in terms of politics is more in line with what you would consider liberal. I personally support the ideas of women's equality, environmental responsibility, universal healthcare, immigration reform, gun reform -- and the list can go on and on. They're all things that are in line with a set of morals that I learned through my faith. That being said, no one politician's beliefs are exactly in line with mine, and my set of beliefs is just one among millions. Our opinions on some things may differ, and that is okay, because it is our right to disagree respectfully.
It worries me that some people believe that religion is objectively a bad thing. I don't want to go out into the world and be antagonized for what I believe in. I just think that some people should do research that goes beyond what the media tells them before they jump to conclusions about religion. I hope I've helped open some eyes with this article.
Note: I use the words "Christianity" and "Catholicism" (and all forms of the words). I choose to use both of them for stylistic purposes. Please note that all Catholics are Christians, but not all Christians are Catholic. The movie in question addresses Catholicism. I use the term "Christian" (and all forms of the word) to describe all Christian denominations, including, but not limited to, Catholicism.