I loathe checking Facebook during election cycles. My husband and I are two lone Obama supporters among a sea of conservative friends and family. The main reason for this is that we're both Christians, and grew up in conservative Christian families. We defected from conservatism for different reasons; me after discovering Shane Claiborne and "The Audacity of Hope," he after reading "Blue Like Jazz" and experiencing life outside of his childhood Baptist church. It wasn't an overnight change; it was a process for us both, but one we've never doubted.
Sometimes though, because I'm slightly masochistic, I check up on the posts of the people I've hidden from my NewsFeed, or dig through my appropriately named "Trash" folder, and check out what they're saying. Here's a sampling:
"I just came back from watching the movie "Obama 2016" and I learned quite a bit about him, our country and the rest of world ... I believe the world is ripe for its destruction and the Lord's return ... I am seeing more and more that what God is giving us and the world is more of what it truly deserves; To control itself with no Godly influence."
"...He [Obama] and they are for the muslum (sic) brotherhood, and many companies have been swapping American Holidays for muslim ones over the last couple of years ... He sees a win, and he wants them on his side."
"Very important that you watch this Video and PRAY FOR THE U.S.A. ... If you can watch this short filmclip and not be outraged, it means we probably have already lost this battle. This issue alone should defeat muslim Obama in November." [Emphasis mine]
Once the nausea wares off, the reality sets in. This is madness, and it needs to stop.
The people who said the things above are all educated, intelligent, caring adults. They are not crazy, hateful or violent. So why are they OK with propagating insane conspiracy theories? Why do they not see the madness in passing on anti-Islamic rhetoric?
My conservative Christian friends and family are afraid. Afraid for their jobs, their families, the country, and most of all, they're afraid of Obama. It's natural, in an economy as shaky as ours, to be concerned about the future. But when that fear consumes you, and causes you to lash out not just at the policies of the president, but the man himself, that crosses a line into the irrational. When you focus more on the supposed Muslim religion and illegal immigrant status of the President, instead of why it is you don't agree with his economic policies, you are doing nothing but showing your fear.
I don't know where this irrational fear came from. I suspect Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and "documentaries" with frightening Middle Eastern soundtracks. I can tell you though what this fear means. That the Christians who are afraid are not trusting God. Instead, they're putting their identity as American Citizens above their identity in Christ. They're equating Obama with a threat to their life, liberty and religion, because their life and religion are wrapped up too tightly in their country.
God is not an American, and Christianity is not an American religion. It may be practiced dominantly in the U.S., but lest us not forget its origin: the Middle East. The same place that has been the source of fear fueled hatred, by far too many conservative Americans.
Fear is dangerous. When fueled by anger and ignorance, it can takes lives. That has been made all the more clear in the wake of the attack of the U.S. Embassy in Libya, thanks to a fearful film maker and ignorant pastor. If these men, especially the pastor, had focused on their identity in Christ, who urged us to "fear not," then they wouldn't have been as focused on attacking a religion that has just as many dangerous extremists as ours. Islam is not to blame for the attacks, fear is.
God is not going to be erased from America if Obama is re-elected. God is bigger than politics, America and the Earth. But when we forget that, and say and do things like burn Qurans and criticize a religion that has millions of peaceful adherents, we're showing that we've forgotten the sovereignty and power of God. By elevating America -- just one out of the many countries filled with people God sent Christ to die for -- we're missing the point. That all people, American or not, are people worthy of love, dignity and respect.
Maybe, my conservative Christian friends can start practicing this respect toward their president. The man that, if they believe in God's sovereignty, was elected for a reason. Hopefully then, when they vote in November, it will not be out of fear of the Earth's destruction, but logical reasoning.
As much as I dislike Mitt Romney, for his economic and social policies, I have no fear that the world will crash down if he's elected in November.
I'm not afraid of him.
Follow Emily Timbol on Twitter: www.twitter.com/EmilyTimbol