THE BLOG
09/09/2014 02:58 pm ET Updated Nov 09, 2014

Be Afraid! The Latest Threat to Christianity Is Communism

I get a lot of weird stuff in my email inbox. I'm sure all of us do. But the one I got from my father in law today took the prize for the week, if not the summer.

Mike Riddle, in his "Creation Training Initiative" e-newsletter, outlined why it is that Christians -- and all Americans, really -- should be terrified of the Communism creep taking place in our culture. It's invading our schools, strangling God out of our children's consciousness, and it's slowly but surely turning all of us into gay-loving, shoe-banging Khrushchev sycophants.

Needless to say, this was news to me.

Here's the evidence Riddle lays out, citing a speech by US Congressman Albert S. Herlong, Jr, offered in 1963. According to Herlong, these were the nefarious agenda items of the communist party at the time as it pertained to their influence on American education and religious culture:

"Eliminate prayer or any phase of religious expression in the schools on the ground that it violates the principle of 'separation of church and state'."
"Discredit American culture... Discredit the family as an institution. Encourage promiscuity and divorce." [many secular universities]
"Present homosexuality, degeneracy and promiscuity as 'normal, natural, and healthy'."
"Infiltrate churches and replace revealed religion with 'social' religion." [emergent church movement]
"Discredit the Bible and emphasize the need for intellectual maturity which does not need a 'religious crutch'." [called evolutionism]
"Control schools. Use them as transmission belts for socialism and current Communist propaganda. Soften the curriculum." [called Common Core]
"Get control of teachers' associations. Put the party line in textbooks."

He buttresses this with excerpts from a speech by Nikita Khrushchev in 1959, in which the communist leader predicts what, I suppose, Riddle claims is happening now:

"Your children's children will live under communism. You Americans are so gullible. No, you won't accept Communism outright; but we'll keep feeding you small doses of Socialism until you will finally wake up and find that you already have Communism. We won't have to fight you; we'll so weaken your economy, until you fall like overripe fruit into our hands."

A couple of thoughts on this.

First, much of what communism was challenging back in the '50s and '60s wants necessarily the ideology of Christianity itself. Rather, it was challenging Christian hegemony. I go into this concept in greater depth in my book, postChristian, and more specifically why the end of such hegemonic dominance is not only good for western culture, but also good for Christianity as a whole.

Put in simpler terms, communism was pushing back against the collusion of government and religion to create a partnership of convenience -- an empire, if you will -- that forced all into conformity, regardless of their own beliefs.

Interesting to me, at least, is that it was the communist movement at the time that seemed to be fighting most ardently for the freedom we equate most often with democracy.

It's also worth pointing out the dates of Riddle's sources. It seems almost ridiculous to most of us now to invoke another Red Scare, using communism as the rallying cry to Christian arms. But remember that this was the time when American Christianity was at its peak, both with regard to attendance in churches and its influence over the broader culture. So really, Riddle's propaganda (not too ironic of a use of the term, is it?) kills two proverbial birds with one stone; he taps into nostalgia for the "good old days" when institutional Christianity dominated the culture, and he shakes the dust off of a common enemy, antiquated and absurd as it may seem.

Which leads me to my final point. It's beyond time for us, who claim to be followers of Jesus, to be compelled by something far more creative and inspiring than fear. If it's not fear of hell and eternal conscious suffering, then it's the clear and present danger of the enemy among us. But although fear can galvanize a group and mobilize them to some degree, it is not gospel.

Jesus calls us to a more perfect, consuming kind of love, one that Paul says casts out such fear. So by that reasoning, if we cling to such fear as part of our core identity and our reason for living and claiming our faith, we are pushing out the love that the Gospel offers us. We can't claim such love while also tapping into the power that fear affords us.

Perhaps I simply have more faith in the Gospel than Riddle does, and I don't mean in the sense that I love Jesus more. I mean that I see in the Gospel message, in the life and teaching of Jesus, an enduring and inspiring truth that could not be corrupted or snuffed out by government, red-faced commies or even the church itself.

After all, if it were so fragile and dependent on such human systems, it wouldn't exactly be the transcendent sort of thing we're likely to be willing to hang our lives on, now would it?