This article was originally published by Mennonite World Review

Why splits happen

To your Dec. 21 editorial, “Old Way Still Applies,” I would add that the unnamed elephant in the room in the behavior of Lancaster Mennonite Conference is the shadow of Christian fundamentalism. The sad impact of Bible-and-flag Christianity on American politics in general and foreign policy/warmaking in particular over the past century is a grim and largely untold story. Support of nationalistic politics has moved one Mennonite conference and congregation after another away from Anabaptism.

Fundamentalist Christianity has had a profound impact on American cultural views and values. There were decades of rabid anti-communism, fear and hatred toward a largely hypothetical foreign enemy while racism, poverty and patriarchy were accepted and ignored at home. Then came an era when great amounts of funds were raised around the issues of abortion and “homosexuality,” while children, women and families here and around the world struggled with disease, hunger, starvation, war and unemployment.

Mennonites now find themselves largely untethered from Jesus’ denunciation of imperial religion and unsure that the Anabaptist rejection of war in the name of Jesus is good for us today. They grope for identity by continuing to tilt toward an infallible Bible while worshiping a very fallible God, whose recorded violent behaviors, if imitated by humans, would be condemned by all their peers and virtually every court in the world.

Nevertheless, a few weeks ago in Kenya, Muslims on a bus protected Christian passengers when thugs tried to separate the Christians out for execution. So there the Muslims show up, like Jesus’ Good Samaritan, pleasing God by their behavior when their theology wouldn’t pass any fundamentalist Christian test.

John K. Stoner
Akron, Pa.

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