An excerpt from Becky Garrison's account of her recent interview with Marcus Borg
What do you say to those who claim the United States is a “Christian” nation?
The negative side of the ambiguity of faith is that religions have often endorsed extraordinary cruelty and violence. For example, when cultural conventions said slavery was OK, Christians accepted slavery. You can make your own list — segregation, wars, heterosexism, patriarchy, vast differences between rich and poor, and so forth. On the positive side, Christianity and other religions have also been protests against the way things are and [have affirmed] another possibility. The United States is statistically the most Christian country in the world in terms of [the] percentage of the population who will identify as Christian and in absolute numbers. Yet, the church is the only large institution in the United States where hate speech is still OK. This hate speech is directed mostly against LGBT people, but also against other religions, especially Islam. Can you imagine any corporation allowing its leaders to make statements about gay and lesbian people that are routinely said within the church?
How then does one live as a Christian in an increasingly global world?
One of my definitions of what it means to be Christian is, “a Christian is someone who lives their life with God within the framework of the Christian tradition.” A Jew is one who does so within the Jewish tradition. And you can start to fill in the blanks for the other enduring faith traditions. And by enduring, I mean those religions that have stood the test of time. For me, it’s not about one of the enduring religions of the world, namely our own, being the best one. Rather, to say that a Christian [is someone] who lives out their life within the framework of the Christian tradition is about difference and identity, not about superiority. I really like the analogy of religions, in an important respect, being like languages. To be Christian, means [to speak] Christian, to be Jewish means [to speak] Jewish, and so forth. Obviously, I’m not talking about speaking the ancient languages of the tradition but knowing and understanding the stories and vocabulary of your tradition. So being a Christian in a pluralized society, means to live deeply within the Christian tradition while being able to recognize the riches and saints of other traditions.