Copyright, © 2005 Jordan White
“Left behind.” This phrase seems to be one that is important to the Christian Right and its pet-in-the-White House, George W. Bush.
Jerry B. Jenkins has authored a book by that title, and the Bush Administration has a program called “No Child Left Behind”.
Its seems that this is the current vogue, to worry about those who may be somehow “left behind” when others, more privileged, are a part of the action.
But as these groups profess such heartache over those “left behind”, they are, in Bush’s case, creating a whole new group of people who are left behind. These people are largely those who are so victimized by the economic fiascos of the Bush administration that they are creating an underclass of previously unheard-of proportions who provide cannon fodder for Bush’s endless wars, since they perceive that they have no other means than joining the military to carve out lives for themselves.
In the case of Jerry B. Jenkins and the Christian Right, we see them mourning for the left-behind ones, that is, those who were not “raptured” and who, at some point, incur the wrath of God due to their disbelief and be forever banished from the Golden Streets.
What I am wondering is, when are those on this planet, at this very moment, who represent the truly “left behind” ever going to get their needs addressed?
I could go on and enumerate many people in this world who feel that they have been left behind by the Christian Right, who are a largely an economically privileged and politically powerful group of people.
Some of those left behind are our country’s poor, who lack adequate health care, or in some cases, no health care at all. Some of them are others all around the world, victims of imperialism, natural disasters, and warfare, such as the suffering people of the Sudan, Somalia, Rwanda, and Palestine, and those peoples who were ravaged by the tsunami of this past December, or the hurricane in New Orleans in August. Then there are the people whose lives have been changed forever by the AIDS epidemic in Africa.
Yes, Christians, all of those groups feel that you have left them behind. You have not actively lobbied for help for them. You have not rolled up your sleeves and gone to help them yourselves, by and large. You have not written letters, mailed checks, or even faithfully and persistently prayed for them.
But even worse than your inaction is the attitude of your hearts. I cannot tell you how many times I have encountered a lack of feeling and compassion among those who count themselves among the Christian Right, who proudly call themselves Republicans supporting George W. Bush. They are more interested in spending money on so-called retreats (where they seem more interested in the “eats” than the “retreat”), on cruises and endless home-improvement projects, than on helping the needy.
I could tell you example after example, but I’ll just leave you with a single incident, because, growing up as I did in a household that frequently extended hospitality to missionaries, many of whom became fast and lifelong friends, this incident shocked me more than any other. You see, I was used to hearing missionaries in the 50’s and 60’s, speak with love and compassion about the folks they were endeavoring to reach with the Gospel.
I remember this particular incident well, because it was only a year or two ago. Our church here in California was enjoying a visit by a missionary woman who had spent time in several African countries. She was gaily recounting how glad she was to be in a “more-advanced” African country than the previous, because the previous country lacked computers and therefore, it was difficult for her to do her work of…(huh?) spreading the Gospel?
Now, for all I know, this woman really needed computers to carry out the type of evangelism she was practicing. Or she needed it for communication with those at home. I’m willing to admit that it was a real hardship for her to be in a country so backward that it wasn’t yet on line.
What I couldn’t accept was her sneering, arrogant attitude toward those dear folks who welcomed her into their tiny nation and, by all accounts, treated her with kindness.
I couldn’t accept the fact that she could not just unplug the stupid machine and get on with just lovin’ those folks into heaven!
But, unfortunately, they were just another case of people “left behind”.