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Repairing Christianity’s damaged brand

Repairing Christianity’s damaged brand

Sally Steenland, in American Progress, begins by stating the consequences of the Religious Right’s grip on public perception of Christianity:

…the Religious Right has grabbed the media microphone and claimed Christianity all for itself. As a result, many people, especially those who are younger, now equate Christianity with intolerance, bigotry, anti-intellectualism, exclusion, rigidity, stinginess, lack of compassion—you get the picture.

She is hopeful that there is change underway:

A more inclusive and generous brand of Christianity is increasingly making itself known—a Christianity that goes back to Jesus and threads its way through history. This prophetic, justice-minded Christianity has a proud tradition of standing up for abolition, civil rights, the poor and vulnerable, peace, and equality. It is invitational rather than exclusive, communal rather than individualistic, and compassionate rather than harsh.

The inward nature of this Christianity is fueled by spiritual discipline. It is embodied in community and in striving to live out gospel messages of love and reconciliation so that God’s beloved community can become a reality on this earth.

The outward nature of this Christianity is embodied in efforts that tackle the root causes of injustice, as well as its symptoms, and that speak out for those who are marginalized and lack worldly power and clout. Those who follow this type of Christianity are dedicating their lives to a wide range of justice issues, including immigration reform, gun violence prevention, economic equality, poverty reduction, health care justice, LGBT equality, women’s reproductive health, and more.

She continues by citing specific examples that have caught the public’s attention, and that these movements, as well as others, are signs that the “Religious Right is losing its grip on the public imagination and conscience” of not only what Christianity stands for, but even Christians themselves.


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I have an identity crisis; I have always been glad to call myself Christian, but no longer. The faith Jesus spoke of has been eclipsed, although I have enough faith to believe it will not always be so. Today the Christian title is trumpeted by people whose form of religion promises them a privileged place in this world and the next. That’s not what Jesus sought. “Christians” have accused me of impurity as a divorcee, and called friends who were somehow “different” unworthy sinners. It is too late; we will not counter the usurpation of the name effectively enough to save the good name of Christianity. I think the brand is already fouled beyond recognition. What do I call myself now? Follower of Jesus.



I still think that one of the big problems is using the language of the marketplace – we’re not a “brand” but a community. It isn’t that people can get one cheaper, or that the other religions come with coupons, rebates, or prizes for the kiddies, it’s that we’re not living up to the community’s founder’s ideals. We’re not selling anything, and if we think we are, then we’ve got nothing to sell.

Mark Brunson


We who love/follow Jesus may well have to drop the term “Christianity” . . . at least for several generations. It’s simply too toxic now.

[I regret this wasn’t so—I certainly am aware of the NT origins of “Christians”—but in the circles I move in, I have been unable to convince people to even *listen* to me, once I am identified as a “Christian”.]

JC Fisher

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