Friday, February 22, 2008

Charles Barkley and "Fake Christians"

NBA Hall of Famer and current TNT basketball analyst Charles Barkley has never been one that is at a loss for words and Sir Charles expressed some strong opinions recently about conservatives while being interviewed on CNN by Wolf Blitzer.

While addressing the question of who he planned on voting for in the upcoming presidential election, Barkley went on a diatribe against conservatives. He shared that hearing the term conservative "makes [him] sick to his stomach" and went on to label them as "fake Christians."

Now, if you are a friend of mine or read this blog with any kind of consistency, you probably are aware that I do not consider myself to be a conservative and I am more liberal in my political viewpoints than most white, evangelical Christians. But what bothered me most about Barkley's comments (see video below) was that he seemed to paint conservatives, Republicans and Christians all with the same brush. He confuses political affiliation with personal faith. It is true that all three of these labels may apply to some, but it doesn't to all of us.

Please click here if the video player does not show up.

He goes on to make the assertion that right wingers are the most judgmental and hypocritical of all people. And, at times, this can be the case. But Barkley fails to realize that those on the far left can also be among the most judgmental (just as those of us in the middle have unfairly judged others as well.) In fact, Barkley seems to be dispensing a bit of judgment on others that don't agree with him on two specific issues -- abortion and gay marriage.

I'm not going to address the gay marriage issue here, but I do find it peculiar that identifying myself as pro-life makes me judgmental in Barkley's eyes. I firmly believe that life begins at conception and that the intentional termination of that life life constitutes murder. So if saying that murder is wrong makes me judgmental, then so be it.

Those that advocate tolerance, like Barkley, need to realize that they must include themselves when they proclaim that we need to be accepting of others' viewpoints. Barkley does not like Christians telling others how to live, but he seems to be fine with him doing the same. I wonder if he feels that the abolitionists of the 19th century were "too judgmental" towards slave owners? Shouldn't they have minded their own business and stayed out of the lives of others? Of course not! Because there are some issues (like slavery or abortion) that may get politicized, but are inherently moral issues.

With all that said, however, his comments shed some light on a disturbing reality. Why is it that we Christians are often described as judgmental and hypocritical? Could it be because what the watching world often receives from us is judgment and hypocrisy? Although I think Barkley's criticism is misguided and unfair, I do think that non-Christians like him are absolutely longing to see true followers of Jesus be consistent with what we say we believe. And I think that we can do that and still think abortion is wrong and that marriage is reserved for a man and a woman for a lifetime. We can do that by being people of love and compassion, as well as being people of truth and justice.

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