Beyond Stereotypes of 'Conservative' and 'Liberal' Christianity

Article by John Backman.
In the middle of a two-hour chat about matters of faith, my conservative Christian friend told me she had no problem with evolution.

So much for that stereotype.

Amid all the hostility among people of faith, many of us reserve our most potent venom for people of our own faith: those who disagree with us, that is. “Conservatives,” “moderates” and “liberals” within most faith traditions often find themselves at odds. (Words like these are fraught with trouble, so I am using them loosely.) Put together two devout Catholics on opposite sides of the abortion debate, or two Baptists with different views of scripture, and the conversation has the potential to get long, loud and angry.

If there is a conversation. In fact, precious few people actively seek out those who disagree with them. Unfortunately, that leads to a vicious cycle. The longer we avoid “them,” the more space we create for caricatures and stereotypes to arise. Seeing our adversaries through the filter of those stereotypes — which usually include the qualities we loathe about them — just increases our anger, and so we avoid them even more.

Worst of all, the whole cycle runs counter to the Divine imperative at the core of most religions: compassion. Small wonder that people of no particular faith hear our words, watch our actions and give up on us.

What’s a person of faith to do?

We can start by removing the stereotypes.

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