CPAC is a microcosm of American Conservative heresy.
If you want to see a US State Representative engaging in performative religiosity in a fake jail cell while kneeling in pantomimed prayer at the feet of an admitted insurrectionist pretending to be a martyr—you can go to there and do that.
While there, you’ll also see an endless parade of self-flagellating white Evangelical ministers advertising their defiance of non-existent oppression, a sea of Donald Trump-as-messiah airbrushed atrocities slapped on bellies and bumpers, and a small army of snarling and flexing “God and Guns” supermarket soldiers who regularly pack heat at the Piggly Wiggly, open-carrying Bibles they’ve never read.
What you won’t see there at CPAC—are any actual followers of Jesus, at least not the one from the Bible.
You won’t find his compassionate heart for the poor and vulnerable, his expansive embrace of disparate humanity, or his sacrificial love for those who are hurting at CPAC—nor will you find any of these things in this GOP or at Trump rallies or in Right-Wing Evangelical churches.
The only thing decent people of faith will find in Conservative religion is embarrassment.
Human beings earnestly seeking a meaningful and redemptive expression of empathy in the life and teachings of Jesus want no part of this heretical, predatory performance art. They want nothing to do with fear-mongering culture wars on same-sex couples and women’s rights and public education, or the overt racism of a white nationalism that would have been openly hostile to the Biblical Jesus.
They find it so cringeworthy that they are reluctantly leaving the faith tradition of their pasts and departing local churches, so as not to be mistaken for the precise kinds of charlatans and frauds Jesus spent his entire life warning people not to become.
Actual seekers of a spiritual path the calls upon their better angels and leans toward the common good, are embarrassed by Marjorie Taylor Greene and her party’s incessant mockery of genuine spirituality that aspires to love one’s neighbor and to do no harm.
Conservative Evangelicals are not the last faithful remnant of Christ’s Church standing firm for the Gospel in a Godless world that they claim to be—they are actively, violently, and almost single handedly triggering the exodus. Their shameless religious whoring and their loveless, predatory theocracy is something people of goodness simply cannot abide any longer.
As someone who was raised in the Christian tradition, who has spent more than two decades serving as a pastor in the local church, and who is still working out a working religion with fear and trembling—I am gradually extricating myself from it all, not because I no longer find great beauty in the teachings of Jesus, but because I am finding none of that beauty in this grotesque mockery of him.
In the coming days and years, the narrative of the MAGA Christians will continue to be what it has been since Donald Trump ascended as their vile, belligerent, spray-tanned messiah. They will talk about people like me and about you, and about the millions of human beings who have departed from the pews, as if we’ve done this because we have rejected Jesus’ invitation to love God, others, and ourselves.
But the truth is, we departed it to escape them, because their shameless, wanton weaponizing of religion was too grievous and cringeworthy to be associated with.
We’re not ashamed of Jesus, MAGA Church—we’re embarrassed by you.
Republished with permission from John Pavlovitz.
John Pavlovitz is a writer, pastor, and activist from Wake Forest, North Carolina. A 25-year veteran in the trenches of local church ministry, John is committed to equality, diversity, and justice—both inside and outside faith communities. When not actively working for a more compassionate planet, John enjoys spending time with his family, exercising, cooking, and having time in nature. He is the author of A Bigger Table, Hope and Other Superpowers, Low, and Stuff That Needs to Be Said.