Irony: Democracy of U.S. vs. The U.S. Christian Church Dictatorship

Wow, that title could get me into trouble. Especially with the events surrounding my chosen community today and in the past few weeks. Although the timing of this post might not be good, I’m not sure the topic should be left unmentioned.

Last night we had dinner at a friend’s house, watched the first two episodes of this season’s Alias, and near the close of the night, began talking about the irony of the Christian church in the U.S.. Here it is:

American Christians are known and publicized as being fundamental nationalists. We are seen as vigilantly intolerant. Supposedly we stand for conservation of democracy almost (sometimes always) to the death. However, there’s an interesting facet in our Christian religion which I haven’t heard much talk about; the organization of our churches. Most evangelical churches are run with elders, deacons (whatever those titles mean), and one “head pastor.” This head pastor typically pulls more weight than the combination of the elders and deacons; ok, maybe not according to the bylaws, but, it almost takes a death or “serious” moral failure to uproot a pastor from his position.

If you haven’t caught it yet, the irony of our collective stand for democracy fails when it comes to church leadership. We allow ourselves to be led by an organizational dictatorship, and allow for that person to be “led by God” in whatever way they please until it causes such distress in the organization that it crushes people from the weight. And then, on the same days we let that same pastor rule the local church, with what would secularly be thought of as an iron fist, we bring out our American flags and preach that wars to bring democracy into the world are just and right.

Now, I’m not necessarily taking a stand on either side of the issue. I’m simply pointing out the irony of our lives as Christians. I know there are pastors who don’t rule with an iron fist. I know there are boards of directors’ who work in synergy with pastors. And, I know there are Christians who don’t believe democracy was given and sanctified by God. However, if we put away our beliefs and ideals, our conversations and our thoughts of how things “should” be, and look at the way things currently are, I think we’ll find ourselves in a pickle.

How do we reconcile our North American evangelical churches, who actually preach from the pulpit about our right to push our democracy, with the fact that that same pulpit is being run as a dictatorship? I don’t know the answers. I barely know of the issues behind our historical reasons for running a church like that (other than the fact that the Catholic church does so, and that’s where we stem from). But, I wonder how we make those two fit together? Or do we? (Perhaps there’s another issue to take into consideration…. Do we actually believe that our faith fits into other parts of our lives, and how?)

Nate Ritter lives in the Pacific Northwest (U.S.), popularized the #hashtag and creates web applications for a living. He also does miles and point hacking to enable cheap travel for his family. More here →

2 Comments on "Irony: Democracy of U.S. vs. The U.S. Christian Church Dictatorship"

  1. Mean Dean says:

    Do me a big favor?

    Summarize this – some bullet points and most pertinent points, then go to blogs4God and submit the short version of this post as a story

    … don’t forget to link back to the long version here.

    This is good stuff.

  2. nate says:

    :) I’d love to, if I get the time. Thanks.

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