Christ religion

Rev. Michael Nabors: To fight rogue religion, uplift others

Reverend Michael Nabors of the Second Baptist Church. Credit: Richard Cahan

It is always dangerous to write about rogue religion and corruption operating under the guise of faith. I understand. But I no longer care about the danger.

Because when narrow-minded fanatics use religion to support narrow-mindedness and bigotry, their religion becomes rogue.

Over the past 30 years or so, I have seen dangerous narcissism become a dominant theme in the teachings of many religious leaders and groups.

The current wave of hatred fomented by the forsaken mouths and twisted theology of many of today’s Christian religious leaders is not new. In fact, such a tunnel vision of the world was often the basis of religious expansionism. Today, rogue religious leaders use the same playbook that has been used century after century.

When their own congregations, their own constituents, their own people began to fear the steady pace of change and how it might negatively affect their lives, these leaders resorted to fear and manipulation.

Willie Shaw of the Evanston Branch of the NAACP proudly joins the YWCA’s Stand Against Racism along Ridge Avenue. Shaw, who has lived in Evanston since 1972, says this is a critical time for the black community. “The census will show that our population is decreasing,” she says. “The main problem is housing. It is simply unaffordable in terms of buying and renting, even more difficult for families with children. Shaw says some friends who love Evanston have had to move. “It has a lot to offer, but they get more for their money elsewhere.” Credit: Richard Cahan

These religious leaders themselves were afraid of losing the tiny bits of power and position they held.

As always, there were and are two options for these rogue religious leaders; change and be transformed, or struggle against change and strive to stay ‘as is’. Of course, staying “as is” also has a subtle caveat of going back to the “good old days.”

So these rogue religious and secular leaders of religion in the United States in 2022 have clearly made up their mind.

The current hatred emanating from these clergy and laity leaders under the banner of rogue religion takes many forms.

I know the impact of this hatred.

  • Abortion clinics were bombed.
  • Nightclubs where LGBTQI men and women congregate have been targets of mass shootings.
  • Churches and synagogues were set on fire and worshipers were shot dead.
  • Anti-immigration shoots arrows of hatred against immigrants in their efforts to settle in the United States in search of a better life.
  • Islamophobia throws darts at Muslims for their desire to praise and worship Allah through their own Islamic faith.
  • Anti-Semitism throws darts at Jews because of their faith and culture.
  • Homophobia is about throwing darts at men and women because of their sexual orientation.
  • Racism throws darts at black and brown people because of the color of their skin.
  • Anti-Asian Americanism throws darts at Asian Americans because of their ethnicity.

All of this, notice, is done under a rogue Christian religion. Because the Christian religion at its core is about love, not hate. It is about inclusion, not exclusion.

This is happening in large part because judgments from the United States Supreme Court allow for such divisive beliefs and actions.

Much of this continues because elected officials utter words of hate and cruelty followed by legislative actions at the local, state and federal levels.

Don’t worry, these appointed and elected officials frequent many of these “so-called places of worship”.

None of this is fair or just. Jesus said, as I have loved you, so you must love one another. He didn’t say kill those who don’t look like you. Jesus also established the golden rule for doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. And this rule is not unique to Christianity.

No, this hatred is not ordained by a loving God.

So we know what we need to do to fight this. And we do.

Over the past weekend (November 19-20), the Evanston community met several times.

An ensemble assembled by the Second Baptist Church sings during a rally against anti-Semitism and racism at Beth Emet Synagogue. Credit: Richard Cahan / Evanston Round Table

On Friday, Evanston’s interfaith community gathered at a local synagogue for a call-to-action community service to speak out against rising anti-Semitism and racism. A dozen clergy were present with more than a hundred in attendance.

Saturday as part of the 58th Evanston/North Shore NAACP Freedom Fund Banquet. It was a sold-out event and seven people were honored for their hard work and service to the community.

At the end of the official program, when the DJ started playing an R&B classic, two rabbis, a Baptist pastor and people of various denominations and denominations took to the dance floor…a moment of camaraderie and fun .

On Sunday, Cook County Commissioner Josina Morita, the first Asian American woman to serve on the council, was sworn in at Evanston Township High School. Six different members of the clergy offered short invocations, including Protestants, a Hindu, a Muslim and a Buddhist.

None of this means that Evanston is right.

But what I don’t see here is the dominant voice of a rogue religion. And I see a city working together. This city has adopted the country’s first municipal reparations program for black people.

The faith community is working diligently and hard to increase the impact of reparations. And here is our response:

Josina Morita, the first Asian American on Cook County Council. Credit: through facebook
  • We work together.
  • We talk to each other.
  • We eat together.
  • We find common ground even in the midst of our many differences.
  • Although we are rooted in our own respective religious traditions, we collaborate and network with the aim of strengthening our community as a whole.
  • We respect each other.
  • We are nice to each other.
  • We like each other.
  • And we often sacrifice our time and effort to support our community.

It’s not just about engaging under a canopy of civility. But it is based on genuine fidelity to our respective religions and to our common civility.

We hold firmly to the belief and conviction that love should always be on the agenda – endearing, comforting and also demanding love.

We demand the best of ourselves for only then can we begin to lay the foundations that lead to Beloved Community.

And if we come together to make so many things happen, we can also come together to prevent things from happening. Let’s talk about rogue religion as a cancer infecting the country. Let’s talk about how rogue religion encourages violence and not faith.

Our city simply should be, could be, and tries to be a community for all. It can never relate only to those of one group, ethnicity, race, religion, sexual orientation or political affiliation.

This is our community, the one we aspired to, dreamed of, lived for and we must choose to keep on track.

This Thanksgiving, I will choose to recognize what evil looks like, use my faith to spread love, and uplift others who join me.

Michael Nabors
Second Baptist Church