Noah D. Arney

A career development professional's musings on books, education, politics, and cooking.



Transformation in Religious Display


I recently went down to the San Juan Islands in Washington State. It’s a route I’ve been taking for about 30 years, and I remember the view from the Aerostar window and how it has evolved since the early 90s.

Because I drove that route at least 3 times a year as a kid and at least twice a year as an adult I got very good at using the buildings as my guide post, noticing changes and the steady growth in the northern part of Whatcom.

Well, moving to a different Province and then a pandemic changes things and it’s been about five years since my last trip down.

For many years along the road I take there was a small chapel, just big enough a couple people. A place for you to pull off the road and have a moment of prayer. A couple years ago the chapel disappeared. Things like that happen when you only see a snapshot of the road once or twice a year.

Further down the road there were several other churches, one I always noticed because they always had a big sign talking about how Jesus loved you and you were welcome at their church.

This year things were different.

Where the chapel had been was a large anti-abortion sign making some misleading statements and with the implication that 1) late term abortions were the most common (as opposed to less than 2%) and 2) they were some sort of intentional evil (rather than something that almost only happens if the life of the mother is in danger).

Where the church with the welcoming sign had been there was still a building, but there was no longer a sign welcoming you, telling you that Jesus loves you, or even telling you the churches name. Instead a new sign was there urging you to defund Planned Parenthood.

As I reflected on these changes it made me realize that this is what has happened in the US over the last 30 years. The Christian faith and prayer replaced with misinformation in support of their culture wars and political statements. White American Evangelicals replaced Christ, first with celebrity preachers, then with political influence, and now with explicit power over others. Maybe that was always the goal, and I was too young to understand it, maybe it’s a shift.

What I know is that where a roadside chapel stood, now stands a sign with a lie on it, and where a church welcomed you, they’re now telling you to lobby the government.

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