Narrow moral issues such as the Terri Schiavo case are eminently suitable for the many activist Christians. Getting off your ass as far as the nearest protest line is much easier than commiting to life-changing opposition of the imperial status quo.
Even worse was the Schiavo-bandwagon Christianity of the U.S. Government leadership. When it comes to the real front line of Christianity, the same leaders are on the wrong side of that line.
As the case of the rain forest nun, Sister Dorothy Strang demonstrates.
A Brazilian rancher surrendered Sunday to police for questioning about her February 12 murder in a remote part of Para state in northeastern Brazil. Since 1966, Strang had been helping farmers organize and survive despite pistoleiros who try to evict them from land claimed by wealthy ranchers. Strang was an educator, facilitator, lobbyist, farm advisor and political analyst, especially during the last decade as the peasant land reform movement challenged governmental policies.
For Strang, Christianity had implications far deeper than those usually found in protest politics. Prophetically, she was well aware of the inherent dangers in practicing the real thing:
"The logging companies work with a threat logic," she told Outside magazine. "They elaborate a list of leaders and then a second movement appears to eliminate those people. If I catch a stray bullet, we will know exactly who did it."Death squads are a form of political coercion not unknown to the U.S. government. Another activist lays out the chilling realities:
Two days after [Strang] was shot, he received a letter that read, "Dorothy has been killed - you are next". He said: "When you are against the financial interests you are a target."And it's not just the nod-and-wink use of deaths squads against the poor which places the current U.S. leadership on the wrong side of the Christian line, as Andrew Buncombe reports:
"Just last week the United States undermined a British initiative to clamp down on the trade in illegally logged timber. Though environment ministers from the G8 agreed to some steps to try halting the trade and supporting the governments of developing nations in efforts to enforce their own preservation policies, the US did not sign up to all the measures."Back in the U.S. many fervent Christians are happy that George Bush is in the White House on the front line of Christianity. Meanwhile, in Brazil, those who have nothing are happy that an Ohio nun came among them to show what real Christianity means.
George Bush really is on Christianity's front line. Just he's on the wrong side of it.