On the debatt page of HBL of Sö 8.12. there were 3 pieces from Christians who rejected the Extreme Right’s tendencies to pose as defenders of Christianity. Two of the pieces referred to an article by Nora Hämäläinen which was titled “En kristen nation?” and had been published on Sö 1.12. in HBL. And also in the last issue of Ny Tid there was an article by Mira Berndtson about the “Gemensam Front” of conservative Christians and extreme Rightists. Thus, is there a problem? And if so, what would the problem be?
Nora Hämäläinen was (justly) pointing out that Christian religiosity has very much developed away from being a real belief and has, instead, become a part of Finland’s general culture, i.e. something which “one does because every else is doing it” (and only AS FAR AS everybody else is doing it). But it seems to be good enough to serve as political ammunition of the Far Right. Why?
For a beginning one should realize that culture is the same as neurosis (it is just not called so because it is not registered as something deviant – “everybody” is doing it, after all). It is being picked up rather automatically by children who have occasion to observe the SPONTANEOUS reactions of adults (especially such adults whom they accept as authorities) to whatever events in their environment – the information is then stored in the brain as a “truth” which does not need any further justification, is afterwards also defended as such). And in a Christian environment “being a Christian” will this way become a part of a Christian identity (also to be defended as such). Knowledge of the Bible’s content is not required, even if one should revere the Bible as “God’s Word”. Thus, Christian identity tends to be based on a few simple formulations which have been picked up from some authorities (this at least in Western Europe). And the authorities (at least in traditional, authoritarian education) tend to spread such formulations (and twisted versions) of Biblical text which support their standing as authorities. As an example: As children we were taught (as the eight Commandment) that we should not lie, but if one looks at the Bible, it says that one should not give false testimony in court (which easily could result in the defendant being stoned to death). I.e. the Biblical formulation is (by the possible consequences) of a hugely different caliber than the formulation we were taught as children, but the authorities thought their formulation presumably more practical as an instrument of control. And in fact the church has a long history as an instrument of control. And from there presumably one reason why the political Right likes the traditional Christian teachings: If one is powerless in society one might at least want one’s children to obey, and to control all those inferior beings (such as immigrants, or those women who did not have brains enough to appreciate one, or …). “God’s Word” is anyway a rich source of formulations and demands which support the idea of hierarchy (preferably with the true believer at the top) and control, also of hostility towards sex and hostility to practitioners of other religions (up to and including the demand that witches should not be allowed to live – which, luckily, is nowadays only rarely quoted …). And of punishment there is also quite a bit of mentioning (which invites the true believers to enjoy the role of those who execute the will of the Lord …).
Aside of this matter of hierarchy and control (which we know as rather typical of the political Right) there are of course also other psychological factors in the game, such as some nostalgic longing for impressions which one has been imprinted upon in one’s childhood (and which one might want to see being honored in the present society, also by those immigrants), and/or the feeling of being left behind by a development which puts ever new demands to which one is supposed to adapt (compare this to the political Right’s claim that the “elite” has lost contact to, even forgotten, “the people”, who, being since a long time the citizens of the country – and by the length of the time more “real” citizens than any newcomers – have a justified claim to being considered, especially being MORE considered than those immigrants, children and other not-so-long citizens).
And what to do? One could serve a bit material which illustrates that the Old Testament is a tribal religion which is worshipping a god who has begun as a volcanic god (which can VERY easily be illustrated) and from which the church has unluckily not cut loose yet, whereas Christianity (same as Islam) is a more civilization-compatible offshoot of this tribal religion (although early representatives of Christianity, such as Petrus and Paulus, had still some obvious difficulties to liberate themselves from their pre-Christian beliefs). Anyway one could concentrate more on Jesus, who was demonstrating his tolerant attitudes on various occasions. And otherwise one SHOULD make it clear to people that one understands also their emotional problems, but that, e.g., those new demands are the result not of political bad will but of the development of technology and economy, which are difficult and tricky to counteract if one wants at the same time to preserve an acceptable level of prosperity. Which should be followed by the information that the discussion HOW to go about just this is in fact something like THE main topic of the political discussion (to which one is busy applying the best of one’s energy, knowledge and skill).