The problem is not that Christianity is so large a tent that some unpleasant people can find a home for themselves under it; the problem is that too many times the freaks and geeks of the Christian sideshow have planted themselves squarely in the main entrance and declared themselves to be the arbiters of who is/isn’t allowed in the tent.
And the overwhelming majority of other Christians are so unwilling to provoke dissension in the ranks that they do far too little to let the folks outside the tent know the freaks and geeks don’t have the final say in the matter.
It may be time to get a little confrontational -- in a “tough love” sorta way, of course -- with the extremists and the opportunists who taint the message of Christ.
Apparently, the tendency of some self-identified Christians to grab a Bible & clobber sinners over the head with it has made more than a few people opt out.
I remember as a young boy watching on TV as the Selma police unleashed fire hoses and attack dogs on peaceful, non-violent African-American civil rights protestors seeking the right to vote.
The Old South was not 100% irredeemably evil anti-black bigots; quite the contrary, most Southerners had a live-and-let-live attitude that accepted the Civil Rights Act of 1964 easily enough.
But most Southerners also take great pride in being polite and courteous, and if 1-in-10 members in their circle of friends & family where bigots, well, they were too nice to call them on it.
If 3-in-10 were bigots, the rest would agree to whatever Jim Crow laws made them comfortable.
And if 6-in-10 were bigots, well, hell, that was practically a lynch mob.
But an odd thing happened after Selma: The bulk of Southern whites look at Bull Connor goes ape-s4!t on a buncha little old ladies and college students doing nothing more but requesting the state honor the rights the Constitution said they were guaranteed, they looked at the blood and beatings and fire hoses, and they said, "Y'know, if this is what it takes to keep segregation, it's not worth it."
And Jim Crow started fallin'.
I tell people that Selma was the moment the civil rights movement won. Oh, it wasn't over, not by a long shot, and there were set-backs and violence aplenty to come, but it was the tipping point, it was the moment the majority of white Southerners -- people who were basically good, decent, moral, kind people -- said "Enough!"
We Christians have become our own worse enemies. We are either leading attacks on the defenseless, the confused, the searching in the name of righteousness, or we are standing by quietly as spiritual atrocities are committed in Christ's name.
Time to stop being polite with our own.