From the Archives: Resistance and the Religious Left by Gina Messina

This was originally posted on June 21, 2017, you can read the original comments here.

For the last forty years, the Christian Right has influenced the conversation in American politics. Where is the Religious Left and how are they impacting our nation’s moral agenda? It is an important question, and now, more than ever, we need a progressive religious viewpoint in the conversation.

We are living in an era where the morality of our society is at stake and the soul of our nation is being bought by billionaires who have an insatiable appetite for money, power, and control. With an alt-right movement growing and nationalism becoming the Trump Administration theme, we are in danger of losing our humanity.

It is time for a serious response to the Christian Right. Why must we associate Christianity with bigoted policies? This ongoing movement has dominated our nation’s political agenda and led to the idea that you are either religious and conservative or liberal and atheist. Don’t get me wrong, every person’s belief system is their own and should not be judged.  However, studies well demonstrate that many Americans are walking away from religion all together because of the Christian Right’s political influence. It is time that Christianity be recognized as more than a conservative movement seeking to highjack policies and victimize the disenfranchised.

The true message of Jesus is founded on love, inclusion, liberation, and social justice. No Christian Right position resembles this. In fact, they are in direct conflict. Rather than focusing on condemning those who are deemed “the other,” why not focus on caring for the poor, welcoming the stranger, and healing the sick?

Likewise, conservative Christian stances have been historically anti-feminist and anti-woman. Those clinging to such beliefs would rather elect a president that has openly discussed grabbing women by the “pussy” than risk giving up privilege.

As the Women’s March has challenged Trump and his policies on gender, an anti-feminist backlash has strengthened with Evangelical women arguing that feminists have created their own oppression by whining rather than taking responsibilities for themselves.

The Christian Right would be surprised to find out that Jesus’ politics and teachings mirror the values of feminism – calling for an end to all oppression and creating a society that is just and fair for every person regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, age, religion, etc. Jesus welcomed women to his community and women played a critical role in his ministry.  Jesus not only had women disciplines; but also selected women as prominent recipients of his revelation. Most notably, Jesus chose women as the first witnesses of his resurrection. And while the apostles did not believe Mary Magdalene’s testimony, nevertheless, she persisted.

It is time not only for a resistance but a religious resistance where those who try to abide by the message of Jesus stand up to the Christian Right.  I acknowledge that no one is a perfect Christian; we all fail. But what is important is that we recognize the message of the Gospels and keep trying. Thus, we must reject the oppressive regime of the Trump Administration and the bigoted claims of the Christian Right. We must reclaim the Christian faith in its true form and live out its message the way it was intended.

We are living in a difficult time, but let us claim this moment to energize and unify the Religious Left. In the name of the Lord, let us challenge those who manipulate the Christian message as means to claim power and privilege while oppressing everyone else. It is time to make humanity great again.

Author: Gina Messina

Gina Messina, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Ursuline College and Co-founder of Feminism and Religion. She writes for the Huffington Post and is the author or editor of five books including "Faithfully Feminist" and "Jesus in the White House: Make Humanity Great Again." Her research interests are theologically and ethically driven, involve a feminist and interdisciplinary approach, and are influenced by her activist roots and experience working with survivors of rape and domestic violence. Gina is a widely sought after speaker and has presented across the US at universities, organizations, conferences, and in the national news circuit including appearances on Tavis Smiley, MSNBC, NPR, and the TEDx stage. She has also spoken at the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations to discuss matters impacting the lives women around the globe. She is active in movements to end violence against women and explores opportunities for spiritual healing for those who have encountered gender-based violence. Connect with Gina on Facebook, Twitter @GMessinaPhD, Instagram @GinaMessinaPhD, and her website

7 thoughts on “From the Archives: Resistance and the Religious Left by Gina Messina”

  1. Yes yes yes yes! I have always believed that if the Christians read and paid attention to and acted on the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount, and especially the Beatitudes, that religion would be kinder and more accepting of other people and more respectful of women and people of color. But this current religious right? I have no idea what they’re preaching and how it has anything to do with Jesus the teacher. Maybe it’s Paul, a famous misogynist, and those nasty OT prophets that are teaching them to be so mean.

    We are indeed living in a difficult time. You write, “It is time not only for a resistance but a religious resistance where those who try to abide by the message of Jesus stand up to the Christian Right.” Brava! I wish every so-called Christian in the world would read and pay attention to your post. Brava! And brightest blessings!


    1. You might enjoy watching the 2018 film ‘Mary Magdalene’ — Hollywood’s latest of seemingly numerous depictions of Jesus, and its first about disciple Magdalene. I really enjoyed watching it (three or four times, now, actually).

      Before watching it, I wrongly thought the producers couldn’t have resisted including a cheap shot (e.g. The Last Temptation of Christ) at the Jesus figure.

      The first scene with Jesus (well-played by Joaquin Phoenix) has him urging his will-be followers — and all of humanity, really — to let go of their physical world material ties, etcetera, with an emphatic voice and facial expression that authentically reveal the weight of the world on his shoulders.

      Magdalene is also well-played, by Rooney Mara (Joaquin’s fiancé and mother of their infant son, River). To me, disciple/apostle Magdalene indicates that women can be strong Church leaders, if permitted.


    2. Paul was not a misogynist, but he was definitely misunderstood by both patriarchal christians and feminists. Paul was known to quote his religious rivals in letters like 1 Corinthians in order to debunk their heretical ideas. In 1 Cor. 11, Paul is quoting his rivals on the issues of headcoverings for women, but he flips this around by saying women should have power over their own heads, hair is given to women instead of a veil, and women and men are interdependent on each other with their mutual origins in God.Other letters like 1 Timothy is read as universal for all time that women can’t teach men. What it is saying is that some uneducated, but domineering women are temporarily not allowed to teach, or attempt to dominate men to spread their heresy as was common in the Artemis cult. These women were instructed to learn first to correct their heresy. If women weren’t allowed to teach as a universal command by Paul, he certainly wouldn’t have held Priscilla in such high esteem as she taught with her husband Apollo in their house church in Ephesus. And in the letters to the Ephesians, Paul talks about mutual submission in marriage while summing up this letter by referencing Gen. 2:24 that the man should leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife which was an ancient description of matrilocal marriage. In Galatians, Paul clearly states there is no longer jew/gentile, slave/free, male and female divisions as we are all one in God’s eyes which also references Gen. 2:24 as well as Gen. 1:26-28 where male and female were in the image of God and were to have equal authority. In my opinion, a lot of those women centered matrilocal societies are very similar to what is described in Genesis even if they are not Christians in their beliefs. The blue print for this kind of society originated with Genesis rather than with some mother goddess belief system. Men and women are both in the image of God , and we will see this image fully reflected in the Godhead at some future point although there are hints of this in the Old and New Testament when it speaks of God as a mother or a Holy Spirit that rebirths. Patriarchy oppressed the female image of God, but it will come back full circle in time.


  2. An important point is being made here about what’s happening today although T is not currently president. Erosion of moral and ethical values as well as indifference continue to escalate. Although the far right has nothing to do with any life bringing religious inspiration it has real power and those of us who are not aligned with it need to be aware that if we choose atheism we are opening a door to the voice of the void. The word religion means to link back or in my words to close a circle and we can and need to make this choice to close that door. Nature happens to be my religion and maybe this is an advantage. Because S/he is my teacher I see the values of cooperation and awareness of the whole as central to personal/collective survival of all species. I invite anyone to participate in this great round. Surely nature could use our attention.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. From my understanding, Judaism’s Messiah is reflective of the unambiguously fire-and-brimstone angry-God Almighty of the Torah, Old Testament and Quran. This fact left even John the Baptist, who believed in Jesus as the savior, troubled by Jesus’ apparently contradictory version of Messiah, notably his revolutionary teaching of non-violently offering the other cheek as the proper response to being physically assaulted by one’s enemy.

    Though no pushover, Jesus fundamentally was about compassion and charity. Therefore, Jesus may have been viciously killed because he did not in the least behave in accordance to corrupted human conduct and expectation — and in particular because he was nowhere near to being the vengeful, wrathful, and sometimes even bloodthirsty, behemoth so many people seemingly wanted or needed their savior to be and therefore believed he’d have to be.

    Also, he clearly would not tolerate the accumulation of tens of billions of dollars by individual people — especially while so many others go hungry and homeless. Today, when a public figure openly supports a guaranteed minimum income, he/she is nevertheless deemed communist/socialist and therefore somehow evil by many institutional Christians. This, while Christ’s teachings epitomize the primary component of socialism — do not hoard morbidly superfluous wealth in the midst of poverty.

    Thus I can picture many ‘Christians’ finding inconvenient, if not plainly annoying, trying to reconcile the conspicuous inconsistency in the fundamental nature of the New Testament’s Jesus with the wrathful, vengeful and even jealous nature of the Old Testament’s Creator. I, myself, like to picture Jesus enjoying a belly-shaking laugh over a good joke with his disciples, now and then.

    Maybe everything about Jesus was/is meant to show to people that there really was/is hope for the many — especially for young people living in today’s physical, mental and spiritual turmoil — seeing hopelessness in a fire-and-brimstone angry-God-condemnation creator requiring literal pain-filled penance/payment for Man’s sinful thus corrupted behavior. (It’s somewhat like an angry father spanking his child, really). He became incarnate to show humankind what Messiah ought to and has to be. Fundamentally, that definitely includes resurrection.


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