There is nothing more dangerous than professed Christians who have no real interest in Jesus. They are rather easy to spot if you are paying attention.

They are usually the ones most loudly claiming things like religious liberty while methodically swallowing up the personal freedoms and elemental rights of other people.

They incessantly broadcast their devotion of God on their bumpers and bellies, while living antithetically to the compassionate heart of Jesus actually found in the Scriptures.

Their spirituality is largely performative: a showy firework display of culture war talking points and religious buzzwords that distracts from the truth that there lives are yielding almost nothing truly loving to anyone but people who agree with them on everything.

Most telling however, is that their theology is built on an idea that Jesus fully rejected: compulsion.

At the core of Jesus’ movement two-thousand years ago was a personal invitation to follow him in the ways of empathy, mercy, and justice. It was at its heart, an appeal to the voluntary orientation of the heart of each human being he crossed paths with. It was something to be embraced or rejected without fear of repercussions.

In other words, it is nothing like the Christianity of the Republican Party.

The United States is currently at the precipice of theocracy at the hands of a small and powerful minority of professed followers of Jesus—and it would have made him sick to his stomach.

Watching the highest court in this nation here being weaponized by a small number of religious extremists to legislate their morality on the majority, it is a good time to remember that this wasn’t merely something Jesus would have refrained from — it was the very poisoned, institutionalized expression of faith that he railed against throughout his time here.

If you read any of the Gospels, you realize pretty quickly that if Jesus’ feet were on the planet right now, the Conservative Church would be the first table he had overturn.

Christianity as modeled by Jesus was never meant to hold power. It was never about control or brute force or dictating the laws of the land or imposing itself on people’s lives.

It was never intended to be a political or religious institution, but a chosen community of like-hearted people working together for the common good.

This is why actual followers of Jesus don’t want Conservatives’ compulsory Christianity. They don’t want legislated morality. They don’t want people’s bodies and bedrooms and marriages invaded by someone else’s theology.

Actual followers of Jesus understand that spirituality is the most intimate of expressions, wholly and deeply personal and made by a human being for themselves alone.

Actual followers of Jesus aspire to a life tangibly emulating Jesus in the world and perpetuating the compassion they find there, but they would never pile those expectations on anyone else.

Actual followers of Jesus believe their personal faith shouldn’t dictate the laws others live under because they know he preached a kingdom that transcended the systems and paradigms of this place.

Actual followers of Jesus want a world where people’s most intimate of relationships and decisions are not the jurisdiction of any faith tradition, because they recognize that choosing or rejecting a spiritual path is a sacred and singular decision.

Actual followers of Jesus want no part of the Republican Party’s supposed Christianity. They want something resembling Christ.

John Pavlovitz

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The original version of this Op Ed was published on

John Pavlovitz launched an online ministry to help connect people who want community, encouragement, and to grow spiritually. Individuals who want to support his work can sponsor his mission on Patreon, and help the very real pastoral missionary expand its impact in the world.