I’m puzzled by the Christians who believe that liberal social policies are an affront to their chosen faith. Liberal social policies reflect an attempt by society to create equality for all and to help those who most need help- something the Christian doctrine tells you to embrace.

Far right religious institutions claim incursions onto their faith by the government where none really do exist. They seem to forget, or rather ignore the fact, that our constitution is a secular document, creating a secular government, where no religion has priority over any other in the public sphere of influence. Despite this, Christianity has an outsized role of favoritism within US government led institutions and laws that has existed since the early days of our nation.

Churches aren’t taxed. Religious schools and affiliated businesses are exempted from health statutes to excuse their desire to provide specific women’s health care matters. Traditional religious holidays are legislatively recognized national holidays. Every single politician concludes major speeches with affirmations to the Christian deity and many legislative bodies open sessions with prayers. Religiously connotated euphemisms are liberally laced into our common vernacular as to be ubiquitous.

It’s almost as if the far right evangelical wing of Christianity isn’t really concerned with following the professed teachings of their founder so much as retaining control over the lives of their congregants through fear, and attempt to rein in the rest of the country by proxy. This doesn’t sound like the religion of love and forgiveness so much as the religion of do what I say or pay the price. We see the extreme revelations of these kinds of religious doctrines playing out today in other parts of the world, under different banners, but with the same chilling underpinnings.

I’m not a Christian, but I’ve been around it in all its forms my entire life. I recognize that many, many followers do not ascribe to the darkest elements of their ministers. But they are the silent followers, the ones more likely to realize that their faith is just that- theirs, and not one that needs to be force fed to all. They eschew the proselytizing doctrine in favor of living by example. They seek not to control those they disagree with but rather to live in harmony and, in their words, “let God sort it out.” They accept equality for all regardless of color, creed, sexuality. They may reject elements of secular society for themselves while allowing others to make their own choices. And yet these voices aren’t the ones being heard and expanded by a media too eager to create divisions and stoke the sparks of foment.

Hear me now, you on the far right fringes of Christian faith- your fervent attempts to continue public policies that force a distorted value system on a nation created to extend fairness and equality to all people shall be seen by history as another darkness upon the evolution of humanity. Your ever louder cacophony of demonization and efforts to prop up the tyrannical voices of oppression in the name of your misguided interpretation of religion shall not win over the hearts and minds of mankind. You may bathe yourselves in the righteousness that your way is the only way to an afterlife of glory, but the rest of us equate your actions to those of any other zealots and we reject your efforts.

Your leaders in your churches, your supposed champions in politics, they are all using you as pawns to retain their hold on your minds and your wallets. They seek power through your hard work and sacrifice and what do you gain? In this world they keep you under their thumb, they offer excuses for your continued financial suffering, even while they spend your tithings on fanciful excesses of their own, yet they promise you eternal redemption which is neither theirs to give or decide upon, at least not under the teachings of your faith. Yet look at the overarching pillars that your messiah has laid out for you to follow: love each other, judge not your neighbor, seek peace, turn away from violence and hatred, let God decide who is worthy of eternity. These ideals are supposed to be left out of their hands, out of your hands, and into the hands of your savior.

Were these separatist religious points of view held in abeyance from the greater society it might not be much to worry about. Sadly, this is not the case. Your extreme religious minority has somehow hijacked one of the two major political parties in this country and in the attempt to wrest and retain political power, an entire generation of politicians now seek to pander to get your vote, to find earthly power and to hold it tight, and to punish the majority through legal machinations. Trust me when I tell you that these politicians don’t care about your religious beliefs so much as being in charge. They, and your highest religious leaders, are antithetical to the ideals your religion professes. They are everything your bible says they should not be. And yet you follow them to the pit of social upheaval, gleefully it seems, as if your earthly task is to punish rather than to prosper peacefully.

Now we are again at a crossroads in public life- a place where your deeply held religious ideals are being used to demonize your neighbors, your friends, your relatives. You are being asked, once again, to legitimize hate and bigotry and war. You are being told it is your duty to God to turn away from policies that promote equality and love and peace. You are being played against the ideals which are the foundation of your faith. And for what? For earthly advantage, something which should be furthest from your spiritual plane of interest anyhow?

I implore you to examine what it is you truly believe and then vote accordingly. If you truly believe that your faith demands you to deny healthcare to the poor, to withhold aid from the old, the infirm, the needy, to demonize people of different faith or gender or sexuality, then I suggest that you aren’t really a Christian at all and that you should continue to reward those who bastardize your faith for power and personal gain.

But if you reject hate and divisiveness, if you feel that your place is not to judge and condemn but rather to love and help others, then choose another path in the election booth. No matter how you feel about the human faces attached to the ideas, look at the ideas themselves. While neither major candidate is someone to embrace, the values they represent are what matter most. For once, you on the right side of the aisle, look deep into your faith to determine who best represents your morality and the morality of your savior.