Christianity in the 1970s and early 1980s was progressive. It went off the rails due to business concerns (declining attendance) and the decisions of church leaders to embrace political ambitions, specifically to elect Christian politicians for the purpose of imposing Christian laws on America. This was treasonous from the very start, given that the 1st amendment prohibits government from establishing anything that looks or smells like theocracy.
At any rate, it’s important to remember that Christianity wasn’t always conservative in America. The reasons we have white ethno nationalist Christians today are easily identifiable, and are less than three decades old.
Back in those days of progressive Christianity, I remember clearly that Jesus was pro-LGBTQ. All people were welcome in my old church. (Not anymore of course). We understood that only faith is needed for salvation, but the choice to believe must be personal. That is an essential message of the Gospel. Jesus condemned sin, but he didn’t force values or decisions on anyone. He tolerated sin so that people have a choice to accept or reject salvation. Without choice, there can be no salvation — that understanding is fundamental to the Gospel! And it meant that Jesus was pro-choice, among other things.
If the Trump Christians now think of Jesus as a sin-crushing MMA warrior out to impose values on America, they are really seriously misreading the Gospel. Jesus preached salvation through choice. He associated with sinners gladly, and had compassion. He saw potential in everyone, via faith alone.
The whole conservative Christian movement has been a big gaslighting effort from its beginnings in the 1980s. I feel bad for the many otherwise good people whose church leaders decided to misrepresent the essentially progressive nature of the Gospel. They listened, and they were persuaded to adopt isolationism and condemnation. They started to worship political power. They started to believe they know God’s plan. And that brings us to today, where we have a bunch of so-called Christians worshipping Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Ben Shapiro, conspiracy theories, Donald Trump’s destruction and bigotry, and their own anger. They have fallen away. It’s sad.