by Lillian Daniel
Why Marcus Mumford's take on the "Christian" label doesn't hold up.
It seems to be a growing trend--people who claim to love Jesus but don't want to call themselves Christians. The latest to stake a claim for not staking a claim is Marcus Mumford, the front man of the wildly popular Mumford & Sons, whose Christian-themed lyrics have been a source of fascination to believers and nonbelievers alike.
In Rolling Stone's upcoming cover story, Mumford demurred when asked if he considered himself a Christian, as a teaser on the magazine's website revealed. "I don't really like that word. It comes with so much baggage," he said, in terms that many fans will relate to. "So, no, I wouldn't call myself a Christian."
Mumford, the son of the U.K. founders of the evangelical Vineyard movement is hardly the first church kid to question or reject the faith tradition he was raised in. In fact, the words he uses to describe himself in Rolling Stone will resonate with the fast growing group within Millennial culture--the "nones." As the Pew Research Center reported last year, 32 percent of 18 to 29-year-olds listed "none" as their religious affiliation.
Mumford's remarks certainly aren't a rarity, but they may disappoint the multitude of Christian fans who have seen in Mumford & Sons an intelligent and artistic articulation of their faith.
After all, Marcus Mumford's faith as evidenced through his music is much like many of ours: his spiritual journey is a "work in progress," he's never doubted the existence of God, but he asks nonetheless not to be associated with any religion. "I've kind of separated myself from the culture of Christianity," he told Rolling Stone.
A cursory glance at Christians in the headlines will tell you why. Why do the looniest Christians get quoted after every natural disaster? Why does the pistol-packing pastor who wants to burn the Koran get all the airtime?
I know what it feels like to want to distance myself from hateful statements made in the name of my faith. If this is all that Christianity is, I don't want to be associated with it either. But of course, that is not all that Christianity is. And unless some sane people claim the label, the extremist fringes will have the last word.
A few years ago, I grew tired of people claiming to be "spiritual--but not religious," because I do not believe this is enough. In a culture of narcissism, religious community matters. In our "have it your way" spiritual marketplace, religious community that is rigorous, reasonable and real is still the most nutritious item on the menu.
Yet often when I say this, as a minister myself, it is received with howls of complaint from people who want to do the God thing solo.
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SOURCE: Relevant Magazine