This statement by a politician recently gives insight into the religious beliefs of most Americans. He campaigns for "traditional family values" but he carried on an extramarital affair while his wife was dying of cancer; something he has never publicly confessed or admitted to asking forgiveness for. Pressed about this hypocrisy recently, he said, "I believe in a forgiving God ..."
This is an essentially nonpartisan viewpoint. Most Americans believe that God is more forgiving of their favorite sins than He is of other people's favorite sins. Is it just me or has this attitude become more pronounced in recent decades? The sins for which a person has a weakness are seen as something that God easily forgives. The sins for which other people have a weakness are blown up as terrible, dangerous and things that God cannot easily forgive.
Isn't this precisely what Christ pointed out with His reprimand of those who are so focused on the splinter in the other person's eye that they cannot see the plank in their own eye? If so, how should we relate to all of the pious propaganda being dished out currently, much of it with strategic twists related to "culture war" and politics? Would Jesus take this seriously in terms as ethical teaching, or would He ignore it as nonsense?
Sociologically, this is another indicator of how shallow the faith and values of most Americans has become. There is a Christian religious veneer in American culture, but when you take a second look much of it is disconnected from the real teachings of Christ. One example of this is the fact that the majority of Americans believe that there is a Bible text which says, "God helps those who help themselves." Of course, that is really from Poor Richard's Almanac and states a viewpoint that God abhors, especially because it often takes the form of people "helping themselves" to what justly belongs to others or, in God's eyes, should be shared with those who are poorer, weaker or more marginalized.