Labels might be useful for can of soup, according to The Huffington Post, but they aren’t practical when it comes to being Christian.
At issue was 26-year-old Marcus Mumford, the lead singer of the popular British band “Mumford & Sons,” who refused to identify himself as “Christian” during an interview with Rolling Stone reporter Brian Hiatt. Mumford’s denial came as a surprise in Christian circles, considering his music thrives on religious imagery – or what Christianity Today called, “Christ-haunted” lyrics.
In the interview, Mumford disliked the very word “Christian:” “It comes with so much baggage. So, no, I wouldn't call myself a Christian. I think the word just conjures up all these religious images that I don't really like.” He likened his attitude toward Jesus to that of a Muslim (which the Huffington Post edited out): “I have my personal views about the person of Jesus and who he was. Like, you ask a Muslim and they'll say, 'Jesus was awesome' – they're not Christians, but they still love Jesus.”
Although Mumford’s parents, John and Eleanor Mumford, held national leadership positions in part of an international evangelical Christian Vineyard Movement, Mumford’s rejection of the Christian label didn’t faze them. Mumford grew up in a Christian environment, and even met his wife, actress Carey Mulligan, at a Christian youth camp.
Mumford believed in God’s existence, so why the hesitancy? Religion News Service’s Cathleen Falsani wrote for The Huffington Post that “He's young and faith is a journey, not a destination. Cut Mumford some slack and thank him for his honesty.” She continued, “Rather what I took away from his answer was a keen wariness about other Christians and our too-often brutal judgmentalism.” She blamed culture and society, saying, “… he surely also understands our cultural obsession with putting people on pedestals and knocking them off with great glee.”
Falsani appeared fine with his decision, and even endorsed it: “Their [including Mumford’s] actions and (other) words tell a story of faith that is much more nuanced, and therefore truer, than any label they might pin over their hearts or have thrust upon them.”
In other words, being Christian – or acknowledging it – isn’t cool or trendy. Worse, it might mean you’re [shudder] judgmental, the gravest of contemporary sins. The article was appropriate for HuffPo, where, as condom Pope portraits and a “Lesbian Last Supper” attest, judgment and religion never meet.