... the thing that bothers me most about the dehumanizing of the poor and the dispossessed is its violent conflict with the supposed religious ethic of this country, particularly when it is promoted by people who think of themselves as good Christians. For the life of me I cannot understand Christians who do not grasp that an essential tenet of their faith is the radical equality of human beings as subjects of both divine judgment and redemption. Every human being is made in the image of God, and how one treats those Jesus called “the least of these” is the acid test of Christian ethics, certainly as important as obedience to rules of sexual behavior or social order.
I can understand how some of them don't grasp that essential tenet: it's because there's a big difference between being labeled a Christian, and actually being one. The former is about getting in with a group and winning approval and being awarded a certain label; the latter is about something that no label can contain.
Part of what drew me to Buddhism and Zen in particular was how little of it is based on this kind of social-approval malarkey. The only thing that matters with Zen is how you keep your mind in any given moment, and how that attitude manifests in your behavior. What you say you think has nothing to do with it. Granted, there are Buddhist institutions where that kind of thing can be ossified and made just as ritualized and ossified as anything else, but the practice itself doesn't care about the cut of your jib.
I know a few people who are Christian not only in their professed philosophy but in their actual behavior. From what I can tell it's a conscious effort on both parts. Too many people just want to be rewarded with a label without actually doing anything to earn it, and the worst part is that it's easier than ever to surround themselves with people who will give them just that.