This, dear readers, is mandatory reading for any American who takes his religion seriously … along with his understanding of civic duty.
- Luke 3:11 He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.
- Matthew 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
- 1 Corinthians 13:4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
I Was Betrayed by Republican Religion: What my years as a Christian fundamentalist taught me about right-wing faith –
It is one of the great ironies of of contemporary American politics that, while The New Testament is further to the left than “The Communist Manifesto,” somehow the book and much of the religion it created have been subsumed by the cruelest, most selfish conservative politics I’ve seen in my lifetime, replete with outright hatred toward poor people, immigrants and every other unwashed commoner for which Jesus professed his most intimate love.
Claiming to be spiritually informed by Jesus, politicians pretending to Christian morals, aided and abetted by media more interested in viewer interest that civic and religious honesty, these pretenders have built what Lyngar calls a “media construct” … something that is not real. This media construct is presented to the gullibles as part of the effort to encourage a mass unconscious conspiracy to consider a lie the truth.
The political version of Christianity is first and foremost a media construct, like so much of our lives these days. It’s championed by Fox News, the 700 Club and a parade of has-beens and never-weres, selling the “prosperity gospel” like so much snake oil. It’s a powerful and toxic stew that is as relevant to Jesus as professional wrestling or a discarded Playboy.
I could fill a dozen essays with examples of Bible verses that contradict the core ideas and statements of conservative candidates, politicians and talking heads, but it’s a waste of time. No matter what the politicians and pundits claim to believe, they are only using faith to exploit an angry and ignorant populace with a collective Bible literacy that wouldn’t fill a shot glass.
We attended a Sunday service at the Spokane Unitarian Universalist Church. You might know them as that liberal religion that had the gall to go against the self-righteous public religious norm and openly invite non-traditional believers to come worship and dine at the Lord’s table with them.
I found a business-sized card that I now carry in my wallet. It begins with What Do Unitarian Universalists Believe?:
Well, for starters …
The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in congregations;
A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within congregations and in society at large;
The goal of world community with peace, liberty and justice for all;
Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
Not one dang thing wrong with any of that. We met several impressive individuals, several of which have never formally joined the UU church but whose personal spirituality and belief in goodness for the sake of goodness has nothing to do with religious orthodoxy, born again moments or accepting a mythical god as a personal savior.
I felt like I had encountered a religious organization to whom I would entrust my family to be taught goodness for the sake of goodness, charity for the sake of charity and love for the sake of love.
So who really “owns” Jesus? What does social and political activism in the name of Jesus really look like?
Before one lets the candidates and parties tell you what God wants of you, think about what it means to be Christian in America.
Think about the revised “tradition” of belief and attitude that is being pushed in this country at the expense of social justice, equality and compassion:
Who wants mandatory prayer in school?
Who wants to weaken separation of church and state?
Who wants censorship?
Who wants literal interpretation of Religious Scripture?
Who opposes women’s rights?
Who rejects the theory of evolution?
Who favored on invasion of Iraq?
Who opposes gay rights?
Who opposes contraceptives?
Who opposes sex education?
Who favors corporal punishment?
Who declares that there is only one TRUE God?
Who declares that dissent is disloyalty?
Who looks the other way when torture and murder happen – especially if it is the torture and murder of non-citizens?
Who favors the death penalty?
One answer to the above questions: Osama Bin Laden
Anyone else come to mind?
And finally this from my own cultural heritage … how I was raised to think … and I remind my cultural brethren who take the pretenders far more seriously than they ought:
Book of Mormon: Mosiah chapter 4:
13 And ye will not have a mind to injure one another, but to live peaceably, and to render to every man according to that which is his due.
14 And ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked; neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another, and serve the devil, who is the master of sin, or who is the evil spirit which hath been spoken of by our fathers, he being an enemy to all righteousness.
15 But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another.
16 And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.
17 Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—
18 But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.
19 For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?
20 And behold, even at this time, ye have been calling on his name, and begging for a remission of your sins. And has he suffered that ye have begged in vain? Nay; he has poured out his Spirit upon you, and has caused that your hearts should be filled with joy, and has caused that your mouths should be stopped that ye could not find utterance, so exceedingly great was your joy.
21 And now, if God, who has created you, on whom you are dependent for your lives and for all that ye have and are, doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that ye shall receive, O then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to another.
22 And if ye judge the man who putteth up his petition to you for your substance that he perish not, and condemn him, how much more just will be your condemnation for withholding your substance, which doth not belong to you but to God, to whom also your life belongeth; and yet ye put up no petition, nor repent of the thing which thou hast done.
23 I say unto you, wo be unto that man, for his substance shall perish with him; and now, I say these things unto those who are rich as pertaining to the things of this world.
24 And again, I say unto the poor, ye who have not and yet have sufficient, that ye remain from day to day; I mean all you who deny the beggar, because ye have not; I would that ye say in your hearts that: I give not because I have not, but if I had I would give.
25 And now, if ye say this in your hearts ye remain guiltless, otherwise ye are condemned; and your condemnation is just for ye covet that which ye have not received.
26 And now, for the sake of these things which I have spoken unto you—that is, for the sake of retaining a remission of your sins from day to day, that ye may walk guiltless before God—I would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants.