Monday, November 14, 2016
The American Jesus
“I like your Christ; I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
That quote is attributed to Mahatma Gandhi, though my research seems to dispute its veracity somewhat. But whether he said it or not, it's a truth.
American Christians, we need to talk.
The conservative politicians in this country claim to be our last bastions of Christian morality against the Godless liberals who want to have orgies in the streets with ISIS. Let's examine that, shall we? Because I was raised by some pretty old school Catholic parents and I was never taught the things you hear from these "moral leaders."
Let's start with the guns. We Americans sure love our Second Amendment. "A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."
Leaving aside the fact that a "well-regulated" militia has no bearing on whether every private citizen has the unconditional right to a personal arsenal, it's always been weird to me that the American right bangs this drum so hard while professing America to be "a Christian nation."
Really? You think Jesus would be into your guns? "Thou shall not kill," remember that?
While we're on the topic of killing, let's talk about abortion. Because the same people who will vehemently defend every person's right to own a device designed solely to kill things will tell you that abortion should be absolutely outlawed in every circumstance because it is murder, and a moral evil.
And to a Christian that's true. But I have some trouble reconciling that outlook with the worship of guns, and the promotion of the death penalty ("Thou shall not kill!"), and the bloodthirsty zeal with which we espouse war.
That's not pro-life. That's pro-birth. To be pro-life is to be concerned with life at all of its stages, which means letting go of your bloodthirsty worship of death. But boy, we love our death.
Oh hey, that brings me to something else. These American "Christians" want to tell you that we should get rid of "entitlements" like welfare and education assistance and affordable housing initiatives and healthcare. Pro-life, remember that. Pro-life until you're born, and then you're on your own, you lazy whiner.
Let's see what the Bible says about that.
"In truth I tell you, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me."
Doesn't sound like Jesus is super into our American "I got mine, screw you" philosophy. Remember the Corporal Works of Mercy, Catholic kids? Feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, visit the prisoners, bury the dead, give alms to the poor. Not a mention of bootstraps to be found.
Meanwhile when the President works to give healthcare to people who need it, he's fought tooth and nail by the "moral" right. The very idea of raising the minimum wage or making education more affordable is seen as pandering to the lazy and undeserving, even in an economy where quality jobs and education are ever harder to obtain. Refugees fleeing horrific conditions are excoriated as a threat we should reject out of hand. We're a "Christian nation" (by the way, no we're not) who looks at helping people as repugnant. We look down on our fellow man. We think those who are poor, or in danger, or disenfranchised deserve their fate.
It's been a long time since my Saturday morning CCD classes and I'm not the Catholic my parents would have liked me to be, but I'm still pretty sure none of that has a damn thing to do with a single teaching of Christianity. In fact it flies right in the face of the Jesus we claim to adore so reverently.
America, if we really want to be a nation of selfish, cruel, death and money -worshipping, scared children then I guess that's our choice. But it's time we leave Jesus out of it and admit that we actually don't like him that much. (He was a socialist Jew, after all.) Because we are not the people he teaches us to be, which gives us no right to invoke his name.
Title courtesy of Bad Religion.