Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Religious Values of the Christian Right

I was tremendously interested in Kevin Phillips’ essay in The Nation, “Theocons and Theocrats,” because it sums up most of values of their “Christ”. Their Christ is a radically different person than the prophet, teacher, martyr, and God connected man --- I call Jesus.

Let take a look at some of Kevin’s conclusions:

•“...tendency to oppose regulation and justify wealth and relative laissez-faire, tipping it hat to the upper-income and corporate portions of the Republican coalition.”

>>>Jesus seemed to take a very dim view of wealth, and even less of greed. He spoke of a person needing to choose between God and Mammon. The Christian right lauds choosing Both God and Mammon.
Jesus spoke to the young man recommending that he give away all his possessions and follow Him.

• “...abandoning most economic regulation in order to prepare the moral framework for God’s return.”

>>> I don’t see the connection between the two --- unless the Right believes that by doing so---they will hasten the Day of Judgement.
I imagine God’s frowns upon mortals devising ways to force his hand.

“...issues involving birth, life, death, sex, health, medicine, marriage and the role of the family...”

>>>Abortion: I’m not in favor of abortion as a form of birth control, but it seems to me that the woman has rights in this matter. Again, I cannot remember anything in the four gospels of Jesus speaking on the subject. If abortion is always murder, then wars are murder also. Capital punishment is murder.
>>>Gay Marriage: Did Jesus ban gays and lesbians from his frequent suppers. I know he did not ban prostitutes and money lenders. It’s hard for me to see Jesus hating “faggots”. There is a lot of hate, IMHO, among the Religious Right that desperately needs objects and persons to hate.
Jesus was about love, not the Christ of hate.
>>>Right to Die: Did Jesus say anything about a person who is terminally ill and in great suffering deciding to end his/her life either on his own or with the help of a doctor or loved one?

• “...reduce the current separation between church and state.”

>>> Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s. Of course, all things and all beings are God’s--including the government, but this does not mean that the State should be enforcing the religious views of this church or that one on its citizens.

“...in 2004, the Lone Star GOP was not content to call for abolishing the EPA and the Energy Department; it also demanded the abolition of the IRS and elimination of the income tax, the inheritance tax, the gift tax, the capital-gains levy, the corporate income tax, the payroll tax and state and local property taxes.”
>>> Phillips says that the political platform of the Texas GOP in 2004 gives us idea of “the religious right’s larger view of economic matters and dismantling of government.”

>>>Can you imagine the real Jesus returning to earth and pushing this agenda. What has this got to do with Jesus’ main goal of establishing the Kingdom of God on this earth ---NOW?

• Science vs God: In an attempt to read the myth of Genesis as a “play by play” history of God’s actions in the beginning --- the Right forces itself into situation after situation, e.g. some believe, according to Phillips that “...the Almighty, not carbon dioxide, brings about climate change.” (In stark contrast, I might say, to the religious philosophy of Deism held by most of the prominent founders of this republic, i.e. that God set up the world, and just walked away from it.)

>>>On evolution: ”In Texas, where the cotton industry is plagued by a moth in which an immunity to pesticides has evolved, a frustrated entomologist commented, ‘It’s amazing that cotton growers are having to deal with these pests in the very states whose legislatures are so hostile to the theory of evolution. Because it is evolution they are struggling against in their fields every season.’“

• ”Organizations such as the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty have enlisted a fair amount of conservative religious and corporate support for preparing what amounts to a pro-business, pro-development explanation of Christian stewardship. The institute's director, Roman Catholic Father Robert Sirico, contends that left-tilting environmentalism is idolatrous in its substitution of nature for God, giving the Christian environmental movement a "perhaps-unconscious pagan nature."

>>> This is incredible to me. Jesus spoke of the lilies of the field, sparrows; he used nature parables a good deal of the time. Does caring for the mountains, the rivers, the forest, wildlife mean that a person believes these things are God? Is being pro-development a sign of Christian stewardship of God’s world ---or it more likely greed and the lust for mammon? The answers are clear to me.

• The Christian Right seems obsessed with “the rapture, the end times, Armageddon and the thinly disguised U.S. crusade against radical Islam.” “In the months before George W. Bush sent U.S. troops into Iraq, his inspirational reading each morning was a book of sermons by a Scottish preacher accompanying troops about to march on Jerusalem in 1917.”

>>> one of personal “gripes” about the Christian Right is its focus on the “end times” the approaching Judgment of Christ upon the earth; its destruction; the sparing of the righteous; the annihilation of the wicked.
No wonder so many of these true believers care little about the environment and Mother earth. It’s all going to be gone in a few years! Let’s prepare for the reality of what is coming, what’s been foretold.
Much of this is based on the Book of Revelations which almost did not make it into the Canon of Scripture. (Oh, yes. God came through just at the last minute and made those early Christian bishops do the right thing.)

For those awaiting --even eagerly looking forward to the coming of the wrathful, but Just Lord---there is little interest in issues such as social justice, universal health care, the end of war----these don’t count. Well, maybe war counts because wars and bloodshed are one of the signs of the approaching days of retribution.
If these Christians want to believe all of this, which I believe is a misreading of parts of the Gospels, and, as well, the acceptance of a strange and enigmatic final book of the New Testament canon---let them have their fixation. Unfortunately it prevents them from working towards the Kingdom of God coming --on this Earth --Now. Jesus wants us to create a just loving society here ---it’s our work for him. We are not fulfilling what Jesus wants by looking forward to him doing it by destroying creation and setting up a New Jerusalem of some sort.