::Literate Blather::
Friday, September 29, 2006
Essay: Jesus Christ is a Commie Liberal Pink-O

As George W. Bush, our God-fearing president and sweetheart of the Christian Right, continues his crusade to legalize torturing prisoners it may be time to reflect on how Jesus was tortured – suffering terrible pain and humiliation at the hands of his Roman captors. Difficult to believe that Jesus would condone torture under any circumstance.

But why should we be surprised? The Christian Right has done an amazing job of perverting the teachings of Jesus and the gospels. Jesus was humble, an itinerant wanderer who embraced an ascetic life of fasting and penury. His closest associates were poor working men – fishermen, carpenters, and tax collectors. He focused his ministry on the destitute, the diseased, and the troubled (gamblers, criminals, and prostitutes). He preached of a coming doomsday and the being saved by God through sacrifice, charity, redemption, and salvation.

Yet, this is the figure that the Christian Right uses as the symbol of their wholly un-Jesus agenda. As if Jesus would condone the unmitigated invasion of Iraq and the killing of women and children (collateral damage). As if Jesus would side with the Bush administration to legalize the torture of alleged terrorists. As if Jesus would rally to the battle cry of deporting and arresting illegal immigrants. Would Jesus really own a firearm? Or bristle at his tax dollars being used for Welfare or universal healthcare?

Jesus was… is… a liberal. He wouldn’t participate in gay bashing. He would live among the poor and condemn CEOs and their outrageous salaries and benefits. He would call for leniency for criminals. He would march in anti-war rallies and argue passionately for the dismantling of nuclear weapons. Jesus would call for living wages for the poor – housing and healthcare for all.

For evidence look no further than the Gospels.

The four Synoptic Gospels in the Bible attributed to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are the only parts of the Bible that outline Jesus’ life and give us the only real glimpse at the man – his actions and words. So we’ll use the Synoptic Gospels as the final word on what Jesus believed and how he lived.

I do this with reluctance, however, because the Gospels are not a reliable source by any modern standard. Biblical scholars break down the four Gospels like this:

  • Mark’s Gospel is attributed to a discliple of St. Peter. It is the earliest of the gospels probably written between 60 and 70 A.D. – about 30 to 40 years after the death of Jesus by a man who did not know him.
  • Matthew’s Gospel has traditionally been linked to St. Matthew, the tax collector who became a discipline, but most scholars now refute his authorship. The date of the Gospel is up for debate with conservative scholars placing it between 60-65 A.D. and their more liberal colleagues at 80 to 100 A.D. It borrows liberally from material in Mark.
  • The Gospel of Luke was written by a doctor and a follower of Paul. Modern scholars put the date of this Gospel was written between 80 and 100 A.D.
  • John’s Gospel is attributed to John the Apostle, but most scholars generally disagree with that assessment and place the date of the Gospel being written as late as 120 A.D.

But the four Biblical Gospels are the closest we can come to an historical record on Jesus – so while the source material and text is questionable (and would never hold up in any U.S. court as evidence), it is the best we can do.

Next we need to look at the platform of the Christian Right. This information was compiled from several right-wing Christian organizations including the Moral Majority, The Christian Coalition and the Traditional Values Coalition. While they vary slightly, the fundamental tenets of the Christian Right break down as follows:

  • A belief in corporeal punishment, including the execution of criminals and hitting children as part of discipline
  • Minimal state and federal taxes (all of the organizations supported President Bush’s tax cuts and favored making them permanent)
  • A strong belief in free economies and capitalism, including support of corporations and Wall Street
  • Very much anti-abortion and favor overturning Roe v. Wade
  • Support the war in Iraq and the war on terrorism
  • Opposed to sex education and sex outside of marriage
  • Believe homosexuality is a sin and oppose gay rights and gay marriage
  • There are other beliefs, of course – the traditional role of women in a household, support for school prayer, strong support for the United States, etc. But the bulleted items are the larger more encompassing beliefs.

So using the Four Gospels as our source – let’s easily refute that Jesus Christ supported any of the tenets above – with the possible exception of abortion.

Corporeal Punishment and the War in Iraq

There should be little doubt – anywhere – that Jesus was a pacifist. His primary message was one of loving your neighbor and doing unto others and as you would have them do unto you. Reasonable people can agree that that would mean not killing your neighbor or punching them in the face. Nowhere in the Gospels does Jesus condone or accept warfare and the consquences that come with it: murder, rape, maiming, bombing, and destruction. In fact, one could argue that supporting a war would be a complete reversal of beliefs of a man who admonished his Apostles to not to strike back at those who strike them – but to turn the other cheek.

Here’s the proof that Jesus was a peacenik from the Gospels:

  • “If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other. Also, if someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic.” (Luke 6:29)
  • “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to cast a stone at her.” (John 8:7)
  • Do not judge, lest you to be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Matthew 7:1 & 2)
  • “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)
  • “I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despite-fully use you, and persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44)

State and Federal Taxes & Support of Wealth

There are no references to Jesus being opposed to tax collectors – money lenders, yes, tax collectors, no. But one could easily argue that Jesus would support a strong welfare system (including universal healthcare) which would provide a safety net for the poor, sick, and elderly. He surrounded himself with the down-and-out – lepers, peasants, slaves, prostitutes, and the poor. Clearly his sympathies lie with the downtrodden – not the wealthy.

  • “And when he had called unto him his twelve disciple, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease” (Matthew 10:1)
  • “Render therefore unto Caesar the thing which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” (Matthew 22:21)
  • “But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” (Luke 14:13 &14)

Jesus was also an ascetic – shunning the trappings of wealth for a life of penuary. He owned no home, had no wealth, and spoke in direct and clear terms that the pursuit of money was a sin. There can be little doubt that Jesus meant for his followers to shun this kind of life because he repeatedly tells them so:

  • “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (Luke 12.15)
  • “Truly, I say unto you, it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:23)
  • “You cannot serve both God and Money.” (Matthew 6:24)

So it’s quite odd that the Christian Coalition would be actively lobbying Congress for Bush’s tax cuts to be made permanent – considering that they favor the wealthy.

Sex & Homosexuality

While there admonishments in the New Testament against homosexuality and sexual intercourse outside of marriage, there are none in the four Gospels. One can argue that an ascetic like Jesus would probably have been celebate as well. So while he probably would not have favored a gay or sexually active lifestyle – I’m sure he would not have been in favor of bashing them or treating them as second class citizens.

  • “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them. For this is the law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12)
  • “And just as you want men to do to you. You also do to them likewise.” (Luke 6:31)

(For more information check out our link to the web site "Jesus is a Liberal.")

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