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