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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Jesus is not a Republican

Those that have known me know that I am fairly moderate politically, not blindly accepting what either political party nor the religious right has to say about an issue. This article really highlights that fact and is a great read. Below is a link and some excerpts. Sojourners while not identified ever in this article has done a lot of work on this area.

Here is the link to the article: Jesus is Not a Republican

Now for some captivating excerpts:

"The Bible contains something like 2,000 references to the poor and the believer's responsibility for the poor. Sadly, that obligation seems not to have trickled down into public policy. On judicial matters, the religious right demands appointees who would diminish individual rights to privacy with regard to abortion. At the same time, it approves a corresponding expansion of presidential powers, thereby disrupting the constitutionally mandated system of checks and balances.

The torture of human beings, God's creatures — some guilty of crimes, others not — has been justified by the Bush administration, which also believes that it is perfectly acceptable to conduct surveillance on American citizens without putting itself to the trouble of obtaining a court order. Indeed, the chicanery, the bullying, and the flouting of the rule of law that emanates from the nation's capital these days make Richard Nixon look like a fraternity prankster."

"The Bible I read says something quite different. It tells the story of ancient Israel's epic struggle against injustice and bondage ‚— and of the Almighty's investment in the outcome of that struggle. But the Hebrew Scriptures also caution against the imperiousness of that people, newly liberated from their oppressors, lest they treat others the way they themselves were treated back in Egypt. The prophets enjoin Yahweh's chosen people to "act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God" and warn of the consequences of failing to do so: exile and abandonment. "Administer true justice," the prophet Zechariah declares on behalf of the Lord Almighty. "Show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other."

The New Testament echoes those themes, calling the followers of Jesus to care for orphans and widows, to clothe the naked, and to shelter the homeless. The New Testament I read says that, in the eyes of Jesus, there is no preference among the races and no distinction between the sexes. The Jesus I try to follow tells me that those who take on the role of peacemakers "will be called the children of God," and this same Jesus spells out the kind of behavior that might be grounds for exclusion from the kingdom of heaven: 'I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'"

"A number of people have asked me what the religious right wants. What would America look like if the religious right had its way? I've thought long and hard about that question, and the best answer I can come up with is that the religious right hankers for the kind of homogeneous theocracy that the Puritans tried to establish in 17th-century Massachusetts: to impose their vision of a moral order on all of society.

The Puritans left England and crossed the Atlantic in the 1630s to construct what John Winthrop called a "city on a hill," an example to the rest of the world. The Puritans configured church and state so the two would be both coterminous and mutually reinforcing, but only one form of worship was permitted.

Without question, Puritanism in 17th-century Massachusetts was a grand and noble vision, but it ultimately collapsed beneath its own weight, beneath the arrogance of its own pretensions. By the middle of the century, Puritanism had become ingrown and calcified, the founding generation unable to transmit its piety to its children. By the waning decades of the century, in the face of encroaching pluralism ‚— Anglicans and Quakers ‚— and the rise of a merchant class, the Puritan ministers of Massachusetts were making increasingly impassioned, frantic calls for repentance. What frightened them ‚— no less than the leaders of the religious right at the turn of the 21st century — was pluralism."

"The leaders of the religious right are also frightened by pluralism. That's understandable, especially for a movement that propagates the ideology that America is ‚— and always has been - a Christian nation. Pluralism is messy. It requires understanding, accommodation, and tolerance, especially if we hope to maintain some semblance of comity and social order."

"The leaders of the religious right have led their sheep astray from the gospel of Jesus Christ to the false gospel of neoconservative ideology and into the maw of the Republican Party. And yet my regard for the flock and my respect for their integrity is undiminished. Ultimately it is they who must reclaim the gospel and rescue us from the distortions of the religious right.

The Bible I read tells of freedom for captives and deliverance from oppression. It teaches that those who refuse to act with justice or who neglect the plight of those less fortunate have some explaining to do. But the Bible is also about good news. It promises redemption and forgiveness, a chance to start anew and, with divine help, to get it right. My evangelical theology assures me that no one, not even Karl Rove or James Dobson, lies beyond the reach of redemption, and that even a people led astray can find their way home."

Definitely read the entire article... and please leave your comments! Thanks

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