The New And Republican-Approved Jesus

Most of you know that I am a former evangelical Christian. But I still retain an interest in my former faith, particularly as I observe how it has been co-opted and corrupted by the Republican Party.

During this campaign season, conservative Christians have, via a special dispensation from their deity, amended the ninth commandment to read:

Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor, unless your neighbor is The Scary Negro In The White’s House.

With that dispensation, evangelicals are free to become full-fledged Mittenites, who, in order to rid the country of the only leadership it has known the past four years, can lie with impunity about Barack Obama, all in the name of God.

This new theological get-out-of-hell-free card is good for claiming the President is a Kenyan, a socialist who hates America, or, Allah forbid, a Muslim. It’s good for bad-mouthing the poor, the sick, and the elderly, all of those crippled by government dependence, as we discovered in that heartfelt “47%” speech.

And it’s especially good for those on the front lines of the Republican Party’s prosecution of its War on Women. Now that Billy Graham and the right-wing church have chosen to rock and roll in his Mormon bedchamber, Mitt Romney has his conservative Christian credentials in order and can lead the war.

He is free to rob women of their humanity, as he seeks to undermine their ability to make their own reproductive decisions, and as he endorses U.S. Senate candidates who would use big-government to force violated women to bear the children of their tormentors.

If the Romney-Ryan partnership is successful, if those they endorse make it to the Senate, women may long for the days of government-ordered vaginal probing, which when a Romney-influenced Supreme Court is finished, may seem like the good old days of Republican moderation.

Taking full advantage of GOP Jesus turning his Cayman-tanned face away from all that war-time prevarication going on out there, Christians, funded by the Romney campaign, have been engaging in last-minute lies like those found in the following script of a robocall that a voter in Fairfax, Virginia, received last Friday night:

Christians who are thinking about voting for Obama should remember what he said about people of faith: “They … cling to guns or religion.” And remember when Obama forced Christian organizations to provide insurance coverage that was contrary to their religious beliefs?

That’s the real Barack Obama. That’s the real threat to our religious freedom. Mitt Romney understands the importance of faith and family. That’s why so many leaders of the Christian community are supporting Romney.

They know we can’t underestimate the threat Barack Obama poses to our faith, our values, our freedom.

Yes, the real Barack Obama, as opposed to the one we have come to know, is quite the threat to faith, values, and freedom. Quite the threat alright. You can see it everywhere. Churches are being shut down, pastors being tossed in the hoosegow, priests being forced to seek adult entertainment with real adults. Yep, that Obama is the greatest enemy of faith we have ever seen.

In the mean time, the strange concoction of evangelicalism and Republicanism and Mormonism and Catholicism and anti-Obamanism means that conservative Christianity in America will never be the same. Conservative Bible-toters have traded in the Jesus who said that God had anointed him to “bring good news to the poor.” That Jesus didn’t look good standing next to Mitt Romney and Donald Trump.

And gone from their midst is the Jesus who condemned lying and slander and who talked about how hard it was for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. That Jesus, the one who told rich folks who desire a home with God to think about a camel going through a needle’s eye, is long gone.

Today’s evangelicals worship a Jesus who has an affection for vulture capitalism. They worship a Jesus who condones the slandering of Barack Obama, himself a Christian. They worship a Jesus who has endorsed a Republican candidate whose one discernible and consistent principle is that he will say anything, absolutely anything, to become president. And he, in the name of GOP Jesus, will bear false witness without so much as a pin-prick of conscience.

Time will tell whether this new and Republican-approved Jesus can drag Mitt Romney across the finish line. But we don’t have to wait to see what this crony-capitalist Jesus, this corrupt, Obama-hating savior, has done to evangelical and conservative Christianity in America.

As I said, it will never be the same.

Did Mike Huckabee Really Say That You Will Go To Hell If You Vote For Obama?

Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas, ordained Southern Baptist minister, enthusiastic Romney supporter, and current Inquisitor of the Republican Party, said this in a political ad:

Christians across the nation will have an opportunity to shape the future for our generation and generations to come. Many issues are at stake, but some issues are not negotiable: The right to life from conception to natural death. Marriage should be reinforced, not redefined. It is an egregious violation of our cherished principle of religious liberty for the government to force the church to buy the kind of insurance that leads to the taking of innocent human life.

Your vote will affect the future and be recorded in eternity. Will you vote the values that will stand the test of fire? This is Mike Huckabee asking you to join me November the 6th and vote based on values that will stand the test of fire.

Not only does the Huckster say that God is sneaking a peek at the secret ballot of Christians (God is a nosy deity, I guess), he also says that the vote of Christians can trump God’s will, in that their vote “will affect the future.” And, more important, Pastor Huck suggests a non-Romney vote will subject the actions of Christians—those folks purchased by the blood of Jesus—to a “test of fire.”

Most liberal commentators, because they don’t much understand the language of evangelicals, are interpreting Huck’s comments as meaning that Christians are hell-bound if they vote for The Scary Negro Who Hates God. Here’s an example from Slate:

Huckabee Says Christians Will Go to Hell If They Vote Obama

Not so though. It sounds like that, it sounds like the Huckster is sending Christian Obama voters to hell, but that’s not what he means. If you read 1 Corinthians 3, you’ll see the Apostle Paul tells us:

By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.

See? “The fire will test the quality of each person’s work,” that is, each Christian’s work. Huck is saying that a “yes” vote for Obama will compel God to make a huge withdrawal from the Christian’s heavenly reward bank account, but won’t necessarily send that Christian to hell. He or she will escape “through the flames.” Slick, eh?

Thus, discerning Christians, and those with rather large heavenly bank accounts, can afford to vote for Obama without fear that God will immediately assign them to an eternity in hell. God will merely slap a big penalty on them, call it a Kenyan Socialist Obama Tax, for disobeying Mike Huckabee, but they will still get to heaven.

They just may have to sit in the cheap seats.

So, all you Christians out there with grace to spare, Barack is your man! Feel free to vote your conscience!

My Country, America and/or Israel, ‘Tis of Thee

If you have a stubborn doubt that God is a Republican, I suggest you go to C-SPAN and watch any part of the recently completed Faith and Freedom Coalition Conference and Strategy Briefing, an event inspired not only by GOP Jesus, but by the disgraced and disgraceful Ralph Reed.*

Naturally, the conference featured the usual demonization of Barack Obama; I mean, what is a gathering of pious American Christians without a wholesale bearing of false witness against our Christian President?  I particularly enjoyed the moment when Tim Pawlenty was recalling how unfaithful Mr. Obama has been and some God-fearing member of the audience shouted, “He lied!

Praise God!

In any case, the event started innocently enough:

Lord, we thank you for this land. We thank you for a nation that was founded for the glory of God and advancement of the Christian faith.

That utterly dishonest prayer was uttered by a Georgia pastor, Benny Tate, who also opened a legislative day in the House of Representatives in 2009 with this heavenly gem:

We acknowledge freedom is not free and the trees of every generation are watered with the blood of its sons and daughters.

Praise God for our sons and daughters and the blood-nourished trees!

In all seriousness, though, one of the most troubling themes of the FFC conference was expressed best by Richard Land, who heads a public policy agency for the 16 million-member Southern Baptist Convention and who was appointed to his current federal government post by George W. Bush. 

Mr. Land clearly laid out what many people outside the evangelical community fail to understand about evangelicals: They have a dual national allegiance, to both America and Israel, and it’s not always clear which allegiance comes first.

If you want to understand the evangelical mind, and if you want to understand just how dangerous the thinking is that motivates these Christian folks, and if you want to understand how perilous is the mixture of fundamentalist faith and politics, I urge you to read the following lengthy quote from Richard Land’s appearance at the Faith and Freedom conference this past weekend:

God prophesied that he would bring his chosen people, the Jews, back into the land, and we have seen in many of our lifetimes the fulfillment of that prophecy, as they have come back into the land and they have succeeded against fearsome odds…

My mother, who taught me to love Jesus and who taught me to love God’s Word—I remember my mother saying to me, “Richard, God blesses those who bless the Jews; God curses those who curse the Jews.”  And she said, “Remember last week we were watching that special on television and the airplane was flying across Germany in June of 1945 and all you saw were bombed-out buildings and flattened cities?  That’s what happens when you curse the Jews.”

If we want God to bless America, then we have to bless the Jews. God gave that land to his chosen people forever.  That issue is settled by God Almighty.

Now, I support Israel because Israel is more like America than any other country because we’re founded on the same basis: The Word of God.  But I also believe that we must bless America because I’m an American and I love America and I want God to bless America and God blesses us when we obey him and he doesn’t bless us when we disobey him.  And he has made it very clear that Israel has an ally far more powerful than the United States of America. It’s called the Lion of Judah [Jesus, in the Christian tradition].

Now, we can say many things about President Obama, but one thing we can’t say about him is that he’s stupid.  He’s a bright man—he’s a foolish man, but a very bright man.  He knows what he’s doing and he knows what he says…the worst president of the United States Israel has ever had is Barack Obama [thunderous applause].

There is no question that he is pro-Palestinian and his policies are pro-Palestinian.  Well, I have a word of encouragement for our friends in Israel, who must be feeling a little abandoned and a little abused and a little used right now: My dear friends, help is on the way! [Applause.]

With absolute confidence I can tell you that social conservatives in this country are with one voice saying, “Israel today, Israel tomorrow, and Israel forever!  We are with you because God is with you and we understand that we are going to defend your right to live in the land that God gave to you and to your children.  Rest assured, help is on the way!  You are not alone!”

Evangelical voters, particularly in the primary process, are the backbone of the Republican Party. Without evangelical support, Republicans couldn’t win many elections.  So it is important to understand that dynamic, as scary as it is.

And we must understand, too, that evangelicals have a hard time differentiating between loyalty to America and loyalty to Israel, as well as differentiating between truth and falsehood regarding Obama’s position on Israel, a position that is almost identical to George W. Bush’s.

If you are tempted to think that such nonsense like the nonsense Richard Land spouted is confined only to crazy evangelical Christian pastors or their followers, or to silly politicians like Michele Bachmann (who during the weekend conference said Obama’s speech on Israel was a “shocking display of betraying our greatest friend and ally“), read the following, spoken by Republican presidential candidate and Catholic-turned-evangelical Tim Pawlenty—who gets credit for being an “adult” candidate—at the Faith and Freedom conference:

We need to be a nation that turns toward God, not away from God…We need a President of the United States who stands shoulder to shoulder with our great friend Israel and make sure there is no daylight between the United States and Israel [standing ovation].

No daylight, Mr. Pawlenty? 

__________________________

* Reed was involved in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal.  He took millions of “In God We Trust” bucks from Abramoff and proceeded to use his influence among Christian voters in Alabama to stop Indian casinos and state lotteries that were competitors of Abramoff’s clients.  Praise God!

Sneaky Christians

From a Mother Jones story I learned that creationists have been busy in places other than Missouri:

In the first three months of 2011, nine creationism-related bills have been introduced in seven states—that’s more than in any year in recent memory…

The offenders, other than my own state, are Texas, Kentucky, Florida, Tennessee, Oklahoma (who could have guessed?), and New Mexico.

A local co-sponsor of the bill in the Missouri House is Charlie Davis from Webb City.  That God-fearin’ lawmaker should be proud.  Mr. Davis boasts that he serves as deacon and treasurer of his Baptist church and that his three children are home-schooled, so his interest in what Missouri school children are taught in Missouri schools is purely academic it appears.

Now, the title of HB 195 sounds harmless enough:

Academic Freedom to Teach Scientific Evidence Regarding
Evolution

Or, even better is this, found in the text version of the bill:

AN ACT

To amend chapter 170, RSMo, by adding thereto one new section relating to teacher academic freedom to teach scientific evidence regarding evolution.

That would be great, wouldn’t it? To give teachers the ability to teach evolution?  I’m for that.

Except here is the official summary, which serves as an example of how these sneaky Christians intend on subverting the Constitution:

This bill requires the State Board of Education, other public
elementary and secondary school governing authorities, and school administrative entities to create school environments that encourage students to explore scientific questions and to assist teachers in finding effective ways to present controversial scientific material.  These entities must not prohibit teachers from helping students understand the scientific strengths and weaknesses of theories of biological or chemical evolution, and the provisions of the bill must not be construed as promoting any doctrine or discriminating for or against any beliefs.

Now, you may have noticed the phrase, “strengths and weaknesses of theories of biological or chemical evolution.”  The meaning of that phrase leaves enough room to float Noah’s Ark right into the classroom and dock it there.  

And the clause, “the provisions of the bill must not be construed as promoting any doctrine or discriminating for or against any beliefs,” would surely be used to attack those ungodly scientists and their “belief” in naturalism.

From the actual text of the bill, we find this:

This section only protects the teaching of scientific information and this section shall not be construed to promote any religious or nonreligious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs or nonbeliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or nonreligion. Scientific information includes physical evidence and logical inferences based upon evidence.

Again, many Christians consider the scientific attachment to methodological naturalism as a sort of religious doctrine, a kind of fanatical faith in the measurable, quantifiable universe.  So, it wouldn’t be long before some zealous Christian teacher brought in Michael Behe’s book, Darwin’s Black Box, and began teaching in earnest Intelligent Design, either in the name of challenging the assumptions of most scientists or as a way of introducing “logical inferences” of a different kind.

Fortunately, this nonsense is not likely to go anywhere again this year (a similar bill was introduced last year), since it hasn’t even been scheduled for a hearing. But it does show that the religious zealots aren’t going away anytime soon, as more and more of them seek seats in legislatures all over the country.

Someday, it could get serious. In the mean time, y’all are free to visit here:

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