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.

Conservative Christians Love Jesus But Hate Liberals

Rachel Maddow did a segment Thursday night on Republican hypocrisy and the manufactured outrage over the contraception requirement issue. During the segment she played a clip from a panel discussion that was part of the Conservative Political Action Conference—the place where conservatives go to sharpen their long knives.

The panel discussion was led by Genevieve Wood of the Heritage Foundation, and one of the panelists was a man named Cal Thomas, a syndicated columnist familiar to readers of the Joplin Globe, which used to regularly publish his right-wing rants.  He is also a regular on Fox “News.”

Before we see what Mr. Thomas had to say during a discussion on the contraception issue—which, naturally, was couched in terms of religious liberty—I want to tell you a little bit about the Christian columnist.

Thomas writes a column with Bob Beckel (a Fox “News” Democrat) for USA Today called “Common Ground.”  The two columnists wrote a book by the same name, which was subtitled, “How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America.” Get that?  Partisanship is “destroying America,” and Thomas knows how to stop it.

Cal Thomas was at one time the vice president of Moral Majority (1980-1985), a conservative Christian political group founded by right-wing fundamentalist preacher Jerry Falwell.  About Mr. Falwell, Thomas said in 2007:

Without him, it is doubtful Christian fundamentalist, Evangelical Christians and conservative Roman Catholics would ever have mobilized into the significant voting bloc that elected Ronald Reagan twice, George H.W. Bush once and the current President Bush.

So far, we know that Mr. Thomas doesn’t like America-destroying partisanship and he has been part of an explicitly Christian organization with the word “moral” in its name. I’m just guessing that if you write a book about how to stop war-like partisanship, you are probably against war-like partisanship. And I’m also guessing that if you  lead a group that calls itself “Moral Majority,” you must think you are part of the majority with morals, right?

Thomas is also a spiritually sensitive fellow. He recently criticized Alaska Airlines for removing from its meal tray a small card that had a verse from one of the Psalms printed on it. But Cal had an inspired plan to outsmart those too-sensitive airline executives:

I think what I will do is every time I now fly on Alaska, I will take out my Bible, open it to the Psalms and read one about being thankful to God. Maybe my seat-mate will see what I’m doing and either be blessed or ask a question.

Now, that’s quite a nice picture of the gentlemanly Thomas with his Bible on his lap in the airplane, honoring God by reading a Psalm of David, perhaps stirring an observant sinner to repentance. I’m starting to tear up thinking about it.  GOP Jesus must be proud of Cal.

But, alas, there is more to the Cal Thomas story, like what happened today at that CPAC panel discussion.  Genevieve Wood played a clip from Rachel Maddow’s appearance on Meet The Press, in which St. Rachel dared to criticize the GOP for its position on contraception, and then Ms. Wood asked Thomas this question:

Cal, let’s talk about this religious–this is serious, we laugh about it, but this is serious in terms of, if they get away with this, what would happen in a second term? If that outrage doesn’t turn to action in November, what are we looking at here?

Tapping into his ample supply of Christian charity, Thomas replied:

I’m really glad, Genevieve, that you played the Rachel Maddow clip. I think that she is the best argument in favor of her parent’s using contraception. I would be all for that! And all of the rest of the crowd at MSNBC, too, for that matter.

Big laughs all around. Applause. Cheers. I think I even heard GOP Jesus let out a glorious guffaw!

But when the laughter faded, what we had left was a man—who has made a fine living off blowing his Christian trumpet; off touting his virtue as a Christian; off pushing the idea that morality resides on the side of conservatism*—publicly suggesting that a liberal commentator and her colleagues shouldn’t have been born.

They shouldn’t have been born.

That brand of Christianity, which I once might not have recognized, is becoming all too familiar to those of us outside the faith.  I hear it practiced by, among others, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh and Laura Ingraham, Christians all.

In any case, while I am sure GOP Jesus approved of Cal Thomas for his casual dismissal of the value of human beings who happen to be liberals, perhaps there is Another Jesus who may, one day, have something more definitive to say about it.

In the meantime, here is the brief clip from St. Rachel’s show (in which you will see why she is a saint):

_____________________________________
…to the left there is no real God. Government is God.

Remarks And Asides

Senator Roy Blunt is now on record as favoring the death of Medicare. Perhaps voters won’t remember that vote by the time 2016 comes around.  I know I’ll do my part to help voters forget.

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I watched MSNBC’s Ed Schultz humbly and unequivocally apologize last night for calling the insufferable Laura Ingraham a “right-wing slut” on his radio show the previous day.  He directly apologized to Ms. Ingraham, as well as MSNBC and others affected. Schultz took himself off the air, unpaid.

Can anyone imagine Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity or Glenn Beck—people Schultz is often compared to—making such an apology?

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As a sure sign he wants to be a Republican presidential candidate someday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is pulling his state out of a 10-state regional greenhouse gas reduction program by the end of this year. He can now check that one off his “Get Right With GOP Jesus Checklist.” Let me see: Anti-choice? Check. Anti-gay marriage? Check. Anti-union? Check. Anti-gun laws? Uh-oh. More work to do on that one.

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Speaking of GOP Jesus, there seems to be some confusion as to just who is occupying that role at the moment. Dick Cheney told the Houston Chronicle,

I worship the ground the [sic] Paul Ryan walks on.

I suppose it’s only right that Cheney has booted Jesus out of the leadership, since it’s Ryan who is now hanging on the cross of Republican politics.

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There is hope for Southwest Missouri now that the race in NY-26 is over.  Like in this neck of the Ozark woods, the 26th district in New York is incorrigibly red and has put few Democrats in that seat over the last century—it was Jack Kemp’s seat for God’s sake.  But times are changing, and it’s just possible to put up a real Southwest Missouri Democrat in 2012—someone who will fight to protect our social safety net—and have at least a fighting chance against a candidate—Colonel Billy Long—who in every way supports the radical Republican agenda.

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A judge in Wisconsin has struck down the anti-collective bargaining scheme passed shamelessly by Republicans in that state, who, the judge ruled, violated that state’s open meeting law.  Expecting, though, that Republicans will simply pass the law again, a spokesman for We Are Wisconsin, a pro-union group, said that Republicans,

have one last chance to abandon Walker’s rapidly-sinking ship or be held to account in the upcoming elections.

Well, they won’t abandon the ship.  It’s clear that around the country Republicans believe this is do-or-die for reactionary conservatism, and Democrats had better be up to the challenge.  A lot is at stake.

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I heard Newt Gingrich address the flap over his gigantic Tiffany & Co. charge account by saying that he and his wife are “very frugal.”  Look, I believe him.  Who has extra money to spend on high-dollar jewelry with so many buffets out there waiting to be conquered?

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Speaking of Georgia congressmen, a freshman Republican congressman from Georgia lectured one of his constituents on personal responsibility—”You want the government to take care of you“—and then proceeded to say that the reason he accepted his government-subsidized health care is “because it’s free.”

Look, the way Republicans are opening themselves up politically by saying and doing dumb stuff like this, one would think they have a guilt complex and want to lose in 2012, as a sort of penance for their wrong-doing. 

I, for one, pledge to help them all get right with God.

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