Jesus and politics:

  • Amarillo Globe News: Jesus Wouldn’t Have a Prayer Among Today’s Far Right, Op-ed by Erik V. Williams (from 29 January, 2003)
      The Trinity of Robertson, Falwell and Swaggart — the American Axis of “Good” — has been busy preaching to its flocks on the evils of Islam.

      These scholars, who only a short time ago thought Muslim was fabric of coarse weave which Jimmy encountered under his liaisons in cheaper motels, are today world-renowned experts, with Falwell credited with inciting riots in India.

      Falwell called Muhammad, the founder of Islam, “a terrorist … a man of war,” while another reverent man of God, noting that one of Muhammad’s many wives was but 9 years old, labeled him a “demon-possessed pedophile.”

      That is hardly the worst that has been said, but it does highlight the Right’s usual prurient preoccupation with sex and violence.

      Any historian will explain how inappropriate it is to measure the behavior of the people of one age by the moral standards of another. Muhammad’s conduct, occurring more than 1,300 years ago, when warfare was business as usual and females were married while still children, was consistent with his

      contemporaries, including Christians.

      Of course, that is beside the point to Robertson, Falwell and Swaggart, men determined to judge the seventh century by their more modern 14th-century sensibilities.

      If one is keeping score, it is just as easy to point out the evils of Christianity. Tens of thousands of men, women and children, both Christian and non-Christian, have been terrorized and sped into the arms of their Maker on the point of a sword, or toasted on church bonfires, all in the name of Christ. It is a subject that seems to rarely come up in Sunday school for some reason.

      Of course, the gentle Lamb of God did not commit such violence, but that actually creates a problem for the American ayatollahs.

      Throughout the Cold War, Vietnam, and the Gulf War, the Right has had nothing but scorn for doves. If Jesus was alive today, wouldn’t he be considered just another na├»ve, long-haired peacenik?

      Haven’t the ranks of the Right always celebrated the man who kills for his convictions and gets all the chicks? Haven’t they found the guy who never married, never dated girls, and just threw wine-and-bread parties with the boys a little suspect? The American cultural icon is Rambo, not Mr. Rogers.

      If the right-wingers really studied the matter, they’d find they have more in common with Muhammad than with Jesus. Muhammad was a merchant, a businessman and entrepreneur – a capitalist. Before Jesus walked off his job, he was a carpenter, a common laborer — and with his talk of brotherhood, no doubt would have been a union man.

      He hung out with the dregs of society: the poor, prostitutes, tax collectors, and finally thieves. Not exactly the kind of person to whom you would entrust your most precious and eternal possession: your stock portfolio.

      Jesus revealed his anti-business agenda as soon as he threw the money-changers out of the temple. To the orthodox for whom taxation is government organized theft, Jesus’ clear advocacy of paying taxes by “rendering unto Caesar” is a complete abomination. Scholars are still divided over whether the raising of Lazarus was to escape the death tax or an intent to pay it twice.

      In addition to depriving the mortuary services industry of business, Jesus had a bad habit of healing the blind, lame and sick without prior approval from health maintenance organizations. He also offered these treatments without regard to ability to pay, an early attempt at universal health care.

      The Right is thankful that this has as much chance today as it did 2,000 years ago — barring another miracle.

      Yet more subversive acts were the turning of water into wine and the multiplication of the loaves and fishes to feed the multitude. Supply-side economics and the careful management of scarcity would be utterly wrecked by cheap and plentiful goods on the market. Profits would collapse, CEOs would

      lose their jobs, and the specter of want would be lifted from the land.

      What a capitalist nightmare. The unemployed rabble-rouser from Nazareth was obviously pushing for a welfare state.

      Jesus mollycoddled the poor and went out of his way to condemn the rich. His warning that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a wealthy man to get into heaven was typical socialist blather. The affluent have had to devote themselves to breeding smaller camels and

      building larger needles ever since.

      And in answer to that age-old question — what would Jesus drive? – he did not ride an elephant into Jerusalem but a donkey, clearly an endorsement of the Democratic Party and the liberal socioeconomic agenda, not the Republican.

      Perhaps it is time the furious Pharisees quit barking up the wrong tree.

      *****

      Erik V. Williams of Amarillo is a frequent contributor to the Other Opinion page.