Thursday, March 01, 2007

No Free Pass for the Politics of Religious Sloganeering

In an outstanding post by Lydia Cornell titled No Human Power, she speaks about the travesty and the danger of mixing religion with politics.
"To me the worst thing Bush did was proclaim himself a Christian without having an inkling of what the Great Peacemaker stood for."
This reminds me of something I read from Obery Hendricks. He'd written these words just before the 2006 elections:

The Gospel of Luke tells us that in his inaugural sermon Jesus announced the purpose of his earthly ministry with these words, "The spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor." Throughout the Gospels Jesus makes it clear that care of the poor and vulnerable is one of his deepest concerns, so much so that he gave this as the primary yardstick of faith in him: "As you did not do it to the least of these, you did not do it to me." In other words, the Jesus that George Bush claims as his Lord not only taught that we can meet our neighbors' needs if we have the will; he also taught that we must have the will.

In the coming election season, President Bush and politicians aligned with him who also trumpet their Christian faith will try to trade on that faith to garner votes. They will try to hide their abandonment of America's most vulnerable citizens behind distracting religious sloganeering and hot-button issues like gay marriage. But we must not allow it. We must remind Bush and his congressional cohorts that the Christian faith they profess calls for them to make alleviation of the suffering of the Gulf Coast poor - indeed, of all America's poor - this nation's immediate domestic priority.

In Mark's Gospel Jesus asks, "Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?" That is the question we must ask President Bush and those politicians who strut their Christian faith while ignoring the care for the needy that their faith demands: "How can you call Jesus ‘Lord,' and not do what he says?"

We must not allow it.


TomCat said...

Lydia's post was magnificent. Personally, I'm tired of the religious right claiming to be the voice for people of faith. It's time for the religious left to challenge them.

GreenSmile said...

I don't know were to begin here, Jude, but maybe I can just leave it at noting that Judaism developed in the Talmud a body of wisdom that in some places warns against the practical and political perils both of an observant person being too cozy with authorities and of not recognizing what civil authority is meant to do...and in other places warns of the harm one does to ones own faith by seeking to use it as a path to worldy power. The deep good in many religions is much the same. That all things done in the name of relgion are smeared together is a shame. That lumping together is of course not so much a strategy as a lazines and a failure to observe carefully and be pragmatic. I would say it is a failure on the part of those who rail against religion in general, and it is that, but the exact same laziness seems behind many enflamed relationships between different groups. It is a human weakness and a common failure.

You know I turn facets to the world, now humanist, now agnostic, often a reductionist though perhaps with spirtual inklings. I follow people like you, or my friend the Luthern Pastor or my co-religionists whose study and discussion is one of the gems in my life but can follow only so far.

But walking together is not following. And I know we are on the same road. I know it because we see the same sorry follies thwart peace and upset us. I know we both sigh and say in our own ways "Haven't these lessons been taught?" Each time a creature like the sonofabush abuses the reputation of Chritianity, I will see it as a matter of the puniest and least worthy would-be warrior grabbing the heaviest sword and mace in the armory in vain hope of winning. He has not reflected on where his own professed religion places him among all creatures. He has not reflected on the priority of obligations to those creatures that his own religion places on him. He does not know in what arena he stands. Not knowing that wisdom is the greatest protection religion offers, his prayers and bullets alike miss his enemies. When the mace falls from his shaking hand, if he drops the sword to run from history, he will not much harm the reputation of religion with me for he was practicing something else, something misperceived He has never really met relgion half way and does not seem to know what it is. Belief may be a gift, I am never sure, but you cannot open the gift except by understanding, of that I am sure.

[Tomcat, mind if the irreligious left comes along on the challenge? I know its not my fight but I make a good cheering section]

Larry said...

It's to bad the "right" can only espouse Jesus when they are running for office or making excuses to start a war.

Last night 750,000 homeless slept in shelters, while another 4 million more stayed under a bridge.

If the so called "right" would really espouse the teaching of Jesus, they would use the trillions of dollars wasted in Iraq, to provide homes, cars and jobs for the poor and homeless in America.

Isn't that really what Jesus would do?

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