If one takes Progressives at their word about Jesus and politics, it is Progressives who are working to turn America into a Christian theocracy.
If you go to Amazon’s Kindle bestseller list, you will see that the current bestseller is Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (see image, left).
Atwood wrote The Handmaid’s Tale in 1986, during the Reagan presidency. Back then, Democrats (as Progressives still called themselves) were terrified that Reagan and his supporters in the Christian Coalition were about to turn America into a Christian theocracy, comparable in all respects to Iran under the Ayatollah Khomeni. I, being a young, yuppified, NPR-style Democrat, naturally read the book. At the time, it seemed soooo significant; now it just seems over-heated, paranoid, and quite silly.
For those who haven’t read The Handmaid’s Tale (or those who did read it and are trying their damndest to forget it), the plot is a simple one: America is a Christian theocracy run by old white men with sterile wives. To prevent population collapse, the men and their wives basically imprison nubile young women and force them to have three-way sex (in a bizarre Christian fashion) in order to get the young women pregnant. The lead character eventually escapes to freedom where she can make her own choices about her body. In other words, it’s a pro-abortion novel contending that it’s inevitable that, if Christians are politically ascendant, we will have an American theocracy complete with women subordinated, barefoot, pregnant, and in weird ménage à trois relationships with reptilian old men and women.
As Atwood’s return to the bestseller lists shows, today’s Progressives are terrified that we’re again heading for a Christian theocracy, never mind that even Trump’s most committed supporters would not characterize him as a devout Christian. After all, it was Trump who creatively referred to “Two Corinthians,” which sounds more like a hipster bar than Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians. Progressive hysteria also has it that Trump, who championed gay marriage long before the winds of change overtook Obama and Hillary, is going to copy Muslim Chechnya and kill gays.
To prove that ascendant Christians aren’t just scary, but are also very, very wrong, one of my Progressive friends posted to Facebook a link to a lengthy Progressive post from a couple of Easters ago. The post’s author, Elisabeth Parker, made the usual argument that Jesus is really a Leftist and would bitterly oppose all Republican political initiatives. It’s an endless post, but I’ll quote just a little bit, along with my comments, so that you can get the flavor:
Right-wingers keep going on and on about how much they love Jesus Christ. They see him as their “personal” Savior. But when you read the following 20 quotes from the New Testament, you’ll wonder what Bible they’re reading.
Dictionary.Com defines the word “Christian” as people who follow Jesus Christ’s teachings…or at least have something to do with Him:
Chris·tian [kris-chuhn] adjective 1. of, pertaining to, or derived from Jesus Christ or His teachings: a Christian faith. 2. of, pertaining to, believing in, or belonging to the religion based on a the teachings of Jesus Christ: Spain is a Christian country. 3. of or pertaining to Christians: many Christian deaths in the Crusades. 4. exhibiting a spirit proper to a follower of Jesus Christ; Christlike: She displayed true Christian charity. 5. decent; respectable: They gave him a good Christian burial.
So, a Christian is a person who tries to act like Jesus Christ or at least follow His teachings? Alas, this definition doesn’t sound at all like the GOP’s so-called “Christians” we keep reading and hearing about in the news.
Do you know any right-wing Christians who truly follow Jesus Christ?
20 liberal quotes from Jesus Christ to ponder.
(19) “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. Matthew 7:1-2 KJV]
Jesus Christ commands his followers not to be judgmental towards their neighbors. Yet these right wingers can’t stop themselves from making arbitrary judgments about nearly everyone: LGBTs, single moms, people of color, immigrants, non-Christians, poor people, and just anyone who isn’t white, rich, male, and “Christian.” [Bookworm: It’s almost charming how blind Parker is to the irony of a vicious, ad hominem post that repeatedly, approvingly, cites to Christ’s mandates not to judge lest you be judged and to avoid hypocrisy. Almost. In fact, it’s pretty disgraceful that she would laud her interpretation of Christ’s teachings while ignoring them herself. Moreover on the subject of being judgmental, David Limbaugh, who actually knows the Bible rather than little selections, has pointed out that Christ was extremely judgmental. What matters is that his judgments were the correct ones. ]
(14) “But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?” [1 John 3:17 KJV]
How can a conservative so-called “Christian” read this passage and keep voting for people who give tax cuts to the rich, while slashing programs that feed families, care for the elderly and disabled, house the homeless, provide healthcare, protect consumers, and keep our air and water clean? [Bookworm: This passage perfectly exemplifies Parker’s belief that Jesus’s moral and spiritual demands must be effectuated through government.]
(13) “Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.” [Matthew 9:35]
Jesus Christ famously roamed the Holy Land giving free healthcare to everyone in need. Even many non-Bible readers are familiar with Our Savior’s healing exploits. Yet, His conservative “Christian” followers in Congress are adamantly opposed to giving Americans access to healthcare. Instead, they waste U.S. taxpayers’ time and money over and over again trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) even though their GOP lawmakers helped design the program, and their 2012 presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, had great success with a similar program during his tenure as Mass. state governor. Go figure. [Bookworm: It’s impressive that Parker makes the leap from Jesus’s miracles — unique to him as the son of God — to Obamacare, a government program that steals from the middle class to give to the insurance companies.]
(11) “And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.” [John 2:14-16 KJV]
Unlike our Mammon-worshipping conservative Christians, Jesus Christ clearly loathes capitalism. Pretty much the only time we ever see Jesus totally lose his cool and go into an Incredible Hulk-like rage is when he returns to Jerusalem with his disciples, and finds the Temple clogged with bankers and vendors. He doesn’t just yell at them, He totally goes apesh*t, wrecks their booths, and drives them out with whips He somehow manages to improvise and fashion on the spur of the moment. One can only imagine how Jesus would feel about Wall Street, the Koch brothers, and ALEC. [Bookworm: I’ve always understand this passage to mean that Jesus did not believe that a temple of God should be treated as a marketplace. That is, he was not objecting to a “house of merchandise”; he was objecting to a “house of mechandise” operating out of “my Father’s house.”]
(7) “But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.” [Matthew 12:7 KJV]
Jesus Christ always preached mercy for women, children, sinners, criminals, the poor, and even his own enemies. Yet, today’s conservative Christians demand
retroactive abortionsthe death penalty and insist that children who commit crimes should be charged as adults. [Bookworm: That second sentence is a doozy. Parker is opposed to the death penalty, which she views as a “retroactive abortion”; but completely supports abortion itself. Nor does she distinguish at all between the fact that the fetus cannot be anything but innocent, while the criminal is a mature being who has made deliberate choices. Wow. Just . . . wow.]
It’s easy to attack Parker on the ground that she’s both ignorant and hypocritical. Shooting fish in a barrel, though, gets boring pretty quickly.
However, after spending some time plowing through Parker’s 20 peculiar takes on Christ’s actions and words, I had an epiphany: The ones seeking to turn America into a Christian theocracy aren’t self-professed conservative, Evangelical Christians; instead, the Progressives are the ones seeking a Christian theocracy, with Christianity defined by their Progressive sect rather than by more traditional Christian teachings.
Before going further, let me take a page out of that blogger’s book, and start with a definition, one that she and her fellow travelers might not quite understand:
Theocracy, noun, plural theocracies.
1. a form of government in which God or a deity is recognized as the supreme civil ruler, the God’s or deity’s laws being interpreted by the ecclesiastical authorities.
2. a system of government by priests claiming a divine commission.
3. a commonwealth or state under such a form or system of government.
As the definition makes clear, one needn’t have religiously ordained leaders in order to have a theocracy. It’s enough that the government is organized entirely along the lines that a God dictates.
In Parker’s case, she is arguing that conservative Christians are hypocrites because, despite claiming allegiance to Jesus Christ, they refuse to have American government run entirely along the “laws” that Jesus demands. Instead, it is Parker — a Progressive who argues that “America is not a Christian nation” — who claims the moral high ground by demanding that America’s government be run in a way that is completely consistent with her understanding of Jesus’s spiritual and moral demands.
Put another way, she is unwittingly proving that, in 21st century America, it’s the conservatives who want to separate church and state, while it’s the Progressives who demand a Christian theocracy. (With “Christian” in this case meaning the hippie, Leftist, liberation theology interpretation of the New Testament.)
Parker, who seems to have a tenuous relationship at best with the New Testament, forgets that Jesus incisively established that his parables, strictures, instructions, demands, and actions were directed at the individual, not the government. When disbelievers tried to confound him with a question about paying taxes to the Romans using coins with Caesar’s image upon them, Jesus refused to be drawn into such a discussion. Instead, he dismissed entirely the possibility that his teachings intersected with civil politics, rather than pure faith: “Jesus said to them, ‘Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’ And they marveled at him.” (Mark 12:17.)
At all times, Jesus recognized the difference between state and faith. Had he wished to, he could have predicated any one or all of his teachings by adding something along the lines of “I say to you, pay your taxes to the Romans so that they can heal every sickness, oust the thriving commerce from the Jewish temple, and administer to the poor.” Or, as a couple of clever people said using posters:
So next time you hear some Progressive going on about the horrors of the coming Christian theocracy, just reminded that Progressive that it’s the Progressives, not conservatives (especially conservative Christians), who are desperate to put their interpretation of God into American politics. Conversely, it’s the conservatives (especially the conservative Christians) who are even more desperate to keep God and politics separate. And I might add, it’s the conservatives, especially the conservative Christians, who put their time and their money behind their principles, because they are more likely than any Americans to work for or donate to charities that serve the least among us. Meanwhile, the rich Progressives donate to the opera and the symphony, while the middle class Progressives throw their weight behind open borders.