Sunday, November 23, 2008

To Counter The Force of Fundamentalist “christianity” In Our Politics, We Need To Use This. by Anthony McCarthy

Today is the feast of Christ the King* in Catholic churches. While I’m not, by definition, a Christian, the gospel reading for the day has a lot to be said in its favor. It’s always puzzled me why this particular passage is passed over in addressing right-wing “christian” fundamentalists. It completely undermines their political and ethical position.

Here it is, from Matthew, 25:31-46

Jesus said, "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, `Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.' Then the righteous will answer him, `Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?' And the king will answer them, `Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.' Then he will say to those at his left hand, `You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' Then they also will answer, `Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?' Then he will answer them, `Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.' And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

Contained in this one passage is a straight forward condemnation of both the policy and practice of conservative “christians”, the ones who you’re about to hear froth on about the war on Christmas for the next month, the only ones who the word "Christian" is used to cover in the mass media.

You can look pretty long and hard at conservatives and you won’t find much that fulfills these requirements for avoiding eternal damnation. There is virtually not a single point of these requirements which are adequately fulfilled by the conservative’s program. The hungry, the sick, the ill clothed, the alien, the prisoner. There is no way to square conservatives actions on nutrition programs, universal healthcare, immigration and certainly not on prison policy. Conservatives consistently talk about and treat “the least of these”, no less than the people who Jesus claims as “members of my family”, of being part of his very being, as if they were human dross.

These conservative ‘christians’ are constantly presented, by themselves and the media, as being the most genuine and observant followers of this man, they claim he is, literally, God. They never tire of condemning other people to eternal damnation citing “Jesus Christ” as their authority. But in this one passage we’ve got absolute proof that they are lying. Eternal damnation, you’d think that if they really believed that their policies would avoid that possibility. And notice, not a single mention of abortion, gay sex, contraception of wealth redistribution as mortal sin.

Buckminster Fuller famously advised against fighting natural forces but advised using them was more practical and effective. It’s too bad that pride and antiquated conformity keep liberals and leftists from pointing out these things. Can’t understand why we shouldn’t. Like it or not, it makes no difference, Christianity is the equivalent of a natural force in our political life. We’re not under any constitutional prohibition from citing whatever furthers our purpose. Our making reference to this or any other helpful scripture is in no way a prohibited “religious test”. And even if it was, that clause in the Constitution doesn’t bind us, it binds the government in its official actions.