Saturday, February 27, 2016
Conservative Christianity: Trumped by fear and greed
Right wing Christians use the bible to justify capitalism and its fruits of exclusion, greed and fear, however, the teachings of Christ are clearly socialist. The bible in general talks of sharing wealth with the poor, caring for the stranger in the land (such as the refugee), the widow, and forgiveness of debt (including the financial sort).
Capitalists will point to the fact that the bible does have rich people in it, including King Solomon (mind you, they don't seem to advocate Solomon's polygamy these days), and the parable of the talents (which is not promoting wealth accumulation but productivity - a necessity for socialism).
These examples are not provided by the bible to defend capitalism. They are there because these sort of people existed in those times. There were wealthy and selfish people. The bible addressed what was the contemporary society of the day. Yes, people accumulated wealth. However, other verses of the bible talk explicitly about sharing wealth (e.g. Acts 4:32-35, Exodus 16:18) and particularly, about rich people struggling to make it into the kingdom of God (per the description of the camel and the eye of the needle).
With the US presidential primaries in full swing and the leading Republican candidates being Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, it is disturbing that so many Christians defend the positions of these clearly non-Christian nominees who are more interested in accumulating wealth for individual greed rather than for society's need.
For instance, Trump wants to build a giant wall around the USA to keep migrants out, to ban Muslims from the USA and keep a register of Muslim refugees(1). Cruz wants to carpet-bomb ISIS, deport, deport 12 million people(2) and abolish the Internal Revenue Service (IRS being the tax collection agency) and the Department of Education(3). Rubio wants to round up and deport 12 million people(4) and to focus on border protection rather than tax collection(5). The policies of the three leading Republican candidates involve mass incarceration, labelling and segregation. All of them oppose raising the minimum wage, reducing welfare and privatising basic services such as health and education. Their policies are driven by greed and fear. The three of them want smaller government because such selfish and fear-driven policies clearly define the generosity of voters who will willingly take care of the poor and the most vulnerable out of their own pockets, rather than out of government coffers. Yeah ... let's see how that works out.
If this were a sitcom, it'd be a ratings winner and we'd all be laughing like hyenas discussing it at work over the water cooler. But it is real life. There is a very real possibility that Trump, Cruz or Rubio could become President. And it will be with the help of America's radical right-wing Christians.
The similarity to Nazi Germany is staggering. The only difference is that Hitler wasn't the buffoon that Trump, Cruz and Rubio are. The critical role that the church played in Hitler's rise to power is well documented. The critical role that Christians played in the imprisonment of those deemed a threat to Nazi Germany is well documented. Those threats were Communists, Unionists, Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, the infirm and essentially anyone who they deemed undesirable. Hitler claimed to be a Christian to court the vote of the church. Hitler believed he was doing the work of the Lord and the church swallowed it up:
And so I believe today that my conduct is in accordance with the will of the almighty Creator. In standing guard against the Jew I am defending the handiwork of the Lord.(6)
Substitute Jew for Muslim and we have any number of conservative politicians, pastors and pew-warmers. Hitler's seminal work, Mein Kampf, is riddled with references to the Lord and the Creator as he attacks Communists, Jews, Unions, welfare and those who are a burden on society, such as the poor and the sick.
What is the difference between the rhetoric of today's conservative candidates and Hitler's? There's still the extreme Nationalism, patriotism at all costs, while identifying common enemies on which to blame America's economic and social ills, particularly, Muslims, Migrants, Unionists, Socialists, the poor and the sick. Welfare and socialised health are particularly blamed. Ironic coming from Christians considering the bible bangs on so much about caring for the poor and the weak.
With the bible speaking so much about loving and caring for the poor, the refugee, the widow, the weak, it is quite clear that Christians who vote for conservative politicians have never understood their bibles.
Many are more comfortable attacking homosexuality and abortion, than in being upset about the torture and abuse of babies. For instance, in Australia the United Nation has stated that Australia's detention of asylum seekers, and in particular their children, violates the Convention Against Torture(7). Yet, a large number of conservative pastors fail to condemn their precious Liberal Party in its abuse of the world's most vulnerable, but get upset with an anti-bullying campaign to prevent the abuse of LGBTI people(8). Priorities? Skewed!
People end up being labelled: illegal or sinner. And then the mantra starts. Love the sinner, hate the sin. Which really is just a slogan to make Christians feel good about abusing people.
They're happy to enforce their twisted version of the bible through law and war. The United States has been the most aggressive nation of modern times with military involvement in dozens of countries in the name of democracy and capitalism.
Conservative politicians have built their empires of wealth and power on platforms of selfishness and fear in order to shore up votes from gullible Christians who believe that a Jesus bumper sticker represents signs and wonders following God's anointed.
Yet the bible is clear: You will know them by their fruit ... not their bumper stickers, not their catchy little slogans. Waging war and attacking the poor, attacking the most vulnerable, fostering hate against other religions and political ideologies is not the fruit of Christ. It is the fruit of the loins of misanthropists; haters of humanity.
Conservative Christians are easily manipulated by misanthropic politicians because they're more interested in dogma than doing, in creed than in caring, in rules than in rights. They're manipulated by fear of the 'other', they're focused on accumulating wealth rather than in sharing wealth.
Who are Christians to criticise radical Islam when they're so willing to vote for radical politicians who preach such greed, hate, fear and war-mongering?
In the well-known parable, the Religious Right are the goats!
1. On the Issues, 'Donald Trump', http://www.ontheissues.org/Donald_Trump.htm. Accessed 27 February 2016.
2. Washington Times, Victor Morton, 'Ted Cruz toughens immigration stance, says he'd deport them all', 22 February 2016, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/feb/22/ted-cruz-says-hed-deport-all-illegal-immigrants-us. Accessed 27 February 2016.
3. On the Issues, 'Ted Cruz', http://www.ontheissues.org/Ted_Cruz.htm. Accessed 27 February 2016.
4. The Daily Currant, 'Marco Rubio: "Deport them all" ', 2 April 2013, http://dailycurrant.com/2013/04/02/marco-rubio-deport-all. Accessed 27 February 2016.
5. On the Issue, 'Marco Rubio', http://www.ontheissues.org/Marco_Rubio.htm. Accessed 27 February 2016.
6. Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, Volume I: A RETROSPECT, Chapter 2 YEARS OF STUDY AND SUFFERING IN VIENNA, translated by James Murphy.
7. Human Rights Law Centre, 'UN finds Australia's treatment of asylum seekers violates the Convention Against Torture', 9 March 2015, http://hrlc.org.au/un-finds-australias-treatment-of-asylum-seekers-violates-the-convention-against-torture. Accessed 22 February 2016.
8. The Age, Jill Stark, 'Safe Schools program: why zealots are trying to drag us back to the dark ages', 24 February 2016, http://www.theage.com.au/comment/safe-schools-program-why-zealots-are-trying-to-drag-us-back-to-the-dark-ages-20160223-gn1ryq.html. Accessed 28 February 2016.
Updated 29 February 2016