Monday, June 25, 2012

Jesus Made Me Do It!

[Written in 2004 during a particularly inspired moment of repulsion.]

Somewhere between the benign “what would Jesus do?” (WWJD?) crowd and goose-stepping fascists, are those who call themselves the “religious Right”... as if there were anything “right” about it, except its political orientation. These folks seem to think that the laws of religion are as flexible as the laws of gravity are to Jackie Chan movies or “The Matrix”. They utilize all sorts of religious passages, sayings, psalms, and teachings to suit their own individualistic (and sick, in my opinion) purposes.

For example, a former adviser to “President” Bush was on the radio tonight speaking about her “faith”. She responded to a question asking whether it was okay for the “President” to constantly invoke “God” and his faith in public speeches, even though many are not religious, while others are not Christian (the radio host didn't bother adding that even some Christians could do without a clown like Bush mouthing off). She stated that “our faith” (as in, her and the “President”) helps to put the country at ease during these “hard times”, and that it's good for Bush to talk about being humble, forgiving, and turning the other cheek (I know, I know!! I'm not making this up!!)

The religious Right selectively uses this rhetoric when it's convenient. For instance, it's all fine and dandy for Bush to preach forgiveness towards his errors, but there's only fire-and-brimstone for the millions of innocent Afghanis that he wrecked his flimsy will upon during that country's bombardment. Turning the other cheek? Hah, that's what Bush demanded of Afghanistan: turn your head so we can smack the other side now, too!

Far be it from me to lecture Bush on Christ, someone who (if the Bible is accurate) was undoubtedly a radical who was murdered by the State for his charismatic ability to lead a social movement against the Roman Empire (and corrupt Jewish tribal leaders). Surely Bush is aware that Christ would have resisted any aggressive despot that invades other countries, and that “turning the cheek” is not just convenient rhetoric to toss about to persuade others of your humanity.

The furor caused by “The Passion of the Christ”, the movie by Mel Gibson, only illustrates the rabidity of the religious Right to latch onto whatever medium and means it can to further pervert Christianity. Sure, “the passion” is only the last day of Jesus's life, a day allegedly filled with unspeakable brutality. But, why must one stomach long minutes of such torture on the silver screen? Aren't there more important messages to draw from the legacy of Christ? It's almost as if Gibson and the Right wants to martyr Jesus not in order to obtain a higher plane of morality, but to justify retribution for their savior's untimely demise.

In fact, the only “Jesus Freaks” who I can bear, are the Catholic Workers, who may or may not take offense to such characterization. But, I mean it in the most loving way: here are people who have taken the actual meaning of Jesus to heart, and live it day and day out. They live in poverty, sharing their homes and lives with the least fortunate of society. They speak out against violence, injustice, poverty, apathy, and moral self-righteousness. Nothing has infused me with a renewed sense of hope for the future of Christianity than hearing about Workers chastising their Bishop for not taking a stronger stance against the US war on Iraq, who instead hid behind the Church's “just war theory”.

Unlike Bush's adviser and Bush himself, the Workers do not feel themselves above literal meanings. As the Bible notes, the hypocrite is one who does not apply to him/herself standards that they demand of others. Thus if one act of violence against innocents is wrong, than all other acts of violence against the innocent is also wrong. Of course this makes perfect sense, but the Bush Mob and the Right realizes that organized religion, like all other tools of control, may be wielded over others only if the rules don't apply to them. Otherwise they couldn't justify even owning a military or police or prisons, let alone use them to bomb, invade, arrest, or incarcerate millions!

Whenever I hear Bush say “god bless you” after a speech, my mind visualizes his nose growing like Pinocchio. I imagine him crossing his fingers under the podium. I think of his inner-dialogue saying: “haha, suckers!!”. His language is a tool of control just as his “faith” is a self-delusion. Anyone can realize that playing favorites, especially with a jerk like Bush, is not in any god's best interest.

Further, why would a god (at least a kind and just one) advocate the assassination of doctors, the execution of the poor on death row (when was the last time a rich man was executed?), invasions and crusades, censorship, patriarchy and sexism, slavery, compulsory and officialized religion and prayer, or the consolidation of political and economic power? Why does the Right demand that “intelligent design” (code for “creationism”) be taught in secular schools? Why does the Right root and cheer for Israel's crimes against the Palestinian people, while simultaneously adhering to grotesque antisemitism? Why does the Right cry bloody murder when people protest clearly religious symbols and endorsements like the Ten Commandments in courthouses and “In God We Trust” on our money and Pledge of Allegiance? Why does the Right advocate “celibacy” while it is clear that such teaching does not work? Why does the Right condemn women for choosing to have children or not, but then say “too bad for you” when children are born into poverty?

The same forked-tongue is everywhere-- Jesus told me to do this: “He told me to bomb this or that country! He told me to kill that abortion doctor! He told me to molest those parishioners! He told me to keep my wife in her place! Blah blah blah!”

Then, they turn around, as Mumia Abu-Jamal notes, in the US's celebration of “MLK Day”: “Imagine the most violent nation on earth, the heir of Indian and African genocide, the only nation ever to drop an atomic bomb on a civilian population, the world's biggest arms dealer, the country that napaled over ten million people in Vietnam (to “save” it from communism), the world's biggest jailer, waving the corpse of King, calling for nonviolence!” Talk is cheap, when it dribbles out of the mouths of powerful elites.

Let's recognize this for what it is: hypocrisy.