Wednesday, March 04, 2009

A Christian Nation?

For decades now, religious right-wingers have been telling us that we need to be a "Christian Nation," and that God is punishing us for permitting abortion and homosexuality. I've always held that America was founded on commerce, specifically mercantilism and imperialism dependent on slavery- not on the Bible or mighty, idealized Christian principles. I also have the philosophy that a "Christian Nation" begins at home- in other words, we all need to work on producing good fruit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, etc. etc.) rather than trying to impose or legislate a religious morality.

But in the wake of yet another stock market dive and almost daily revelations about CEOs', Madoff, and the Bush Administration's abuses and misuses of money and government- someone said to me that we seem to be a LONG way from being a "Christian Nation," and that we seem to be a society based on greed , lobbying, deregulation, loopholes, off-the books accounting, mortgage-backed securities, schemes, plots, and getting richer quicker without any consideration of the impact on others. And Rush Limbaugh warns that the Democrats will take away our liberties. What he means is that they'll demand accountability and transparency so that the fat cats won't have the liberty to rob the rest of us blind anymore. We've already seen out privacy and Constitutional protections revoked by the Cheney/Bush government who eliminated habeus corpus, tortured and secretly listened to us.

I may sound like a liberal, even a (gasp) "socialist," and people may accuse me of inciting "class warfare," but the Bible I read says that it is "easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." (Matt 19:24, Mark 10:25, and Luke 18:25). I think that if we were to truly become a "Christian Nation," we would have to become our brothers' keepers. We should not just return the tax structure to what it was like under Reagan, but pre-Reagan (the middle class grew most robustly between 1932 and 1980). The Obama administration is finally starting to talk about the cost of health care and insurance, and it's high time.

The Republicans had control of all three branches of government under George W. Bush. Supposedly, their "base" are conservative-Christians. Not only did we lose our standing in the world in terms of foreign policy, but the current recession (some suspect depression) created by the supply-side, laissez faire economic faith worshiped so devoutly since Ronald Reagan began deregulating markets and busting unions, rhis recession is pulling the entire world's economics into crisis. This isn't God's divine retribution, but it IS direct result of our collective, corporate sin. The sins, not of homosexuality or abortion, or teaching evolution but the sins of greed, arrogance gluttony and avarice.

Gays and illegal immigrants aren't the problem. Iran and Iraq aren't the problem. Muslims and foreigners and Hollywood and high school and college science teachers aren't the problem. We're losing jobs and homes and insurance and benefits and maybe we want to blame Bernie Madoff or George Bush, but let's face it, as the cartoon character Pogo said back in the 50's, "we have met the enemy and he is us." Matthew 28 is important, Jesus did die for our sins so that we can join Him in Heaven someday, but you know what? Matthew 25 is ALSO important. If we aren't feeding the hungry, healing the sick, visiting those in prison, loving the unloved and unlovable- loving our neighbors and even our enemies- if we aren't caring for the poor, the aliens, the widows and orphans- if we are more intent on protecting our profits and avoiding taxes than sharing the fruit of our labor with others in need, then how DARE we call ourselves Christian, let alone a "Christian Nation."

"Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong?" ~James 2:5-7

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