Tuesday, January 3, 2017

When Are "Christian" Republicans Going To Pressure Their Party To Deliver Justice For The Least Among Us When Are They Going To Be Called On Their Failure To Do That?

I read the Atlantic interview with Michael Wear "The former director of Barack Obama’s 2012 faith-outreach efforts" after reading Charles Pierce's piece on it.  While I think Charles kind of misses a mark or so, Wear misses more of them.   I wasn't much aware of Michael Wear before reading it so I can't say much about him except that he seems to be rather callow, as might be expected (he was 24 when he got the job and 28 now) and rather shallow.   He seems to follow the most superficial of media lines that identifies "religion" with right-wing Evangelical Christianity and Catholicism, which is assumed to mean somewhat the same thing only different.  It's no surprise that Wear, himself, identifies as a conservative Evangelical.   Why Obama would appoint someone of Wear's superficiality and obvious inexperience and orientation to the post, I can't think, except that he didn't take it all that seriously or he delegated the choice to someone who didn't take it that seriously.  I think the latter is probably the case.   My guess is whoever made the choice was looking to fill a slot with a conservative Evangelical guy and not much caring about the results.   Charles Pierce doesn't say it but he has a quote in his story that quotes Karl Rove whose words betray the  kind of "religious" thought that went into the choice.

  (To his credit, Kuo [ David Kuo, who filled a similar role in Bush II's regime]  related one anecdote that will be hard for Wear—or anyone else—to top. In his book, Kuo says he once heard another aide ordered by Karl Rove, "I don't know. Just get me a fucking faith-based thing. Got it?" This is exactly how St. Francis would have sounded, had he been a capo regime in Assisi.)

Pretty much most of the political use of religion is a cynical pose, a means of roping in suckers who can be counted on to vote for you and then thrown a few bones but otherwise ignored.  Which is probably why someone like Wear was hired.  You might include the Atlantic's religion person, Emma Greene who did the interview.  Her intro has such passages as:

Several years later, he watched battles over abortion funding and contraception requirements in the Affordable Care Act with chagrin: The administration was unnecessarily antagonistic toward religious conservatives in both of those fights, Wear argues, and it eventually lost, anyway. When Louie Giglio, an evangelical pastor, was pressured to withdraw from giving the 2012 inaugural benediction because of his teachings on homosexuality, Wear almost quit.

The definition of religion as wanting abortion made illegal again and to be able to discriminate against LGBT people ignores that a very large percentage of seriously religious people hold the opposite of those positions held by Wear and the so often touted "81% of white Evangelicals" who voted for the most blatantly irreligious candidate in our history and a party which is dedicated to the polar opposite of what Jesus, his disciples and, in fact, the entire line of Hebrew prophets taught. Economic justice, social justice, the distribution of liberal aid to the least among us.

Far from that alleged 81% showing that Democrats have a "religion problem" it shows that that 81% would seem to have a Jesus problem.  A huge, entirely discrediting, Jesus problem.

A large percentage of white "Evangelical" voters would seem to have no problem voting for the most anti-Christian agenda in modern American political history and a candidate who would be better suited as a modern day Nero or Herod.  I have no doubt that the only god Trump really believes in is himself.

I see no move among Evangelical Republicans or Catholic Republicans to pressure their party to abandon the screwing of the poor, the destitute, the foreigner living among us.  I see every indication that they support those positions that are exactly opposite of what Jesus taught.  Why would a nominal Catholic who votes for Republicans allegedly on the basis of their opposition to abortion NOT DEMAND THAT THEIR PARTY ADOPT EVEN THE ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL JUSTICE POSITIONS OF THOSE TWO POPES SO WILDLY POPULAR WITH THEM, JOHN PAUL II AND BENEDICT XVI?  Where is the respect of the Republican Party for the most basic requirements of the Gospel, the Law and the prophets, to give sufficient aid to the poor that they can live in dignity? 

Green notes a story from Wear that she uses to repeat the facile line of Democratic irreligiosity:

Some of his colleagues also didn’t understand his work, he writes. He once drafted a faith-outreach fact sheet describing Obama’s views on poverty, titling it “Economic Fairness and the Least of These,” a reference to a famous teaching from Jesus in the Bible. Another staffer repeatedly deleted “the least of these,” commenting, “Is this a typo? It doesn’t make any sense to me. Who/what are ‘these’?”

While I can well believe that some ignorant smart young person, or even older person might be so abjectly ignorant of the text of the Gospels, the fact is that Democrats have economic justice for the least among us in their platform and agenda, justice for them touches at no point in current Republican politics.  In every way Republicans actively and intentionally screw the least among us. Paul Ryan's favorite dream is to be the man who throws lots of the poor into destitution and to grind the destitute into the dirt.  And he's not only not alone, he's probably a "moderate" in today's entirely depraved Republican Party.

The hypocrisy of conservative, nominal Christians within the Republican Party is ignored by just about everyone in the media and beyond, it is never mentioned as a basically discrediting condition. The complete violation of the Gospel by the Republican Party that has tried to make Jesus its icon in recent years is never brought up by the media or in the upper realms of official Washington.   Instead it is the line that slams Democrats branding them as anti-religious, anti-Christian etc. that is the common wisdom in the media and among the elite.   That is the line repeated by Green and Wear and one which I'm kind of disappointed that Charles Pierce didn't refute more obviously.

A good question to ask is why liberal Christians are so unwilling to make that critique, why would we value the false tranquility of enabling that kind of hypocrisy instead of making it a basic and continual rallying cry against the results of the media enabling it?   Are we so wedded to our own personal tranquility of the cowardly pose of broad-minded fairness over a demand for the truth of the teachings of Jesus and the prophets?   The reluctance of liberals to get down and fight for that truth is what liberal Christians can be criticized for,  Too many liberals have forsaken the moral responsibility to make that critique through the mere fact that such talk has been deemed unfashionable among liberals.  If it's a matter of not making non-Christians and atheists uncomfortable by engaging in Jesus talk, the price that has been paid for that accommodation is far more than its worth.  If they don't like the talk, the political results are certainly more worthy of their petty annoyance.  The fact is, the majority of Americans are Christians and likely will be for a long time to come.  Leaving that fact out of consideration is not a viable political option for liberals.  Considering that the Gospels and the prophets are far, far more radical than today's articulation of liberalism in many, central aspects, to leave it out to accommodate anyone is stupid and irresponsible.

Even if liberal Christians make that point as forcefully as it was made during the last great success of liberalism, the Civil Rights Movement,  the fact is that today's media will disappear such liberals, turning them into an American version of non-persons.  I think that is what is largely behind all of this talk about Democrats needing to cave on even basic principles to racists and misogynists and gay bashers in the name of "religion".   We need to push it as hard as possible.

Donald Trump and the now, in fact, Republican-fascist party are an embodiment of the anti-Christ as is Trump's owner, Vladimir Putin.  No "Christianity" which enables them deserves to be taken seriously as a manifestation of the Gospel of Jesus.  Such "Christianity" fails the tests Jesus set for such claims of following him,  you judge them by the fruits of their actions and in every way American Republicans fail that test.  It's time liberal Christains got over their reluctance to force that fact.

For me, looking at the scandals of white Evangelical support for Trump and conservative Catholic support for Republican-fascism and such things as the conservative Russian Othodox embrace of Putin discredits the Christian nature of those groups and their theological interpretation of the Gospels.   I do think it's legitimate to judge the legitimacy of their theology, allegedly Christian, on the basis of what they do, the people they support, the institutions they embody.  In every way they discredit their claims to embody authentic Christianity.  In asserting that I invoke no less than the authority of Jesus who instructed his followers to make that judgement in a decisive manner.  It's time that they were called on their violations of the most essential teachings of Jesus.  Having looked at their fruit, I have no faith in their authenticity as Christians.   I see more of that in liberal Christians, though they should really push that case a lot harder than they do.  They should have the courage of their professions of faith.


  1. Anthony, although it is supremely true that there is a Christian responsibility to the poor and that the Kingdom was proclaimed with an emphasis on those who struggle against poverty and oppression, this very fact also does not discount or negate some of the issues that conservative Christians focus on, namely issues of sexual morality. I think it would be wise to read some of the literature and statements put out by the USCCB which encourage the preservation of the social safety net while also maintaining the teachings on chastity and the inviolability of human life. These are matters which can be taken up in whole. I am a couple decades younger than you, but even I have experienced and participated in the destruction that the sexual revolution has wrought. One of the things that Christian conservatives have rightly pointed out is that unfettered sexual expression does indeed have consequences on human life. The lack of responsibility our culture encourages has had major impacts on how young people treat each other and how people in general view as yet born human beings. It has spawned the dissolution of marriage and contributed to a rootlessness many in my generation - myself included - experience(d). Sexual license, like unfettered capitalism puts the human person as a means to an end. The high rates of sexually transmitted infections among college aged kids and young men is still alarming. Look at the growth of pornography and how it is becoming more and more sadistic, more and more compulsive. How is this happening in an enlightened age of "sex positivity" and sexual freedom? Because none of these things fit well with the dignity of the human person and the balance of the human heart. Maybe there was some wisdom in the prudishness of the older generations. At least back then a man leaving his wife to pursue sexual gratification with a younger woman was rightly frowned upon. Now it's encouraged because it is a form of expression and self-fulfillment. If we are to take the Gospels seriously we must keep those teachings that help us not see each other as mere animals but humans, rational creatures whose lives are worth more than animals. It does no good to point at the greed of certain conservative Christians as an example of them ignoring the Gospels. All of these matters perhaps are related. Liberal Christians also have their own greed and prejudices. That's why the generalities don't help. One last note. I'm a Democrat myself and worked for years for a Democratic legislative body and listened silently during debates about the need to maintain adequate assistance for the poor. Most invoked was the image of the working poor single mother who needs assistance. It's a powerful invocation and it does speak to the heart. Nevertheless, the working poor single mother is often the result of our society's emphasis on sexual license, no matter what. She is often a woman treated as a means of pleasure for a man who has no concern whatsoever for her well-being or the well-being of the child they have brought into the world. As is often the case, it is failed birth control that allows nature to do what it was designed to do. Certainly, we must help children be born into the world and we must help women struggling to improve their lot in life and to care for their children. It is unfair to the child to do anything but that. Nevertheless, there is a perverse cycle to this, a playing out of an ironic chain of events, where our sexual liberation does not make us more free, but instead shackles the most vulnerable among us - poor women. The solution then posed - although quietly - is to encourage women to destroy the life they carry in their bodies. I can't think of anything more elitist, bigoted, bullying and shortsighted than that. I doubt you would agree with her on too much, but I would encourage you to look into some of Mary Eberstadt's writing on these matters. I think the other side of the coin will become clearer to you.

    1. “For instance, take this sample: he has imagined a heaven, and has left entirely out of it the supremest of all his delights, the one ecstasy that stands first and foremost in the heart of every individual of his race -- and of ours -- sexual intercourse!

      It is as if a lost and perishing person in a roasting desert should be told by a rescuer he might choose and have all longed-for things but one, and he should elect to leave out water!”
      ― Mark Twain, Letters from the Earth:

  2. I am certainly not an advocate of sexual irresponsibility and I have, repeatedly, written about the destructive results of irresponsible sexuality. A few examples:






    There is more.

    1. I forgot that I had indexed a number of anti-pornography posts I wrote up to the time I did that. There have been quite a few since then.


  3. Indeed, I have read posts you have put up on pornography in the past. I apologize if it came across in a manner that seemed that you were advocating it. Not at all. I'm sure we have many areas of disagreement, but that might be common ground. Mostly I read your blog for its very insightful views on the poverty of the materialistic/scientistic explanation of reality. As I've told you before - those postings are delightful.

    1. That's all right. It's my fault for not indexing my posts, I never know what people know about and what they might not have seen.

      I do think it's a legitimate point that liberals have their own categories of blatant immorality that they excuse or even favor. I have pointed out that if you call it "sex" that lots of liberals are either not bothered by the oppressive, dangerous aspects of it or that they even favor it, especially those "liberals" who are really just liberalish-libertarians.

      I agree with Walter Brueggemann in one of those posts I gave the URL for that everyone is prone to use sex in a sinful manner, gay, straight, etc. and that we can be certain that any sex which is oppressive, harmful, demeaning, exploitative, dishonest and disrespectful, is sinful . That is true even when there is "consent" to those acts, consenting to any of that being done to you is to lead someone else into the evil of doing that. And, especially among women and gay men, a lot of people start out with having the damage done to them by society which assigns us roles as people to oppress.

      Sexuality is fraught with dangers of falling into sin. I think that's why it is so necessary to point out both the bad and the good. The good because the vast majority of people are going to be sexually active, so they need to know how to do it as sinlessly (if that isn't a word it should be) as possible.