Liberal Christianists Pit Luke Against Leviticus

Obama has his TelePrompTer permanently programmed to seek God’s blessing for America in every speech.

So just how would Jesus have voted on H.R. 5652, the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act of 2012, by House Budget Committee Chairman and Wisconsin Republican and Catholic, Paul Ryan?

When Moral Majoritarians in 1979 began pushing back against sexual revolutionaries, liberal Democrats railed against mixing Biblical dogma with Republican politics. But some on the left now seem eager for a political Holy War of words, pitting Luke against Leviticus for New Testament "social justice," to counter Book-of-Moses admonitions about men lying down with men and more capital punishment than Texas.

Priests at Georgetown Univ. recently protested a speech by Ryan, charging him with un-Catholic callousness toward the poor, about whom St. Luke quoted Jesus in Chapter 6, Verse 20: "Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God." Those words are from a King James Version bestowed upon me in 1956 at the Central Church of Christ, at age 9, when I also got a glow-in-the-dark cross for reciting all the books of the Bible and was admonished I’d burn in hell if I didn’t accept Jesus.

Apparently irrelevant to the Georgetown Jesuits, Luke did not explain appropriate levels of spending on food stamps and Medicaid, nor say anything about tax rates for the "one percent."

The Bible has been employed throughout American history by politicized Believers. Southern Baptists used verses to justify slavery, and northern Unitarians invoked the Book to advocate abolition. In the Civil War, Julia Ward Howe popularized a wrathful God’s “terrible swift sword.” A hundred years later, mainline Protestants marched against the Vietnam War, invoking a peace-loving Jesus.

Widely shared ethics have an obvious place in policy-making. But that’s different from religious dogma for partisan maneuvering. Since the 1950's, when we added our Godly trust to filthy lucre, Americans have witnessed politicos wearing the Savior on their sleeves.

It's not surprising the left is attempting its mix of piety-and-politics. Observing clout wielded by religious conservatives in 1994's GOP House take-over and political Svengali Karl Rove’s 2004 mobilization of evangelicals for George W. Bush, clamors for overtures to God-fearing voters have been heard among Democrats, some serious believers, others, poll-driven consultants pushing Religion Lite.

Sen. John Kerry navel-gazed about what more he could have done to explain his faith to fellow Catholics. A writer on religion and politics for Time with a Harvard Divinity School degree, Amy Sullivan wrote a 2008 book about Democratic piety problems, The Party Faithful: How and Why Democrats are Closing the God Gap.

Getting in on the act was Jim Wallis, the Christian writer and political activist who founded Sojourners magazine and a same-named liberal religious community in Washington, D.C. (which is kind of like setting up a chapel in a whore house)

Wallis’s books include God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It. In June 2007, he persuaded Democratic Senators Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards to discuss faith in a cable-cast.

In a stunning pander, Edwards avowed, "I have a deep and abiding love for my Lord, Jesus Christ." He continued: "If I've had a day....where I haven't sinned multiple times, I would be amazed. I believe I have. I sin every single day. We are all sinners. We all fall short, which is why we have to ask for forgiveness from the Lord.” He apparently had a lot on his mind.

Clinton said she prayed during dark days after Bill's intern sinning. Obama was subdued, recalling Lincoln: "We shouldn't be asking whose side God is on, but whether we're on his side.”

Since his election, perhaps over-compensating for nonsense about fealty to Muhammad, the President has his TelePrompTer permanently programmed to seek God’s blessing for America in every speech. But he’s gone beyond petty piety. At a Feb. 2, 2012 prayer breakfast, he talked about “...finding Christ when I wasn't even looking for him so many years ago,” causing squeamishness among secular liberals. To his credit, he had bowed to non-believers in his inaugural address.

But the former Constitutional Law professor seems to forget the Founders consciously, and conscientiously, avoided a single mention of a deity in the Constitution, not even a tip-of-the-hat to the amorphous "Creator" who endowed unalienable rights in the Declaration of Independence.

With the religious right's influence waning, perhaps liberals will be restored to secular sanity and stop trying to emulate what they scorned for several decades.

As for Jesus and what he'd do about that budget bill? Well, if there were a Number One Son, I hope he would advise politicians to treat others like they want to be treated, since empathy is the basis of all ethics; that he’d tell them to stop seeking forgiveness and just behave themselves; and, for God's sake, stop asking Him to bless every damned thing they do!

Director of the Washington Center for Politics & Journalism, Terry Michael is a former press secretary for the Democratic National Committee. He writes at his libertarian Democrat web site,www.terrymichael.net.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    I'm going to take this opportunity to quote from one of Terry's emails to me:

    "You are just a garden variety idiot. It is stunning how disgusting you are, whoever you are, hiding behind your cloak of anonymity."

    I've seldom been so proud.

  • Hugh Akston||

    That's exactly the response I received to my fan letter to Ted McGinley.

  • ||

    I would certainly hope so. What about Amanda Bearse?

  • Hugh Akston||

    She was surprisingly unresponsive.

  • ||

    That's more what I would expect.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Cloaks are cool.

  • ||

    Not when Romulans use them to attack the Enterprise they aren't!

    In another reality, ProL, I could have called you friend. Well, probably not, but it sounds nice.

  • Pro Libertate||

    [Squints.] Say, what's Spock's dad doing on that ship? Kinda fishy, don't you think?

  • ||

    DON'T TALK SHIT ABOUT MARK LENARD

  • T||

    And here I thought you were just a 'typical libertarian asshole' as deemed such by that great scholar, Patterico.

  • ||

    You are not *just* a garden variety idiot, you hideous sac of pus. You're also, like, a douche and stuff.

  • ||

    Sac?!?

  • BakedPenguin||

    You know, where you store food for later digestion.

  • Mo' $parky||

    You're not just a regular moron, you're the product of the greatest minds of a generation working together with the express purpose of building the dumbest moron who ever lived.

  • ||

    Oh, good, my slow clap generator is still working. So there's that.

    CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP

  • Pro Libertate||

    The left has left behind any concept of placing individuals ahead of the state/collective. That's their fatal and irredeemable flaw. Everything else is just empty rhetoric and deception.

  • o3||

    u mean like gay marrage?

  • ||

    Thanks for your input, Mary.

  • Pro Libertate||

    That's kind of a garden variety comment, Episiarch.

    Rights are important when they can be used to reward people who vote for you. Though it's fascinating to watch the administration do nothing but run its mouth (and flat-out say that they're going to do nothing) and get credit for its civil libertarian ways.

  • ||

    Kind?!?

  • Pro Libertate||

    Yes, you don't even achieve garden variety. More like patch of weeds variety.

  • o3||

    at least ur capable of acknowledging one modifer to ur absolute.

  • Jesse James Dean||

    Putting minorities into groups to pander to and extend privileges to (gay, black, latino) is still collectivist thinking.

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    Thanks for bringing your unique brand of stupid to the party again, Urine!

  • Ice Nine||

    You referring to O3's lower-case glibness or Ep's unending Mary delusion?

  • jacob the barbarian||

    yes

  • Doctor Whom||

    1. The first rule of religion is that the Word of God, when correctly interpreted, backs up whatever the person interpreting it wanted to believe anyway.

    2. Both teams spend so much time and effort on playing the Jesus card for one simple reason: They do what they know the voters will reward them for doing.

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    AHEM!

    The FIRST rule of Religion is - DON'T TALK ABOUT RELIGION!

  • niobiumstudio||

    No, you got religion and fight club mixed up. The FIRST rule of Religion, is NEVER stop talking about religion.

  • jdcllns||

    I thought the FIRST rule of Religion is No shirts, no shoes.

  • ||

    No, you moron, the first rule of reilgion is Give Me Your Money.

  • T||

    No. The first rule of religion is OBEY.

    Everything else is secondary.

  • niobiumstudio||

    I don't know, Obey is pretty important, and so is basing everything in your life on religion - but unless you give the church all your money, they don't give a fuck about anything else you do. The catholic church certainly doesn't care that you Obey, as long as you hand them that envelope every Sunday, and tell your friends about it.

  • Drake||

    I'm pretty sure that the Catholic Priests aren't reading the King James Bible.

    If the poor are so blessed, what business is it of the government to wage war on poverty?

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    Make war no more

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Let that be your last battlefield.

  • NeonCat||

    And apparently the poor are monarchists, getting a kingdom and such! No place for them in a democraticish kindarepublic.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Come see the violence inherent in the system!

  • wareagle||

    As for Jesus and what he'd do about that budget bill?

    I don't recall jesus ever advocating for rendering unto Ceasar, whether his name was Julius or Obamus.

  • niobiumstudio||

    What do you mean? I hear politicians talking about how the Jesus was a free-market kind of guy... Were they were just making that up to suit their agendas?

  • ant1sthenes||

    Weird, I could have sworn he did exactly that -- give your secular rulers all the secular shit they want, but save your spiritual shit for God. I'm paraphrasing, of course.

  • mgd||

    Well, what Jesus never said, as far as I am aware, is that to take care of the poor, you should force other people to render unto Caesar. He was pretty clear that he expected people to take it upon themselves to take care of the poor and not leave it for someone else to do.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    The left has traditionally been quite religious - the Democratic Party has a more mixed heritage.

    Democratic Senator Stephen Douglas denounced antislavery clergymen for intervening in political debate - Douglas simply wanted to repeal the Missouri Compromise's ban on slavery in the territories, a purely secular issue. Clergy should simply stick to praying.

  • BakedPenguin||

    With the religious right's influence waning, perhaps liberals will be restored to secular sanity and stop trying to emulate what they scorned for several decades.

    Both major parties are essentially reactionary, responding in fear to the attacks of the other side rather than attempting to lead from core principles, assuming they even possess any at this point.

    This is why a Republican administration can introduce a massive drug entitlement, and the last major attempt at adjusting welfare came from a Democratic administration. They couldn't be accused of being socialists or heartless moneybags, since they were respectively on the correct teams. The "only Nixon could go to China" sums it up. No one was going to accuse the famous Red hunter of cozying up to the commies.

    Until either party has more to lose than gain by invoking Jesus' name, he will continue to be mentioned.

  • niobiumstudio||

    As a not-Catholic (who spent 8 years in CCD, albeit not really paying much attention), I am so tired of the Jesus shit... Really, Jesus was pro business? Would be pro-kick-ass-America? Would support a budget? Really - Jesus, and his 12 holy accountants, would support a fucking budget? Now I didn't pay much attention in CCD, but I'm pretty sure I remember something about rich people having an impossible time of getting into heaven, lying being bad, and the dinosaurs being a conspiracy by the Jews (that last part wasn't in our books, but I distinctly remember being taught that).

  • niobiumstudio||

    PS, sorry for the hard J.

  • wareagle||

    so how's the detox going?

  • niobiumstudio||

    Detox? Detox is for quitters.

  • ||

    "I am familiar with carpentry and I don't know who my father is. So, am I the messiah? I don't know, I could be, I'm not ruling it out."

  • niobiumstudio||

    "Alright! Listen! It could be a miracle... or it could be bullshit!"

  • ||

    The dinosaur conspiracy strikes me as probably false, or perhaps deprecated, since the Catholic church doesn't subscribe to Young Earth theory and teaches a standard science curriculum on evolution and geological time in their schools (with the caveat that abiogenesis, evolution and speciation was all theistically guided).

  • Drake||

    Doesn't the Catholic Church preach that faith AND charity are the way to salvation? I've never heard it preached that paying taxes or voting Democrat is a charitable activity in the eyes of the Lord.

    So, isn't counter-productive to our salvation for the government extract our taxes by force and take over charities?

  • NoVAHockey||

    not only that, it conflicts with the principle of subsidiarity

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Apparently irrelevant to the Georgetown Jesuits, Luke did not explain appropriate levels of spending on food stamps and Medicaid, nor say anything about tax rates for the "one percent."

    "Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back." -- Luke 6:30

    Don't think that the Bible should be the basis for the government, but anyone who claims it wasn't pretty clear on how Jesus felt about wealth either hasn't read it or is lying.

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    Thanks for sharing your binary view of the world.

    There are two kinds of people in this world - those who believe there are two kinds of people in this world, and those who don't.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    It's not my view of the world. I'm not in favor of redistributing wealth and I'm at best an agnostic in terms of religious matters. But I'm also not stupid, so I'm not interested in pretending an apocalyptic preacher from two thousands of years ago who pretty clearly hostile to personal property, much less the accumulation of wealth was really a laissez faire capitalist because a lot of Republicans don't want to address the contradiction between the beliefs that made our modern society possible and his.

  • robc||

    Hostile to accumulating wealth?

    He had an entire parable devoted to maximizing rate of return on investments.

  • mgd||

    "Give other people's shit to everyone who asks you, and if anyone complains that their shit is being taken, call them ungodly and make sure they don't get it back."
    Luke 6:30

    That's the New Leftist Version of that passage.

  • Jesse James Dean||

    "But I'm also not stupid, so I'm not interested in pretending a fictional character from two thousands of years ago who pretty clearly hostile to personal property."

    FTFY

  • ant1sthenes||

    That's a rule for Christians to voluntarily follow, not a moral maxim so important that Christians are authorized to force it on everyone at the point of a sword.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword." -- Matthew 10:34

    Again, my point is not that this is how we should do things, just that Jesus was in fact wrong about many things, and it would be better to acknowledge that the Bible is just not a good guide for public policy, rather than coming up with sophistry to pretend the world's most famous hippie was something other than what he was.

  • triclops||

    It is more accurate to say that the Bible, or even just the NT, is so contradictory as to be completely worthless for any sort of intelligent direction.
    I guess that happens when you have a bunch of people make shit up about what they remember, or what their grandparents told them, about that guy who rose from the dead, and then looked different, but kinda the same. or something.

  • triclops||

    I find the fact that all the info we have on Jesus was clearly fudged to some unknowable extent to make the points that the gospel writers wanted to make to their audiences means that any assumption about what Jesus was like is only slightly better than debating the number of angels that could dance on the head of a pin.

  • Jesse James Dean||

    It is because the Gospels are just different versions of the same Hero myth. No independent record of the man Jesus Christ actually existing in the flesh has ever been found. All "evidence" of his ever existing comes directly from Scripture (canon and apocryphal) and ancient historians referring to Scripture. Allegorical fiction was quite possible at the time, and The Gospel of Mark (said to be the first written) reads just like allegorical fiction.

  • Jesse James Dean||

  • Anonymous Coward||

    “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn

    “‘a man against his father,
    a daughter against her mother,
    a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law — a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’

    “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.

    Unlike that out-of-context snippet, Jesus is telling his followers that not everyone will believe and that they may have to choose between Jesus and their families.

    Again, not a call to slaughter the unbeliever wherever he may be found.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Don't think that the Bible should be the basis for the government, but anyone who claims it wasn't pretty clear on how Jesus felt about wealth either hasn't read it or is lying.

    The problem is less about having wealth and more about coveting wealth above God.

  • TomG||

    Mainly what Jesus said about wealth was that if you get obsessed with it, it stunts your spiritual development, a sensible observation.

    Other than that, "poverty" and "wealth" meant something very different in his time and place than today. Nobody in the US has to starve or lack education; as a society, we have already all agreed to give generously. How much more do you want?

  • Masturbatin' Pete||

    The poorest Americans have more than Herod.

  • Amakudari||

    To his credit, [Obama] had bowed to non-believers in his inaugural address.

    As had Bush on a few occasions. His old man's rumored remarks ("neither citizens nor patriots") might have played a role, but Obama's still not going beyond what would be expected of even a deeply religious man.

  • Grant||

    First rule of polite society: Never discuss politics or religion — not because it’s boorish, but because it’s futile.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Perhaps liberals would like Leviticus 19:13 - "You shal not withhold overnight the wages of your day laborer."

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Hey, Dragon... how do you feel about the separation of church and state? Are you always for it, or not?

    That would be a great question for Obama, by the way... if, that is, the reporter asking it were willing to end his/her career right then and there - or if a private citizen asked it, there would be an FBI investigation and a "surprise" IRS ass-rape.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Generally, I'm in favor of separation of anything and state.

  • Being Waterboarded||

    "Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God."

    So, if we give a bunch of money to the poor - so that they are no longer poor - then heaven is no longer necessarily theirs. I think I will keep in mind the eternal future of the poor and limit what I give them. They'll thank me later.

  • Lou Skannen||

    "... the Founders consciously, and conscientiously, avoided a single mention of a deity in the Constitution, not even a tip-of-the-hat to the amorphous "Creator" who endowed unalienable rights in the Declaration of Independence."

    "done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of OUR LORD one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven..."

    Signature page is important, too.

  • JoshSN||

    It's consider proper that, when quoting something and adding ALL CAPS, bold faced or italics that you say "emphasis mine" somewhere.

    Or, if it isn't your emphasis, you might want to point out "emphasis in original."

    To me it seems like you are trying to fake everyone out when writing OUR LORD when it was really "our Lord" in a font just as big as "the Year"

  • Jesse James Dean||

    Seriously, it is just how dates were recorded back then. Just like saying B.C. and A.D. (its all AD means is In the year of our lord)

  • ||

    Deuteronomy 23:13 should be the guiding principle of politicians professing their religious piety:

    As part of your equipment have something to dig with, and when you relieve yourself, dig a hole and cover up your excrement.

  • sweeterjan||

    counter Book-of-Moses http://www.vendreshox.com/nike-shox-r4-c-9.html admonitions about men lying down with men and more capital punishment than Texas.

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