For the record, I am not without love and respect for Mr. Jesus. He was, to me, one of the great teachers. His ideas had a large and progressive social justice component, and they were a great contribution to the development of peoples’ interior lives and their sense of themselves. I love and respect him whether he was an individual or whether all that was done in his name was accomplished by committee. It’s conceivable, you know, that he was the “Kodak” of prophets, a brand of sorts, a group effort. Anyway, no disrespect to religious believers in general.
I’m talking about a certain dark corner of Christianity. We wonder a lot these days about a certain element in our electorate, the extreme element in the right-of-center of our politics. It’s the Tea Partiers, the small government crowd, the anti-everythings. It is said, and it sometimes seems, that there is a religious component to their attitudes.
They do talk about God a lot, but the religion in them bears little resemblance to religion as it was known until recently.
Theirs is the religion of the old tent revivals, the washed-in-the-blood-of-the-Lamb evangelical Christianity that was, and remains, largely non-sectarian and that has little or no actual theology and no real social justice component. We all laughed at them up until 1970 or so, even members of more traditional Christian churches laughed at them. They came across as a bunch of snake handling Hillbillies that failed to understand that there was more to religion than praising Jesus and speaking in tongues.
Since 1970 they have somehow become respectable. Government officials speak generously of them and repeat their catch phrases. The media is afraid to offend their very delicate sensibilities. Their professed “religion,” however, remains as ridiculous as it ever was. Their version of Christianity consists entirely of having a “personal relationship with Jesus,” and tithing. They are still led by the same kind of Elmer Gantry style Hell and Brimstone preachers that we can hear in the oldest radio and newsreel recordings. Now though, the preachers are controlled by political puppet masters. Now they are important because they vote, and because they are easily led.
This is the Jesus Cult. To call it a religion at all is a slander on all of the world’s genuine religions. One must only “accept Jesus as (one’s) personal savior,” and tithe. Even good deeds are eschewed, they are discounted to zero. One must only praise Jesus and pay. The attraction of this scam is that it greatly simplifies life. It offers relief from the fear of death in particular, and from the confusion of reality in general. Just pray, and pay, and you can spend eternity in heaven with Jesus.
This cult is antithetical to science, intellectualism, progress, the truth, and even to religion itself. It is a cult of hate and mischief. The objects of hatred include academia, Islam, big cities, immigrants, evolution, various theories of the universe that they don't like, homosexuals, President Obama, women who get abortions or use contraceptives, minorities, the New Deal, welfare, free thinking women, any free thinking person at all in fact, anyone who represents “the other,” and especially the government in Washington. They are resolutely anti modern and totally reactionary; they are America’s Khmer Rouge.
The mischief has spread like wildfire through Christian education, media coverage, and the encouragement of hypocritical politicians looking for votes.
Look at polls that ask about evolution, the age of the earth, the existence of angels and the afterlife and the like, and you will see that many people answer the questions as though they were simple believers in biblical Christianity. I say, “as though . . .” because I don’t think they really believe it, they just want to sound like “real Americans.” I don’t blame them, sailing with the wind is easier than sailing against it. But actually none of them, not even the zealots, believe the bible to the degree that they would actually conduct themselves on earth according to those principles and rules found in the Old Testament. It’s a cliché to notice it at all, but very few of them have beards and they all eat shrimp. There are vast lists of rules in the bible, in the Book of Leviticus and elsewhere. The so-called Ten Commandments are actually only the beginning of a much longer list, and there are many such lists in the bible. Never having read the bible themselves, they are told, and believe, that there is a code of Christian values in the bible, and they are told that they are following it. It’s all about Jesus and the bible, we’re heaven bound! And when you fall off the wagon, when you fornicate, when you break any of the many rules, there’s always Christian forgiveness. Jesus loves you!
That seems only to apply to cult members in good standing though. The rest of us are going straight to Hell. Just ask anybody.
This anachronistic pseudo-religion is a danger to social justice and to America itself. Many Americans know that this is true; some even talk about it. My voice is small, but I offer it here.