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Saturday, December 21, 2013

History and heresy - the crucifixion of Christ in the 21st century

Have conservative, fundamentalist Christians learnt nothing from history?

It was the religiously conservative, fundamentalist, legalistic types who:

* crucified Jesus (after all, you can't preach heresy that undermines the religious establishment)

* burnt Joan of Arc (and others) at the stake for witchcraft (after all, you can't have visions of God that give political advice which differs to the religious establishment's politics).

* established the Spanish Inquisition to torture and murder enemies of the church

* undertook the crusades to wage a holy war in order to expel the 'heathen' Muslims from the 'Holy' Land.

* supported Adolf Hitler, who claimed to be a Christian upholding Christian values, because nothing says Christian like imprisoning and killing Jews, Communists, Socialists, gypsies, homosexuals and anyone else who is perceived to be unpatriotic, or a risk to the economy or threatening 'traditional' family and church values.

* waged war in the Middle East and Afghanistan to destroy 'terrorists' and 'fundamentalist Muslims' - essentially anyone who fights back against the American capitalist war-machine as it exploits weaker economies for its own gain (reminiscent of the Crusades, but let's not go there - pardon the paralipsis).

* waged a war on the poor by supporting the rich in the mistaken belief of 'trickle-down' economics, after all, we all know how willing rich people are to give their money to the poor.

* support the apartheid state of Israel through misinterpretation of scripture, which essentially denies the need for Jesus delivering salvation to Judaism, as well as sponsoring the genocide and ethnic cleansing of Palestine: contrary to what Jesus preached and what's written in the bible.

What did Jesus actually preach? Well, Jesus was a revolutionary who opposed the mainstream religious institution and the hypocrisy that went with it. It wasn't so much the government that he opposed, as it was the religious elite, namely the Pharisees and Sadducees. He spoke up for the poor, the marginalised, the despised. He hung out with the tax collector and the prostitute. Ironically, many Christians today oppose tax and promote smaller government, as if this is biblical. Yet, Jesus said 'render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's'. He never opposed paying tax and didn't come to overthrow the Roman Empire.

Many Christians are happy for tax breaks to go to the rich while criticising welfare for the poor, as if this is biblical. They believe the more money given to the rich, the more money the rich will give the poor. It's refreshing to hear the current pontiff, Pope Francis call trickle-down economics out, when he said:

'The promise was that when the glass was full, it would overflow, benefiting the poor. But what happens instead, is that when the glass is full, it magically gets bigger. Nothing ever comes out for the poor'.

The right wing opposes the revolutionaries, the ones who speak up against capitalist exploitation. The Occupy movement for instance, wasn't exactly on the Christmas card list for many fundamentalist Christians. Yet, Jesus also opposed exploitation of the poor by the rich and by the religious establishment.

It's interesting that Pope Francis also pointed out that the church has been focused on the wrong priorities, such as the preoccupation with homosexuality and abortion, while people suffer from poverty. Yet, listening to some Christians, homosexuality is an unforgiveable sin. If it was so serious, then why did Jesus not mention it. Not once! It's the church and the religious fundamentalists who need to apologise for their sins against the poor, the homosexual, the reject.

The right-wing continues with its judgemental vitriol against Communism, Socialism, environmentalism and homosexuality, while standing up for capitalism, exploitation and gun-ownership.

If Mary appeared today, unwed and claiming she'd gotten knocked up by God, there'd be outrage in the church and allegations of an attack on the family unit. Imagine the uproar if Mary's son then went on to preach heresy such as 'for God so loved the world' (and by implication everyone in the world, such as homosexuals, atheists, Muslims, Communists and so on), or giving commands such as 'love your neighbour' (again by implication meaning to love the world and everyone in it, not just the right-wing, capitalist Christian), or something like,  'I tell you the truth, it's hard for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God ... it's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God'.

With such heresy, Jesus would be burnt at the stake or crucified ... well, maybe today it would mean a lethal injection or spending the rest of his life in Guantanamo Bay for being some sort of radical, unpatriotic, terrorist hell-bent on dismantling the capitalist state and undermining Christian values.

What has changed since Jesus was crucified by the establishment 2,000 years ago?

If Jesus appeared today; a long-haired, brown-skinned, kaftan-wearing God-freak, preaching the prioritisation of the poor over the rich, love over hate, peace over war; he'd be ridiculed, abused, crucified.

Ironically, it's rebirthed capitalist Christianity that is the heresy, defending greed and hatred. Those who speak up for love and peace are the true fundamentalists, preaching and delivering the fundamental message of Christ.

For more than 2,000 years, however, the message of love and generosity has been overshadowed by those willing to kill to defend power and wealth in the name of God. Throughout the generations this heresy has been rebadged and sold to the masses in one form or another. And it continues to this day, masquerading as a multitude of Christian doctrine, such as prosperity teaching, Christian or family values, conservatism. Meanwhile, wars are waged in the name of it. Wars against the poor, the homosexual, the abortionist, the Muslim, the Communist and so on.

History is a great teacher, but only to those willing to learn. The rest will repeat the tragic mistakes of the past.

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