Travis Rowley: Rise of the Religious Left
Saturday, November 26, 2011
“Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” – Jesus Christ, Matthew 7:6
What happened to “a separation between church and state?” “Keep your Rosaries off my ovaries,” anyone?
For years, the Left has confounded Americans with their ludicrous argument for secular totality, their insistence that one’s religion should have no bearing at all on public policy. In fact, painting Republicans as mindless “Bible thumpers” has done wonders to augment Democratic power over the years.
Recently, however, it seems a torrent of leftists have been preaching about Jesus Christ’s apparent time as a community organizer for big-government socialism – more particularly, that Jesus would be standing beside today’s Occupy protesters, as local Reverend Harry Rix of the United Methodist Church recently declared.
Despite the absurdity of this claim, why would the teachings of Christ be suddenly summoned and embraced by American liberals? When it comes to public policy, why would Christ’s teachings matter at all to them?
As this writer has warned many times, it’s because the Left has no principles but power. Nothing is sacred, save the advancement of leftism.
Religion Informs Government Policy
The Left’s message regarding the role of religion is not only wavering, but also ignorant and misguided. One’s worldview – that is, one’s religion – cannot help but influence public policy. Over and over again, the nation’s high courts have ruled that even atheism – or “secular humanism” – constitutes a religion, as it is an overarching perspective that instructs how people will run their lives and establish their societies.
In other words, removing the Ten Commandments from American courtrooms does nothing to remove them from American hearts. The Left’s attack on religion – Christianity in particular – has always been more politically correct than sensible; more about symbolism than substance; more about making sure everyone “feels comfortable” than about correctly implementing the First Amendment.
But the ignorance isn’t as annoying as the inconsistency. Democrats’ political gains throughout the years have largely been caused by their self-aggrandizing insistence that they possess the moral high ground. Referring to Republicans as holier-than-thou hypocrites – selfish and greedy simply by their refusal to submit to redistributive policies – has always implied that Democrats represent a kinder and more compassionate people. And what else, other than religion, could cause this self-perception?
Who is Truly Christian?
Scores of scholars recognize the fact that Judeo-Christian principles were crucial in the crafting of the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution. These are the documents that dealt a crushing blow to all forms of statism, designed and/or ratified by many wise and highly-educated Christians.
Yet, these are the documents that represent the limited government that leftists would have us believe is cruel, and antithetical to the teachings of Christ. In fact, the US Constitution is the document that President Obama has expressed a desire to “break free from” in order to “ventur[e] into the issues of redistribution of wealth…political and economic justice in this society.”
Individual freedom – a concept unavoidably infringed upon by socialism – is a priority of the Christian faith. One will notice that, in regards to the First Amendment, Christians were the ones who carved into law the idea that no one would be forced to be a Christian.
With their own laws, can American leftists make similar claims?
You must buy insurance! You must join a union! You must give up your property! You must keep your Boeing factory in the State of Washington!
And, just weeks ago, didn’t the Occupy Movement release its own list of “demands?”
An Old Playbook
The Left’s politicization of religion is, actually, not new. It’s just that a sympathetic media has always been willing to overlook the Left’s library of double standards.
In a 2006 radio interview, President Obama’s spiritual advisor Jim Wallis was asked if he was “calling for the redistribution of wealth in society?” Wallis replied, “Absolutely, without any hesitation. That's what the gospel is all about.” No liberal discomfort ensued from Wallis’ overt mingling of his church and the state.
Obama’s longtime pastor Reverend Wright has made it well-known that his sermons, which never fail to promote modern political objectives, are entirely rooted in Black Liberation Theology, a philosophy repeatedly condemned by Pope John Paul II who recognized it for what it was – Marxism disguised as Christianity. Black Liberation Theology’s leading theorist is James Cone, who has written, “What we need is the destruction of whiteness, which is the source of human misery in the world.” Cone considers whites to be “the devil,” and believes that “all white men are responsible for white oppression.”
Yes, the Mormonism of Mitt Romney was of such great concern in 2008. But it was out-of-bounds – indeed, racist – for anyone to point to the Marxist hatred that Barack Obama had immersed himself in for over twenty years.
Similar to many radical outfits that have recast themselves as merely “progressive,” the National Council of Churches (NCC) started out in the 1950s as an unapologetic Communist advocacy group that would place clergy members at the forefront of socialist parades and protests in order to establish Christian legitimacy. On its website, the RI State Council of Churches names the NCC as a close affiliate, and proudly proclaims their dedication to “economic and social justice” (read: redistribution of wealth, socialism).
Rhode Islanders might also be interested to know that Reverend Harry Rix’s United Methodist Church is an active member of the RI State Council of Churches.
Today’s Lesson: Leftists are hardly ever who they portend to be.
As for the liberals who are suddenly jumping on the Christian bandwagon, the ignorance of those who have been disparaging Christianity for decades – coining phrases such as “Jesus Freak” – can often be too astounding to bear. For anyone with anything more than a childhood understanding of Jesus’ life – for anyone who has intellectually developed beyond the simple peacenik image of a man who told everyone to just be nice to one another – the Left’s manipulation of Jesus Christ can range anywhere from laughable to infuriating.
At the expense of other Biblical passages that progressives cite as evidence of Jesus’ Marxist sympathies, the Gospels speak of a wealthy man who asked Jesus, “What good thing must I do to get eternal life?” The man “went away sad” after Jesus told him to give all of his possessions to the poor – “then come, follow me” (Matthew 19:21).
You’ll never learn this down at Burnside Park, but it is glaringly noticeable within the text that Jesus never ordered his disciples to capture the fleeing man and take his possessions. And Jesus certainly never advocated for the Roman government to spread the rich man’s wealth around.
In Jesus, we find love and liberty. Never force or tyranny.
If there is a spiritual lesson within the New Testament that may instruct our modern politics, it is that man-made government cannot save man’s soul. “With man this is impossible,” Jesus told his disciples. “But with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
Perhaps Christ would have been pleased with conservative commentator Dennis Prager’s assessment: “The bigger the government, the worse the citizen. They are preoccupied in Europe with how much time off, where will they vacation, when will they retire. These are selfish questions.”
The theme of liberty is so palpable within the Scriptures that to ignore it must be purposeful. To simplify Jesus of Nazareth as a socialist can only be a shallow political ploy, not a sincere lauding of the man who “came not to send peace, but a sword”(Matthew 10:34).
Travis Rowley (TravisRowley.com) is chairman of the RI Young Republicans and a consultant for the Barry Hinckley Campaign for US Senate.
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