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For a number of years now, I have held my tongue, not asking questions that have nagged at me, out of respect for some conservative friends and family I have managed to not yet alienate. I have hinted around the edges of the question of Christian conservatism and compassion for our fellow man, but I felt that posing them, especially in a public forum such as Facebook, would be an action from which I could not step back. Yes, there have been acquaintances I have questioned, such as the teacher I used to work with. He is now a public school principal and, as a very strict Catholic, he is openly anti-gay. After reading one of his anti-Obama and anti-gay diatribes on Facebook, I privately messaged him to ask whether he thought it was a good idea for him to publicly post such messages. Predictably, he responded aggressively, and asked why I would think gay marriage was OK and that he hoped that I would come back to Jesus Christ our Lord soon. But generally, I try to keep quiet to keep the peace. Somewhat.

But no more. The cognitive dissonance I see around me every day in my family, friends, acquaintances and coworkers makes it very hard for me to be silent. It seems that in today's society, it is more acceptable to demand that the poor get drug tested for food stamps or get thrown off welfare even when they have young children in the home, than it is to ask if these are Christian values.  It is the Forbidden Question to ask if Jesus would have cared for the poor,  or thrown them into the streets. It is Forbidden to ask if Jesus thought the poor were lazy bastards, or if he said we will be judged by what we do to the least among us. The conservatives I know twist themselves into pretzels when the mirror of Christian social conscience, so prevalent in the 1960s and 70s, is held up to their faces.

I don't think this is fueled by personal selfishness, since many of those who hold these beliefs are themselves on some sort of social program. Part of this attitude, I believe, comes from the lack of critical thinking in our society, which has been nurtured by media like Fox News and commentators like Limbaugh and Hannity. When I gently ask people what will happen to those thrown off welfare if they fail a drug test, they merrily assure me that they will be fine. When I  have pushed the issue, and asked what will happen to their children should they lose food stamps, oh, dear, the conversation gets uncomfortable for them now!  Suggestions such as, "Let the kids get food stamps, but not the parents," cause me to further question as to how a 2 year old can go shopping for food and make sure Mom doesn't get any. This angers people. They don't like to have their prejudices examined. When I have called Sean Hannity on a few occasions and asked him, after getting him to promise to not cut my mike, to be honest with his listeners and admit that every policy he promotes will put more money  into his millionaire pockets and harm the lower and middle classes, he goes ballistic. Do not rip the masks off the faces of the propagandists, please. It is bad form and manners.

But for me, it is time to ask. I will ask my friends and neighbors, family and coworkers, if they think Jesus would want tax cuts for the rich, or a safety net for the elderly? Would Jesus want to cut off welfare for the poor so the top 2% could keep their hard earned money (and many of the wealthy in our country DO work very hard) so they can take an extra vacation to Vail? What will happen to the poor when cut loose? Will we look like India, with families owning a cardboard box and a piece of sidewalk? Do the conservative christians even care if this is the consequence of policies they boldly promote on their Facebook pages? What does a society look like that believes the poor are poor because of moral failings, not hard luck, and that Jesus would give them an extra kick when they are down? Hostile questions? Well, it's time.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Please report back on the responses! (7+ / 0-)

    This is a very brave thing to do.  It's about time conservative Christians start facing themselves.

    Cats are better than therapy, and I'm a therapist.

    by Smoh on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 06:23:03 AM PST

  •  I have the same thoughts. (12+ / 0-)

    How can someone who claims to be a Christian support tax cuts for the rich while taking away Medicare, Social Security, food and health care for the poor?  

    Can anyone really imagine Jesus as the champion of Wall Street and global corporations?  Can anyone really imagine Jesus approving of the hoarding of trillions in wealth while his children are sick and hungry?  

    Those questions should be uppermost in Christian congregations through the Christmas season.

    “The future depends entirely on what each of us does every day.” Gloria Steinem

    by ahumbleopinion on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 06:24:25 AM PST

  •  Jesus was/is a Liberal, too . . . (10+ / 0-)

    Just as Republicans are brazenly proud of being "The Party of Lincoln" (even as they do many things he would never have done, and even as they ignore the fact that Lincoln would likely weep over the GOP's "southern strategy"), conservatives want to claim that Jesus is the ultimate conservative, when, actually, if he were political at all, he'd be judged as a liberal for his words and for his actions.

    •  Pfft! (5+ / 0-)

      That's just a bad translation of the Bible telling you that. Don't you know anything? That's why we're creating a bold, new version

      Cough. Gasp. Wow, trying to write like a know-nothing Republican hypocrite is tough. Here's some choice "thinking" from the project creators

      The earliest, most authentic manuscripts of the Gospel According to Luke lack this verse fragment set forth at the start of Luke 23:34:
      Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."
      Is this a corruption of the original, perhaps promoted by liberals without regard to its authenticity? This does not appear in any other Gospel, and the simple fact is that some of the persecutors of Jesus did know what they were doing. This quotation is a favorite of liberals, although it does not appear in the earliest and best manuscripts of the Gospel of Luke. It should not appear in a conservative Bible, because in point of fact Jesus might never had said it at all.
      Apparently the Church of the 4th and 5th centuries was a hot bed of liberal activism since passage like that have been in every version of the Bible since then.

      But wait! It gets better. You don't like Scrooge-like business practices are frowned on in the Bible? Well, just pick a new translation and "Viola!"

      At Luke 16:8, the NIV describes an enigmatic parable in which the "master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly." But is "shrewdly", which has connotations of dishonesty, the best term here? Being dishonestly shrewd is not an admirable trait.

      The better conservative term, which became available only in 1851, is "resourceful". The manager was praised for being "resourceful", which is very different from dishonesty. Yet not even the ESV, which was published in 2001, contains a single use of the term "resourceful" in its entire translation of the Bible.

      I do think the Bible may have predicted one part of the future correct. If Jesus saw what Republicans are doing to the needy then John 11:35 would be accurate... "Jesus wept"

      To me progress is not so much a goal as it is a process and I believe it will not follow a straight course. Remember, the drops of water that form the river may not take the shortest path but they will still reach the ocean.

      by ontheleftcoast on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 06:47:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Re: Jesus was a liberat (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      adigal, Killer of Sacred Cows

      Yea, verily! Thou hast spoken the truth.

      "The water won't clear up 'til we get the hogs out of the creek." -- Jim Hightower

      by lartwielder on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 12:28:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Not hostile, important. (8+ / 0-)

    This is very much in the spirit of Christianity (ironically). The Biblical prophets felt similar outrage, and they weren't shy about expressing it.

    "Stop bringing meaningless offerings!
        Your incense is detestable to me.
    New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations—
        I cannot bear your worthless assemblies.
    When you spread out your hands in prayer,
        I hide my eyes from you;
    even when you offer many prayers,
        I am not listening.
    Your hands are full of blood!
    Wash and make yourselves clean.
        Take your evil deeds out of my sight;
        stop doing wrong.
    Learn to do right; seek justice.
        Defend the oppressed.
    Take up the cause of the fatherless;
        plead the case of the widow."

    (From Isaiah 1)

    •  I prefer the Magnificat myself... (6+ / 0-) being Advent and all.

      “My soul glorifies the Lord
        and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
      for he has been mindful
        of the humble state of his servant.
      From now on all generations will call me blessed,
        for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
          holy is his name.
      His mercy extends to those who fear him,
        from generation to generation.
      He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
        he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
      He has brought down rulers from their thrones
        but has lifted up the humble.
      He has filled the hungry with good things
        but has sent the rich away empty.

      He has helped his servant Israel,
        remembering to be merciful
      to Abraham and his descendants forever,
        just as he promised our ancestors.”

      From Luke 1, emphasis mine

      "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

      by JamesGG on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 07:11:00 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Damn straight, Isaiah. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      suesue, Eowyn9, Killer of Sacred Cows

      Pious hypocrites: another group that's been with us since, roughly, ever.

  •  Because "Christian" only signifies their "tribe," (8+ / 0-)

    their subcultural social grouping; and it gets really, really fine grained.

    They have simply adopted a Western Cultural form in a very limited context, limited it even further away from actual teachings in the book they pretend to worship and use it for selfish and "tribal" identification. Look closely and the worst will define people actually using the "red text" New Testament teachings in their congregations as not real Christians.

    It is an old, old story. A story of almost all religions. Some teaching of good is quickly perverted into a way to persecute or isolate others.

    By all means push back, but do not expect much. These folks long, long ago abandoned any desire to actually follow the teachings that some of their holy books print in red letters signifying quotation of their supposed namesake.

    As for the public employee, in an education setting, posting hate messages on his Facebook pages? Maybe a civil rights group or lawyer could do some "push back" and put him in the unemployment line. He doesn't belong in public education pushing his "religious" prejudices.

    The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

    by pelagicray on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 06:40:36 AM PST

    •  I know, I was stunned to see how brazen he is (2+ / 0-)

      These folks got riled up during the election season. I don't even think they cared about what they were putting out there.

      My dog is a member of Dogs Against Romney: He rides inside.

      by adigal on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 07:20:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  This type of "Christian" is just a "cleaned up," (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Killer of Sacred Cows

        less individually coarse version of the [Mali Islamist] and might get pretty close if there were not a government that had not completely failed (yet anyway).

        But as a reward for loyalty, the Islamists have found a religious loophole. They have encouraged their fighters to marry women and girls, some as young as 10, and often at gunpoint. After sex, they initiate a quick divorce. In an extreme case that has shocked the country, a girl in Timbuktu was forced last month to “marry” six fighters in one night, according to a report in one of Mali’s biggest newspapers.
        A far nastier form of the sequential tearful confessions, the cries for forgiveness and "Jesus has forgiven me" we see in so many of the religious scam/right movement here.

        The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

        by pelagicray on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 09:39:31 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Great Diary (5+ / 0-)

    I would just quibble with this statement:

    I don't think this is fueled by personal selfishness, since many of those who hold these beliefs are themselves on some sort of social program.
    I believe that it is personal selfishness to believe that I deserve help while condemning others that receive it.

    If the Republicans ever find out that Barack Obama favors respiration, we'll be a one-party system inside two minutes. - Alan Lewis

    by MadRuth on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 06:47:18 AM PST

  •  Because they're Paulists, not Christians. (5+ / 0-)

    Witness their obsession with "Converting" others and being "saved".  

    Hostility to GLBTQ folks, Check...

    Obsessed with a wrathful god who doesn't take shit from nobody?  Check.

    Yeah, but they get to call Paul Jesus, and therefore in America, it's cool.

    I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

    by detroitmechworks on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 06:50:06 AM PST

    •  While Ron Paul may be their current prophet (3+ / 0-)

      these folks actually harken back to Calvinism. No, not Calvin and Hobbes, the real one -- John Calvin. In a nutshell Calvin said, "Why bother? God's Will is absolute. Free will is a myth" With American Christians it's morphed into a form were the logic goes, "If you're struggling that means god is testing or punishing you so you should accept that and try harder, God wants you to succeed so obviously you're doing something wrong (sinning)." followed by "If I'm successful that means God is pleased with my me and I should continue doing just what I have been". As you can see they still write everything off as "God's Will" and if you ask them to change then you're asking them to disobey God. In shot, good luck getting them to change their ways.

      To me progress is not so much a goal as it is a process and I believe it will not follow a straight course. Remember, the drops of water that form the river may not take the shortest path but they will still reach the ocean.

      by ontheleftcoast on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 07:04:00 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Of course they're Christians (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      adigal, suesue

      Paul, for all his faults, was still a Christian, wasn't he?
      Religionists have ALWAYS picked and chosen what they want or don't want in the bible. Churches from time immemorial have changed and added and subtracted and translated to the point where it probably has very little resemblance to the original text.

      “We are not a nation that says ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ We are a nation that says ‘out of many, we are one.’” -Barack Obama

      by skohayes on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 07:13:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  My right wing brother (4+ / 0-)

    says that the homeless are homeless because they choose to be.  That's a win-win attitude:  it promotes freedom and you don't have to feel bad about shredding the safety net.

  •  When the Republican party usurped Jesus (5+ / 0-)

    the  facade began to crumble. I am a non-believer, and I see the same crumbling facade when a football team prays to Jesus that their team be victorius, or, more brutally, when an army marches into battle armed not only with heinous weapons, but prayers to God for victory. A carefully constructed facade is crumbling, for all to see. When a Republican party exploits Jesus for it's own purposes, it is no different than a politician kissing a baby. Jesus has become a prop. However, the ideas of Jesus, i.e., altruism, turning the other cheek, "I am my brother's keeper," are ideas that will never die, ideas that are, in fact, necessary for our survival as a species.

    I admire you, adigal, for reminding people, who would claim the mantle of Jesus, of the ideas they have forsaken.

  •  The scariest thing is why in fuck's sake (4+ / 0-)

    should anything that somebody who lived 2000 years possibly matter ?

    Until we get past that mentality, pretty much everything else is small potatos.

    Or potatoes, heck I'm no Dan Quayle, I don't know how to spell like him.

    •  It matters because (4+ / 0-)

      the Jewish kid had some interesting ideas about how we should treat one another, ideas which out Republican friends ignore

      Join the War on Thinking. Watch Fox News- John Lucas

      by Jlukes on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 07:44:05 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Huh, and nobody else or even simple (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Killer of Sacred Cows

        logic or common sense have come up with the same principle?

        Seriously, basically everything attributed to JHC and other parts of the bible are simply plagarized/adapted from elsewhere.

        Which I have no problem with - considering that there is no doubt a lot to be learned by an ever accumulating body of collective wisdom.

        But still, isn't it time to move on from the fantasy that an imaginary being in the sky came up with this all, and accept it for what it is?

  •  This sums up the reason (5+ / 0-)

    “The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.”

    - John Kenneth Galbraith

  •  Two thoughts (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cassandra Waites, suesue

    1. Most religious people engage in hypocrisy (most humans do, of course)
    2. The Christian Left does exist

    My wife belongs to a liberal Catholic church. No one is more appalled by the things done in the name of Christ than she.

    Two facts that I like to remind people of:

    99% of Americans are in favor of contraception
    98% of American Catholics are in favor of contraception

    I have no citation, but it illustrates a point.

  •  Long past time for these hard questions! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    People who wish to claim to be Christians should be familiar - and comfortable - with Jesus' beliefs.

    Weird how that so often isn't true...

    Satan is laughing!

    The Fail will continue until actual torches and pitchforks are set in motion. -

    by No one gets out alive on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 07:54:15 AM PST

  •  Spin, Spin, Spin (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    How can a Roman Catholic justify their doctrinal positions vs. the bible?

    How can a Pentecostal? A Southern Baptist? A Northern Baptist? An Apostolic Jesus Only? A .... fill in the blank.

    People simply take their own secular beliefs and cultural beliefs and either find a denomination that matches them or spins the beliefs of the denomination that's the closest until they feel comfortable with it.

    Presbyterians pray to their god concerning the baptist of babies and get the word that it's correct. Baptists pray to their god and get the word that it's incorrect. Since there is no god it's easy to do.

    Often, good people – called Liberals – look at the the evil that believers believe and that believers do and think it conflicts with the believers beliefs. Naw. The believers spin and "interpret" and delete until everything meshes together.

    There are people who believe in good and do good. There are people who believe in evil and do evil. And there are a gadzillion variations between them. The "religious beliefs" thing is so malleable and spin-able that it doesn't really count for much.

    Good people emphasize the good parts of any sacred text, and selfish people emphasize the parts that promote selfishness, and so on. It's the people, not the "sacred" text written by Bronze Age primitives, that make the difference.

    One really evil part of religion is when it takes a normal person, suckers them in, then applies all manner of radical right wing evil on them by describing it as bible based. Those folks desperately need to be rescued.

    Good luck with your decision. You might get somewhere. There are good people inside some Right Wing religious factors who got there by mistake, and it's possible to slowly help them out of it.

    A Southerner in Yankeeland

  •  Re: The Ultimate Oxymoron (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Hola Adigal,

    I've had this burr under  my saddle for a long time too. It got to the point sometime late last spring that I started digging around to see if I could figure out what gives. As k88dad said, there are what I call Capital-C Christians around. But they are in the minority. After much stumbling around, I found a book written by a psychologist who had been studying people who have what is called the authoritarian worldview. The name of the book is "The Authoritarians" and it can be found on his web site here. I think it will shed a whole lot of light on what's giving you such indigestion . . . :) No, I don't think - I know it will. It put everything in perspective for me. I understand what's going on now. It doesn't necessarily make me fee better . . . matter of fact it scares the bejeezus out of me, but at least I know what's going on.

    Good luck on your quest. Good luck with your windmill . . .  :) And I only mean that in the warmest way. I'm surrounded by them myself . . .  :)

    "The water won't clear up 'til we get the hogs out of the creek." -- Jim Hightower

    by lartwielder on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 12:51:24 PM PST

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