Recently my wife unearthed some old The Signal newspapers, one of which contained a letter to the editor I had written. The Signal printed that letter on May 17th, 1996. The first thing that struck me was that I had been bothering the good citizens of Santa Clarita for a long time. The second thing was that the more things change, the more they stay the same. First, the letter:
What Would Jesus Do
Imagine if Jesus Christ were alive today. How would he view some of the issues that face mortal humans today? I believe he would oppose abortion, though he might favor some abortions if they were to save a mother’s life.
I do not think he could, in good conscience, support the death penalty. Can any of you picture the Son of God using a hangman’s noose? I can’t even imagine him using his carpentry skills to build a scaffold. Having once been unjustly accused and put to death himself, it is hard to believe he would support a system that would allow this to happen again.
Now think of Jesus giving the Sermon on the Mount, extolling the virtues of semiautomatic weapons. Difficult to picture? “The meek shall inherit the earth.” But it might be easier if they had the firepower to kill 20 or more people with one pull of a trigger.
Would Jesus want a world where everybody was carrying a concealed weapon? Would Jesus own a handgun? Turn the other cheek, indeed. But if you still feel threatened, go ahead and shoot. If Jesus and his apostles had been armed, maybe the Romans would have thought twice about arresting him. After all, the noblest use of a weapon now seems to be to protect us from an unjust and obtrusive government.
Would Jesus refuse medical treatment and education to children because their skin was a different color or their parents were born on the wrong side of an imaginary line? His mother had to give birth in a barn because of discrimination. In 2000 years, have we learned nothing?
How would he feel about the homeless and the poor? Refuse to help them because they cannot help themselves, or keep trying until we find solutions to raise their lives to a humane and just level?
Would Jesus see it as a waste of taxes to give single mothers a subsistence allowance? Or would he favor giving that money back to the wealthy (or just well-off) and hope it trickles down to the poor?
I believe Jesus would oppose abortion, the death penalty, automatic weapons and an armed populace. This Jesus would be in favor of programs that help the poor, the homeless and children of all races and nationalities. Jesus would expect people to use their wealth and good fortune to help those less fortunate.
Today, Jesus would be a liberal Democrat. After all, we already know how he feels about early Republicans. He threw them out of the temple for defiling his Father’s house with their greed and money.
Christians who favor the right-wing agenda are hypocrites in the same vein as Pharisees. The Pharisees had Jesus put to death for purely political reasons. His philosophy of love and accommodation drew a following that threatened their power base.
The secular goals of the majority of citizens of the United States threaten the religious right, who favor Biblical laws and strive to make them the law of the United States. Our Founding Fathers were correct. Church and state should be kept separate.
Rereading this letter, I still believe modern Jesus would be a Democrat. There is zero chance Jesus, a bleeding heart advocate for the poor, who eschewed violence and preached peace, love and equality, could win a primary in today’s Republican Party. Good luck getting that message approved and amplified by Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity and the other professional dividers of the Right.
In 2013 both Republicans and Democrats feel as if something has gone seriously off the rails, but 17 years ago we were still debating the same issues that face us today. The political battle still rages. I’m not sure what that says about our government except that it has fought itself to a standstill, even while its citizens suffer. Checks and balances, indeed.