We are now just weeks away from the most important election of our lifetimes as Americans, and as Christians. Faced with sagging poll numbers and general unrest within the citizenry, the Republican Party is ratcheting up their usual trump cards, fear, loathing and divisiveness. The calls for fear are coming nearly every day, with new al Qaeda videos being released, designed to scare you to vote GOP. The loathing is also being driven home daily with the calls from GOP leaders to compare anything democrat with terrorism enablers and insisting they have "no plan" even though there own plan amounts to nothing more than rubber stamping an out of control executive branch and removing all checks and balances from our system of government. The divisiveness however is occurring at many levels, as the GOP seeks to divide America into halves; us versus them, liberals versus conservatives, republicans versus democrats, patriots versus cut and runners, and most offensively; Christians versus heathens.
The truth is that the GOP needs the divisiveness in order to win. Their divide and conquer strategy has worked well for them over the past few years, convincing well-intended Americans that their neighbor is the problem attacking the American way of life and not their government which continues to gut all civil liberties from our republic. They have sold the nation the idea that if you do not support the endless bloodshed in Iraq, then somehow you have betrayed your country or have "forgotten the lessons of 911", even though Iraq had nothing to do with 911. They have used their corporate propaganda media machine to turn well reasoned people who think we need to bring our troops home into "cut and runners." They focus group test these phrases to make sure they will resonate with the people. Perhaps we can understand the motivation for political operatives in this deception. They have a lot at stake this November. If the democrats regain control of either house, then accountability comes back into play. The president will no longer have a blank check to do as he wishes. He will have to submit to congressional oversight and checks and balances will be restored, including subpoena power to ensure the truth will once again reign in Washington. That is a lot for republicans to be scared about considering all they have done over the past five years. While it may be understandable why political animals faced with their lies coming home to roost might be willing to pull out all stops, the understanding is less rational when it comes to the Christian leaders in this country.
The LA Times had a revealing article this week. The contents of this article are frightening for those of us who truly understand the Gospel message. Reverend Rick Scarborough for example has designed a mirror agenda to that of the GOP and urges what he calls "Patriot Pastors" to take a "Biblical stand" in promoting this clearly partisan tripe to their congregants. I would ask Reverend Scarborough exactly what verse he finds "waterboarding" in? Exactly where in the Bible does God promote the idea of glorifying the rich at the expense of the poor? Who would Jesus torture?
Scarborough is hardly alone. Focus on the Family has produced an online guide to discussing the election in church and in it they provide this tip, "If a congregant says her top concerns are healthcare and national security, suggest that Jesus would make abortion and gay marriage priorities." First of all the utter vileness of assuming what Jesus would make priority is staggering for an organization that claims to be Christian. Secondly, the number one topic discussed in the Bible is not abortion or homosexuality. With over 3,000 verses, the number one topic God speaks to us about is about protecting the least in society. It is about protecting the poor, downtrodden, and the widows and orphans. Now I know this might disturb Reverend Scarborough or James Dobson because this insistence from God does not fit into their political leanings. The truth is that most Christians vote republican because of their pro-life and anti-gay marriage stands. Unfortunately, because of our failed two party system, you also end up voting for war and increased poverty, two most un-Christian elements. That aside, James Dobson should be ashamed of himself for telling Christians that their own legitimate concerns for healthcare and security are not important to Jesus Christ. The Bible says in 3John 1:2, "Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well." I do not see a disclaimer in this verse that would prohibit good health until gay marriage was outlawed.
The number one priority for Jesus Christ would undoubtedly be protection for the least in society. That is who He ministered to when He walked the earth. That is who he healed and delivered. Psalm 12:5 declares, "Because of the oppression of the weak and the groaning of the needy, I will now arise," says the Lord." I will protect them from those who malign them." Psalm 140:12 echoes this, "I know that the LORD secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy." Jesus Himself said in Luke 12:33-34, "Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." In fact when speaking about the imperative to clothe the naked, feed the hungry, and tend to the sick, Jesus is very clear, "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." It is very clear from reading the Bible that the number one constituency for Jesus Christ was the needy. His number one priority was not in bashing the homosexual, but in protecting the poor. His top concern was not in endless war because in fact He is the Prince of Peace. Perhaps if James Dobson spent more time in the Word of God and less time in meetings with the GOP he would not be led astray so easily. At a recent rally in Pennsylvania, Dobson told a crowd of 3,000 that it would be "downright frightening" if Republicans lost control of Congress. If there's a good Christian on the ballot, he said, failing to vote "would be a sin." Who exactly are these "good Christians", Dobson is referring to? Is he referring to Pat Robertson, who openly calls for the assassination of heads of state he disagrees with despite the Ten Commandments? Maybe he is referring to Jerry Falwell who opined about the war in Iraq, that we should "blow them all to hell in the name of our Lord and Savior." It appears that Dobson forgets what Christ Himself said to someone who called Him "good". Matthew 19:17 states that Jesus said, "And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God..."
Perhaps Dobson is referring to our current president, who at least claims to be a good Christian. I will remind Mr. Dobson what the Word of God actually says. My Bible says that we will know them by their fruit. Exactly what fruit has Mr. Bush produced in his five years in Washington? We have invaded a country that had nothing to do with 911 and killed over 65,000 of it's residents, people I might add that we are charged with spreading the Gospel to, not indiscriminately wiping off the face of the earth. Do those 65,000 souls matter to the Christian right at all? Besides the toll of the war, Mr. Bush actually had to lie to Congress to even get us into the war to begin with. His administration purposefully outed a covert CIA operative, ruining her career and exposing American assets to certain death. At home we now have a president who can choose to arrest me merely for daring to write this article, throw me in jail and force me to have no legal representation or rights as a citizen. He can legally torture me now, waterboard me, run electricity to my genitals, or do whatever he feels fit, as long as my organs do not fail. Is this a Christian value I missed somewhere? Was this in Leviticus? I would challenge any Christian leader, be it Dobson, Scarborough, or anyone to answer how in the world they can vote republican in good conscience after they have now voted to legalize torture in this country. More fruit-bearing from Mr. Bush at home sees that the economy is in shambles. The rich have made out like bandits with America now boasting 269 billionaires. Under Bush's watch however, we have seen 5.4 million more people living in poverty. That is 37 million people living in poverty in this country today. That is a total of nearly 13% of the country living in poverty despite the fact that we are throwing away billions of dollar a day in blowing up a country that had nothing to do with 911. There are 47 million Americans without the healthcare that Mr. Dobson seems so cavalier about. In 2005 alone, 25 million more Americans had to turn to food stamps just to eat. The United States of America is currently ranked number one in poverty for developed nations. I would challenge any Christian leader to tell me Biblically how we can possibly support electing any republicans at this point in light of the scriptural imperative God has placed on protecting the neediest in society.
Leaders from the Christian right have sold out their souls and their congregations for the pro-life movement and gay marriage for several years now. They pretend that those are the only two issues Christians should be voting on. In doing so, they have now crossed a line to infer what Jesus would support. In essence they have made Jesus their own enemy combatant. Their message is not a Christian one. It does not convey the love of Christ, but the divisiveness of the Republican Party. They openly take pride in telling their followers that Jesus would not care about poverty, endless war, the deaths of 65,000 innocent people, lying to go to war, no health coverage, torturing people, and the erosion of civil liberties. They turn a blind eye to the lack of fruit developed over the past five years by their so called, "good Christians", whom they have promoted to run this country into the ground. In doing so they have not looked to scripture and have not stayed to the teachings of Christ. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus specifically told His disciples who is blessed. It included the poor in Spirit, the meek, the merciful and those who mourn. It included the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and those who thirst for righteousness. I ask you honestly America, are these qualities embodied in the people who are currently in control of this country? Do you feel that America behaves meekly, mercifully, and are peacemakers?
When you realize the obvious answer to that question, you must look at who has been in complete and total control of this government for the past five years. They sold you on their pro-life stance and have done nothing to resolve the increase in abortions. They have sold you on their anti-gay marriage stance and have done nothing but pay lip service to it. They do this because if they ever truly resolved these issues they would have nothing left to sell you. They would have nothing left to use to divide you against your American brothers and sisters. They would be forced to have to answer how they can support poverty and war. They would be forced to admit that the actions they have taken are not Christian in nature or in deed.
The Christian right has become the Christian wrong. They smugly infer that they know what Jesus would do, but ignore what Jesus taught. They excuse war and the shedding of innocent blood. They stand in the pulpit, the Holy Desk, where they are supposed to tend to the spiritual needs of their congregations and instead tend to their own political expediency. They have become snake oil salesmen who prefer to write voter guides then devotionals. They spend more time reading emails from the Heritage Foundation then they do reading the Word of God. Perhaps if they spent more time in the Word, they would remember the seven things God hates:
There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him:
1) Haughty Eyes
2) A lying tongue
3) Hands that shed innocent blood
4) A heart that devises wicked schemes
5) Feet that are quick to rush into evil
6) A false witness who pours out lies
7) A man who stirs up dissension among brothers
Unfortunately for GOP leaning Christian leaders, this is the Republican Party platform. They are consistently haughty and have lied to achieve their political and military objectives. They have shed innocent blood in countries that had nothing to do with 911 and continue to brag that they would do nothing differently. They have devised wicked schemes to achieve their objectives, such as tying a minimum wage increase to a repeal of the estate tax and then bragging about it in the House floor. They have rushed into evil too many times with their non-Biblical "shock and awe" campaigns. They have poured out lies and bore false witness against anyone who would dissent, questioning their morality, patriotism and sanity. They have consistently stirred up dissension in this country as that is their goal; to divide us against each other. Divide and conquer.
Now however, they have enlisted the assistance of people who should know better; Christian leaders. They have entered into a most unholy covenant with them. Some are merely led astray and think they are doing the Lord's work but others are merely wolves in sheep's clothing, preying on the vulnerability of their congregations. They dance along the lines of what is legal and what is not. Their congregants come to their churches and place their faith in them because they believe they will hear the Word of God, not the will of man. They should be ashamed of themselves and "good Christians" everywhere need to stand up and remind their pastors that they are there for the spiritual needs of the flock, not the political needs of the Republican Party.
Jesus is no one's enemy combatant. He would not support endless war and the impoverishing of a nation as well as the world. His teachings are about love, forgiveness, tolerance, and helping the neediest in society. The election coming up is crucial for the future of this nation. It is crucial to return Congressional oversight to this country and send a message to both parties, that country comes before party. To Christians, it should also not be about party, but about God. It should be about helping those in society who are the least because as we do that, we do unto Christ. We should remember that well this November, even if some of our Christian leaders have apparently forgotten.