"This is craziness," said Representative John Linder, a Georgia Republican who is the ranking minority member of a House panel on welfare policy. "We're at risk of creating an entire class of people, a subset of people, just comfortable getting by living off the government." (Repeated and highlighted for emphasis: ". . . just comfortable getting by living off the government.") "You don't improve the economy by paying people to sit around and not work. You improve the economy by lowering taxes." (New York Times, January 3; click here=&emc=th&pagewanted=print)
It wasn't until sometime around 1995 that I, a non-believer, began reading the Bible; studying it literally. From Genesis "In the beginning," to the last Amen in Revelation, I read and reread every line, making notes in the margins and underlining passages, then highlighting those passages and tying them to other books and passages that were clearly contradictory; contradictions with parts and passages within the Bible, and with historical, archeological, biological and astronomical evidence. Five times I did that: from beginning to end, every line. I also began researching the history of the religion. I've a bookshelf suffuse with literature; literature from the Roman Catholic Church, literature from Israel, from Cambridge and Oxford and from Princeton and elsewhere; authoritative literature by bishops and by rabbis and by theologians of every stripe, by esteemed archeologists and historians as well.
I wasn't interested in inspiration so much as I was in trying to figure out how it could possibly be that such a disproportionate base of the new Republican majority in the House could claim to be followers of Jesus, yet demonstrate and remonstrate such un-Jesus and manifestly anti-Jesus dispositions. Being, in a word: hypocrites. Utter, damnable hypocrites; something that, by his own words, Jesus loathed. He never said anything about gays or homosexuals, but he sure said a lot that wasn't complimentary about hypocrites.
How could it be, I wondered. Moreover, how dare they be? Nonetheless, there they were, the "family values" vanguard Republican armies of the holier than thous, the gangs of what would come to compose in 2008 Sarah Palin's "real Americans."
They had marched full force into the House of Representatives, to fill the chamber and the land with their evangelizing conservative dicta, their felt and thereby presumed superiority: surely, God's chosen, the elect in waiting. No others they cried loudly and ubiquitously would even be considered to board the train to the promised land. Jerry Falwell was there, front and very much in the center. So was Ted Haggard. And Pat Robertson. And James Dobson.
Oh the zeal to behold! And the deprecating hypocrisy. No form of life was more precious than that of the unborn. Once having departed the birth canal and having breathed Earth's air, then it was "No es mi problema." The attack on the World Trade Center was God's wrath on America for the alleged liberal agenda of promoting universal abortion, for acceptance of gays as human beings with an equal right to equal dignity, for questioning Creationism, for the attempt to limit firearms, for not eliminating the federal estate tax, for not eliminating the corporate income tax, for not cutting yet further the income taxes of those at the highest peaks, that their wealth might trickle down and suckle those under heel, and for the unGodly War on Christmas. Yet, if further proof of God's anger might be needed, there was Hurricane Katrina.
The New York Times article, "Living on Nothing but Food Stamps," that is referenced above, outlines the travail suffered by the millions who have been displaced by the "Great Recession" that commenced in 2007 under George W. Bush, and that was the product of Regan/GOP deregulation-free market works best in every instance/the government can do nothing so shrink it so it can be drowned in a bathtub dicta, and that found its nadir in 2008, as the country's and the world's financial industry collapsed, burying innocents around the globe. (A run-on sentence, but running on and on have been the waves of woe that have crashed upon and drowned tens of millions of Americans.)
The article snap-shots the tens and hundreds of thousands in every state -- SIX MILLION nationally -- who were once the small business entrepreneurs, those business-for-self heroes, the GOP loves to celebrate, but who also have no entitlement to unemployment compensation, and who now subsist 100% on the $200 to $300 they get from food stamps. These are not the Right's Cadillac-driving welfare queens. These are folks who worked hard, but were nonetheless swept to the swirling drain. Today they're living with parents or siblings or friends, or are homeless, scrounging parks and back alleys where they won't be roused by the police, and who have ZERO other income.
With every job opening securing minimally six applicants, and many openings being deluged by thousands of resumes and applicants, it takes a seriously delusional reptilian-hearted person to issue a remark akin to Representative Linder's. But that's the heartlessness and coal-black soul of the Republican Party and of conservative Democrats today. We see and hear it on daily parade across the United States.
However the initial stated purpose behind the unanimous GOP opposition to health care reform was to by-any-means-fair-or-foul, take-no-prisoners, bring down the current administration, the recent rationale ploy is that "We can't afford it." (While not the point of this article, I find it interesting that no such sentiments were sounded by Republicans when Bush wanted his treasury depleting tax cuts and his two wars. Then it was "Reagan proved, deficits don't matter.")
Whether its feeding the poor and caring for the sick, the Jesus-stated mandates don't equivocate. These are moral issues, moral issues reputed to have issued from the lips of the Christ, the fellow to whom an entire religion claims to pay abiding homage; issues and sentiments and commands that at no time were conditioned on whether one "could afford it." The Parable of the Good Samaritan doesn't suggest we should feed the poor or care for the sick . . . unless they happen to be in the U.S. illegally. Matthew 25 doesn't tell the Christian to feed and clothe and care for the sick . . . unless it negatively affects one's stock portfolio.
Do not misunderstand. I am not the one pontificating from any personal Christian association or allegiance to the faith or the fellow. What I am saying is that I've had it, listening to the bellicose crowds and their leaders, all of whom assert they are the "real American" Christians, while out their mouths comes concomitantly the most heinous, hypocritical, anti-Jesus polemic. At least, if you're going to extol policies and philosophies that stand 180-degrees in opposition to what Jesus said you had to do, to follow him, have the moral decency and courage to disavow any association with the guy. Don't be a hypocrite. And don't take me for a fool. Mumbling jumble in a church or elsewhere can no more make one a follower of Jesus than I can be made a sailor simply by reading sea charts on a dock.
Some time ago I engaged an argument with a so-called Christian. I had indicted him as hypocrite. He shot back that I had no right to judge him. At no time was I claiming authority to assign his soul here, there, or anywhere. But I could read dictionary definitions, and I could tell by them whether I was looking at a triangle or a square, and that the characteristics of one absolutely precluded it from being the other. Feeding the poor and caring for the sick are moral matters that no moral person, and sure as hell no Christian, will edge aside for any reason whatsoever.