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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 12/24/10

Was Jesus a Socialist?

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By Robert Bows (about the author)


And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,

Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

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--William Butler Yeats, The Second Coming, 1920


One of the techniques of successful propaganda is to repeat a statement over and over again until people believe it to be true, as any encounter with the media and the pulpit amply demonstrates. So, to transform the world into a sustainable and progressive place, we must deconstruct the underlying lies promulgated by the mouthpieces of plutocratic propaganda, by which they justify the current state of affairs.

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Given the increasing gap between rich and poor, the sharp spike in religious fundamentalism, and the impunity with which corporate-controlled states seize resources to which they have no legitimate claim, one of our first priorities must be to disable the use of religious dogma to justify greed and war.

Since surveys indicate that three-quarters of Americans consider themselves to be Christians, let's begin there. [1]

It has become a tenet of faith for many Christians that they can simultaneously practice their religion and conduct economic affairs in their own self interest. Indeed, ever since the Protestant Reformation arose from the pressures of the Industrial Revolution, the pulpits of Christianity have been used to turn wealth (economic success) into an indication of favor from God.

Let's go back to the source of Christianity and see if such thinking holds up.

The statements attributed to Jesus on the subject of wealth are almost unanimously clear on this, for example:

"You cannot serve God and Mammon." [2] (Matthew 6:19-24)

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The one pre-eminent exception to this is:

"Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's." (Matthew 22:21; Mark 12:17; Luke 20:25.)

As Michael Baigent so astutely documents in The Jesus Papers: Exposing the Greatest Cover-Up in History, [3] Jesus' remarks were carefully couched to respond to this trick question on the part of the Pharisees. Cognizant of the slaughter the Romans had inflicted on Jews that refused to pay taxes to the state, Jesus was seeking to avoid a confrontation over this particular issue. Orthodox fundamentalists may have thought they were tricking Jesus into choosing between supporting Rome (and therefore its taxation) and supporting the indigenous uprising of Judea, but Jesus' response was a trick as well. Showing consistency with his earlier remarks that "You cannot serve God and Mammon," he tells the Pharisees to take the coin with Caesar's image and give it back to Caesar. In such a remark, Jesus shows his contempt for the empire, while avoiding incarceration and torture over this point. He had bigger fish to fry before the climax of his mission.

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Television producer/writer/director, political economist, learning consultant, metaphysician, yogi, theatre reviewer, boardmember of the Public Banking Institute, and pseudonymous author of and "Solomon's Proof: A (more...)
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