Eighty-five percent of Americans identify themselves as Christians, as followers of Jesus Christ. Jesus taught us to love our neighbors, love our enemies, and to forgive seventy times seven, not to punish and retaliate. As Jim Wallis and Sojourners magazine repeatedly point out, Jesus was nonviolent, healing people and raising them from the dead rather than maiming and killing as the "Christian" government of the US is doing.
How can we understand this schizophrenia, this refusal to see the contradiction between Biblical teachings and "faith-based" actions of the US government? Many Christians do see it; why are they not denouncing the false Christians from the rooftops, and reclaiming Jesus and the Bible?
Recently I gave a talk at the Tikkun-sponsored conference for spiritual progressives in Berkeley. My talk was entitled "Therefore, choose life: reframing Revelation". The audience consisted of 50 or so, mostly mature Christians- ministers, deacons, missionaries.
By contrast, the "Christian Coalition" firmly believes that we ARE in the end-times. They deal with the terror this engenders by believing that in voting for Bush and his endless war they are fulfilling God's will, which is to destroy life on earth, according to their interpretation of prophecy. The false prophets of the rapture cult promise them dispensation for their crimes against humanity and a free ride to heaven on the slippery blood of the innocent victims of their "shock and awe".
According to Tim LaHaye, Franklin Graham, Pat Robertson and their ilk, the returning Jesus is a god of wrath, who like the tribal deity of the Jews in the Old Testament, grants victory in combat to those who worship Him properly, and delights in the blood of unbelievers, or followers of the "false prophet" Mohammed. They conveniently forget that Jesus replaced the Mosaic covenant, which was based on obeying the law and punishment for transgression, with a new covenant based on love and forgiveness.
It was only 50 years ago that Martin Luther King, Jr., filled with the Holy Spirit, led the US out of the slavery of prejudice and segregation. He, more than any other leader, inspired us to grow in spirit and embrace one another as brothers and sisters, no matter what our color or background. Like Jesus, King was martyred for speaking truth to power and demanding justice for all.
Have we forgotten King's Christian leadership so soon? Have we not taught our children about pacificism and nonviolent protesting?
Psalm 145: 4One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts.
13Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth
throughout all generations.
King was killed, but his legacy lives on. It was Rep. John Conyers who made sure we would not forget him by making his birthday a national holiday. Now Rep. Conyers, along with other members of the Progressive Caucus in Congress, is demanding truth and justice for the US, laying the groundwork for impeachment of the criminals in high office.
God's rules have not changed. It is not OK to lie to the country in order to start an illegal war. It is not OK to pollute the gene pool forever with radioactive particles. It is not OK to slaughter innocents, using horrible weapons like napalm. It is not OK to use one's high office to enrich oneself and one's cronies.
Unlike the citizens of the Roman empire and of medieval Europe, who were told that kings had "divine right" to rule, and should not be challenged, the citizens of the US have, vested in us, the authority and responsibility to ensure honest government. If the officials in power are not truthful, and are serving themselves rather than we the people, our Constitution allows us to impeach them.
The sooner justice is done, the sooner the "endless war on terror" will end. The sooner Bush and Cheney are impeached, the sooner the US can rejoin the community of nations to work on global problems of pollution, shortages, catastrophes in a peaceful, cooperative manner.