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Would Jesus Be a Neoconservative?

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What is a neoconservative and would Jesus be one? My dictionary defines neo as "a new and different period or form of something". It can also mean "an abnormal new formation". Conservative, as it relates to politics, means "of or relating to a political party, point of view, or philosophy that advocates preservation of the established order and views proposals for change critically and usually with distrust."

The dictionary gives a general understanding of the term, but observation of how this "new conservative" political philosophy operates brings us to some disturbing conclusions. The cynically effective manner in which neocons have co-opted traditional Christianity while practicing a cutthroat amoral domestic and foreign policy is a grievous travesty to both God and country. They wave the flag and wrap themselves in seemingly holy robes of righteousness while defiling the most basic principles of social integrity, traditional religious values and justice. Their policies do not reflect true conservatism, genuine patriotism, or fundamental Christianity.

So, would Jesus be a neoconservative? From what is revealed of Jesus Christ in the four gospels, the answer is absolutely not. Jesus was born into an extremely conservative Jewish family and culture that lived under Roman rule. He brought an entirely new perspective and approach to God's kingdom and citizenship. His new message was preached without contempt for the Law and the Prophets and without denying his Jewish heritage yet he advocated for a radical departure from the status quo. He could possibly be called a neo-Jew, but certainly not a conservative or a neoconservative.

His advocacy for change provoked a critical and distrusting attitude among his conservative critics. The actions taken by the religious and governmental authorities of the day were harshly unyielding and resulted in the crucifixion of the pacifist Jesus. Jesus was understandably viewed as a threat because throngs of the lowly and common people gathered with him and clamored for him to be their King.

No, Jesus would not be associated with these "neocon artists" who have brought his name into such disrepute. He would identify them as hypocrites, liars and thieves. He would call them unto repentance and reject their overtures of rewards for his endorsement. He would never be complicit in their schemes. He would rebuke American religious shepherds who have traded their souls for a few political perks in return for validating the nefarious policies and schemes of the neocon politicians.

The Republican form of government evident today is not the same conservative political party from yesteryear. I wonder why the conservative trait of "preserving the existing order" did not arise to prevent the takeover of the GOP by the neocon movement. Republican lack of effective resistance has resulted in this "abnormal new formation" which is a perversion of genuine conservatism.

A cozy relationship with big business is one of the few traditional features of classic conservatism remaining in our current government. This is revealed in a variety of ways ranging from tax cuts for the wealthy to the loosening of environmental constraints on industry. However, conservative fiscal responsibility is abandoned when it comes to government spending. This is most evidenced by the federal subsidizing of corporate welfare. Democrats are typically criticized for being tax and spend liberals, but Republican spending continues to produce the greatest deficits in our history.

The beginning recession toward the end of the Clinton era cannot be blamed for the oceans of red ink now sinking our economy. Tax cuts and the subsequent pillaging of the United States Treasury for an unnecessary war is solely Bush's responsibility. Meanwhile, funding of programs for the poor and elderly are being slashed. The astronomical debt we now carry is the neocon gift to America's future generations.

Republicans trumpet their conservative approach to governing as being strong on defense while Democrats are painted as weak. The Rumsfeld philosophy of streamlining the military into a highly mobile, but undermanned fighting force has proven to be a disaster in the Middle East. Bush's wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the ongoing occupation of those two countries have grossly depleted our military resources. It is doubtful America could now offer an adequate conventional military response if a genuine threat to our national security arose. This dangerously increases the likelihood of resorting to nuclear brinkmanship as precipitous international tensions mount. Unfortunately, this is further evidence of the neocon philosophy failing to deliver in an area where traditional conservatives and even "weak liberals" would certainly have performed better.

America was once viewed by other nations as having an enviable form of democracy, steeped in nobility and freedom. Oppressed people of the world looked to our nation for hope and found inspiration and courage to strive for a better way of life. This image endured through conservative and liberal tenures of leadership in spite of scandals like Watergate and Monicagate. Now, the masses look on in disillusionment and with growing anger as the neocon-governed America arrogantly swaggers, threatens and wages war on nations posing her no peril. Civilized people grieve over the American abandonment of treaties that ensure decent treatment for prisoners of war and treaties mandating conformity to clean air standards. They examine a Christian image, tainted by a coalition with the greedy and heartless neoconservative powers of America, and recognize hypocrisy in its most glaring form.

There are very few words starting with "con" associated with Jesus. Conscience, concern, console, and consecration comfortably fit with his nature. However, many words beginning with "con" aptly apply to neoconservatives. Conspiracy, connive, confuse, conquer, contaminate, conceal, conceit, condescend, and contempt are just a few. Perhaps Condoleeza should also be on the list. Hopefully, we will soon be seeing confronted, convicted, confined, and conclusion in this same context.

Don't let anyone fool you. Jesus is not a conservative and He is certainly not a neoconservative.
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Gary Vance is an evangelical pastor/writer living in rural Tennessee. He is the author of "Wasn't Jesus a Liberal?" and other published essays.
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