5 ways the Christian right is twisting religion to push conservative dogma

Dec 2006
26,945
12,290
New Haven, CT


What would Jesus do? Let poor people starve, if these guys are to be believed

The classic understanding of the relationship between social and economic conservatives is simple: Social conservatives are often understood as dupes who let their obsession with controlling other people’s sex lives convince them to vote Republican, often against their own economic interest. This was what President Obama was getting at when he said that working-class whites who vote Republican “cling to guns or religion.”

There’s some truth to that, but if you start to dig a little deeper, it turns out that the Christian right doesn’t just bait believers into voting against their economic interests. On the contrary, the Christian right works fairly hard at trying to create theological arguments to support economic policies Republicans champion, such as slashing the social safety net or allowing unfettered capitalism to rapidly expand income inequality and environmental damage.

Here are the various ways Christian right leaders glaze over the Jesus of the Bible and push their followers to worship one who looks a little more like a Nazarene Ayn Rand.

1) Arguing that Jesus was a capitalist. By and large, the “loaves and fishes” man portrayed in the New Testament can in no honest way be reconciled with the aggressively capitalist attitude of modern Republicans, which holds that profit should never be constrained by concerns such as human rights and basic dignity for all. So conservatives are usually just elusive on the subject. However , Pope Francis’s recent comments regarding the excesses of capitalism have created some pushback on the right.

The favorite argument is that the Pope just doesn’t understand Christianity, which is totally pro-capitalist, no matter how excessive it gets. Ramesh Ponnuru blithely suggested that the Pope’s remarks show that the Pope just doesn’t understand “markets could instead enable a creative form of community” and that more “evangelizing still needs to be done” to convince the Pope that real Christians should embrace capitalism. Never mind that Pope Francis is from Argentina, where the “creative form of community” brought on by an eagerly capitalist, anti-socialist government was expressed through the creative disappearance of people whose left-wing politics were a threat to the capitalist community.
advertisement

Jonathan Moseley at WorldNetDaily joined in on the fun, claiming Jesus was a capitalist by redefining “capitalism” to basically mean some kind of imaginary tax-free governmental system. He also asserts that as long as Christians generally disapprove of “crony capitalism,” they’re free and clear of any moral responsibility for supporting the lack of laws and regulations that lead to income inequality, mass poverty, and abuses of human rights in the name of profit.

2) Labor unions are anti-Christian. While many liberal Christian churches support labor unions, on the Christian right there’s a number of leaders trying to use religion to bully believers out of standing up for worker’s rights. Many major Christian right leaders are leading the charge in the fight to destroy the right of workers to organize, including Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council and James Dobson of Focus on the Family. The arguments against unions are illogical and strained—they’re often coupled with the “Jesus was a capitalist” claims, as if capitalism somehow obliterates the right of workers to demand better wages within the system—but sometimes there’s a little effort to claim theological underpinnings for an anti-union argument.

Ralph Reed argued that Christian calls for submission require workers to just take whatever their bosses dish out without pushing back. David Barton tries to stretch a Bible story about a vineyard owner hiring different employees to argue that God hates the idea of collective bargaining. Indeed, this parable comes up a lot, to the point where it’s even suggested that good Christians should never try to better their work situation after the initial hiring phase is over.

3) Jesus wanted poor people to starve. There’s a lot of stories in the Bible of Jesus being generous and prescribing that his followers give up their possessions to the poor, but the Christian right is good about ignoring those verses and digging around for one or two to argue that actually, Jesus was on their side about the importance of starving the poor out. When Republicans were trying to cut the food stamp program and Democrats pointed out how that runs against even the most basic reading of the Christianity they claim to hold so dear, Rep. Stephen Fincher petulantly quoted 2 Thessalonians: “Anyone unwilling to work should not eat.”

Of course, there’s no reason whatsoever to believe that people on food stamps are unwilling to work. The growth in food stamp usage is a direct result of higher unemployment, which means people want jobs but can’t find them.Many people on food stamps actually have jobsthat pay so little they have to use food stamps. But despite the fact that the verse— which was taken out of context—doesn’t even apply to the people it’s being wielded against doesn’t mean it’s not a favorite of the religious right. In fact,the way that they use it, you’d think it was the only sentence in the Bible, besides the ones condemning gay sex.

4) Religion means your employer should be all up in your business. Hobby Lobby has a case before the Supreme Court in which it’s arguing that in order to preserve the company’s religious freedom, its female employees should not be allowed to use their own insurance plans to purchase contraception. Even though the plans belong to the employees—they are part of their compensation package, just like their paychecks—Hobby Lobby is arguing that in order for its “religious freedom” to be preserved, it needs to be able to exert this kind of control over its employees’ private healthcare choices.

This case is a perfect example of the Christian right using its victimization complex to advance the increasingly strong hold that capitalists have over lives and our democracy. If Hobby Lobby prevails in court, it’s established a scary precedent, allowing your employer to say he can control how you use the compensation that should rightfully belong to you. This ability to exert power over a worker’s home and private life is something capitalist power structures have been dying to establish for decades now, and thanks to the Christian right, they now have a legal path to try to make that happen.

5) God doesn’t want you to preserve the environment. As with relieving poverty and pushing for income equality, preserving the environment is one of those things Christian theology should cause believers to prioritize, but unfortunately, it runs directly against Republican priorities for maximizing profit regardless of the ill effects. Particularly on the issue of global warming, there is a real danger that some creeping sense of morality might actually cause conservative Christians to start thinking the planet might actually be more important than the oil companies’ quarterly profits—indeed, some of that leakage is actually happening.

Enter groups like the Cornwall Alliance, which boldly try to turn Christians to climate change denialists by arguing that if you believe climate change is real, you’re not showing enough trust in God. It’s a nasty way of manipulating people by preying on their insecurities in order to get them to set aside their moral considerations. Unfortunately, it’s working. Only 7 percent of Republican-voting Christian pastors agree that climate change is real and manmade.

Most politicians who identify with the Christian right are eager to pounce on the theological arguments against protecting the planet, trying to recast their selfish desire to protect corporate profits, even at the expense of the planet and the human race’s health, as nothing but God’s work.

What all these examples show is the inherent danger of mixing politics and religion, because religion can be whatever the believer wants it to be. It might seem like an aggressive misreading of the Bible to imagine, as the Christian right does, that Jesus was a laissez faire capitalist who wasn’t bothered by poverty or pollution, but since religion is a matter of asserting belief instead of making logical arguments, in the end it doesn’t really matter.

5 ways the Christian right is twisting religion to push conservative dogma - Salon.com
 
Jul 2008
19,227
13,234
Virginia Beach, VA


What would Jesus do? Let poor people starve, if these guys are to be believed

The classic understanding of the relationship between social and economic conservatives is simple: Social conservatives are often understood as dupes who let their obsession with controlling other people’s sex lives convince them to vote Republican, often against their own economic interest. This was what President Obama was getting at when he said that working-class whites who vote Republican “cling to guns or religion.”

There’s some truth to that, but if you start to dig a little deeper, it turns out that the Christian right doesn’t just bait believers into voting against their economic interests. On the contrary, the Christian right works fairly hard at trying to create theological arguments to support economic policies Republicans champion, such as slashing the social safety net or allowing unfettered capitalism to rapidly expand income inequality and environmental damage.

Here are the various ways Christian right leaders glaze over the Jesus of the Bible and push their followers to worship one who looks a little more like a Nazarene Ayn Rand.

1) Arguing that Jesus was a capitalist. By and large, the “loaves and fishes” man portrayed in the New Testament can in no honest way be reconciled with the aggressively capitalist attitude of modern Republicans, which holds that profit should never be constrained by concerns such as human rights and basic dignity for all. So conservatives are usually just elusive on the subject. However , Pope Francis’s recent comments regarding the excesses of capitalism have created some pushback on the right.

The favorite argument is that the Pope just doesn’t understand Christianity, which is totally pro-capitalist, no matter how excessive it gets. Ramesh Ponnuru blithely suggested that the Pope’s remarks show that the Pope just doesn’t understand “markets could instead enable a creative form of community” and that more “evangelizing still needs to be done” to convince the Pope that real Christians should embrace capitalism. Never mind that Pope Francis is from Argentina, where the “creative form of community” brought on by an eagerly capitalist, anti-socialist government was expressed through the creative disappearance of people whose left-wing politics were a threat to the capitalist community.
advertisement

Jonathan Moseley at WorldNetDaily joined in on the fun, claiming Jesus was a capitalist by redefining “capitalism” to basically mean some kind of imaginary tax-free governmental system. He also asserts that as long as Christians generally disapprove of “crony capitalism,” they’re free and clear of any moral responsibility for supporting the lack of laws and regulations that lead to income inequality, mass poverty, and abuses of human rights in the name of profit.

2) Labor unions are anti-Christian. While many liberal Christian churches support labor unions, on the Christian right there’s a number of leaders trying to use religion to bully believers out of standing up for worker’s rights. Many major Christian right leaders are leading the charge in the fight to destroy the right of workers to organize, including Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council and James Dobson of Focus on the Family. The arguments against unions are illogical and strained—they’re often coupled with the “Jesus was a capitalist” claims, as if capitalism somehow obliterates the right of workers to demand better wages within the system—but sometimes there’s a little effort to claim theological underpinnings for an anti-union argument.

Ralph Reed argued that Christian calls for submission require workers to just take whatever their bosses dish out without pushing back. David Barton tries to stretch a Bible story about a vineyard owner hiring different employees to argue that God hates the idea of collective bargaining. Indeed, this parable comes up a lot, to the point where it’s even suggested that good Christians should never try to better their work situation after the initial hiring phase is over.

3) Jesus wanted poor people to starve. There’s a lot of stories in the Bible of Jesus being generous and prescribing that his followers give up their possessions to the poor, but the Christian right is good about ignoring those verses and digging around for one or two to argue that actually, Jesus was on their side about the importance of starving the poor out. When Republicans were trying to cut the food stamp program and Democrats pointed out how that runs against even the most basic reading of the Christianity they claim to hold so dear, Rep. Stephen Fincher petulantly quoted 2 Thessalonians: “Anyone unwilling to work should not eat.”

Of course, there’s no reason whatsoever to believe that people on food stamps are unwilling to work. The growth in food stamp usage is a direct result of higher unemployment, which means people want jobs but can’t find them.Many people on food stamps actually have jobsthat pay so little they have to use food stamps. But despite the fact that the verse— which was taken out of context—doesn’t even apply to the people it’s being wielded against doesn’t mean it’s not a favorite of the religious right. In fact,the way that they use it, you’d think it was the only sentence in the Bible, besides the ones condemning gay sex.

4) Religion means your employer should be all up in your business. Hobby Lobby has a case before the Supreme Court in which it’s arguing that in order to preserve the company’s religious freedom, its female employees should not be allowed to use their own insurance plans to purchase contraception. Even though the plans belong to the employees—they are part of their compensation package, just like their paychecks—Hobby Lobby is arguing that in order for its “religious freedom” to be preserved, it needs to be able to exert this kind of control over its employees’ private healthcare choices.

This case is a perfect example of the Christian right using its victimization complex to advance the increasingly strong hold that capitalists have over lives and our democracy. If Hobby Lobby prevails in court, it’s established a scary precedent, allowing your employer to say he can control how you use the compensation that should rightfully belong to you. This ability to exert power over a worker’s home and private life is something capitalist power structures have been dying to establish for decades now, and thanks to the Christian right, they now have a legal path to try to make that happen.

5) God doesn’t want you to preserve the environment. As with relieving poverty and pushing for income equality, preserving the environment is one of those things Christian theology should cause believers to prioritize, but unfortunately, it runs directly against Republican priorities for maximizing profit regardless of the ill effects. Particularly on the issue of global warming, there is a real danger that some creeping sense of morality might actually cause conservative Christians to start thinking the planet might actually be more important than the oil companies’ quarterly profits—indeed, some of that leakage is actually happening.

Enter groups like the Cornwall Alliance, which boldly try to turn Christians to climate change denialists by arguing that if you believe climate change is real, you’re not showing enough trust in God. It’s a nasty way of manipulating people by preying on their insecurities in order to get them to set aside their moral considerations. Unfortunately, it’s working. Only 7 percent of Republican-voting Christian pastors agree that climate change is real and manmade.

Most politicians who identify with the Christian right are eager to pounce on the theological arguments against protecting the planet, trying to recast their selfish desire to protect corporate profits, even at the expense of the planet and the human race’s health, as nothing but God’s work.

What all these examples show is the inherent danger of mixing politics and religion, because religion can be whatever the believer wants it to be. It might seem like an aggressive misreading of the Bible to imagine, as the Christian right does, that Jesus was a laissez faire capitalist who wasn’t bothered by poverty or pollution, but since religion is a matter of asserting belief instead of making logical arguments, in the end it doesn’t really matter.

5 ways the Christian right is twisting religion to push conservative dogma - Salon.com
Another reason religion and politics don't mix.

When religions try to influence politics a lot of the times the politics ends up influencing the religion.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 person
Aug 2010
4,716
625
Arizona...USA
Another reason religion and politics don't mix.
They do mix. Religion affects ones views about politics. A persons view of religion and the supernatural and questions of reality will affect his/her politics....directly and indirectly. In fact religion has always had a central role in our political culture. If you look back on the history of this country you will see political leaders making public statements talking about God. They even give scriptural references in the Bible.

Today I heard....Michelle Obama (back home from her wonderful trip to China at taxpayers expense) talk about the Ft. Hood shootings. I think she said that their prayers are with the families. Wow. Who do they pray too? Why say this? Isn't this personal? She is the first lady...just think of the people she offended. And today in Congress they took a moment of silence and prayer for those involved in this horrific nightmare. Wow. A moment of silence to do what? Atheists don't pray to anyone, skeptics wouldn't either...why would they in a political setting want people to take time to mediate or pray? What would the atheist even think about in silence? Where is the separation? How many political speeches have you ever heard that didn't end in God Bless America?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OyeLMNIyIrI

In fact Obama used MLK and Lincoln's Bibles when he took the oath. ????????

Congress opens in prayer. There are religious themes and biblical imagery all over the place. Why?

Religious beliefs provide a basis for morality. And everyone has a bias. EVERYONE. Is there hurry to nominate a SCOTUS judge when they step down? Several are getting ready to leave now. Obama certainly would not leave this honor to the next president who just might be a Republican would he? No...no way. Because he wants someone whose bias goes LEFT, whose religious worldview (and I include humanism here) will AFFECT POLITICS.


To say our religious faith does not affect our views on politics would be a lie. And our Constitution gives us the right to act on our religious beliefs. Christians can serve important roles in shaping society affecting culture. We have the right to do so. We should never lose sight of our ultimate purpose however and that is to love and serve God. This is above all else.
We are to do this everywhere....our faith is not to be kept quiet whether we are at work or at home. If you love Christ you don't put him in a box only to be worshiped at home or at Sunday Church.

Politics can and should be a means for demonstrating love in action...associated with Jesus Christ.

I am sick of people making pot shots at Christ and not doing the same about Allah...or Muhammed. Christianity is not the only faith that makes truth claims. It is not the only faith that makes exclusive claims. The problem today is...in the past politics usually has involved compromise, both sides giving and taking, seeking a common ground so that people can live peacefully together. Today our politicians, elected officials can't find acceptable solutions to any of our problems.

Why? The two sides hate one another. World views...to opposite and extreme. It is a power a tug of war and who gets hurt.? We the people. The politicians do fine...they are mega wealthy and could care less what really happens as long as they have their salary and the power that goes with it. They can break the law...and never see jail time. We do it and we pay. They can preach against guns while their body guards stand at alert outside their homes. They can preach against global warming and the rape of our environment and then travel around the country and world in their private jets. They tell us.."don't use so much toilet paper"....and they own three mega sized mansions with 20 some bathrooms.

They are elected to represent us....hogwash.

Our views are not represented because the politicians are bought by interest groups, activists and businesses. This health care law was rammed down our throats by people who did not care what the country as a whole wanted.

And we have a right based on our religious faith to go up against what we find immoral. And if that place is Washington...or the court house....so be it.

The LEFT thinks that only the government can run our lives. We can't survive without the government they tell us. The government can't solve every problem..it has limits. It should never tell us what to believe, what morals to follow...or where we should go to have to follow them.

I will end with this......No elected official if they are a Christian should have to put aside their moral and ethical principals in order to receive personal or political gain. No one should have to hide their religious faith to be able to serve in politics.
 
Aug 2010
4,716
625
Arizona...USA
You can't defeat the Dallas Cowboys with no football team.

It is just as impossible to beat a worldview with no worldview. And we all have one. Our Constitution says I have the right to freedom of religion and speech.

I know my worldview, I pray, I share my faith. I read and keep up to date with what is going on my the world. At election time I help register Christians. I help in campaigns of pro-moral candidates. And while doing this, I help to expose amoral candidates and incumbents. I try to keep my friends, family and neighbors abreast of whats happening culturally in connection with religious and political affairs. I have supported and joined not only local but state and national pro-moral organizations. The ACLU is not one of them. Not that it will do any good but I write letters and speak out to politicians regarding moral issues. I physically work with pro-moral organizations. And I vote in every election I am able to vote in.

Why? Why do I do all this?

Matthew 16:26 says, "For what profit is it to any man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?"

I will continue to place my values into the public square whenever possible....even if it comes close to losing my life.

Jeremiah says, "Thus says the Lord: Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls." (Jeremiah 6:16)

I will walk in it.
 
Jul 2008
19,227
13,234
Virginia Beach, VA
They do mix. Religion affects ones views about politics. A persons view of religion and the supernatural and questions of reality will affect his/her politics....directly and indirectly. In fact religion has always had a central role in our political culture. If you look back on the history of this country you will see political leaders making public statements talking about God. They even give scriptural references in the Bible.
You do not understand what I mean by mixing religion and politics.

A person can hold whatever religious belief they want and they can hold public office. They can talk about their personal faith and they can reference scripture.

None of that is a mixture of religion and politics.

The mix comes when a politician attempts to create legislation and/or policy based solely on that religious faith.

A president wants to pray for the victims of a mass shooting? Fine, I have no problem with that. I think it is a complete waste of time and I would rather that something real and tangible be done for the victims.

A president wants to create a "national day of prayer" for the victims....THEN I have a problem.
 
Nov 2012
41,310
11,884
Lebanon, TN
You do not understand what I mean by mixing religion and politics.

A person can hold whatever religious belief they want and they can hold public office. They can talk about their personal faith and they can reference scripture.

None of that is a mixture of religion and politics.

The mix comes when a politician attempts to create legislation and/or policy based solely on that religious faith.

A president wants to pray for the victims of a mass shooting? Fine, I have no problem with that. I think it is a complete waste of time and I would rather that something real and tangible be done for the victims.

A president wants to create a "national day of prayer" for the victims....THEN I have a problem.

I have no problem with a "National Day of Prayer" it does not promote religion it promotes the right to express faith (2nd clause of the 1st amendment"

I would have a problem with a "National day of CHRISTIAN PRAYER" or "Muslim" prayer, etc...

you see.. A national Day of prayer forces you to do nothing, which is exactly in what you have placed your faith.
 
Jul 2008
19,227
13,234
Virginia Beach, VA
I have no problem with a "National Day of Prayer" it does not promote religion it promotes the right to express faith (2nd clause of the 1st amendment"

I would have a problem with a "National day of CHRISTIAN PRAYER" or "Muslim" prayer, etc...

you see.. A national Day of prayer forces you to do nothing, which is exactly in what you have placed your faith.
A national day of prayer promotes belief in a god over non belief in a god, a violation of the separation of church and state.
 
Jun 2012
41,958
15,181
Barsoom
A national day of prayer promotes belief in a god over non belief in a god, a violation of the separation of church and state.
Sort of like the federal judge who thought so also, but was overturned by the Seventh Circuit?
 
Nov 2012
41,310
11,884
Lebanon, TN
A national day of prayer promotes belief in a god over non belief in a god, a violation of the separation of church and state.
No it does not, ''

Name the STATE RELIGION that is created with a national day of prayer?

THE CONSTITUTION SAYS NO STATE RELIGION

You need to learn the difference in CREATION and AFFIRMATION...

What a National day of prayer does it says WE HAVE CITIZENS of VARIOUS FAITHS.. we acknowledge your right to EXPRESS IT.. and affirm the right granted to you by the 2nd clause of the 1st amendment.
 
Jul 2008
19,227
13,234
Virginia Beach, VA
No it does not, ''

Name the STATE RELIGION that is created with a national day of prayer?

THE CONSTITUTION SAYS NO STATE RELIGION

You need to learn the difference in CREATION and AFFIRMATION...

What a National day of prayer does it says WE HAVE CITIZENS of VARIOUS FAITHS.. we acknowledge your right to EXPRESS IT.. and affirm the right granted to you by the 2nd clause of the 1st amendment.
Actually the Constitution says "respecting an establishment of religion"...it actually doesn't mention "state religion"

But what the phrase "respecting an establishment of religion" means is that the government can't even APPEAR to be favoring a religious belief....it doesn't just prohibit the actual establishment of a religion....but the APPEARANCE (respecting) an establishment of religion.

The religion in question (in this case) would be theism.

There are some non theistic religions (Jainism, Buddhism)...but a national day of prayer promotes theistic religions over non theistic ones...thereby violating the Constitution by "respecting" the establishment of the theistic religions.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 person