Friday, June 21, 2013

What indeed would Jesus do -- in Congress?


I've always wondered at the hypocrisy of supposedly devout religious practitioners who seem to take political positions that seem to ignore the fundamental tenets of their faith. But then, as a child, I always had a hard time trying to reconcile the many contradictory biblical tales I heard -- on the one hand God was busy claiming vengeance and smiting whereas Jesus was turning the other cheek and cautioning against throwing stones. It seemed rather inconsistent and apt to lead to conflicting advice, and certainly that has proven true as the predominantly fundamentalist Christian conservative groups stand steadfastly against abortion while advocating staunchly for the death penalty.
Jesus at church across from the Alfred P Murrah Memorial by tonystl / Flickr.com
When the "What Would Jesus Do?" query surfaced in social media, it seemed like this would solve the problem, but legislators continued to reject empathy for hard and fast rules about quandaries no biblical player ever had to consider. What indeed would Jesus do when a vegetative patient was racking up unaffordable hospital bills while kept "alive" on a heart-lung machine? Before a miraculous healing, he always prefaced the work by asking the person to believe in his ability to heal, and clearly the comatose individual had no ability to produce even a brainwave response, so... What indeed could Jesus have done?

Imponderables aside, there are a few clergy these days who think some of the legislative interpretations have failed to consider actual biblical advice, and I for one am certainly glad they are stepping forward with some well-documented guidance to curb the excesses of today's less-than-compassionate lawmakers. Reverend Barber explained, “We’re going to make sure that the contrast is so clear between meanness and immorality and extreme politics and the politics of love and justice and compassion...".

Greensboro NC ordained minister Mark Sandlin has considerately compiled an annotated top 10 political DON'Ts countdown:
10) Force your religious beliefs and practices on others.
 9) Advocate for war.
 8) Favor the rich over the poor.
 7) Cut funding that hurts the least of these.
 6) Let people go hungry.
 5) Withhold healthcare from people.
 4) Limit the rights of a select group of people.
 3) Turn away immigrants.
 2) Devalue education.
 1) Support capital punishment — execution.
Christians, of all people, should never forget that Jesus was arrested on politically motivated charges, tortured at length, and finally executed without due process. How hard is it to imagine what his reaction today would be? It seems like a WWJD no-brainer: Close Guantanamo immediately -- and use those funds to alleviate the suffering of children, heal the infirm, and support the hungry masses. Protect not just the people of the earth but its air, water, and lands from the greedy exploiters. Render taxes as an obligation to the common welfare and contribute help to the needy. These are the Christian sort of things Jesus would do.

That kind of compassionate platform is one I, a scrupulously non-religious voter, could support.

Photo: Jesus at church across from the Alfred P Murrah Memorial by tonystl / Flickr.com

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