Religion and Politics Pt. II

Talking about religion and politics is getting to be my stock in trade these days. The last time I addressed this aspect of But Not Yet, I said Diana (my significant other) would  frown and say I shouldn’t do it. But, since then, her scorn has diminished and she’s even liked some of my more political posts. Not to worry, though; there are plenty of people who still don’t like mixing religion and politics. One of them is David McElroy. Now, Mr. McElroy and I have no personal beefs (or is it beeves? Who knows?)…, yet. That may change if he reads this post. Why, you  ask? Well, recently, he wrote an article entitled “Hate right-wing religious politics? New left-wing group’s just as bad” in which he took The Christian Left and their new Super Pac, called “Christians for Change” to task for being nothing more than the flip side of the Religious Right coin. He accuses Christians for Change and, by extension, The Christian Left of trying force a progressive left agenda on the country. When I look at the things these groups are in favor of, my first question is “What’s wrong with that?” Evidently, a lot and McElroy illuminates some of his issues with it.

The first thing he does is give us an example of what these people want by quoting from their webpage’s “Faith in economic justice”:

“We believe we all deserve a fair shot at the American dream and that everyone bears an equal responsibility to build and sustain this great nation. We dismiss the flawed argument that corporations are people and we reject unequal tax policies that penalize middle-class and working-class earners while rewarding greed and avarice among many of the nation’s wealthiest citizens and corporate giants”

He follows up asking “I seem to have missed the part in the Gospels in which Jesus talked about “unequal tax policies” and the whole legal argument about corporate personhood. Does anyone recall which book that was in?” Well, David, pretty much the entirety of the Gospels carried this message, if not words, then in deeds. The Gospel was a message of hope to poor, oppressed, down-trodden people who suffered from backbreaking taxation from an occupying government that didn’t give a damn about their needs. Now, I could be wrong about this, but if corporations had existed in those days, I’m pretty sure Jesus wouldn’t have seen them as people.

Next, he accuses The Christian Left of being just as hypocritical as the religious right,  saying “If it’s wrong for the Religious Right to advocate a non-biblical political agenda in Jesus’ name, it’s just as wrong for the Religious Left to do the same thing.” I’m no biblical scholar, but everything I read in my bible points to social and economic justice as two of the most important things we work for as Christians. For me, it’s summed up in Micah 6:8:

“He has told you, human one, what is good and
what the Lord requires from you:
to do justice, embrace faithful love, and walk humbly with your God.”

The next issue he takes up is that “Jesus never took a political position”. I don’t know about that; I think everything Jesus did while he was on earth involved some sort of political position. He advocated for those who couldn’t do it for themselves against the rich and powerful and pointed out the faults of the religious hierarchy (which was highly politicized). If that’s not enough, the Romans didn’t go around crucifying crazy-ass holy men. That punishment was reserved for people who rebelled against the state. Pretty political, if you ask me.

McElroy has a rather fond affection of the word “agenda”, accusing both right and left of using religion to push whatever theirs might be. When you look up the word, you’ll find it means a plan or list of things to be done. Doesn’t seem so bad to me, but for McElroy, it seems, an agenda is some kind of sinister plan to turn us all into some sort of far right or left automatons without any free will. I don’t see that, at least not from my side; we’re pure as the driven snow. Truth be told, we all have agendas, some good, some bad, some in between. McElroy has an agenda of his own, although I’m not sure what it is; from what I saw on his site, he seems to be an anarchic libertarian and I have no idea where that would lead. I have an agenda of my own: to see the Kingdom of Heaven brought to Earth. And, if it means using politics to accomplish that, then I’ll be the best political animal I can be.