Over the past few years as we witnessed the growing concentration of wealth and privilege in our country, prophetic religion lost its voice, drowned out by the corporate, political, and religious right who hijacked Jesus.It has always seemed strange to me that conservative Christians could align themselves so fervently and willingly with a party that represents the interests of the wealthy and the powerful. It's not simply that they're willing to make a "deal with the devil" (so to speak) and support tax cuts to get the social legislation they want. No, many of them believe strongly in those tax cuts, in cutting aid to the poor, in a vast and robust military that we use willingly and regularly on even the most insignificant of threats. It seems painfully obvious to me that many-if not a majority-of conservative Christians do not stand for Christianity, so much as they stand for a sort of Christian nationalism that represents them and people like them. Hence, the lack of outcry over the suffering of the poor, or the suffering of those whom we bomb for spurious reasons; they are not like them, so they simply do not matter as much, if at all. I would urge moderate and independent Christians to reject this "hijacking" of their religion, but in truth, there have always been and will always be those who find religion (of whatever variety) a convenient means to cloak their deliberate or deluded self-interest.
That's right: They hijacked Jesus. The very Jesus who stood in Nazareth and proclaimed, "The Lord has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor" - this Jesus, hijacked by a philosophy of greed. The very Jesus who fed 5000 hungry people - and not just those in the skyboxes; the very Jesus who offered kindness to the prostitute and hospitality to the outcast; who raised the status of women and treated even the hated tax collector as a citizen of the Kingdom. The indignant Jesus who drove the money changers from the temple - this Jesus was hijacked and turned from a friend of the dispossessed into a guardian of privilege, the ally of oil barons, banking tycoons, media moguls and weapons builders.
Yet it was this same Jesus who inspired a Methodist ship-caulker named Edward Rogers to crusade across New England for an eight hour work day; called Frances William to rise up against the sweatshop; sent Dorothy Day to march alongside striking auto workers in Michigan, fishermen and textile workers in Massachusetts, brewery workers in New York, and marble cutters in Vermont; who roused E.B. McKinney and Owen Whitfield to stand against a Mississippi oligarchy that held sharecroppers in servitude, challenged a young priest named John Ryan to champion child labor laws a decade before the New Deal, and summoned Martin Luther King to Memphis to join sanitation workers in their struggle for a decent wage.
This Jesus was there on Century Boulevard last September, speaking Spanish. And it is this resurrected Jesus, in the company of the morally indignant of every faith, who will be there wherever Americans are angry enough to rise up and drive the money changers from the temples of democracy.
Monday, March 26, 2007
Bill Moyers, in speech at Occidental College, saying something that the Republican religious right certainly does not want to hear: