Would Jesus be a Christian conservative? I don't think so. They stand for everything he didn't. For instance, Jesus was against capital accumulation, the private pursuit of wealth and for helping people less fortunate. What do Christian conservatives stand for: capital accumulation and not paying taxes which might help somebody less fortunate. Christianity has become a perversion of what Jesus stood for and proclaimed: "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven." Basically, Christianity has come around to serving the needs of its constituents which are basically selfish. (So what else is new?) And their selfish interests have to do with getting their souls into heaven in the least onerous way. Helping others materially and paying taxes to support government programs which help the less fortunate is onerous. Tithing to the church and adopting a certain mindset of correct beliefs (allowing yourself to be brainwashed) is less onerous. It doesn't require any physical exertion. Tithing is simply life-after-death insurance which corresponds to life insurance. The prudent person wants both.
Christianity in the US, especially modern day evangelicals, places all the emphasis on having a correct belief system. Any time believing a certain way is important, in my opinion, you're dealing with brainwashing. And if it's so important that, unless you have the correct beliefs, you're going to hell, the stakes are raised considerably and the brainwashing is commensurably increased. The Soviet Union used to brainwash its constituents politically. In the US that function has been off-loaded to conservative pastors who provide religious and political brainwashing, the political component of which dictates that government should lower taxes and eliminate social programs to help the poor. Even the pastors, including the Grassley six, advocate the private pursuit of wealth and capital accumulation as evidenced by their own conspicuous consumption and extravagant lifestyles. Jesus told the rich man: "Sell what you have, give it to the poor and come and follow me." (Oh, and, by the way, I live an impoverished lifestyle. Get used to it!) Modern day evangelicals preach a "prosperity doctrine" which teaches that private wealth is a sign of God's approval. It's a nice theory but it is the exact opposite of what Jesus taught. Nor is it original. Max Weber in 1904 pointed out in "The Protestant Ethic and the Rise of Capitalism" how Protestantism made Christianity more amenable to the private pursuit of wealth.
PHOENIX, Nov. 14 /Christian Newswire/ -- The head of a financial accountability group for Christian nonprofits says that the Senate Finance Committee is likely to be looking at three areas of operation of "the Grassley Six," as he calls them, major ministries headed by Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar, Benny Hinn, Eddie Long, Joyce Meyer and Randy and Paula White.
Ken Behr, president of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, told Church Executive, a business magazine for larger and mega churches, that Senator Chuck Grassley is likely to probe into concerns over excessive compensation, income unrelated to the business purpose of the ministries, and perks or what is known as "excessive benefit transactions."
In a statement, Grassley said he was acting on complaints from the public and news coverage of the organizations.
"The allegations involve governing boards that aren't independent and allow generous salaries and housing allowances and amenities such as private jets and Rolls-Royces," Grassley said.
"I don't want to conclude that there's a problem, but I have an obligation to donors and the taxpayers to find out more. People who donated should have their money spent as intended and in adherence with the tax code."
Creflo Dollar has a Lear Jet, a Gulfstream 3 jet, a Rolls-Royce, a $3 million mansion in Atlanta and a more modest $2.44 million condo overlooking Central Park in Manhattan. These guys and gals have amassed personal fortunes, and their parishioners are stupid enough to keep contributing to them. They live like Wall Street moguls! Why? Didn't they read that part of the Bible where Jesus tells the rich man to give all his money to the poor or that part about it being easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven? These people would not necessarily have to live ostentatious and extravagant lifestyles. It is possible to accumulate a lot of money, live a modest lifestyle and use that money to do good works to help the poor and less fortunate. Some rich people even lead an impoverished lifestyle using their money to help others.
Jesus was against the private accumulation of capital: "Consider the birds of the field; they neither sow nor reap, but yet their Heavenly Father provides for them. Lay not up earthly treasure where dust and moth can corrupt, but seek ye first the Kingdom of Heaven and all these things will be added to you." Jesus' only act of violence was overturning the money changers' tables in the temple. One could gather from this that money and all its manifestions was disgusting to him especially when it was an integral part of religion.
Christianity has had 2000 years to distort and pervert Jesus' teachings. It didn't start with the modern day evangelicals and their wealthy pastors. Renaissance Popes offered indulgences which bilked the faithful into paying money to get their souls or their dead relatives' souls out of purgatory and into heaven. Again life-after-death insurance or pay-to-play to get your soul into heaven much as you would pay a bribe to gain your body safe passage. Clergymen have been proficient for centuries in using the fear card to fleece their flocks. They've been proficient in getting their flocks to contribute to the church (meaning them) in order to enrich themselves while getting the flock to believe they were giving to God and promoting their own prospects for the afterlife. And the fear of death is the ultimate fear of the unknown.
According to Jesus, however, this particular theory is invalid. It's not what you believe that counts; it's not what you give to the church that counts. It's how much you help those who are less fortunate that counts. Suppose God is not really interested in whether you believe in Him or believe in Jesus or not. What a refreshing breath of fresh air to be relieved of that brainwashing burden! By the way, a lot of religious people and good citizens don't believe in Jesus: Jews, for example.
Suppose that what really counts is how you live your life, especially in terms of whether or not you've helped those less fortunate than yourself. There are many ways to do this to be sure, and supporting a tax policy that redistributes wealth to help the poor and disadvantaged is surely one of them. Government can and should help the poor in a comprehensive manner while private charity is at best a hit or miss, hodge podge proposition. In other words, by its very nature, some people will always be left out. With a comprehensive government program, sufficiently funded and mandated, this should not happen. Everyone that falls into a certain category will be helped unless there's corruption and bribery which is all too common in government, especially in the Bush administration.
Religions other than Christianity don't place the same emphasis on having a correct belief system so they have a lot less of a load, a lot less of a mental burden on their shoulders. In the Pilgrim's Progress, Christian carried this burden on his back which was a metaphor for the mental burden of having to have a correct belief system or in other words to accept the brainwashing aspect of religion. Religions that don't try to indoctrinate their constituents into having correct beliefs place the emphasis elsewhere (like on living a good life), are much less involved in guilt and shame and free their constituents' minds so that they can function in a more creative manner intellectually. Therefore, they are far more likely to make real contributions to human knowledge than are people whose minds are hampered by religious brainwashing. Consider Einstein. Not being a Christian, his mind was free to ponder the universe without having to be afraid he was violating some sacred, correct belief system and that his soul was in in jeopardy. What a refreshing approach to life!
Finally, in Jesus' last teaching, before he was hauled off and crucified, according to Matthew, he told his disciples:
31"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory.
32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.
35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,
36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'
37"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?
38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?
39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
40"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'
41"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,
43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'
44"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'
45"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'
46"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."
Is there any clearer exposition that, according to Jesus, what is really important is not what you believe but how much you help your fellow man especiallly those less fortunate? This is the coup de grace to all those who have perverted Christianity into a belief system which condones the private acccumulation of capital and ignores or deemphasizes the pursuit of policies which help those in need. Jesus did not distinguish between the deserving and the undeserving poor. Being poor was in and of itself, de facto, a good enough reason that they should be helped. So may I suggest that supporting tax policies that redistribute wealth from rich to poor and provide support for people in need is quite a bit less severe than "selling what thou hast and giving it to the poor." Instead of a life-after-death insurance policy which involves tirthing to the church, real Christians should support governmental programs which redistribute wealth and help those in need.