As we all know, the Religious Right does what the Bible says. At least, as long as it fits their political agenda, anyway. That’s why a few lines in Leviticus about homosexuality translates to gay people not having equal rights or protection from discrimination. And God explaining how he intended Jeremiah to be a prophet before he was even born justifies denying women reproductive choice. And, of course, Jesus’ words to his disciples about buying swords even if they had to sell their cloaks to do so settles the debate on gun control forever.
But not every verse can be stretched and distorted to mean whatever the Right wants it to mean. As it happens, there are a couple of passages that are so at odds with that worldview that it seems like they got edited out of conservative Christianity’s Bible.
If you follow politics in the U.S., you may have noticed that there are some familiar entries on that list.
Starting with the verses about being kind to strangers who dwell in your lands.
Last year, President Obama referenced those passages only to send a panel of pundits at Fox News Channel into a self-righteous tizzy. Matters haven’t improved much since last November for those parts of the Bible that call on believers to treat strangers kindly. Sure, it may say
And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.
But American conservatives would rather hear that strangers are rapists, drug dealers, and criminals; they’d rather talk about how we should shut the door on a foreigner seeking aid because she’s quite possibly a terrorist; they’d prefer to frighten you with thoughts of how many diseases immigrants (even children) might be bringing.
Sorry, Leviticus; you might say that:
The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.
But that kindness shtick clearly has no place in the Conservative Bible.
That’s not the only topic where the Religious Right has decided that God just didn’t know what the heck he was talking about. There’s also money.
It’s pretty clear that God, and particularly the Jesus third of that trinity, is a hippie at heart. There’s an awful lot of talk about caring for the poor, feeding the hungry, healing the sick, and hating on the wealthy.
But the Religious Right doesn’t waste any time thinking about the moochers, the takers, or the 47%. Love of money may be the root of all evil, but when cutting funding to schools might save you a little green? No need to think twice about that. (Hell, reducing education funds means the next generation of kids will have a harder time knowing how to do it even once!)
For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I 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.’
“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?’
“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
But the policies and words of the Religious Right remind us again and again to do the opposite. Rather, we’ll look at cutting food stamps, repealing healthcare, slamming the door on strangers, and degrading the “least of these” at every turn for political purposes. It may not be what the Bible calls for… but don’t worry. The starving and disenfranchised always have thoughts and prayers.
Judge not, that ye be not judged.
For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
This fluffy nonsense sounds good, sure, but without slut-shaming, gay-bashing, and poverty-shaming, the Religious Right might have to sell itself on its record and ideas. No wonder they want to talk about the Nazis of the “gay activist mafia” and the “sexual misbehavior” that is birth control use…
The Religious Right, you see, has figured out exactly how to apply the Bible to politics: wherever and whenever it furthers their case. And only that. No more, no less. Because, for all their talk about governing by God’s laws, there are only so many that even conservatives want.
Unfortunately for the rest of us, they’re all over the ones that empower them to control, punish, and humiliate other people; it’s the ones about helping your fellow man that they tend to forget.
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