Was Jesus a conservative?

Was Jesus a conservative? October 19, 2011

Herman Cain argues as much, in a column he wrote last Christmas that’s getting wider circulation this week:

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain wrote last December in a RedState column titled “The Perfect Conservative” that Jesus was killed by a “liberal court.”

The column claims Jesus as a conservative. “He helped the poor without one government program. He healed the sick without a government health care system. He feed the hungry without food stamps,” wrote Cain. “For three years He was unemployed, and never collected an unemployment check.”

Cain then describes Jesus’ death:

But they made Him walk when He was arrested and taken to jail, and no, He was not read any Miranda Rights. He was arrested for just being who He was and doing nothing wrong. And when they tried Him in court, He never said a mumbling word. He didn’t have a lawyer, nor did He care about who judged Him.
His judge was a higher power.

The liberal court found Him guilty of false offences and sentenced Him to death, all because He changed the hearts and minds of men with an army of 12.

According to CNN, Cain belongs to Antioch Baptist Church North in Atlanta. A few senior members of the church said they don’t necessarily agree with Cain’s views but respect him.

Cain described his faith to the Associated Press recently, and vowed to challenge Rick Perry for the evangelical vote. “People are realizing that he is not the only Christian conservative in this race,” Cain said.

Read more here. And you can read Cain’s column in its entirety here.

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29 responses to “Was Jesus a conservative?”

  1. To apply labels of “conservative” or “liberal” to Jesus or to any of the historical persons, institutions or ideas of the ancient world is fastidious. These are political terms of the early XXI century and do not apply to a very different time in history. Besides, Jesus as Son of God does not fit any categories molded in modern American politics. In Jesus days of his earthly ministry the Pharisees were the strict observant of the law party and the Pharisees were the worldly political party accommodating to the Hellenistic culture of the day and Our Lord managed to upset both and cause the Roman Empire to execute him. There is nothing conservative or liberal about Jesus Christ, he is beyond such modern political bickering.

  2. Ditto Rudy and Fran.

    The only thing maybe to add is that the US was founded on Judeo Christian principles, and that, is what a true conservative today is fighting so hard to “conserve”, especially, life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and the fact that we all have inalianable rights from our creator.

    That said, I LOVE Herman Cain.

  3. Any political party or organization which tries to co-opt Jesus should be absolutely ashamed of itself. We may tend towards liberal or conservative political views based on our Faith, but to take the next step and imply that Jesus would have favored liberal Democrats or conservative Republicans is the height of hubris and political expediency. I could cherry pick some Liberal views and find many that I think Jesus would have supported. I could cherry pick some Conservative views and find many that Jesus would have supported. He is so far above those sorts of labels that anyone who who seriously thinks Jesus or God is “on their side” and “against the other side” needs to take a deep breath and get a grip.

  4. Klaire,
    I wished you’d stopped at “Ditto Rudy and Fran.” Your next paragraph basically goes against everything they’d just said. I realize it’s tempting, but in my opinion it’s that sort of lining up of Jesus with one side or the other that we need to avoid.

  5. Dcn Mike, are you really saying that this is NOT Jesus?

    the US was founded on Judeo Christian principles, and that, is what a true conservative today is fighting so hard to “conserve”, especially, life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and the fact that we all have inalianable rights from our creator.”

    If so, shame on you. I’m all in agreement to keep labels off of Jesus, however, the whole point of Jesus coming was for us to be like him, and that starts with respect for LIFE, LIBERTY, the pursuit of happiness, and inalianable rights from our creator.

    What part of that quote isn’t Jesus?

  6. Klaire:

    I have had long and serious arguments with deeply devout folk who want to place the American Revolution and our Founding Fathers into a Christian religious framework. They usually start by stating that all of those men upon we depended for our freedoms were — in fact — devout Christian.

    My question is always: “Prove it” — and they cannot.

    –I have no doubt Charles Carroll of Carrollton, who was a devout Roman Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence.

    –I know a number who were Quakers but I have some difficulty placing Quakers under the umbrella of traditional Christianity.

    –Finally, we do know that many of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were baptized members of the Church of England BUT we also know that many of them had adopted Deism as their religious belief system after they broke away from England (the English King, you will remember, is also head of the Chrch of England and when they rejected George’s political leadership, they rejected his religious one as well. Deism is certainly not Christian in any sense of the word.

  7. Hello Klaire,
    I guess you could say Jesus was in favor of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, though of course He never used those words. (Actually, I might disagree with the “pursuit of happiness.”) I’d say Jesus was more in favor of “Loving God, and loving your neighbors as yourselves.”

    However, let’s say for a moment that your right about Jesus prefering those things. You’ve made a political judgement that conservatives favor those things and that somehow liberals do not. I’m sure liberals would disagree….but that’s a political argument that’s based on how best to achieve life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The problem is, in making this statement that I’ve disagreed with, you’ve gone on to imply that Jesus would favor conservative positions. I have a real problem with that (just as someone rightly would have a problem with saying Jesus favors liberal positions.)

    Most of us would probably put ourselves as leaning more towards liberal or conservative political views; if we take ourselves seriously as Catholics/Christians, we probably think our religious and political views are in harmony. The BIG mistake is then making the leap and having Jesus voting the same way we would. It’s extraordinarily divisive…extending the political divisions that exist in this country and attaching them to our faith.

  8. Ditto, Deacon Mike.

    And ditto Rudy, whose fervor may have outrun his fingers. I think he meant to say it was *fatuous, not fastidious, to put contemporary political labels on Jesus and the people of his time, and that the *Sadducees, not the Pharisees, were the worldly, accommodating faction.

  9. I think Cain makes some fair points here. And he is not speaking as a theologian and would be the first to admit that.

    Forced giving (i.e., punitive taxation and redistribution of earned wealth) is not charity in the Christian sense. The equation of confiscation earned wealth with “Christian charity” is a typical error of political liberals today.

  10. Kevin

    Justice is not charity, right. And “political liberals” rarely call justice charity but call it justice and point out that states serve justice and the common good. Charity transcends justice, and as Pope Benedict said, charity wouldn’t end if the world was suddenly perfectly just. The confusion lies with “conservatives” who think acts of justice are acts of charity, thereby denigrating real charity while harming people who need real justice.

  11. I agree with Rudy.

    I don’t agree with Cain at all on the subject, and, actually this is a check against him in my opinion.

  12. I find it amazing how the republican candidates love to use religion. The emphasis is on use.

    They claim ownership to the flag, patritotism, religion and anything else they can “use” to divide people.

    Next they will be telling us how we are to pray and which religion we need to belong to. Oh excuse me they are already doing that.

  13. Joan IS not saying there is a religious test for Potus. Joan is saying that Herman Cain’s remark was foolish and amateurish considering he is a presidential candidate. I have lots of problems with his candidacy. This doesn’t help.

  14. Klaire: “What part of that quote isn’t Jesus?”

    I’d say the part regarding “the pursuit of happiness” isn’t Jesus, but I will gladly recant that if you can show me a quote from the Scriptures where Jesus encourages his followers to pursue happiness.

    My read of the Scripture has Jesus teaching us to pursue the Kingdom of God first and foremost, not happiness. There’s also that messy passage in Matthew 25 about sheep and goats, but that’s for another thread, no doubt.

  15. Herman Cain also intimated that he might be open to negotiating with terrorists, trading prisoners for hostages as Israel did earlier this week. That alone should be sufficient for many conservative voters to turn their back on him.

  16. I agree wholeheartedly with Rudy and Deacon Mike. But I also find it offensive that Mr. Cain states that a “liberal court” found Jesus guilty. What liberal court was that and where is that supported anywhere in the Scriptures? Is he implying that liberals were responsible for kiling Jesus? That “liberal judges” were responsible for killing our Lord? I am very uncomfortable with this type of baseless and inflammatory rhetoric.

  17. Allan – Perhaps I spoke too strongly and I apologize to the readers here. But I am offended that Mr. Cain accused a “liberal court” of finding Jesus guilty. I am very tired of all these attacks on liberals. They are unfair and wrong. I am sure some people would call me a liberal and some would not since I have voted for people from different parties over the years, but I find it very disturbing to hear and read the constant demonization of “liberals” on talk radio and in the comments to these blogs. People need to see each other as fellow human beings and children of God. When we allow each other to be dehumanized and demonized then we are moving into very divisive and dangerous waters.

  18. In agreement with Barbara Peters, I think the near constant vilification of “liberals” is a Catholic tragedy. Remember – Catholic means universal.

    The utter disdain and contempt with which “liberals” are discussed is beyond offensive at every turn. Now make no mistake, there are many liberals who vilify conservatives on their own Catholic pages, and I call them to task as well. I was once one of them.

    Jesus transcends all. We are to treat all – ALL – human life with dignity. That is not happening around many of these threads. Can we please start with and stay with our catholicity?

  19. This post is so bizarre that I think I have to respond in kind:

    Jesus was really a LIBERAL:

    – He gave free health care, even mental health care, to anyone in need. (What we call mental disease was looked on as possession by the devil in those times.)

    – He fed those who were hungry without payment and demanded the same of his followers.

    – He promoted paying one’s fair share of taxes (both Temple and the despised Roman taxes).

    – He reached out to those who were the least in society, e.g., tax collectors, prostitutes, lepers.

    – He gave special consideration to women, outcasts (even Samaritans, who were detested even more than pagans by pious Jews) and the poor.

    – He did not speak favorably about people who accumulated wealth for its own sake. (Parable of Rich Man and Lazarus, “it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Mt19:24)

    As Christians, we are called to identify ourselves with Christ. What I fear is that Herman Cain will identify too closely with his version of Christ.

    When he starts to multiply oranges and apples, and finally organizes a staff but limits it to 12, then I’ll know for sure.

  20. One of the reasons I so like the Deacon’s Bench is I feel the dialogue here is often far more constructive and reasonable than I find in other areas of the blogosphere. I agree with Fran and Barbara that the vitirol and name-calling and dismissive attitudes that we often find in the political media has started to seep into Catholic circles as well. Remembering that we are ultimately “One Body”, we need to consciously work towards being gracious and loving towards each other.

  21. Deacon Mike – If I may add to your post, we are One Body in Christ. He has given us such an incredible gift and this is how we repay Him? He prayed for our unity and that we would be one- do we respond to His prayers for us by attacking each other with politically based stereotypes and caricatures and by attributing to each other evil intent and motive? I think it is time the debate moves beyond ad hominem attacks.

  22. I’m a Conservative, but that’s silly.

    That’s actually the first time I’ve seen such a claim. Normally you see the claim that Jesus was a Liberal or even Jesus was a socialist. That He is a Liberal just as specius as Conservative, but that He was a socialist is outright wrong.

  23. Kingdoms have come and gone and will continue,Americans need to let go of their obsession with country if they are ever to love Jesus adequately.

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