Christian Witness vs. Christianist Culture War

Christian Witness vs. Christianist Culture War June 7, 2019

So the other day, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who gets a load of death threats and hate from Good White Christianists, got wind that Paul Manafort, one of the crooks who worked for Trump, was going to be put in solitary confinement in a prison in the district she represents.

Being a decent human being, she demanded he be taken out of solitary, describing this form of punishment as torture. She needn’t have done it. Were the shoe on the other foot and the victim were one of his political enemies, there is no doubt that Trump (who has called for the torture of prisoners and even murder of innocents, as well as the execution of innocents like the Central Park 5) and his vicious cult of personality would be gloating over an enemy in solitary.

But AOC, despite her profound differences with Manafort, did the decent and good thing and called for his removal from solitary lock up. She did so in agreement with the teaching of the Holy Father, who said, “One form of torture is sometimes applied by imprisonment in maximum security prisons.”

A friend of mine, John Medaille, remarked, “Agree or disagree, this is a woman of principle.”

The instantaneous and all-too-typical response of the Catholic Right Wing bent only on her destruction?

“No. She’s an airhead.”

The proof?

“When a fire devastated Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, this ‘bright, intelligent, and articulate woman’ explained it was really ’caused by global warming, duh.’
She’s a dimwit.”

The only problem with this was the minor fact that this “quote” came from the Genesius Times, a satire site the bills itself as “the most reliable source of fake news on the planet.”

When confronted with this fact, an honorable person, Christian or not, would have retracted and apologized. But the person in John’s comboxes, bent on punching her good name in the teeth for the sin of loving her enemy, refused. It was more important to land the punch than to honor the good deed, because it was a good deed done by an enemy.

Meanwhile, on my Facebook wall, I noted that in addition to being humane and good, her gesture on behalf of Manafort was extremely smart politics because her vicious culture war enemies (like the guy declaring her an airhead) have to either insist on cruelty to one of their Folk Heroes in an epic act of cutting off their noses to spite their faces or swallow their immense pride and face the fact that she is both right and good here.

And they call her dumb.

This is precisely what Paul is talking about when he tells the Romans:

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; never be conceited. Repay no one evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” No, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Ro 12:14–21)

Compare and contrast with this:

Trump sees life as a zero sum game, and he has taught his Christianist cult to do the same. That is why it is a false, antichrist gospel. Because it is rooted in enmity and in the destruction of enemies, whether they be ideological or little children at the border. And that is why its disciples look at a good person doing a good thing for an enemy and can only respond with malignant insults and lies aimed at her personal destruction. No slightest grace can be extended her, because admitting she has any good qualities would be an admission of weakness.

AOC, in contrast, acts like a disciple of Jesus. She acted with love for an enemy like Manafort and she tries, where possible, to make common cause with people she disagrees with. I respect that.

Now. If your sole response to all that is a scream, welling up in your throat with volcanic force, compelling you to yell, “BUT ABORTION!!!!” at the top of your lungs in order to shout down even the slightest acknowledgement that she did a good thing with Manafort and Cruz, consider the possibility that you may be thinking more like a Christianist than a Christian. Defense of human dignity of the unborn–and of the gospel–does not require us to deny every last shred of human dignity to culture war opponents. That’s what Donald Trump does, not Jesus Christ.

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