Lawrence O’Donnell on MSNBC last night made an interesting observation about Rick Perry’s record of executions in Texas. Based on Perry’s record of allowing prisoners to be executed despite questionable court proceedings and evidence, O’Donnell concluded that, if Perry had been in Pontius Pilate’s place of authority, he would have allowed the execution of Jesus Christ.
By now you probably know how mean and contempuous of Jesus’ teachings the radical right wing Republicans are. When Brian Williams was asking a question of Perry about the 234 executions Perry okay’d, the audience applauded in support of Perry. These people have gone way beyond the general consensus of the majority of Americans that “Love thy Neighbor” should at least be in the back of our minds as we interact with each other.
I’ll carry O’Donnell’s observation one step further and say that, not only are these sociopathic Republicans eager to inflict harm on anyone they don’t like and, thereby ignore the teachings of Jesus, they are killing the essential message of the New Testament.
I am often perplexed when supposedly “God-fearing Christians” quote something from the Old Testament instead of the New Testament. Isn’t it a fact that there were no “Christians” until the New Testament era? If people claim to base their religion on the Old Testament, aren’t they more in line with Jewish history and teaching than Christian? (And, no I’m not implying that Jews are mean-spirited people so don’t bother jumping to unwarranted conclusions.)
Perry talks about “wrestling with God.” Which God? The God of the Old Testament or the God of the New Testament? Admittedly, my Catholic college studies of the Bible were over 40 years ago, but I think I remember a basic difference between the Old God and the New God. In fact, isn’t that why it’s called the “New” Testament? Didn’t Jesus preach a new morality, a new way of relating to our neighbors, a new way of approaching the highest moral plane achievable by humans? If I recall correctly, there is something in the NT about “Love thy neighbor.”
I don’t remember Jesus saying “Shoot thy neighbor.” Or “Execute thy neighbor.” But that’s what Perry is bragging about. He said that people who don’t fit his definition of a red-blooded American better stay out of Texas or they’ll get “rough treatment.” Imagine Jesus saying that about the Good Samaritan or the folks he accepted as “neighbors” despite their outsider status?
Thankfully, the kind and gentle Christians who take Jesus’ teachings seriously are finally starting to speak up politically. An Example Below.
In July, I attended a workshop on the Missouri state budget co-sponsored by Metropolitan Congregations United and Missouri Budget Project.
Participants were asked how the state budget reflects their spiritual values – or not. The 20 or so participants all based their values on the New Testament teachings of Jesus and agreed that there is a big gap between the values taught by the New Testament and the way the state allocates funds. Issues such as health care, especially mental health and services for children, were the prominent concerns of the group. We learned a lot about how the limited funds the state has are spent and some of the ways we could achieve additional revenue. SMP readers already know much of what we learned that day. But what we left with was a sinking feeling that many lawmakers who claim to be “good Christians” aren’t walking the walk. I hope constituents will press them on this whole values thing when they get a chance. BTW, Senator John Lamping had originally agreed to meet with this workshop group at a future date, but he canceled a few days before saying he had “other commitments.” I wonder what’s more important than saving the lives of the poor, the lame, the sick and the downtrodden? What would Jesus do?