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Why Evangelicals Hate Jesus


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Phil Zuckerman

Professor of Sociology, Pitzer College in Claremont, CA.

 

 

Why Evangelicals Hate Jesus

 

This article was co-authored by Dan Cady is an assistant professor of history at California State University, Fresno. He publishes on the history of the American West, music, and religion.

 

The results from a recent poll published by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life (http://www.pewforum.org/Politics-and-Elections/Tea-Party-and-Religion.aspx) reveal what social scientists have known for a long time: White Evangelical Christians are the group least likely to support politicians or policies that reflect the actual teachings of Jesus. It is perhaps one of the strangest, most dumb-founding ironies in contemporary American culture. Evangelical Christians, who most fiercely proclaim to have a personal relationship with Christ, who most confidently declare their belief that the Bible is the inerrant word of God, who go to church on a regular basis, pray daily, listen to Christian music, and place God and His Only Begotten Son at the center of their lives, are simultaneously the very people most likely to reject his teachings and despise his radical message.

 

Jesus unambiguously preached mercy and forgiveness. These are supposed to be cardinal virtues of the Christian faith. And yet Evangelicals are the most supportive of the death penalty, draconian sentencing, punitive punishment over rehabilitation, and the governmental use of torture. Jesus exhorted humans to be loving, peaceful, and non-violent. And yet Evangelicals are the group of Americans most supportive of easy-access weaponry, little-to-no regulation of handgun and semi-automatic gun ownership, not to mention the violent military invasion of various countries around the world. Jesus was very clear that the pursuit of wealth was inimical to the Kingdom of God, that the rich are to be condemned, and that to be a follower of Him means to give one's money to the poor. And yet Evangelicals are the most supportive of corporate greed and capitalistic excess, and they are the most opposed to institutional help for the nation's poor -- especially poor children. They hate anything that smacks of "socialism," even though that is essentially what their Savior preached. They despise food stamp programs, subsidies for schools, hospitals, job training -- anything that might dare to help out those in need. Even though helping out those in need was exactly what Jesus urged humans to do. In short, Evangelicals are that segment of America which is the most pro-militaristic, pro-gun, and pro-corporate, while simultaneously claiming to be most ardent lovers of the Prince of Peace.

 

What's the deal?

 

Before attempting an answer, allow a quick clarification. Evangelicals don't exactly hate Jesus -- as we've provocatively asserted in the title of this piece. They do love him dearly. But not because of what he tried to teach humanity. Rather, Evangelicals love Jesus for what he does for them. Through his magical grace, and by shedding his precious blood, Jesus saves Evangelicals from everlasting torture in hell, and guarantees them a premium, luxury villa in heaven. For this, and this only, they love him. They can't stop thanking him. And yet, as for Jesus himself -- his core values of peace, his core teachings of social justice, his core commandments of goodwill -- most Evangelicals seem to have nothing but disdain.

 

And this is nothing new. At the end of World War I, the more rabid, and often less educated Evangelicals decried the influence of the Social Gospel amongst liberal churches. According to these self-proclaimed torch-bearers of a religion born in the Middle East, progressive church-goers had been infected by foreign ideas such as German Rationalism, Soviet-style Communism, and, of course, atheistic Darwinism. In the 1950s, the anti-Social Gospel message piggybacked the rhetoric of anti-communism, which slashed and burned its way through the Old South and onward through the Sunbelt, turning liberal churches into vacant lots along the way. It was here that the spirit and the body collided, leaving us with a prototypical Christian nationalist, hell-bent on prosperity. Charity was thus rebranded as collectivism and self-denial gave way to the gospel of accumulation. Church-to-church, sermon-to-sermon, evangelical preachers grew less comfortable with the fish and loaves Jesus who lived on earth, and more committed to the angry Jesus of the future. By the 1990s, this divine Terminator gained "most-favored Jesus status" among America's mega churches; and with that, even the mention of the former "social justice" Messiah drove the socially conscious from their larger, meaner flock.

 

In addition to such historical developments, there may very well simply be an underlying, all-too-human social-psychological process at root, one that probably plays itself out among all religious individuals: they see in their religion what they want to see, and deny or despise the rest. That is, religion is one big Rorschach test. People look at the content of their religious tradition -- its teachings, its creeds, its prophet's proclamations -- and they basically pick and choose what suits their own secular outlook. They see in their faith what they want to see as they live their daily lives, and simultaneously ignore the rest. And as is the case for most White Evangelical Christians, what they are ignoring is actually the very heart and soul of Jesus's message -- a message that emphasizes sharing, not greed. Peace-making, not war-mongering. Love, not violence.

 

Of course, conservative Americans have every right to support corporate greed, militarism, gun possession, and the death penalty, and to oppose welfare, food stamps, health care for those in need, etc. -- it is just strange and contradictory when they claim these positions as somehow "Christian." They aren't.

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/phil-zuckerman/why-evangelicals-hate-jes_b_830237.html

 

 

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Bullshit! Jesus weren't no liberal pussy!

 

At my old church, Jesus the Hard-Ass was emphasized. They were especially fond of the part where he whips the shit out of the money-changers at the Temple. We can argue that he was a crazy asshole just as much as we can argue that he was a gentle hippie.

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Granted that the reasoning is just "kind of" flawed Vom, but I still think the main point is correct. Morontheists "love jebus" because they (think they) gain an advantage out of it. They care shit for anything the book'o'bullshit actually claims that jebus said, unless it also serves their agendas.

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I agree that his version of Jesus is a sugar-coated one, but I think he is spot on about evangelicals.

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It was always obvious to me that Christians were ignoring the "give till it hurts" part of Jesus' message. Parable of the widows mite and all that.

 

They would have all been wearing rags and living in hovels if they had followed that teaching.

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They also ignore the part about the camel and the eye of the needle. Of course, they can rationalize why they chase money and material things. Isn't it interesting that Xtian pastors are usually rich guys with the best cars and most expensive suits and watches? At least it was the case in my church. And they didn't have a job outside the church, they were living off the money believers gave to the church. I wasn't critical of that either when I was a believer. Now, in the hindsight I can see how strange it is considering what the Bible says about richness.

 

 

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The historicity of Jesus is a different issue but the premise of the argument is flawed to begin with. The biblical principle taught is voluntary giving and sharing with like minded souls. The author, by accident or design, misrepresents the principle by confusing it with state law. No where does the bible show or imply a Jesus holding a sword at a man's throat, taking his earnings and spending it on pet projects that further his social agenda.

 

People do pick and choose what they believe but given the nasty political twist at the end it's obvious that accuracy was of little interest to the author.

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Weren't Jesus and his disciples all a bunch of commies?

 

No, there was no Jesus as described in the bible. The whole thing was made up. Whatever Jesus you believe in is what you make up from what other people made up.

 

Very true. But the jesus n' friends as described in the bible absolutely were proto-communism. Whatever money they had, was put into a communal pot and shared amongst them. They shared housing, meals, etc, and the early xtian sects that sprang up modeled themselves after this.

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Very true. But the jesus n' friends as described in the bible absolutely were proto-communism. Whatever money they had, was put into a communal pot and shared amongst them. They shared housing, meals, etc, and the early xtian sects that sprang up modeled themselves after this.

Communal living is not communism.
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Weren't Jesus and his disciples all a bunch of commies?

 

No, there was no Jesus as described in the bible. The whole thing was made up. Whatever Jesus you believe in is what you make up from what other people made up.

 

Very true. But the jesus n' friends as described in the bible absolutely were proto-communism. Whatever money they had, was put into a communal pot and shared amongst them. They shared housing, meals, etc, and the early xtian sects that sprang up modeled themselves after this.

That was made up so people would share their money with the church. They had to say the believers gave all their money, if it said the disciples gave 10% then people wouldn't give anything. Tell people they're really supposed to be giving everything, and they won't be upset giving 10%.

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...and, just to have said it, in theory communism is a damn ideal society. If only... aaaaah if only... everyone would play along. :P

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...and, just to have said it, in theory communism is a damn ideal society. If only... aaaaah if only... everyone would play along. :P

 

Agreed. But there always has to be some prick to wants to be the boss. Fuck human nature.

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The problem with communal type communism (voluntary) is that in practice it doesn't work well. It only has a chance if there is some higher goal like religious piety. People are different, they always were and always will be. The more ambitious/motivated types soon get tired of those less inclined sharing the same rewards. So they do less and you have a lowest common denominator prevailing. That might be fine if all you want to do is lay around stoned or believe that Jesus is going to destroy the Earth in a few months or years.

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