Why Republicans CANNOT be Truly Christian, Part I: Money
Jumping right in
I'm not going to give much of an introduction, that can be found here. I suggest giving that a read before continuing on because there may be some things I write about here that will be ambiguous and possibly downright confusing without the background in the former post on this subject.
Jesus on welfare and healthcare
I had originally planned on titling this section "The New Testament on welfare, healthcare and money," but even in the confines of that anthology of religious thought, there are contradictions, which I will get to.
(All verses from the King James Version of the Bible, simply because it's the only one I actually own. I know it's not the best or allegedly the most accurate translation, but I'm working with what I have. My bad.)
Matthew 19:21 "Jesus said unto him, if thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in Heaven: and come and follow me."
Matthew 25:35 "For I was hungered and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger and ye took me in."
Mark 12:40 "Which devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation."
Luke 12:33 "Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourself bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth."
Luke 14:13 "But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame,the blind:"
The above quotes all come from books that are collectively known as the "Gospels" (the other two being Mark and John), i.e. books that consist of words that purportedly came directly from Christ's mouth. Nothing that Christ said about giving to the poor comes with exceptions; it is simply an imperative to "just do it."
Yet, a few books later along come The Epistles of Paul. (Quick aside: The Epistles were actually chronologically written before the Gospels, but since the Gospels are considered to be direct quotes, they come first in the NT.)
Suddenly, there are caveats. Suddenly there are exceptions, such as, if the person is lazy or idle, they deserve to starve. That's all Paul.
2 Thessalonians 3:8 "Neither did we eat any man's bread for naught; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargable [a burden] to any of you."
2 Thessalonians 3:10 "For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat."
This coming from a man who made a living persecuting and even executing members of the Jesus Movement*. Then, one day, on his way to Damascus - undoubtedly to behead more "bad Jews" - Paul, then called Saul, had something akin to a Grand Mal seizure and suddenly became Christ's leading spokesman. But only through a filter that would later justify many of the attitudes of modern Churchians.
* There was no such thing as "Christianity" in the first century CE - most followers of Jesus were devout Jews in every sense of the word. "Jesus Movement" - not to be confused with the 60s Christian Hippie phenomenon - is a theological term for the followers of Christ before the establishment of an official church a few centuries later.
A camel, mammon and heaven
The following Biblical passage is one I will return to again and again in this series:
Matthew 19:24 - And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. (KJV)
Not only does this imply that getting rich is not easy to do without financially (or even emotionally or physically) harming others, it implies that one should simply not be rich. Three verses before this, in Matthew 19:21 (see above), Jesus admonishes his more well-off followers to sell what they have and give to the poor. By hoarding financial gain, the wealthy are denying those "less fortunate" a slightly easier life.
Let's be honest here, people like Warren Buffett and the Koch Brothers are worth billions of dollars. Billions. Buffett has reportedly made philanthropic statements about giving away 99 percent of his wealth,
Buffett wrote the following in 1988:
I don't have a problem with guilt about money. The way I see it is that my money represents an enormous number of claim checks on society. It's like I have these little pieces of paper that I can turn into consumption. If I wanted to, I could hire 10,000 people to do nothing but paint my picture every day for the rest of my life. And the GDP would go up. But the utility of the product would be zilch, and I would be keeping those 10,000 people from doing AIDS research, or teaching, or nursing. I don't do that though. I don't use very many of those claim checks. There's nothing material I want very much. And I'm going to give virtually all of those claim checks to charity when my wife and I die. (Lowe 1997:165–166)
Blah, blah, blah. The operative sentence here is "when my wife and I die." Because there aren't people in need right at this very moment, are there?
Buffett is also notoriously thrifty. Unlike many of the super-rich, he doesn't really surround himself in opulence; he lives a fairly utilitarian lifestyle compared to many of his peers. But his personal wealth continues to grow and aside from involvement with the Gates Foundation, there is very little evidence of his self-proclaimed philanthropy.
The Koch family is another example of "One Percenters" giving very generously to charity in the guise of a foundation bearing their name while still owning holdings that total in the hundreds of billions.
But these men are practically worshiped by conservatives because of the money they possess. Everyone wants to be better off than they are and these people are the pinnacle of success and the so-called "American Dream."
Notice I used the word "worship." This brings me to:
Matthew 6:24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
Though mammon has been depicted as some sort of demon money god akin to Baphomet - the "king of the world" (i.e. the material realm) that the Knights Templar were accused of worshiping when they were put to death - mammon is in actuality a word with nebulous etymology that simply means "money, wealth and/or possessions."
One can go to church all day, every day, but when that same person votes for people who in turn vote in favor of the rich and corporations above the welfare of the masses, what is that person truly worshiping?
Ultimately, Christ is saying, "You can't take it with you, and if you keep it to yourself here, you will never experience the splendor of God's existence."
Baphomet, the true God of the Republican Party
The most famous depiction of the aforementioned Baphomet is probably the Devil card of the Tarot, pictured to the right. Despite its name, this card does not represent the incarnation of evil. Well, not directly. No, this card in a reading represents limitations and hurdles one faces in life, often in regard to improving one's material lot in life. It represents wealth, lust, and the need to be better than others, all obstacles to true spiritual fulfillment.
The Knights Templar, who went to Jerusalem under the aegis of providing protection from the heathen Saracens for those rich Europeans who wished to see the home of the Lord, were initially under a vow of monastic like poverty. They returned to Europe as some of the richest men in the land and were more than a little insubordinate to kings and religious leaders. So they were executed.
This would not happen today. No, today, the Templars would buy the king and the religiosos and make their own rules. Sound familiar?