The fact that white evangelical and born-again Christians act as one of the cornerstones for failed beverage-retailer Donald Trump’s base of supporters is unsurprising and, at the same time, cartoonishly odd. It is unsurprising because the right half of the neoliberal-capitalist binary cycle is often branded as a revival of allegedly traditional Christian values, while the “left” half is branded as a Unitarian or ‘spiritual but not religious’ counter-punch to save all of the helpless minorities. Rinse and repeat every 4 – 8 years. The strange part is that Trump could objectively be described as the living, breathing incarnation of the antithesis to all that Jesus advocated and died for. Jesus — the anointed one, Issa, Yeshuah, HaMeshiach — you know, that guy whose ideas are supposed to be the basis of Christianity?
Jesus of Nazareth vs. ‘Christian’ Political Views:
What Would Jesus Do (to Immigrants, Muslims, & Poor People)?
“In a Trump administration, our Christian heritage will be cherished, protected, defended, like you’ve never seen before. Believe me. I believe it. And you believe it. And you know it…”
— former bankruptcy applicant, Donald Trump
According to gospel accounts, Jesus was a homeless Jew who openly associated with sex-workers and social outcasts as he walked the Levant spreading a mystical and frankly proto-communist interpretation of the Hebrew scriptures. After three years of teaching controversial ideas that upset Judea’s powerful priestly class, he was accused of fomenting rebellion and executed by European Imperialist forces at the age of 33 in Roman-occupied Syria Palaestina.
Jesus’ Family Was Dirt-Poor & Sometimes Homeless
“Teenage mothers [shouldn’t] get public assistance unless they jump through some pretty small hoops. Making them live in group homes makes sense”
Jesus was literally born in a trough used to feed livestock in a barn because his mother — an unmarried woman named Mary — and her partner, Joseph, had no place to sleep. His family was homeless and, as any reasonable person would guess, the experience of poverty informed Jesus’ worldview quite a bit. On more than one occasion, Jesus flat-out told rich people to sell all of their stuff and hand out the proceeds to the poor. Many of his most well-known sayings are pretty savage critique of the wealthy:
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. […] But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry” -Jesus, Luke 6:21, 24-25
“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” -Jesus, Mark 10:24-25
Who Would Jesus Kick Off Welfare?
“The point is, you can never be too greedy”
GOP congressmen Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) are pushing a bill to cut 20% of funding for food stamps, claiming Trump seemed “enthusiastic” about the idea in a recent meeting. In other news, congress adopted a 10-year budget resolution in October outlining $800 billion in cuts to non-military spending, which the Urban Institute estimates would deprive 28 million households of $1,230 in yearly public childcare, housing, and food assistance. (And in case you thought this post would let democrats off the hook, make no mistake — despite any false tears, Schumer and his brood of vipers will go along with it as they always do.)
And while Trump’s budget proposes large cuts to food stamps and welfare due to his belief that welfare is “morally offensive” and “robs people of the chance to improve,” Jesus seemed to think not feeding people who were hungry was pretty uncool. In fact, he straight-up insisted on feeding people:
“Sell your possessions and give to the poor” -Jesus, Luke 12:33
“Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again […] If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return” -Jesus, Luke 6:30, 34-35
“[Jesus] brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty” -Mary, Luke 1:52-53
“Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you” -Jesus, Matthew 5:42
What Would Jesus Do to Immigrants & Muslims?
“They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people”
The idea behind Jesus’ Parable of the Good Samaritan is often misinterpreted. Though “good Samaritan” is widely used to label helpful strangers, helping others was not the point of the story — the point was that treating immigrants and folks with different religious or cultural backgrounds as outsiders is a stupid and crappy thing to do. For those who are unfamiliar with the parable, it tells the story of a guy who is robbed and left for dead on the highway. A priest and a Levite — who both enjoyed a high status in Judean society — pass by and leave him bleeding in the ditch. Then, a Samaritan shows up who cleans the guy’s wounds, hoists him onto a camel, and takes him to a nearby bed and breakfast where the Samaritan pays for his room and the parable ends.
The context here is crucial — in first-century Judea, folks had a lot of racist nonsense stuffed between their ears and Samaritans were depicted as an inferior race whose religion was defiled by foreign ideas. This racism was strong in the wealthy and priestly classes, which is why it was pretty intense that Jesus told this parable to a professional expert in Hebrew religious law. When Jesus mentioned the Torah’s commandment to love your neighbor as yourself, the expert asked, “But who counts as a neighbor?” And this is the context in which Jesus throws down his parable.
A “Christian” Nation?
Would Jesus have approved of banning Muslims from entering the country? How about the idea of killing their families to win the war on terror? And would he have joined in the chant to “build that wall” or shrugged off the suggestion that Latinx immigrants are likely to be rapists and drug-dealers? These are important questions and, in a sense, they transcend the framework of religion or non-religion. Jesus wouldn’t have been a republican — and while we’re on the subject, he sure as hell wouldn’t be a democrat either. No — Jesus would sooner be the pauper sleeping in a stairwell downtown and — if any non-negligible number of politicians were Christians — you’d think there’d be less of a debate in congress over whether we ought to feed him or not…
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*Jesus’ real name, by the way, was “Josh” and I’m not even kidding — an “s” was added to the Hebrew Yeshua (aka Joshua aka Josh) by Greek-speakers because male names end with “s” in Greek and the Latin letter “j” was used to make the English “y” sound (like a German “j”) but I guess no one bothered to tell that to Western Europeans and here we are. Yeshua, which would typically be transliterated as Joshua in today’s English, turned into a Greek Iesus which was written as Jesus in the Latin alphabet, then badly mispronounced