News & Politics

The Political Jesus

Let's reflect a moment on the moral teaching of this man from Nazareth.
In the cacophony of Christmas commercialism, it can be difficult even to recall that it's about Jesus. But this hardly is the only time that Jesus gets lost in our modern swirl.


Take politics. In the recent presidential run, much was made by George W and his handlers of his supposedly superior moral values based on his commitment to Jesus. But before we let Bush steal away with the robe of Jesus and don it as a Republican garment, let's reflect a moment on the moral teaching of this man from Nazareth.


Like George, I grew up in a Methodist church in Texas. Unlike George, I didn't find any burning anti-liberal theology there. My little church might have considered itself "conservative," but only in terms of its commitment to the deeply egalitarian, truly progressive values we found in the Biblical teachings of Jesus.


I recall many a sermon that began with Jesus's words in Matthew 19:24: "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." I recall that the greatest sin of all, "the root of all evil," Jesus said, is "the love of money." I recall the passionate retelling of how Jesus threw the money changers out of the temple – threw them out for charging interest rates for less than usurious bankers now charge us on our Visas and Mastercards, by the way.


I recall also that Jesus fed all of the masses that day on the hillside at the Sea of Galilee, not turning away anyone who lacked a platinum card to buy fishes and loaves. And I recall that Jesus flatly said: "You cannot serve with both God and Mammon."


In the good book, Jesus talks more about economic justice than nearly any other subject, and the apostles make clear that the most important ethical/religious test of Judeo-Christian faith is in how we treat the least wealthy, least imporant among us.


Let's call on Bush – and the Democrats, too—to live up to these moral values before they claim that Jesus is on their side.
Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of "Let's Stop Beating Around the Bush," from Viking Press. For more information, visit jimhightower.com.
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