Jobs for Jesus

Before we get to Jesus:

This week the Republicans stopped implementation of their own Bush era law, a law designed to hold three percent of payments from government contractors who are in arrears on taxes. When the bill passed through a Republican Congress with a Republican President, Republicans were outraged that businesses would take government money and not pay taxes in return.

After corporate investors looted the economy, took billions from the government and paid the money back without creating a single job or putting that money into loans to small businesses, Republicans decided they were wrong. So the law, which was supposed to go into effect in 2013 has been put on ice.

Tax-dodging government contractors are free to dodge their taxes again.

So much for render unto Caesar.

Here’s the stupid part. And I mean stupid. Obama and the Democrats were all for it. Somehow the Republicans convinced them that tax-delinquent companies would spend those revenues on jobs.

Get a clue, Democrats. If those employers were going to use the money they didn’t pay in taxes to create jobs, they would have done it already; they’re not going to create more jobs if they keep getting it.

So get back to the message:

Cutting taxes isn’t going to create jobs, at least not jobs for Americans.

Cutting taxes will only put us deeper into debt. And then we’ll lose government jobs as well. Wait a minute, that’s happening now. Because we’re cutting taxes and can’t pay their salaries anymore. Unless they move to government jobs in Texas from high paying corporate jobs.

Texas governor Rick Perry has been perfectly willing to exceed state salary caps to pay five new Department of Transportation (TxDOT) executives a quarter million apiece. As a consequence, TxDOT will have to lay off ten or twenty other employees, but these were corporate hot shots and they deserve better from our tax dollars.

Republicans aren’t really Christians, they just think they are. Maybe even believe they are. Maybe, on Sunday, when they aren’t obsessed with cutting taxes and abortion, they get close.

Corporations aren’t about the love of Jesus, they’re about the love of money.

Christians might let employees go if they had no money to pay them, but they wouldn’t lay people off to boost the bottom line. And they certainly wouldn’t lay employees off or force them into early retirement to lavish salaries on someone new.

One of the tenets of the charismatic movement’s prosperity wing (a movement which evolved into the moral majority and the modern Republican Right) was that if you give 10 percent to God, God would give back a hundred fold. So why aren’t more of these Christian corporations giving ten percent to God so they can hire more people?

How about this? Why don’t Christian conservatives hire ten percent more employees to increase their profits a hundred fold? Jesus said that which you do to the least of these, you do for him. Hiring a few of the unemployed would be the equivalent of hiring Jesus, and he would return profits a hundred fold.

They could even call the movement “Jobs for Jesus.”

It would be nice if they actually hired Americans for these new jobs, but that may be a lot to ask. Not ask of God, of course, but of American corporate management.

The more cynically minded thinkers—the ones who think the new Corporate Christian complex that is rapidly replacing the military industrial complex is little more than a ploy to exploit more gullible members of the faith—could even cash in with an ad campaign: “Buy Christian and create jobs for Jesus.”

Then the Corporate Christian complex could profit when God pays them back for giving jobs and profit from the increased business as well. And maybe, just maybe, they’ll do the Christian thing and actually hire somebody in America.


Jesus and Ayn Rand. BFFs?

This week the tea party nation went on strike against the Obama administration, taking Ayn Rand’s character Ellis Wyatt (or at least a movie portrait of him) as their example. Because they were declaring a strike, small business owners were told not to hire another employee until the evil abomination Obama was removed from office.

I find this ironic, in part, because when I was younger, and being raised Baptist Preacher’s Kid (BPK), the works of Ayn Rand were considered to be heresy of the first order, following only Mormonism. Actually, Catholicism was the primary heresy, but since it wasn’t contemporary but a deviant belief developed in the days of the early church, it fell into a category all its own.

Here were the contemporary heresies, in order, based on real books I was told to read by Sunday School teachers and other authorities:

  1. Mormonism
  2. Ayn Rand
  3. Christian Science
  4. Unitarians
  5. Church of Christ
  6. The members who used to be members of our church before the church split

What this means is that Christians in the Republican Party are now quoting the works of Ayn Rand (an athiest) and preparing to vote for Romny (a Mormon) to remove Obama from office. This is, in part, justified because Obama lies about being a Christian. If he wasn’t lying he wouldn’t be a Democrat, keep his clearly Moslem name, and care about the poor and those without health care.

Nor can I think of anything more Christian than refusing to hire workers who need a job to prove a political point.

In essence, what the tea party has declared is that Obama has caused the loss of American jobs, and the best way to get those jobs back is to stop creating jobs. Which is exactly what Jesus would do. You can look it up in his Sermon on the Mount (or the plain, depending on which Gospel you’re reading).

  • Blessed are the loud and obnoxious because they will dominate air time.
  • Blessed are the job creators because they should be free of taxation.
  • Blessed are the rich because they are entitled to everything they have.
  • Blessed are those who are not rich but who vote in the interests of the rich because they will get jack in return.
  • Blessed are those whose views are entrenched because they will budgeth not even slightly, but/li>
  • Cursed are those in need who protest their condition.
  • Cursed are the poor and underemployed because they deserve their fate.
  • Cursed are those without health insurance because if they would get jobs they wouldn’t need it.
  • Cursed are those who expect the rich to pay taxes for they are only hurting themselves.

Who would really stop employing people to advance her own agenda? Ayn Rand, who once said (to Playboy magazine among others) that charity is anything but moral. If you want to help out someone who deserves your help, fine, but you’re not even obligated to help the deserving. To help the poor is just wrong.

I think it’s time to admit the tea party has far more in common with Ayn Rand than Jesus.

Speaking of modern day heresies, the rapture returned on Friday.

Oh, wait. No, it didn’t.

After postponing the rapture from May 21 to October 21, God put it off indefinitely. Family Radio is recalculating the date and will get back to us when Jesus lets them know.

All of which goes to show that Kurt Vonnegut was right: earthlings have no immunity to cuckoo ideas. Sure, he would have included Christianity as one of those ideas, and it’s sad to listen to so many Christians who lend credibility to that conclusion.

So here is the most cuckoo idea of all floating around right now, and I’m going to keep harping on it until the Democrats finally get it through their heads that they need to be saying this too:

Cutting taxes will not create jobs. Nor is it an article of the Christian faith. It was an article of George Bush’s faith. George Bush claimed that we should cut taxes to create jobs, and we did. The economy finally recovered but it was a jobless recovery.

Yes, businesses earned more money, but any jobs they created went overseas. Why? Because the tax breaks helped them profit by relocating plants and infrastructure. In fact, by the end of eight years of tax cuts, we were on the verge on another depression and losing millions of jobs.

Job losses stabilized under the Obama administration.

So what is the Republican plan? Cut taxes more.

So let’s face the facts about three cuckoo ideas that people have clearly no immunity to:

  • Ayn Rand’s economics aren’t Christian.
  • The world was never going to end on October 21, or May 21 for that matter.
  • Cutting taxes will never create jobs. At least not in America.

And then there’s another fact: “The Democrats are never going to dispel voters of the belief that they are killing jobs and ruining Christianity until they start repeating those facts over and over and over again.” And over again. And again and then some more.

A student once told me that it drove her crazy that I would repeat assignments and important ideas over and over and over again on every page of my syllabus and three or four times in every class. She said she was smart enough to get it the first time.

Then I broke the class into small groups. Later she came back to me and said, “I was wrong. You didn’t repeat things often enough.”

So let me repeat again:

  • Tea party politics come straight from Ayn Rand, not the Bible.
  • Jesus will not give Family Radio the heads up on the end of the world.
  • Cutting taxes will not create jobs.
  • Democrats need to start repeating the last item over and over and over again.
  • And again and several times more every day from now until the election.

In fact they should go ahead and have six dozen debates between the 2016 candidates between now and election day so they can get on CNN and repeat that cutting taxes will not create jobs over and over and over again.

And if they want to point out some of the other dumb things Bachmann, Perry, Cain and even Romney say, that couldn’t hurt either.

Before you can stay on message you must find one

Except for Anita Perry’s. That needs to go.

Okay Democrats, listen up (and you too Anderson Cooper).

Anderson Cooper, thinking he was acting in a spirit of fairness, claimed President Obama was fudging the truth when he said the Republicans had no plan to create jobs.

He then showed a clip of John McCain saying, “We submitted a bill with a detailed plan.”

Wow, Anderson and John, I feel so much better. Only nothing I saw said what those details were. So I looked it up and the details of the bill are this: Cut taxes, cut spending and cut regulation.

So Obama misspoke. The Republicans do have a plan, they just haven’t offered us a plan that differs from the same plan they’ve been offering since the Bush administration.

In the meantime, the house passed a bill allowing hospitals to refuse abortions even when there’s a medical need, and crippling the EPA’s ability to enforce their own regulations. In other words, the Republican plan to create new jobs also involves cutting back on environmental health (driving up health care costs) and stopping abortion to make sure more kids are unemployed in twenty years.

So here’s the message Democrats can stay on:

Businessmen will only create jobs if they think they will make more money, not because they pay fewer taxes. And those jobs will only be in America if businesses can’t get away with hiring somebody for less money in India, China or Indonesia.

How do we know this? Because in 2000 Bush launched reforms that were identical to McCain’s Senate Bill: Cut taxes, cut regulation, cut (domestic) spending (and cut back on environmental safety and abortions as well). We lost jobs in the recession that followed and never really gained them back.

Why not? Because the new jobs created under the Republican plan were created overseas. Just like they will be under the new Republican plan.

So let’s think back to the one time in modern American history when people had good jobs and good salaries and ask ourselves, “what was the country like?” America was a country with strong unions, executive salaries more closely aligned to starting salaries, and lots of regulation.

Companies did pretty good too. They just didn’t try to earn their profits on the stock market and pay the CEO two hundred times what they paid employees.

Oh, yes, and one last thing: Christians didn’t believe faith and free enterprise were the same thing.

Nor would Coke Stevens’, Allan Shivers’, Price Daniels’ or John Connally’s wives say their husbands were being brutalized for their faith. And trust me, the few Republicans in Texas during their administrations hated those Governors as much as, well, the few more Democrats and even Republicans hate Perry.

Sure, Perry has taken some (well-deserved) heat in the press, but brutalized? Rape victims are brutalized, abused spouses and children are brutalized, third-world journalists are brutalized, politicians who tackle terrorists and drug dealers are brutalized.

They are beaten, burned, violated sexually, tortured and even dismembered.

How has Rick been brutalized? Republicans (not evil, God-hating, devil worshipping Democrats, mind you) have challenged his conservative credentials and reminded people that he approved the use of the HpV vaccine (which evil, God-hating, devil worshipping Democrats and even I have no problem with), wanted Texas to secede from the Union and called Social Security a Ponzi scheme.

Wow. To hear Anita, you would think they nailed him to a cross. Upside down like the apostle Peter. (I didn’t want to carry the analogy too far).

But accusing her opponents of brutality wasn’t enough. She went on to say that she knew other Republicans thought they heard the call from God to run for President, but they were wrong. She knows because she heard the call herself. If she heard the call then—clearly—they didn’t.

In fact, even her husband Rick didn’t hear the call. Seriously. He didn’t know anything about it until she delivered the message for God.

Double wow. Dare we take a moment to thank the Lord that God didn’t tell her Rick should run for Messiah?

Now, I’m going to step away from my firm belief that God can speak to women, and address readers as a Baptist Preacher’s Kid (BPK). Being raised BPK, I can tell you that God appointed men as head of the house and would never speak to wives because that would bestow on women the leadership role in the family.

Here’s the best part. God doesn’t just want Rick to be President, he wants Anita to be Co-President (that’s what “God called us” and “we’re running” means). So now Anita isn’t just the spiritual guide in the Perry house, she’s supposed to be co-head of the country.

This would be quite a promotion considering that a few years ago many Texans thought she was merely Perry’s beard.

Even Hillary never went that far. One could even go so far as to suggest Anita Perry is the Anti-Hillary (and we shall know her by her number 333, which would be her dress size, shoe size and number of things she said in a single day that would embarrass any other husband).

Which just goes to show that what many people believe to be faith is little more than hubris. And possibly, in some cases at least, delusional.

Where should Christians mingle?

I’ve been thinking this week about how easy it is to miss the obvious. The sports section in the local Austin American Statesman does this all the time. Just yesterday, for instance, the editor gave an entire first page column to the first Rangers/Tigers game, how well Detroit does against the Rangers and forecasting pitching match ups.

Since I’m a die hard Tigers fan (I spent many evenings with my son Bryan at the old stadium when they won the Series in 1984) and a Rangers fan as well, I actually read the entire column. When I finished, I noticed a small box at the bottom of the page with a picture of a Phillies pitcher.

The caption described how the Phillies ace only gave up one run and then went on to mention, as an afterthought, that the Phillies lost 1-0. As an after afterthought the next sentence said the Cardinals, who won, would advance to the NL Championship. Then, as an after after afterthought, they added that the Brewers advanced to the championship series as well.

Sorry, Statesman, but in order of importance the real stories should have been “Cardinals and Brewers win their divisions, advance to Championship Series,” and then run a story about the first game between two teams that had already won their divisions a few days earlier. I’ve heard of burying the lead in a story, but never burying the story and the lead as well.

And, yes, if you hadn’t guessed, I will be rooting for the Tigers in the ALCS, but I’ll be happy with either team in the series.

The press made a big deal announcing that Sarah Palin wouldn’t run for the Republican nomination. But wasn’t it already obvious that she wouldn’t run? She doesn’t finish anything. She’s been not campaigning long enough to get bored with that by now.

On top of that, I heard three ads on TV this morning for the Christian Mingle dating service, a place for young Christian singles to go to meet the mate God intended for them. I finally looked them up out of curiosity.

Christian Mingle promises to find your true love if you’re a good enough Christian. Backsliders need not apply.
Click on image to see full size

The message on the splash page couldn’t be more clear. Faith pays for love across state boundaries.

First, the verse over the photo of an irresistibly cute couple: “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” The implication being that faith will get you laid. Which, of course, is not what that verse is about at all. The psalm is about the desire for justice to prevail over evil and being rewarded for righteousness.

The caption with the photo explains how two Christians had to fly from the east to west coast to find love. The subtext seems to imply that Christians don’t have to search the world to meet other single Christians and can only do it online.

What about church? Can’t you meet the love of your life in the next pew? After all, if God is really all powerful and plans for you to marry that special someone, he can move that someone to your town and guide them to your church.

And if you can’t be bothered to switch pews and say, “The peace of the Lord be with you, and by the way, my name’s Phillip and are you free for coffee after prayer meeting,” do you really think you’re going to suck less at romance on line?

I hate to sound like a curmudgeon, but that seems like the obvious place to meet someone to date, and if your church doesn’t have anyone datable, there are always other churches.

Furthermore, if God was really going to give you the desires of your heart, would he make you pay a monthly matchmaker fee? I thought you could go to gypsies for that.

Christian Mingle feeds the same idealized vision of romance that pundits blame for all the divorces ripping families apart. The romanticized version of romance is that we can find the perfect spouse by finding someone with a computerized checklist.

“I want someone who worships God as we walk hand in hand along the beach; is willing to cuddle up with scripture, non-alcoholic wine and Amy Grant music by the fire; will share the housework and daily devotionals, and isn’t afraid to be moved to tears by the spirit.”

Why would anyone think an online Christian dating service is any different than the miserable failures in the secular world? Even if you do get to pray before you fill out your computer checklist.

Do you ever wonder what really goes on in those chat rooms? It seems just as likely people will cheat on their spouses with righteous sexting as they would with regular sexting: “I feel the spirit moving. The Lord wants me to rise to this occasion. That’s a big verse you sent.”

Only now it’s okay, because you’re not really cheating, you’re counseling.

The irony of all this to me is that when I went to church I didn’t do it to meet girls. In fact, I avoided romance with Christian women like the plague. Being raised Baptist Preacher’s Kid (BPK), I learned that the love of Christian women always masks a hidden agenda. Sure, they say the love you, but they really love the man they know Jesus wants you to be.

I had enough of that with the family I was born into. I didn’t need to add another one by marriage.

My experience with my first wife should have given me a clue that approaching marriage with such clearly drawn presumptions rarely works out. We were fine until Bryan was born, and then she turned into a righteous woman. Bryan had to get baptized. So we joined a Presbyterian church, took Presbyterian lessons and finally got confirmed so Bryan could get baptized.

We never missed a Sunday, never missed a lesson. Until the day came and Bryan was baptized Presbyterian. After that she never woke up on Sunday until football started. After we got divorced I had to take Catholic lessons, so she could get the marriage annulled and the church would allow Bryan to get baptized when she remarried a Catholic.

I also learned you didn’t have to be raised BPK to have religion make you nuts.

Ironically, I met Carol in church. I had no intention of dating her because she looked so holy and so righteous. She served on the altar guild and everybody she walked by could see the halo over her head. I knew she was bad news.

Then, for some reason, we ended up sitting next to each other one Sunday and had to share a hymnal because Episcopalians encourage that kind of thing. I heard this voice say quite clearly, “You need to marry her.”

God never spoke directly to me before. Ever. Or since. Even during my fervent days in the Jesus movement when everybody had visions and angels dropped in like bad acid trips, God answered with silence. So I figured I was having my first schizophrenic episode.

But later, at a pot luck, I thought I should at least say hello and cover my ass with God. Just in case.

The voice wasn’t wrong. Carol is such a catch that my own mother still asks her if she wouldn’t have been better off marrying someone better.

And while I don’t think everyone will have God shout out who they should meet, I’m not sure they need an algorithm either.

Put your money where your faith is

In 1972, the first year I could vote, I proudly wore my McGovern for President T-shirt every where, even to the Well in Austin and the Morningstar Coffeehouse in San Marcos, two coffee houses where the Christian kids would hang out and evangelize to the generation of love.

The elders who ran the Well had no problems with the shirt, or at least they never expressed their concerns to me. On the other hand they also dealt with an international community of students at the University of Texas, an international community that included Israeli and Palestinian students, students from the liberal east and west (or so the mythology went) coasts, hippies, homeless veterans, hard core drug dealers and bikers.

The elders at Morningstar coffeehouse constantly suggested I leave the shirt at home because Christians don’t engage in politics. The college community they dealt with, I might add, consisted of primarily central and west Texas kids who grew up in farm communities and hippies rebelling against the farm communities they grew up in. In those days San Marcos was as much a farm community as a college community.

I would ask these elders if they intended to vote for Nixon. Not surprisingly, they were. I reminded them that voting was getting involved in politics too. They would laugh and tell me that voting wasn’t politics.

During the next forty years conservative Christians (and many of the charismatic students they embraced) evolved into the Moral Majority and then the Christian right. They no longer believed Christians didn’t get involved in politics. They now believe Christians have a responsibility to promote Christian values in the pursuit of governance.

Strangely, however, this agenda includes a number of platforms I find absent in the Gospels and New Testament. They want to eliminate taxation, even though Jesus clearly commanded us render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s (i.e., pay taxes). They want mandatory public prayer in schools, even though Jesus said the faithful shouldn’t pray in public make a display of piety. They want statues of the Ten Commandments in public places, even though Jesus spoke out against idolitry.

They want to teach creationism as a legitimate science even though Jesus showed no concern whatever for public education. They want to ban abortion even though the Bible explicitly forbids the sacrifice of living children but never mentions the rights of the unborn. They want to stop medical research and deny health insurance and health care to the poor even though Jesus made it clear that one of the missions of Christians is to heal the sick.1

They do, however, make the case that it isn’t government’s responsibility to provide for the poor. The responsibility falls to private citizens and the faithful. And I accept that principle. It isn’t government’s responsibility as a matter of pure principle. But when the government represents the people, and twenty percent of the people live in poverty (and many more close to it), that government has a responsibility to everyone’s welfare.

If we accept the belief that private citizens are responsible to the poor, needy and sick, we must also recognize that Jesus taught his followers they were the private citizens responsible for the poor, needy and sick. We can rightly expect the religious right to step up to the plate and provide those services out of their own pockets. If, in fact, they want to do as Jesus did.

So we should also expect that, instead of pouring millions into political campaigns to unseat the Democrats, members of the religious right would be inviting the homeless into their homes, feeding them and paying their medical bills. If not that, they should be spending those millions on homeless shelters, food lines and free health clinics.

For some reason that isn’t happening. Where are the Palin sponsored homeless shelters? Where are the Salvation Army centers funded by Rick Perry’s wealth? Where is Michelle Bachman’s campaign to raise funds for medical care or to build free clinics? Why is it that the only Republican to show any desire to provide for health care for the poor is Mormon?2

When I was still a member of the church that founded the Morningstar coffeehouse, they sponsored a revival a few weeks after a flood that ruined the homes of several of the poorer members. During the revival they asked for clothes and food for those displaced by the flood. But they also collected thousands to help the visiting evangelist buy a private jet.

Several of the elders made sure to let members know how much they raised for that jet, but never mentioned the clothes and food. I even asked why they couldn’t have taken ten percent of the money raised for the jet and given it to the displaced families. I was assured that God would take care of the needy; the evangelist couldn’t spread the gospel without that jet.

Jesus walked on foot to spread the gospel, and collected money and food for the poor and starving. In 1972 (and now) I think he would have at least settled for driving to make sure those in need were clothed, housed and fed. And whether or not he would have voted for Rick Perry, Jesus would have told Perry and Palin and Bachman and Romney to sell everything they have and give it to the poor.

1Yes, I know I’m playing verbal sleight of hand here, since Jesus didn’t use doctors to heal the sick. But we could assume that it is not in the spirit of Christianity to deny treatment to those in need in order to make a political statement.back

2Sure, the Religious Right turns down the anti-Mormon rhetoric now that they’re all political bedfellows. But, trust me, deep down inside they believe Mormons are more like that weird spin-off program adopted by the SyFy channel than the official broadcast network variety of the faith.back