Health and government for none. Apocalypse for all.

The Tea Party success in shutting down the government is about as far from a victory for Christ as I can imagine.

They have been very good about not dragging Jesus into this debate the way they drag him into everything else, which is ironic. After all Jesus sent his disciples out into the world to heal (read Mark 6) and the Tea Party wants to take a bill away which was designed to provide the health care Jesus wanted people to have.

Do we see these Christians trying to get that health care to the people who would lose it? No more than Rick Perry and his ilk tried to find health care for all those who will be losing it when he closes down every clinic in Texas.

But they want more than that. They want to shut government down completely and this got them what they wanted. Michelle Bachmann even came out an admitted as much the day after the shut down.

The Tea Party is closely tied to the Christian Right who loves apocalypse. The Late Great Planet Earth is usually treated as the Third Testament. The shut down plays into their wildest fantasies. This could even trigger the Rapture. Their rapture over the shut down is undeniable.

Masada, a symbol of the devastation from an intransigent political party

Of course there is a distinct danger to playing out these end game scenarios, especially with so much brinksmanship at stake. The Jews learned this lesson when they took on Nero and his general Titus. The Radical Jews decided they had too much taxation too and decided to shut down the Imperial presence in Jerusalem.

And they brought the government crashing down too. Their own. The Romans ended any semblance of Israel’s home rule, destroyed the temple and the last illusion of Jewish autonomy. But they had their moral victory, and the Tea Party will have theirs.

Unfortunately, Jesus' kingdom is not about victories, moral or otherwise. It's about service. And healing. And the Tea Party is offering neither.

 

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Life begins at home

(the base, not the building)

 

I’m  not sure who I’m more grateful to for allowing me to return with such a great topic, President Obama or crazy Republicans. Usually I try not to use epithets like “crazy” to describe Republicans but in this case I feel it’s not only called for—it’s accurate.

And to be fair, I’m not calling Republicans crazy; just the crazy ones.

The ones like Texas Attorney General Gregg Abott, who—even though Obama backed down on requiring organizations affiliated with religious groups to provide birth control coverage for non-Catholic employees—still intends to sue the feds for making providers cover birth control.1

Or Missouri Republican Roy Blount who plans to introduce an amendment to the Patient Care Act to prohibit mandates on any employer to offer sexually related preventive health care. All of this just to make sure sperm is free to penetrate any egg it chooses.

Blount’s amendment would allow any employer to claim religious freedom as a reason to refuse to cover birth control, HIV testing and even cancer screening as an employee health benefit. In fact, employers will be allowed to deny benefits for any health condition that comes from what they believe to be an unhealthy or immoral life-style.

Or the sponsors of Oklahoma Senate Bill 1433, the “Personhood Bill,” which declares life to begin at conception and that “unborn children have protectable interest in life, health and well-being.” (Notice, they don’t have those rights after birth.) Ironically the bill is getting more attention for one Democrat’s satirical amendment that would make masturbation illegal, too.

Monty Python fans can’t help but chuckle.

According to Republicans of all ilk, crazy or not, the birth control requirement was just one more salvo in Obama’s ongoing war on faith. Obama is yet another of a long line of Democratic Presidents engaged in anti-Christian jihad: the born-again Baptist Jimmy Carter, the admittedly mixed-signal sending Methodist Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama, who, as we all know, was born in Kenya and raised chanting the Koran at the feet of Imams in his local mosque as he secretly infiltrated America to lead the fifth column against faith.

I could stress that Obama’s birth control initiative didn’t target the Catholic Church or even churches,  only hospitals and non-profits that declare religious affiliation. I could stress it, but I would be ignored since this doesn’t seem to matter. Every other commentator (including the President) who tries to stress this is ignored.

I have two things to say about this nonsense:

Who’s persecuting who?

Nothing in Obama’s current plan (or the other one for that matter) forced employers to break their religious vows. Providing birth control in employee benefit plans does not make the employer the birth control provider. Churches would neither pay for nor hand over condoms, birth control pills, diaphragms or IUDs to their employees. They would merely cover costs out of the employees’ contributions to their premiums. The provider would be the insurer.

To deny benefits to those who don’t practice your faith is tantamount to religious persecution. It would be to allow religious institutions to coerce employers into a code of conduct. In other words, it would be the state requiring all religious employers to enforce Catholic theology. Not only is it unconstitutional, it’s hardly something Christians should want to do.

It may backfire too. This practice, which could be called “persecuting others for righteousness’ sake,” might give sinners a free ticket to heaven. That’s right, and the proof is in the Gospels. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:10).

So if we take our scriptures seriously, denying birth control to non-practicing employees would make them into martyrs. That’s right. You will pay for their pass to the afterlife. On Jesus’ dime.

Don’t blame Jesus for your cheapness

Speaking of Jesus’ dime. This whole uproar is really a cover for a total lack of Christian generosity. Gregg Abbott actually admitted as much when he claimed that insurers would pass the cost of covering birth control onto paying customers (i.e., guys like him, who can afford it).

But let’s just say that the evil doers in this scenario really are the employees who need access to affordable birth control. Or the evil Obaminator who wants to mow down righteousness with one stroke of his pen. Jesus has a command for that too:

“Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.” (39-42)

Our Christian responsibility is clear. If the liberals expect us to provide birth control for one employee, we should turn around and provide it for two. If called on to provide birth control for all employees, we should provide it for another employer’s workers as well. It’s called “tough love.” In other words, it isn’t really love if it isn’t tough on you.

What’s wrong with birth control?

I never understood why Christians are upset with birth control. If everyone who had sex  practiced birth control, we wouldn’t have to stop abortions. Isn’t that a good thing?

I know the answer, of course. Religious leaders who oppose birth control think it encourages immorality. If kids have condoms, they will also have sex.

Let me take a cue from the NRA in response to that:

Condoms don’t get people pregnant; people do.

Mainly people who don’t practice birth control.

It’s clear to me that religious conservatives are trying to push the boundaries of conception further and further back. Soon life won’t begin with conception, but with ejaculation and then the act of sex itself. Before you know it we will push the instant of birth back from home plate to third base, and then second and even first. Just the thought of kissing will knock her up.

That’s in the Gospels too. “…everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (28)

Life will begin with intent.


1As I recall, the Constitution says no one can sue the feds without their permission. It’s called “sovereign immunity,” and the Torts Claims Act and Tucker Law don’t seem to apply here. So, good luck with that, Gregg.back