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


Righteous Indigestion launches May 21

In case you don’t know, the world will end on May 21. This is a fact. It is even reported by reliable news sources like MSNBC.1

I know this is true because it says so on a billboard about a mile from my house.

Okay, not the end of the world, but the genuine, honest to God, rapture. Evidently, the final end of the world is on October 31 when God comes for everybody else. This would mean God would have to move up his timetable because, as I recall, in the good old days of Hal Lindsay everybody would have to suffer a lot longer before God gave them what they really deserve. But since we have such a much shorter attention span than we did in the seventies (which is the last time I took Hal Lindsay seriously because he hadn’t changed the signs of the apocalypse so many times), six months is probably appropriate.

The new timing is also very good for God because that allows him to beat the Mayans (and Satan) to the punch. The godless, idol worshiping Mayans have declared that the world will end in December 2012 (precise date and time may vary), so this gives the Righteous more than a year to make sure there’s no more world to end in when the planetary alignment and solar flares show up.

So there you have it. May 21 is the rapture and that’s the day I will officially launch the blog Righteous Indigestion. I figure that since most of the Tea Party intends to go on that day,2 that will give us a good six months to finally get something useful accomplished.

You see, people who believe in the rapture believe that Jesus will take Christians up into the air so he can punish the rest of the world. By “Christians” they don’t mean Episcopalians or old school Catholics or Presbyterians, half of the Methodists and anyone who voted for Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton or other posers who only pretend to be Christians.

Especially not those of us who voted for Obama who will single handedly usher in the end of the world after the 2012 elections. Or would have had God not beaten him to the punch on May 21.

In fact, you have to wonder why the Tea Party cares about slashing the funding to NPR and Planned Parenthood, or wants to decimate Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security when Jesus is going to rapture them anyway?

And now that Obama has made it clear that some of the deficit reduction has to come from raising taxes, they will be up in arms even though it won’t be their taxes he’s raising. After all, they won’t be here.

But it strikes me, after listening to the religious right’s spin machine for more years than I can count, that these Christians are the stingiest people I have ever met. And so willing to rush to judgment. It’s almost as though they took the New Testament and the Jefferson version (which they hate) and then cut out all the passages Jefferson kept and clutched what was left to their breasts as though these were the real words of Jesus without the liberal Democratic bullshit that got added by the liberal Democrats over the past two thousand years.

For instance, that verse, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” was liberal crap spliced in after the fact. And remember, this was supposed to be a summary of the most important commandments anyway. So here are the real commandments the liberals so completely rewrote with the “golden rule.”

  • Expect the government to give you everything you want without paying taxes in return.
  • If you don’t think it’s important, nobody else should get it from the government either
  • The poor don’t deserve shit and they’re using the government to steal from you.3
  • Keep everything you earned for yourself because, by God, you earned it.
  • Resist tax increases for the rich because Jesus wants you to be one of them one day.
  • If anyone disagrees with you, they’re wrong, unChristian and totally unAmerican.

Nor should we forget that when Jesus said “render unto Caesar” and Paul said that God gave us government to serve our best interests, they were just kidding. Especially in America where we actually are Caesar and the government. This means our support ultimately is support we’re giving to ourselves.

Now I’m not going to quote chapter and verse to you because being raised a Baptist Preacher’s Kid (BPK), I’ve heard chapter and verse cited by advocates of both sides of any argument (sometimes the same chapter and same verse by both sides of an argument) only to be used to support why those same people changed their minds a few years later (all the while insisting they would never have believed something as stupid as what they used to believe).

But here’s the Gospel I always read. God cares about what’s in our hearts, and giving (willing and glad giving I might add) shows your heart’s in the right place. Even if you don’t personally benefit.

In fact, it’s better if you don’t benefit because gracious giving with no hope of material reward adds to eternal reward.

It bothers me most when Christians say they shouldn’t have to pay taxes to support education, Social Security or health care because they aren’t paying for their own health care. Jesus taught me that (yes, me personally) that it doesn’t matter if my taxes don’t pay for my son’s education because someone else’s taxes did.

My taxes did pay for my niece’s educations since they went to school in our district. Joy ended up becoming a counselor and Kelly (who’s Catholic) a law student at Baptist Baylor. My nephews got great educations and graduated from A&M. Thanks to taxes. One’s a physicist and another a software engineer. So I’m grateful to the people who paid for their educations and am perfectly willing to pay for someone else’s education in return.

And even though I’m a pacifist (because I’m a Christian) I don’t mind paying taxes to support a military because those taxes helped pay for my son’s years in the Marines and continue to pay for the benefits from disabilities he suffered.

Do I want to pay for fighter planes that never fly, troops in every country and three wars I don’t support? No, I don’t. But I also know that when you give, you immediately lose control over how that money is spent. It’s part of giving. If you give with the expectation that the money will be spent exactly the way you spend it, it’s no longer a gift but a purchase. And that requires a contract.

Whenever the person you give to becomes obligated, it ceases to be a gift.4

Jesus made this pretty clear when Mary took money that had been given to support his ministry and the poor and spent it on oils to pamper him.

So, guess what? It isn’t just Obama who’s telling me to give tax money to help get America out of debt without dismantling Social Security, Obamacare, Planned Parenthood and NPR. It’s Jesus, and he’s telling me to give willingly and gladly.

And I will continue to do so even after May 21.


Key topics

It seems the search engine bots aren’t that smart. They look for exact matches to key words in the text. If you look for words that would direct you to the topic but aren’t actually included in the text (because the actual keywords don’t really fit the text being written), the bots kick you out of the search and refuse to list your page. I know this because I used to write for web sites and had to skew the text by including every possible variation of the key words, even when adding them created bizarre, banal or just plain bad prose. So I’m including them here. If you feel I’ve misrepresented the post with these key words, please complain to WordPress, Google and Bing.

Tea Party, rapture, May 21, taxes, Obama, Barach Obama,Social Security, Planned Parenthood, NPR, National Public Radio, Medicare, Obamacare, religious right, golden rule, search engine bots, generosity, giving


1If it was Fox, you might have cause to doubt it, at least according to the liberal elite. But this comes straight from the liberal press itself.back
2It is a proven fact, proven by the same sources that Rush and Glenn Beck use to fuel their fantasies, that Tea Party members are the primary readers of the Left Behind series. back
2 …even though you’re probably one of them, or will be if the Republicans have their way. Okay, I added that part.back
2Derrida wrote an entire book on the subject, but since he’s French, which means not a Christian by definition, I’m going to bury this fact in the footnotes where only people who would read writers like Derrida would be looking anyway.back

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