Un-Christlike behavior by U.S. conservatives?
February 16, 2014 3:18 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking to collect as many specific examples as I can, of instances in which specific Republican/conservative behaviors and/or political moves have directly contradicted the teachings of Christ. Some specific examples within.

To be clear, I am NOT looking for general or vague ways in which conservatives are being irreligious. I am looking for specific examples in which one or more Republican/conservative behaviors is in direct violation to what Christ himself said at one point. For instance:

Luke 12 is one of many places where Jesus says, either implicitly or outright, that everybody should always have enough to eat, no matter their station in life. The recent vote to cut SNAP funding directly violates these.

Matthew 18:21-35 demands debt forgiveness for the poor, without penalty. In 2005, Bush signed a restructuring of the bankruptcy law that made it much more punitive ("America is a nation of personal responsibility, where people are expected to meet their obligations.")

Luke 9 (the "miracle" of bread and fish) seems to be an implicit seal of approval from Christ on income redistribution.

Jesus routinely healed the poor who had no way to afford healthcare. The constant efforts by the Republican party to repeal the ACA seems directly contradictory to the spirit of his teachings and actions.

Any legislation or tax loophole which allows rich people to unfairly grow richer seems to directly contradict Mark 10:21-22.

I'm sure there are many more, and I'm looking to accumulate as many as possible with as much specifics as possible. And again, I am ONLY looking for things that come from the words of Christ himself, not any of the letters of Paul or anywhere else in the Bible. Thanks in advance for your input!
posted by jbickers to Religion & Philosophy (21 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
"be not of this world" suggests that his followers should not get involved in secular government.
posted by bruce at 3:30 PM on February 16, 2014 [4 favorites]

War, and the existence of the Military and the Department of Defense (certainly not exclusive to Conservatives though)

"You have heard that it was said, "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.
posted by drjimmy11 at 3:38 PM on February 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

You shall not murder - Matthew 19:18 (death penalty, war)

Same verse also instructs not to commit adultery, steal, or give false testimony.
posted by snarfles at 3:41 PM on February 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Proclaiming their piousness in public.

And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
posted by drjimmy11 at 3:43 PM on February 16, 2014 [14 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for the good examples so far ... and I promise not to threadsit after this one clarification: I am looking for specific instances where the Republican party violated the words of Christ (as in the Bush bankruptcy example above). The death penalty and war examples are good ones, but Democrats are just as guilty of those. And Democrats also can be plenty pious in public. I really am trying to hone in on actual instances of "breaking the law" (i.e. this Republican signed this particular bill that Christ would have had a problem with).
posted by jbickers at 3:47 PM on February 16, 2014

Matthew 22:17-21 (render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's etc) doesn't mesh very well with promoting tax loopholes.
posted by randomnity at 3:49 PM on February 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Just a clarification, you want initiatives that are or were EXCLUSIVELY Republican-backed, or Republican-originated? Because your SNAP example is unclear - the House bill cutting SNAP funding was both Republican-originated and entirely Republican-backed (meaning, no Democrats voted for it), but the Senate version had both Rs and Ds voting yea and nay (Here is a more blatant breakdown).
posted by chainsofreedom at 4:46 PM on February 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Ed Brayton's blog should be a goldmine for you when it comes to this kind of thing:

Dispatches from the Culture Wars
posted by metagnathous at 5:01 PM on February 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: chainsofreedom, thanks for the clarification. I'm not looking to get legalistic or split hairs, but am rather looking for things that are overwhelmingly right-supported and left-decried (SNAP cuts, ACA, reproductive rights, etc.). I realize that nothing is black and white, especially when it comes to political machinery, but I'm looking for the things that are so tipped in that direction that they are almost assumed.
posted by jbickers at 5:13 PM on February 16, 2014

I'm not sure what your ultimate goal is, but just in case this is helpful -- I offer this only in case it helps you ultimately strengthen your point -- and I am _not_ a biblical scholar by any measure -- but please consider this:

While Jesus talked about the way individual people ought to behave, is it possible that he didn't necessarily mean that the government should be the agent of that behavior?

For example, while many people would agree that cutting SNAP benefits isn't the best policy, but a conservative politician might argue that feeding the poor is the duty of individuals, or maybe church congregations or other voluntary communities, not government.

I'm talking here only about behaviors of government, not of individuals. Are you focusing on behaviors of individuals also?
posted by amtho at 5:18 PM on February 16, 2014 [6 favorites]

Congress passed a budget this year, with the support of the Republican-led house. This planning for the future would seem to be a violation of Matthew 6:26-6:30:
Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither
do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly
Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
And why take ye thought for raiment?
Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow;
they toil not, neither do they spin:
And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon
in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field,
which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven,
shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
posted by alms at 5:26 PM on February 16, 2014 [3 favorites]

Sorry, I should have included verses 31-34 as well:
Therefore take no thought, saying,
What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:)
for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness;
and all these things shall be added unto you.
Take therefore no thought for the morrow:
for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.
Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
posted by alms at 5:52 PM on February 16, 2014

What's the eventual use of this collection? Comments to friends on Facebook? A book? Personal gratification?

Because, I'll be honest with you, if you're looking to use these as any sort of persuasive argument, you're going to have to do better.

To wit, "The recent vote to cut SNAP funding directly violates these," is an example of a place that you think is a "clear win", but anyone who doesn't already agree with you is going to cock an eyebrow and think you've got an axe to grind. Specifically, because distilling biblical scholarship down to soundbites and then distilling U.S. policies down to individual actions and then comparing them contains enough arbitrary choices that you could "prove" anything you want -- quote duels are easy. For example, elsewhere in Luke 12, Jesus seems to say that God will take care of feeding the hungry as he does the ravens, so why would the government also need to do that?

Anyway, point is: if you're looking for some cheap gotchas, they should be easy to find, but if you're looking for actual, legitimate things that might convince a Republican that certain Republican actions or policies aren't Christlike, you're going to need a completely separate sort of examples.

Knowing what your'e going for might help folks hit the target better.
posted by toomuchpete at 6:41 PM on February 16, 2014 [12 favorites]

I would argue that the "greatest commandment" passage is in direct opposition to a lot of political conservative belief, because it commands the believer to focus first on the love of God, and then on loving others, and a lot of conservative thought has a mean streak in it that just doesn't support this command.

However. And I say this with all support going your way. You really, really want to get an argument squared away, including the conservative take on passages, before confronting someone. Not sure if that's where you are headed, but... For example, I'm about as liberal as they come in Christian religious thought, and I'm politically liberal, and I would never agree that the loaves and fishes miracle was a statement about income redistribution, or that healing the sick was about universal healthcare. That kind of logic is the same that conservatives use when they scream for "an eye for an eye" and justify that by pointing to a passage.
posted by Houstonian at 8:12 PM on February 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Acts 1-4 have what can be seen as pro-socialism passages. Those wouldn't be red-letter passages, but they are New Testament. Also, the "love your neighbor as you love yourself" passage (Mark 12: 31) is flagrantly disregarded if you consider the world to be your neighbor, not to mention citizens of different socioeconomic brackets -- and those are in red, but not necessarily only Christian (see rabbi Hillel the Elder, a contemporary of Jesus, who was asked to tell the whole Torah while a student stood on one foot... and he summarized it as "What you find hateful do not do to another"... and see also "the Golden Rule" because this message shows up time and time again in most? all? religious traditions).

But again, I urge you to get it all figured out before you spout off these as arguments, because there are counter-arguments.
posted by Houstonian at 8:43 PM on February 16, 2014

Matthew 25:35: "...I was a stranger (foreigner) and you invited me in..."

Arizona Senate Bill 1070
posted by daisystomper at 9:57 PM on February 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Something that's great for hunting these up, I think, is Robert M. Price's informative podcast The Human Bible, which comes from someone who's pretty damn knowledgable about the Bible and is a recovering Christian himself. He is politically conservative, which comes out once in a while, but he doesn't seem interested in using the Bible to push opinions; in fact, he seeks to un-deify the Bible, so that we can look at it using typical tools of literary examination. He frequently shows how the efforts to view it as infallible are not only nonsense, but actually distort the text, as everyone tries to interpose their own interpretations of the "holy" text, and sometimes those interpositions end up getting reflected in the text itself.
posted by JHarris at 2:00 AM on February 17, 2014

If the Human Bible doesn't update often enough for you, Price has another podcast, The Bible Geek, which updates typically several times a week, and is much much longer, and in which he answers questions from all comers. It's very interesting, and maybe you could send this in as a question for him to answer?
posted by JHarris at 2:03 AM on February 17, 2014

"The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants. Throughout the country that you hold as a possession, you must provide for the redemption of the land." Leviticus 25:23-24

"The earth dries up and withers, the world languishes and withers, the exalted of the earth languish. The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes and broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse consumes the earth; its people must bear their guilt. Therefore earth's inhabitants are burned up, and very few are left. " Isaiah 24:4-6

"I brought you into a fertile land to eat its fruit and rich produce. But you came and defiled my land and made my inheritance detestable." Jeremiah 2:7

"The nations were angry; and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great — and for destroying those who destroy the earth. " Revelation 11:18.

Cross-reference Anna Coulter (2001): "God gave us the earth. We have dominion over the plants, the animals, the trees. God said, 'Earth is yours. Take it. Rape it. It's yours.'"

For historical fun:

"Slaves are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative." Titus 2:9

"Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man." Ephesians 6:5-8

Cross-reference Abraham Lincoln (1854), "I cannot but hate [slavery]. I hate it because of the monstrous injustice of slavery itself. I hate it because it deprives our republican example of its just influence in the world—enables the enemies of free institutions, with plausibility, to taunt us as hypocrites—causes the real friends of freedom to doubt our sincerity."
posted by mibo at 3:34 AM on February 17, 2014

This thread makes my head hurt, so I'm going to leave the question alone, and merely submit a couple of references you may find useful:
The Complete Sayings of Jesus, by Arthur Hinds.
The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth, by Thomas Jefferson.
posted by stormyteal at 8:17 AM on February 17, 2014

In Matthew 10:5-8, Jesus said:
"Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give."
Conservative Republicans have continued to go out among gentiles, and have failed to heal the sick, raise the dead, and drive out demons, counter to Christ's teaching. Specific example: Mitch McConnell
posted by BurntHombre at 9:13 AM on February 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

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