It’s Okay to Argue Against the GOP Caricature of Jesus – In Fact, We Should Do it More…

First of all, this post is NOT about Duck Dynasty. I literally couldn’t care less about a bunch of fake rednecks pretending to act like rednecks.

No, this post is about this political concept that right wingers wield like a blunt instrument, in which they invoke God in an argument in order to shut down debate, at least in their minds. They also imagine that invoking religion triggers some sort of fantasy First Amendment protection, meaning that no one is allowed to criticize it, and there are no consequences to be brought forth. (Note: this only applies to people who say what right wingers like to hear, of course.)

Jesus GOP               Phil Robertson, and every other right wing troll, has every right to say whatever stupid crap s/he wants to say. If someone in government was actually preventing right wingers from speaking in the first place, I would be on their side with all of my might. But there is nothing in the Constitution that provides anyone with the right to avoid criticism or consequences. In fact, when you shut down criticism, and eliminate consequences, you are essentially limiting everyone else’s right to free speech. See, everyone has the right to free speech. That means everyone.

There is also a fiction on the part of the right-wing that suggests that the right to free speech is protected from other people. The First Amendment protects you from the government infringing on your right to free speech. In some cases, that can result in protecting individuals from infringement by others, but not if it infringes on others’ right to free speech.

But I want to get back to this concept in which invoking God in a conversation somehow shuts down anyone else’s criticism of that person’s ideas, such as they are. The most offensive part of Phil Robertson’s diatribes is this concept that somehow he’s representing God and Jesus, and that somehow inoculates him from criticism because “it’s his religion.”

This is a load of crap. Seriously, if someone is going to use their religion to justify some sort of idea that God supports them in their bigotry, shouldn’t they at least be accurate about what their religion is about? I mean, doesn’t this essentially mean anyone can say anything, cite God as a source, and get away with anything and everything? That sounds a lot like the Manson family back in the late 60s, and Jim Jones citing the rationale behind the Guyana massacre. Those folks were encouraged to drink Kool-Aid laced with poison, and told their mass suicide would be a gift from God. Suicide bombers also invoke God as their rationale for killing innocent people. So, here’s the question; should we allow people to make up their own religion, and cite their own religion as a rationale for really disgusting thoughts feelings and behaviors? And why do we allow them to cut off to eight, simply because they invoked religion as their rationale?

The other problem with Phil Robertson’s diatribes is that his invocation of Christianity and the Bible are just plain wrong.

This past weekend, Robertson spoke before a church group and talked about his controversial statements about gays. I want to address some of the statements and correct the record. If you are going to cite God as your source, isn’t it technically “blasphemy” to claim that God or the Bible said something that it doesn’t say? Look at some of the statements he made this weekend as he tried to “correct the record.” Basically, he doubles down on stupid. Not only is a lot of this crap unintelligible, but what he claims is from the Bible, well, isn’t.

We murder each other and we steal from one another, sex and immorality goes ballistic. All the diseases that just so happen to follow sexual mischief… boy, there are some microbes running around now. Sexual sins are numerous and many, I have a few myself. So what is your safest course of action? If you’re a man, find yourself a woman, marry them and keep your sex right there. You can have fun, but one thing is for sure, as long as you are both healthy in the first place, you are not going to catch some debilitating illness, there is safety there.

Start here. I think we can all agree, that murder and theft are immoral and wrong, and should be punished. After a trial and conviction, of course. But his admonitions about sex are largely misplaced. While the Bible does seem to indicate that sex within marriage is preferred by God, there is actually no definition of marriage in the Bible. While weddings are celebrated, there is no static definition of what constitutes “marriage.” Therefore, based solely on the Bible, the concept of marriage, and the concept of sex inside and outside marriage, are extremely muddy areas.

The fact of the matter is, religion is very personal, as are interpretations of the Bible.  There is no single, unimpeachable interpretation of the Bible out there, which is why there are literally hundreds of Christian sects out there, and why no two Christian sects see the Bible in exactly the same way. Religion is between you and whatever you believe in, and to have someone like Phil Robertson tell everyone else how they should live based on his own bigoted interpretation of the Bible is sickening and insulting. Of course, many people who describe themselves as “born again Christians” have the same problem Phil Robertson has. They’ve adopted some sort of belief, and they feel justified in telling everyone else that they have to believe exactly the same way, and that there can be no variations, even if they’re wrong.

As for the whole disease scenario, well, diseases are caused by bacteria and viruses and microorganisms that many people don’t understand. These diseases are not exclusive to unmarried couples who have sex. In fact, a great number of married couples also end up with sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS. If you are going to adopt the belief that God chooses who gets sick and who doesn’t, then you’ll have to explain why He chooses to infect so many young children with cancer, diabetes, and other diseases that they don’t deserve based on any sort of behavior. The problem is, people like Robertson don’t think logically. They think everything that happens is “God’s will” and that nothing happens entirely by chance or coincidence. How can anybody live that way? His implication, of course, is that God chose to give gays AIDS because of their “sin,” despite the fact that most people with AIDS worldwide are heterosexual married couples. I’d also like people like this to explain why homosexuals are treated worse by God then people like, say, Hitler who lived long enough to kill 20 million people and was allowed to commit suicide to escape his fate.

The bottom line on most of the stuff is that nothing that Phil Robertson says above has anything to do with anything that is in the Bible. Nothing. It’s all made up nonsense that is designed to appeal to a political group that doesn’t like anyone that isn’t white, straight and rich.

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious. Sexual immorality, is number one on the list. How many ways can we sin sexually? My goodness. You open up that can of worms and people will be mad at you over it. I am just reading what was written over 2000 years ago. Those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom. All I did was quote from the scriptures, but they just didn’t know it. Whether I said it, or they read it, what’s the difference? The sins are the same, humans haven’t changed. […]

One thing I always wonder about people like this is, do they even read the Bible? If they do read it, do they understand it? The reason I ask is because they don’t seem to understand very much of what’s actually in there. The first, most obvious thing is, there is only  the very vague condemnation of homosexuality that appears in Leviticus to fall back on, and that condemnation is presented alongside condemnations of such activities as eating pork or shellfish, or wearing mixed fabrics, all of which are worthy of death. That same section of Leviticus, by the way, admonishes parents to stone their child to death if the child talks back to them. The adoption of that condemnation seems to be fairly selective, don’t you think? And note that the condemnation is of homosexuality, NOT homosexuals. There is also a very strong admonition from Jesus Christ in the New Testament about judging others. Yet the entire paragraph above requires judgment of other people, based on your definition of what he imagines they do. “How many ways can we sin sexually?” If you really look in the Bible, adultery is about it, except for the rather cloudy passage in Leviticus.

Robertson also claims that he’s “just reading what was written over 2000 years ago.”

No, he isn’t.

The ignorance in this statement is monumental, and all too common among self-righteous people like this guy. First of all, the Bible was written over the course of several hundred years, by hundreds of people, and is only some of the hundreds of writings that the people who put together the Bible were given for consideration. The books of the Bible were chosen by committee and many, if not most, were thrown out. More importantly, most of the books of the Bible were written in ancient languages that largely don’t exist anymore, and have been translated and retranslated thousands of times over the years. Add to that the fact that the Bible was hand copied for well over 1000 years by various people who have changed the language and the stories, and who changed whole passages because of a political agenda they might have held at the time. For anyone to claim that the Bible he’s reading right now is exactly what was written 2000 years ago really doesn’t understand what s/he’s talking about.

But there’s a way out, do you want to hear the rest of the story or what? Jesus will take sins away, if you’re a homosexual he’ll take it away, if you’re an adulterer, if you’re a liar, what’s the difference? If you break one sin you may as well break them all. If we lose our morality, we will lose our country. It will happen. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all walk around without stealing from each other and killing each other?

Here’s the problem with people like Phil Robertson, in a nutshell. That he believes that Jesus will take sins away is his religious conviction, and that’s fine. But he doesn’t stop there. He doesn’t cite his faith as an expression of belief, but rather as an establishment of authority.

If being homosexual is a sin in and of itself, then why does God keep making them? Homosexuality is natural; the longer scientists study it, the more apparent that becomes. Every species of mammal has a homosexual component; are all of those animals committing sins, or are they just born that way? And the very concept that breaking one sin is the same as breaking all sins is absurd. If you steal a loaf of bread from the grocery store because you’re hungry, then you have also committed murder? If you are a homosexual, then you too have also committed murder and stole a loaf of bread. But think about this; being homosexual is not a sin, even according to Leviticus. I mean, unless you’re looking into their bedrooms and watching them, you’re condemning people based on an assumption, which is a judgment, which is a sin, according to Jesus. And since committing one sin is the same as committing all sins… (see how stupid this is?)

I’m fascinated by the concept that if we lose Phil Robertson’s brand of morality, we lose our country. One problem with that is, whose morality wins out? I think we can all agree that the concept of morality is not static. I mean, at one point in our history, Southern plantation owners made moral arguments in support of their ownership of black people. Their morality told them that owning black people was the right thing to do because they were too primitive to be able to make it on their own. They were dismissed as savages, so it was up to the plantation owners to give them civilization, and to make them into something acceptable, based on their moral code. Obviously, their moral code is no longer acceptable, so what does that tell us about basing anything important on morality?

With few exceptions, such as murder and theft, our moral compasses are not entirely in sync. So when someone like Phil Robertson talks about morality, which one is he referring to exactly? If we are to take his admonitions about gay people seriously, then we have to start putting people to death for eating shrimp and bacon and for not following Hebrew Kosher laws. Are we ready for that? And yes, it would be wonderful if we could walk around without stealing from each other and killing each other. But that would take restrictions on guns and ammunition, which people like Phil Robertson don’t really care about at all.

Common sense says we are not going to procreate the human race unless we have a man and a woman. From the beginning Jesus said, “It is a man and a woman.” Adam was made and Eve was made for this reason. They left their fathers and mothers and be united to become one flesh, that’s what marriage is all about. But we looked at it and said it was an outdated stereotype. When you look back at the human race, the sins have always been the same: We get high, we get drunk, we get laid, we steal and kill. Has this changed at all from the time God burnt up whole cities because their every thought was evil?

Right here, Robertson, like many of his self-righteous “born again Christians,” simply lies about what Jesus said, because he wants to shut down any discussion that doesn’t agree with him. This is what they do, and this is what I object to. If you are going to claim Christianity as your religion, and you want to cite Jesus as your source, expect people who actually know what’s in the Bible  to criticize you and lambaste you for getting it wrong. For example, the current Republican Party neve hesitates to invoke God every chance they get, but what about their legislative agenda is the least been Christian?

There have always been homosexuals, so let’s get real about procreation. Even with homosexuals in our population, we don’t seem to have a problem procreating the human race. We have over 7 billion people in the world, and 2-3 billion of them don’t have enough to eat, and have no hope for a decent future. It seems to me, if you’re going to quote Jesus, and claim Jesus as your source, you might want to act like Jesus and work on alleviating that problem, rather than focusing on people you hate, like homosexuals and American blacks.

When do we get tired of this? Why do we keep allowing people to cite the religion as a rationale for the most vile and disgusting hatred and bigotry in our society? I’m picking on Phil Robertson right now, but the fact of the matter is, he’s not alone. I’ve been dealing with people like this for 30 years, because I’ve been tired of this crap for 30 years. Don’t ever just accept what someone says about religion without checking it out. It’s just like anything else; if someone quotes Fox News, and Fox News is wrong, would you hesitate to point out the inaccuracy? The answer is probably no. So stop letting people cite religion to shut down an argument, and stop allowing people to cut off debate by citing Jesus Christ and Christianity and any other religion for that matter as a source for their bigotry. If you don’t want to buy a Bible, fine. There are plenty of online Bible authorities out there; use them. The pleasure in finding these people to be wrong is a lot of fun. We have to stop them.

By the way, Jesus actually advocated for a separation of Church and State, in Matthew 22. Start with that one every time some right wing clown claims we’re a “Christian nation.” We can’t be, because that would violate Jesus’ teachings. (That section also has his thoughts on taxes, which go against modern GOP orthodoxy.)

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