Trying to Understand the Religious Right

At this time of year, Christians honor the Savior, a gentle Nazarene who preached love and forgiveness, and who resisted the temptation to claim power and wealth while on earth.

I am no theologian, and my mind balks at woolly abstractions. I see what I see and I hear what I hear. My information comes from my five senses. And that is what I know.

So when I confront the activism of America’s “religious right,” I am bemused.

On what religion is their activism based, I wonder.

In this frame of mind, it was with more than passing interest that I read an article by Loren Adams in TPJ Magazine. The article (titled “Republicans Worship a Nazi Jesus”) is shocking. And I cringe at some of its conclusions. But I found the explanation of the “religious right’s” philosophy intriguing. Here’s an excerpt from the piece:

Republicans worship a Nazi Jesus, not the Christ of the Bible. They picture a Jesus bearing a sword riding a white horse to slay millions of unbelievers. Revelation is where they lay claim to the view, but the Gospels’ depiction must be discarded in order to arrive. A judgmental “God” justifies a judgmental following. Thus, it’s condoned to hate and kill gays, Muslims, aliens, liberals, and all others not of their belief-system.

I hesitate to compare anyone with the Nazis. To do so might diminish the horror of Hitler’s atrocities. And I admit that I do not understand the Book of Revelation. Much of it seems incoherent to me. But I have close relatives who find it enlightening and they certainly do not base a doctrine of hatred on its teachings.

Pondering the vituperative outpourings of the “religious right,” I am tempted to wonder whether Adams is on to something.

Religion is a two-edged sword. It can motivate human beings to act with incredible selflessness, but it can also be used to rationalize the most horrific atrocities. Consider the Crusades, for example… Bloody Mary’s reign… the Spanish Inquisition… Oliver Cromwell… the burning of suspected witches at Salem… the list is almost endless.

The “religious right” could well contain the same poisonous seeds as the bigoted excesses of the past.

And the same disregard for logical consistency. It is at once libertarian (for example, demanding the government stay out of their lives) and authoritarian (for example, urging government intervention to ban such private practices as abortion).

And – as with the Nazis – there is evidence of a racist element within the movement.

It is written that the name of the Lord should not be taken in vain, and it seems to me that is exactly what the “religious right” is doing.

Perhaps it is the “religious right” that should fear the vengeance of the Lord as depicted in the Book of Revelation. Perhaps it is them that the Messiah with his double-edged sword and the “great dragon, flaming red, with seven heads and ten horns” are coming for.

But as I said, I am no theologian.  And the Book of Revelation remains a mystery to me.

Click here to read Adams’ article.