[ the actual title of this page:]
http://WhatWouldJesusThink.Info/Godvsgreed.html

 

GOD vs. Greed


  Pages :     1   ~   2a   ~   2b   ~   [ 3 ]   ~ 4  

Third, let's look at the role of the Church :

Just how 60% of the world's wealth got to be concentrated in the hands of 6% of the world's population is a long a complicated story, some of which we will explore below.  One of the most startling things you discover when you take a closer look at the tremendous imbalance in the world between the very few rich nations and the many poor nations is that the few extremely rich nations are the Christian nations of North America and Europe.  Now, what has been the role of Christianity in all of this?  Why have a handful of Christian nations become so rich and powerful and the rest so poor and weak?  Maybe the world has come to this because – despite all our church-going, all our prayers, all our baptisms, all our altar calls, and all our professions of faith – we show by our actions and our inactions that we don't really believe what the Bible and especially the Gospels teach, best summarized in the words of Luke 3:11 : "Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise". This catastrophe is occurring day after day while millions of middle-class and wealthy people in countries like America enjoy thousands of times more wealth than the poor.  Are these people being told that the price which Jesus set for the salvation of those with means is helping those who are without means (the homeless, the jobless, the uninsured, the hungry, the unjustly imprisoned, the sick, the addicted, the oppressed, the outcast, and those not fortunate enough to have been born in the more prosperous parts of the world)?  Or do they believe instead what the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, taught ?  In a famous speech in 1630, John Winthrop proclaimed :"By divine Providence, some ( like middle to upper class Americans ) must be rich, some poor; some high and eminent in power and dignity, some mean and in subjection."  Even Americans who may not identify with these sentiments on the individual level tend to embrace them on the national level, imagining that God has blessed and will continue indefinitely to bless America with fantastic wealth, and that he has apparently ignored, if not cursed, vast portions of people in other parts of the world.
        We Christians may not be able to explain to our fellow man why GOD allows so much suffering in this world, but some day we may have to explain to God why WE allowed so much suffering to go on, when we had so much abundance with which to help!   And clergymen will have to explain to God how they could claim to be his spokesmen, when they did not even know themselves what Jesus laid down as the indispensable requirements for salvation, which we will lay out, mostly in Jesus' own words in the third section of these pages.

The Bible's "Golden Rule "*1 :

"Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you."

The "Golden Rule" is not unique to Christianity.

Judaism teaches,  "What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man."   { Hillel, Shabbath 31a.}
    Islam teaches,   "No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself." { Hidith }
    Even Buddhists, some whom deny the existence of any God, teach, "Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful."  { Udana-Varga }

Can the Gospel's teaching be limited to coats and clothes? I don't see how. And if it extends to other things, is it limited to things? I don't see how. It seems to me that what is true of things is true of other benefits that we enjoy in abundance where others are deprived of those benefits. So if we have more or better health, insurance, employment, talents, opportunities, advantages of culture, environment, or whatever, we who believe in this central teaching of the Gospels should be willing to share those benefits with those deprived of them.


This web site is not striving to promote any church, denomination or person,  but only Christ, and what he himself identified as the heart of his teaching,   i.e. that we must strive to love God above all, that we strive to love our neighbors as much as we love ourselves,  and that we particularly try to love and rescue those of our neighbors who are most in need of help and love.

The CHURCH & African Americans:

        The matter of the teaching of the church regarding slavery over the centuries is so important that I devote a separate page to that topic. Please view that page at church&slavery.html. National_Slavery_Museum_Angola

"This little museum (now) is of great importance in the history of slavery because over a period of two centuries, through its doors, millions of slaves entered it to be baptized before being sent off on their arduous journey to the colonies in the Americas. The bulk of the slaves exported to the new world departed the shores of Luanda (in Angola). . .
        It was at the very beach below the Chapel, where the Navios Negreiros (Negro ships) awaited the innocent to be shipped to their doom. It is estimated (as records were not always kept) that over five million Angolan slaves were sent to the new world. "

[ http://www.epinions.com/content_429383061124 ]

The vast majority of Americans love Norman Rockwell's paintings and profess to fervently believe in the Bible's Golden Rule.  Yet, a century and a half ago, some 550,000 young Americans perished pointlessly in a war between brothers, just because people in our nation's "Bible belt" gave lip service to the Scriptures and to its golden rule, but proved by their words and deeds how little impact those Scriptures' teaching actually had on their lives and on their political decisions. Far from persuading their congregants to "go and do like the good Samaritan", as is illustrated below, instead of loving their dark-skinned neighbors, so-called "Christian" preachers actually gave their blessings to their white-skinned congregants who brutalized them.

ClergyinSupportofSlavery.jpg


This video doesn't just narrate the outrageously brutal, uncalled-for,
murder of an innocent young black man named Emmet Till.
It also relates the totally immoral way
his white Christian murderers were exhonerated at their trial
by their white Christian neighbors, showing in dramatic fashion
how immoral white Biblebelt "Christianity" is at its very core.



        As for the Roman Catholic Church, a sympathetic historian explained that :

"The Roman Catholic Church had taken no position on slavery either before or during the war.   'By their silence,' one Catholic writer explained ' our prelates (i.e. hierarchy) divorced this burning political question from church affairs.' "

African American historians, on the other hand, report that :
       "During the colonial time, the Roman Catholic Church was the state religion in French possessions.  All other churches were suppressed.  The [enslaved people] were compelled to be baptized.  Since the Africans cherished their custom and ways of life, this led to conflict and rebellions. . .  the economy of Orleans Territory [which became the state of Louisiana] was based on the cruel system of chattel slavery.  Africans and Native Americans were considered property.  At the top of society were a few rich [enslaving] owners and at the bottom were masses of [enslaved people].  Individual families and joint corporations owned [enslaved persons]. . .  But one of the biggest [enslaving] owners was the Roman Catholic Church.  The Jesuits, Capuchins and Ursulines had plantations run by [enslaved] labor and all three engaged in the [enslavement] trade."
[ from http://www.coax.net/people/lwf/1811-rebellion.htm ]
        In 1838, the superiors of the Maryland Province of the Jesuits, which included Georgetown College in the nationís capital, decided to improve the school's financial health by selling all 272 of its African-American men, women and children slaves to Henry Johnson, the former governor of Louisiana, and to Louisiana landowner Jesse Batey for $115,000, the equivalent of $3.3 million in 2016 dollars.
        [ from http://www.opednews.com/articles/The-Shame-of-the-Jesuits-by-Ray-McGovern-African-americans_Autobiography_Ethics_Jesuits-160417-19.html

Following the Civil War, the Vatican was asked for an authoritative statement on slavery, in reaction to the passing of the 13th amendment to the U. S. Constitution (which banned slavery in this country).  In 1866 the highest authority in the Catholic Church, short of the Pope, i.e. the "Holy Office" (of the Inquisition), which rules on matters of orthodox faith and teaching, declared :

"Slavery, considered as such in its essential nature, is not at all contrary to the natural and divine law.  There can be several just titles of slavery and these are referred to by approved theologians and commentators of the sacred canons (of the Catholic Church).  It is not contrary to the natural and divine law for a slave to be sold, bought, exchanged or given."  [Instruction 20, June 1866]


Frederick Douglass was an extraordinary man, who not only managed to throw off the shackles of slavery but went far beyond the conventional wisdom of his enslavers.  In his autobiography, he contrasted the Christianity that characterised America's Southern "Bible Belt", and the Christianity of Christ :

" I find, since reading over the foregoing Narrative that I have, in several instances, spoken in such a tone and manner, respecting religion, as may possibly lead those unacquainted with my religious views to suppose me an opponent of all religion.  To remove the liability of such misapprehension, I deem it proper to append the following brief explanation.


What I have said respecting and against religion, I mean strictly to apply to the slaveholding religion of this land, and with no possible reference to Christianity proper; for, between the Christianity of this land, and the Christianity of Christ, I recognize the widest, possible difference–so wide, that to receive the one as good, pure, and holy, is of necessity to reject the other as bad, corrupt, and wicked.  To be the friend of the one, is of necessity to be the enemy of the other.  I love the pure, peaceable, and impartial Christianity of Christ: I therefore hate the corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of this land.  Indeed, I can see no reason, but the most deceitful one, for calling the religion of this land Christianity.  I look upon it as the climax of all misnomers, the boldest of all frauds, and the grossest of all libels.
FrederickDouglass         . . .  I am filled with unutterable loathing when I contemplate the religious pomp and show, together with the horrible inconsistencies, which every where surround me.  We have men-stealers for ministers, women-whippers for missionaries, and cradle-plunderers for church members.  The man who wields the blood-clotted cow skin (whip) during the week fills the pulpit on Sunday, and claims to be a minister of the meek and lowly Jesus.  The man who robs me of my earnings at the end of each week  meets me as a class-leader on Sunday morning, to show me the way of life, and the path of salvation.  He who sells my sister, for purposes of prostitution, stands forth as the pious advocate of purity.  He who proclaims it a religious duty to read the Bible denies me the right of learning to read the name of the God who made me.  He who is the religious advocate of marriage robs whole millions (of slaves) of its sacred influence, and leaves them to the ravages of wholesale (moral) pollution.  The warm defender of the sacredness of the family relation is the same that scatters whole families, – sundering husbands and wives, parents and children, sisters and brothers, leaving the hut vacant, and the hearth desolate.  We see the thief preaching against theft, and the adulterer against adultery.  We have men sold to build churches, women sold to support the gospel, and babes sold to purchase Bibles for the poor heathen! all for the glory of God and the good of souls!  The slave auctioneer's bell and the church-going bell chime in with each other, and the bitter cries of the heart-broken slave are drowned in the religious shouts of his pious master.  Revivals of religion and revivals in the slave-trade go hand in hand together.  The slave prison and the church stand near each other.  The clanking of fetters and the rattling of chains in the prison, and the pious psalm and solemn prayer in the church, may be heard at the same time.  The dealers in the bodies and souls of men erect their stand in the presence of the pulpit, and they mutually help each other.  The dealer gives his blood-stained gold to support the pulpit, and the pulpit, in return, covers his infernal business with the garb of Christianity.  Here we have religion and robbery the allies of each other–devils dressed in angels' robes, and hell presenting the semblance of paradise."*4

" I assert most unhesitatingly, that the religion of the South is a mere covering for the most horrid crimes–a justifier of the most appalling barbarity, a sanctifier of the most hateful frauds, and a dark shelter under which the darkest, foulest, grossest, and most infernal deeds of slave holders find the strongest protection. Where I to be again reduced to the chains of slavery, next to that enslavement, I should regard being the slave of a religious master the greatest calamity that could befall me... I... hate the corrupt, slave holding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of this land."
        – Frederick Douglass (After the Escape)

Are America's Churches more faithful today than they were in Germany a generation ago, or in America's deep south a century ago?  We would hope so.  Many of today's Germans appear to be ashamed of that part of their "heritage".   And yet, a great many southern white Americans who consider themselves "Christians" still wish the Civil War had been won by those who wanted to keep their black brothers and sisters in bondage.  And, along with many of their northern brethren, they still resent being forced by federal laws to do out of fear what they are not yet prepared to do for their black brothers and sisters out of love or fairness.  In fact, some of those whose predecessors clashed with the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. at every turn, are now trying to dismantle the hard won affirmative action program and they have the gall to use this visionary prophet's own words against African Americans struggling to make up for centuries of unspeakable oppression!  If you haven't read that preacher's visionary "I Have a Dream" sermon lately, we invite you to be inspired by it right now by clicking on the link to your left.

        Although there has been a lot of improvement in the South, there are still so-called "people of faith" in that part of the country who still dream of restoring "the good old days".  Rev. Steven J. Wilkins, the Presbyterian founder of the League of the South, argues that the South was the only part of the U.S. to remain true to the Bible. The North, he says, abandoned true Christianity and became a heretical society. . . It was this theological divide, and not slavery, that led to the Civil War. . . " We believe the South was the last bastion of Christendom, we want the principles upon which the South stood to be embraced again by the entire country. We want, not only the South, but the whole union to rise again from the paganism that presently prevails. Our goal is to rebuild on the ruins and see this lost civilization restored again by the grace of God."
        One of his former followers says of Wilkins and his followers, " They believe either a race war will happen or the government will collapse."   (from The Intelligence Report, "Confederates in the Pulpit" by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Spring, 2001, pp. 54-55)

Despite a Civil War and a great deal of effort on the part of many "Liberals like Christ" since then, there continues to be a tremendous amount of antipathy in today's southern white Christian establishment to efforts to deal with the long term effects of centuries of slavery, i. e. affirmative action, and reparations, decent housing and neighborhood schools, justice for black farmers, justice for black prison inmates and for blacks falsely accused of crimes, voting rights for black "felons", among others.

"When the missionaries came to Africa
they had the Bible and we had the land.
They said 'Let us pray.'  We closed our eyes.
When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land."
Bishop Desmond Tutu


WithoutVision
Notes on the above :
*2 John WesleyThe shameful behavior of the Methodist preachers is especially tragic, in light of the inspired anti-slavery efforts of their extraordinary founder, some 70 years earlier.  In that connection, check out these historic items:         A web site designed to promote both the old Catholic Church and old South,  "President (Jefferson) Davis was not without solace during confinement. A rosary sent by some sisters in Savannah reached him.  More notably, comfort was extended by the Vicar of Christ himself, Ven. Pope Pius IX. It took the form of a crown of thorns woven by the pope with his own hands and a portrait of the pontiff autographed with the words from Scripture,  "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." . . .  The crown, with thorns about two inches long, is such that it is hard to see how the pope could have fashioned it without hurting himself.  Why did this pope who is a Venerable of the Church . . . seek to comfort Davis, who was not a Catholic?  . . . (It should be noted that he was the only European prince of the day to recognize – at least in a de facto way – the Southern nation, the Confederate States of America.)

        See http://www.catholicism.org/catholicism-south.html

*4 The Narrative of his life (until he escaped from slavery) by Frederick Douglass

*5         (many of the quotes above, as well as the earlier ones about the way religious bodies dealt with the issue of slavery in America, all come from the chapter "Religion on the American Frontier" in the book entitled Centuries of Christianity published by Harcourt, Brace and company of New York, in 1959.)


        Here is an additional link to a very interesting lecture by Dr. Terry Matthews on  Slavery & Religion in the South
        Since these lectures date from 1995, we can't guarantee that the links on that site still work.

The CHURCH & Native Americans :

As a schoolchild, were you taught to revere Christopher Columbus as the heroic discoverer of America?  Have you grown at all in your knowledge of the true history of the founding of "America"?  America was discovered by Native Americans thousands of years before Christopher Columbus stumbled onto the "West Indies" on his way to the "East Indies".  What would Europeans of the sixteenth century have said, had Native Americans landed in England, France, Italy, Portugal or Spain and proclaimed to have "discovered" Europe, and proceeded to invade it?
        In "American Holocaust: Columbus and the Conquest of the New World"  (Oxford University Press 1992), David E. Stannard shows that Columbus wasn't just a slave owner – we could perhaps overlook owning a few slaves since "everybody did it" –.   Columbus is the man who initiated a genocide of an entire people.  All of the founding fathers had serious flaws, true –  but Columbus was in a class by himself.  We might as well have the founder of the KKK as a national hero as Columbus.
        How many people know that Columbus, prior to his career as an explorer, had been a slave trader?  And how many know that as a holy crusader he would become responsible for the killing of about half a million Natives and that it was already Columbus who introduced those measures generally attributed to later conquistadors, such as enslaving Indians and hunting them down with dogs?
        David E. Stannard not only dispels common myths in his work.  He tells the reader what was lost: the incredible variety of cultures and the impressive achievements Native Americans had developed throughout the millennia.  How well known is the fact that most Native Americans were living in towns and villages as farmers, long before Columbus and that the majority of Native societies in Northern America was organized democratically, including women's right to vote, long before such an idea was conceivable to Europeans?  How well known is it that – unlike European cities of the time – the magnificent capital of the Aztec society took its "drinking water . . .  from springs . . .  piped into the city by a huge aquaduct system" that amazed the Spaniards (p. 5), just as they were amazed at the city's cleanliness and order: "at least 1000 public workers were employed to maintain the city's streets and keep them clean" (p. 5).
        When Columbus and a handful of Spanish sailors landed in the Caribbean, this was the beginning of "far and away, the most massive act of genocide in the history of the world" (p. x) and cost more than a hundred million lives in five centuries.
        This issue is so important that we have created an entire web site called "ColumbusNoHero.org consisting of several sections and many pages.
        How well known is it that in the Spanish missions in California the natives were forced to do slave labor and died in the thousands and that the missions were "furnaces of death that sustained their Indian population levels for as long as they did only by driving more and more natives into their confines" (p. 137)?

        Not long ago, white people who wrote about this period demonstrated much less compassion for the fate of the Native Americans.  Paul Hutchison and Winifred E. Garrison, for example,  wrote in a chapter entitled "Religion on the American Frontier":        "The space into which the United States was about to expand was a vacuum – except for the indians. –  That seemed a negligible exception, or at most a minor and temporary obstacle.  It must be admitted that the Indian matter was handled badly, and at times ruthlessly, yet the main course of events was inevitable.  In a clash between a hunting economy and an agricultural economy the outcome is never doubtful.  The Indian population was sparse and impermanently settled, as always in a hunting economy.  The invading settlers wanted nothing from the aborigines except their land.  As always in such a conflict of cultures, the more intensive users of the soil prevailed and the permanent drove out the nomadic.  It might have been done more kindly and more honestly, but it had to be done." ( page 235 *6)

Just imagine white people overhearing Africans, Asians, or Hispanics talking that way about displacing America's white population!  Many of us feel threatened when all immigrants are doing is taking menial jobs that most of us wouldn't ever want to take ourselves! )


        A wise Native American asks :

"Do you call yourselves Christians?  Does then the religion of Him whom you call your Savior inspire your spirit, and guide your practices?  Surely not.  It is recorded of him that a bruised reed he never broke.  Cease, then, to call yourselves Christians, lest you declare to the world your hypocrisy.  Cease, too, to call other nations savage, when you are tenfold more the children of cruelty than they."
        Joseph Brant (Thayendanegea) Mohawk  ( from "A Cherokee Feast of Days," by Joyce Sequichie Hifler )


Recommended reading : Sex, Race and Holy War
excerpted from the book American Holocaust, by David Stannard

Genocide of the American Indian Peoples


I must confess that I have not read the book Mein Kampf, myself.  But in it "Adolf Hitler gave the genocide of the Native Americans as the concept that gave him the idea he had for Eastern Europe, ridding them of undesirables to make room for the master race.  Hitler's mistake was that he believed that American would be on his side, since he was only doing what we had already done. . ."
       ( I would appreciate hearing from anyone who has read the book and who can confirm or correct that assertion, with page and edition information if at all possible.)

The CHURCH & Europe's Jews :

I have studied the controvesial issue of the church's role in the Jewish holocaust for many years and have written exensively on this matter. The following paragraphs are but a tiny excerpt from my http://CatholicArrogance.Org/RCscandal.html web site, where - among other things - I answer the excuses Catholic apologists regularly use to defend their church's indefensible behavior.
        On Dec. 7th, 1941, there was a little article in the New York Times that didn't get much attention in America, perhaps because it was buried on page 33, or because Japan was bombing Pearl Harbor on that day.  But you can be sure that German Catholics,  who were already engaged in hunting down and trying to exterminate fellow human beings of a rival faith, noticed such news reports and their Nazi rulers surely made sure they didn't miss them.

NY Times
Sept. 25, 1939 (page 6) GERMAN SOLDIERS RALLIED
BY CHURCHES
---------------------------------------------------
Protestant and Catholic Exhort to Reich Victory and Just Peace

----------------------------------------------------

Wireless to the New York Times.
FRANKFURT-ON-THE-MAIN, Germany, Sept.24.  Periodicals of the German Protestant and Catholic churches are now publishing many exhortative articles explaining the duties of soldiers fighting in the defense of their country and admonish in the German soldiers to fight in the spirit of St. Michael for a German victory and adjust peace.
    The archangel is shown, brandishing a battle sword and piercing a dragon with a holy lance, on the front page of Catholic papers.
    In the Western and Southern German Catholic dioceses, the clergy headed by the Archbishop and bishops, are actively engaged in work for the

welfare of refugees evacuated from the western frontier districts.  Many cloisters have been transformed into hospitals and the monks and nuns are working under the direction of the Red Cross.
    The Catholic bishops of Germany have issued a pastoral letter stating:
    "In this decisive hour we admonish our Catholic soldiers to do their duty in obedience to the Fuëhrer and be ready to sacrifice their whole individuality.
    "We appeal to the faithful to join an ardent prayers that the divine Providence of God Almighty may lead this war to blessed success and peace for our fatherland and nation."
    Each Bishop in addition has issued a special message to his own diocese, including the Bishop of Ruertemberg, who was expelled from his diocese last year for refusing to vote in a National Socialist election.
    Cardinal Archbishop Burtram, head of the German Episcopal congregation, has similarly issued a patriotic message to his flock urging that all "be strong in your heart, all you who confide in God all mighty."

Transcribed verbatim and in full (for better legibility)

from microfiche copies of the originals.

and, to point out a coincidence, not a connection
with Pearl Harbor Day, "a day that will live in infamy" :
NY Times
Dec. 7, 1941 (page 33) WAR PRAYER
FOR REICH
---------------------------------------------------------
Catholic Bishops at Fulda
Ask Blessing and Victory

------------------------------------------------------

by telephone to the New York Times.
FULDA, Germany, Dec. 6 -- The conference of German Catholic Bishops assembled in Fulda has recommended the introduction of a special "war prayer" which is

to be read at the beginning and end of all divine services.
    The prayer implores Providence to bless German arms with victory and grant protection to the lives and health of all soldiers.  The Bishops further instructed Catholic clergy to keep and remember in a special Sunday sermon at least once a month German soldiers "on land, on sea and in the air."
    The German Catholic clergy, while strongly objecting to certain aspects of Nazi racial policy, has always taken care to emphasize the duty of every Catholic to his country as loyal Germans in the present war.

Transcribed verbatim and in full (for better legibility)

from microfiche copies of the originals.

        Looking back on this period, the Roman Catholic historian, Gordon Zahn, came to the sad conclusion, "The German Catholic who looked to his religious superiors for spiritual guidance and direction regarding service in Hitler's wars received virtually the same answers he would have received from the Nazi ruler himself."  ( from German Catholics and Hitler's Wars Zahn, Gordon c. 1962, Sheed & Ward L.O.C. 62-9102)  

Martin Luther"Failing to Preach the Gospel"

        Martin Luther's life was one of great turmoil. The following shows him at his best:

"War is the greatest plague that can afflict humanity; it destroys religions, it destroys states, it destroys families. Any scourge is preferable to it."
       Would that the Lutherans (and Catholics) of the Third Reich had been exposed to that most important teaching, along with the following profoundly important exchange with one of his followers whom he urged to trust the ethics of the gospel rather than the threats from his war-making government:
        Questioner: "Oh, no, you say, my lord would force me to do it; he would take away my fief and would not give me my money, pay and wages. Besides I would be despised and put to shame as a coward, even worse as a man who did not keep his word and deserted his lord in time of need."
        Luther: "I answer: You must take that risk and, with God's help, let whatever happens, happen. He can restore you a hundred fold as he promises in the gospel!"

And what ever happened to these important words of Luther's?
       "The church that preaches the gospel in all of its fullness, except as it applies to the great social ills of the day, is failing to preach the gospel."
        It would appear that Luther himself did not put them into practice, "In the years immediately prior to 1525, the peasants, inspired by Luther's anti-church/anti-establishment revolutionary teachings, were finally rising up against their perennial oppressors: the ruling elite, the wealthy landowners and the authoritarian Catholic Church. Initially the peasants protested nonviolently. They submitted written demands that they be granted their human rights. Tragically, as is still happening in these modern times, the protest movement was brutally put down by the establishment's obedient soldiers and the peasants were compelled to resort to defensive violence, which ended badly for them."
[ from http://consortiumnews.com/2013/09/25/christianitys-contradictions-on-war/ ]
        For much, much more on these and other books and web sites that uncover what the Vatican has been so successful in hiding from the world for years, see the tragic silence of the German Christians during the Nazi Holocaust.


WithoutVision

What have we learned ?

The Reverend Sydney Smith, (1771 -1845) offered this insight about his experience of what is now known as "India" :
        "If the bible is universally diffused in Hindustan, what must be the astonishment of the natives to find that we (Christians) are forbidden to rob, murder and steal; we who in fifty years, have extended our empire... over the whole peninsula...  and exemplified in our public conduct every crime of which human nature is capable. What matchless impudence to follow up such practice with such precepts!
        If we have common prudence, let us keep the gospel at home, and tell them that Machiavelli is our prophet, and the god of the Manicheans our god."
[ http://www.informationclearinghouse.info ]

        Napoleon Bonaparte said that "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich." but it might be more precise to say that "Religion is what keeps the oppressed from rebelling against their oppressors."  If this is what Karl Marx meant when he called religion "the opium of the masses", then I concur with that assessment.

        We asked at the outset :"If our God is so wise, then how could he let this world get so messed up ?" or "If our God is so good, then how can he let so many suffer so much ? "

We "Liberals like Christ" believe Proverbs 29:18, when it says, "Where there is no vision, the people perish."  And we believe that the churches have to a large extent failed to fulfill the role they claim that God gave to them to represent Jesus and to spread his teaching and that of the Bible.  If only the churches had actually been doing what they have claimed to be doing, then its members would have and might actually be living by God's vision of justice, brotherly love and generosity laid out first in the Jewish and then in the Christian Scriptures.
        One of the most important questions that Jesus answered was the one he gave to this question: "Good Master, what must I do to have eternal life?"  "Go and sell everything you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come follow me."?  According to Matthew, ch. 19, "When the (well-to-do) young man heard this, he went away sadly, for he was very rich."   and Jesus pointed out that "It is almost impossible for a rich man to get into the Kingdom of Heaven.   I say it again -- it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God!" 
        We believe this "very rich young man" can stand for "the very rich Christian communities" in countries like America,  because it is likewise "almost impossible" for preachers in the churches of such countries to even preach this teaching of Jesus.  They may mouth the words, but what would happen if they were to take them seriously?  The congregation would probably not follow the rich young man's example, and leave.  Instead, they would make the preacher leave.  In most churches, one way or another, those who pay the church's bills and control the church's purse strings also control its hiring and firing!  And knowing that, "it is almost impossible" for preachers to take Jesus' important teaching on these matters seriously and to preach the others the urgency of doing so.
        Instead, millions of "Christians" in the pews have been led to believe that there is a totally different way for them to be saved.  They have been told not to be concerned about having infinitely more wealth than the poor.  That isn't the impediment to salvation that Jesus said it was, because any Fundamentalist preacher will tell you that you are saved "by faith alone".  "Works", they assure you, "don't matter".   God is so good that,  instead of holding us to the keeping of his commandments,  and punishing those who fail to do so,  God has punished the one person who was totally innocent, Jesus.  And, in doing so, God is sparing all of the rest of us who are guilty.  ( These so-called Christian preachers even trot out a few ambiguous texts  -- usually from Paul, not from Jesus --  to supposedly prove that most of what Jesus considered crucial,  can safely be ignored! )   They succeed in making you reluctant to question a doctrine that makes God out to be so generous ( while getting the well-to-do very nicely through the eye of the needle . )


WithoutVision

God help Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, and the long line of other fundamentalist charlatans, when they have to answer to God for all of the innocent people whom these deceitful salesmen have led astray !


In 2003, a formerly very Conservative Republican congressman who had become governor of the state of Alabama was inspired to promote tax increases on the wealthy interests of his state in order to promote the common good of the needier citizens of his state, on the grounds that this is the way he read the Bible.  His efforts failed, thanks in part to the opposition of the local leadership of the Christian Coalition.  Much of his inspiration was derived from the work of a local Christian scholar, Dr. Susan Pace Hamill.  An Argument for Tax Reform, Based on Judeo-Christian Ethics, published in the Fall, 2002, Alabama Law Review. 


While running for president in 2007, the former governor of Arkansas, Republican Mike Huckabee did something very unusual for a Republican politician. He "criticized executive pay, sympathized with labor unions, denounced "plutocracy," and mocked the antitax group the Club for Growth as "the Club for Greed". "
[ http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/30/weekinreview/30kirkpatrick.html?pagewanted=print ]

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