Jesus of Nazareth
Politics of Religion
The Politics of
for they are like a dog sleeping
in the manger of oxen,
for neither does he eat
nor does he let the oxen eat.
|Exactly who are these evildoers? Some stand out like the proverbial sore thumb; others lurk in the shadows; yet others sit on the fence avoiding responsibility, and finally, do not forget that within any corrupt system there are a few people who do their best to resist the evil that surrounds them.
The Politics of Religion is not about Church and State; it is about the political system that is all but concealed within contemporary Christianity.
I think that we need definitions of words like politics; political and for this I am grateful to Merriam Webster's Dictionary: competition between competing interest groups or individuals for power and leadership (as in a government); activities characterized by artful and often dishonest practices; the total complex of relations between people living in society.
Bear with me while I take these points one at a time.
Firstly, let us look at competition for power and leadership. In all of the mega churches, the elite, the cardinals, bishops and priests are not elected or selected by democratic process: the process that is used by the churches is held in total contempt elsewhere, and is the same process that was used in the Soviet Union and Saddam's Iraq. In addition, the Christian Church remains a patriarchal establishment, and has been so since the crucifixion of our Lord. While Jesus died in agony he was accompanied by only the female disciples in his group; the men, having donned their running sandals, would not be seen again until the heat was off, and they realized that it had become necessary to establish the original, male dominated power base in order to protect their own interests. [Ask yourself why the Catholic Church so quickly declared the Gospel of Mary a heresy.]
What do these people control?
W Billions of dollars in real estate, stocks, shares, investments, cash and bullion.
W Millions of employees worldwide.
W Powerful bureaucracies that influence events from a local to a global level in every conceivable walk of life.
W The lives of 'the faithful', from their sexual relationships to the food that they eat; from the first moments of life until the coffin lid is nailed down, and - they would like you to believe - beyond that into eternity.
Secondly, consider activities characterized by artful and often dishonest practices. Uh-huh… Well, we have seen plenty of that here in Canada recently, but surely this cannot apply to the Christian Church? Think again.
W Dogmas and traditions whose express purpose is to control the laity e.g. infant baptism. It replaced 'dedication' in the Judaic system and was a convenient way to get a label [Anglican, Catholic, etcetera] on a baby, and induct the child into a given denomination prior to the onset of any ability to reason. The withholding of Holy Sacraments from divorced people; in particular the innocent party who is often female; refusal to baptize illegitimate children; refusal to bury suicide victims; exclusion of minority groups, the list, sadly, is endless.
W Abuse. The rape, both homosexual and heterosexual, of children and young people in the residential school system and elsewhere, by Christian laity employed by the churches and by princes of the church and their appointed priests. These acts have been accompanied by a callous lack of compassion, by cover-up, by legal spin doctoring and by a complete lack of accountability. Where litigation forced the issue upon the Anglican Church of Canada, a Nova Scotia Bishop immediately passed the cost on to his parishioners; au contraire, the Catholic Church by artful legal and financial practices has managed to avoid paying a single brass penny thus far. The debauchery continues unchecked, and scandal after scandal surfaces in the public realm.
W Denominational control. This is a powerful way to control the minds of adherents, but it is akin to brainwashing [psychological abuse] and simply reduces the mega churches to cult status. Comment: if you really are the True Vine then surely people will seek you out, and your churches will be full to overflowing; you will not have to resort to artful or dishonest practices, or to bolt the door on the outside, to stop young people and families from leaving the church.
Finally, let us consider the total complex of relations between people living in society. In western society there is a strong tribal tendency: we see ourselves as Canadians, Nova Scotians, Quebecois, Acadians, North Americans [of Irish/Chinese/African/Aboriginal descent], or perhaps as Nurses, Pilots or Street People. We might be gay or straight, young or old, disabled or athletes. It is also possible to be Christian or Islamic, Sunni or Catholic, Atheist or Agnostic. It seems that from an early age we are urged to surrender our individuality, and swear an oath of allegiance to this or that group. We see ourselves no longer as individuals, but in the eyes or those peer groups that hold sway over us. If nothing else, this makes us very easy prey to any powerful tribe that wishes to control our lives; regardless of whether this is a tribe of Christians or a tribe of Hell's Angels. The day-to-day pressure of modern life further complicates these relationships: the need to possess this and that, the need to work, the need for companionship, love and family. Often other factors intervene: drugs, alcohol, disease [of the mind or body], loss of loved ones, disintegration of relationship or a myriad of similar problems.
Where does the Christian Church stand in all of this? Do you turn to your local priest, and your local church when your life is in a mess, and if not, why not? Here are some of the reasons that we have heard recently:
W My family was new at a local church, the priest said, "New parishioners, give them a 'registration form'" The church secretary came running waving a box of donation envelopes. Nobody said welcome.
W A woman had a little ministry washing altar linens. Then her husband filed for divorce. Within days the chair of the church council approached her and explained that divorced women were 'unclean'; not only could she not receive the Sacrament of the Eucharist, but her tarnished hands could not wash linen that might come into contact with the body of Christ.
W I asked the pastor to explain how Jonah could live for three days in the belly of a whale: he simply told me, "Do not question the word of God!"
W I requested my father's favorite music at his funeral. This request was denied because the council of bishops did not approve the music.
W We were asked to leave because our two year old spoke at 'inappropriate' times.
W My teenage son was sick with a life threatening condition. I managed to get him to go to church, but the priest verbally abused him and called him a sinner demanding that he repent. My son vowed never to return.
W During his sermon/homily the priest told the congregation that he had dreamed that they were all sitting in their seats and burning in hell.
W A priest at a local care home referred to the residents as inmates and questioned their cognitive ability. He went further and judged some of them unfit to receive the Sacrament of the Eucharist. The same priest and his archdeacon wanted to exclude pastoral visits to residents from priests from other denominations.
W We could not afford to pay the church for our child's baptism, so the priest asked us to find another church.
And so it continues, maybe these churches need their own version of the popular bumper sticker that folk stick on their half-ton trucks. It exclaims: "Sit down, shut up and hold on!"
W He loved all equally and compassionately, and
He made absolutely certain that nobody was excluded
because of the dogmas and traditions of His day.
In conclusion, the Politics of Religion has so corrupted the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, that honest, decent people have rejected Christianity on an enormous scale. We believe that these good people have thrown out the baby with the bath water and, frankly, we cannot blame them. The evil, heartless and soulless actions of people who often claim to be dedicated Christians has forced Christianity to the very edge of oblivion today, two millennia after the death of Jesus of Nazareth.
But there is Good News! The teachings and ministry of Jesus are as valid today, as they were in Judea under Pontius Pilate, in Galilee under the jealous eyes of the Pharisees, or in Jerusalem where the powerful Sadducees held sway.
We invite you to join us in Christian Fellowship, and we challenge you to assist us to put a new, common sense face on Christianity that will endure for the foreseeable future. It is possible! The time has come to return to the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.
|THE MOST HEINOUS CRIME OF THE CHRISTIAN PERIOD
|CANTERBURY TALES W|