Jason Miller: Jesus As A Commodity, And A Weapon
Satan is Resting Easy: The Power of Christ "Propels" Them
By Jason Miller
Remember, Big Brother is watching, listening and reading. In light of the illegal surveillance they are conducting at the behest of their incompetent, rogue, and murderous Commander-in-Chief, I am dedicating this essay to the NSA.
To George Bush, Dick Cheney, Daniel Pipes, and their soulless war-mongering compadres, I proudly admit that I support the Palestinians (and their democratically elected Hamas leaders) in their struggle against their brutal Israeli oppressors. In fact, consider me a member of the so-called Fifth Column identified by Pipes. I abhor virtually all of the foreign and domestic policies the Machiavellian disciples of Strauss have implemented through wielding their ill-gotten power and influence. However, the United States is as much my country as it is theirs. I fully intend to remain here and work persistently against them by continuing to tenaciously pursue human rights and social justice for humanity, not simply for a select few in the United States and Israel.
Quoting the eloquent and infamous words of the incredibly articulate Mr. Cheney, I say, "Fuck you!" to their malignant cabal. While this nefarious faction and its loyalists may consider me a traitor, I refuse to pledge allegiance to a pack of criminals who have hijacked the government of the people of the United States. If it is treason to dissent against corrupt thieves and murderers who have shredded our sacred Constitution, I stand guilty as charged.
There are lies and there are damned lies...
One of the boldest and most insidious lies propagated by the leadership of the Zionists, the Dominionists, the Religious Right, and by their whores in Washington is that the Middle East is populated primarily by Islamic extremists with an insatiable thirst for the blood of "innocent American Christians" and who are hell bent on eliminating "those poor chronic victims" illegally occupying the land of the Palestinians and committing genocide against them.
Somehow, in a twist of logic only Lewis Carroll could fully comprehend, many people in the United States have been indoctrinated to believe that our nation, which possesses the largest stockpile of weapons of mass destruction in the history of mankind, is the only nation to have used those weapons on a massive scale (just ask the Japanese), and bears direct and indirect responsibility for the murder of tens of millions of innocent civilians over the last century, is a benevolent super-power illuminating a beacon of hope for humanity. I readily recognize that other nations and governments have committed their share of atrocities, but I do not see them waving the Red, White and Blue, piously trumpeting platitudes about spreading freedom and democracy, and simultaneously waging pre-emptive strikes against nations which they merely "perceive to be a potential threat". Holier than thou, dost thou think? The golden chalice of the United States runneth over with putrid sanctimony.
The terror of gazing at one's own reflection...
For over a year now, I have written numerous essays which have been widely published on the Internet. My primary goal has been to inspire Americans to apply the same humanitarian standards to our nation that we use to stringently and hypocritically measure other nations. I have also attempted to convince more Americans to engage in introspection and self-examination. When I began plumbing those depths about 13 years ago, I did not like what I saw. I have steadily acted to reshape my values, outlook, and decisions to align with ideals such as human rights, social justice, peace, equality, thrift, dignity, honesty, respect, and responsibility. While I have not achieved the high moral plain of a Gandhi by any means, I have become more a part of the solution than the problem.
Based on the hateful, denigrating, and sometimes threatening emails I receive from about a third of the readers responding to my essays, I conclude that my message threatens the sense of security many Americans derive from supporting the status quo. I have also determined that I am swimming upstream against an addictive torrent of vitriolic propaganda spewed by Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Jonah Goldberg, and a host of others. Sorry to disappoint those of you who have told me to leave the country, kill myself, or renounce being a "traitor and a "self-hating American" (yes, they often parrot the rhetoric of the likes of Daniel Pipes), but I have no intention of moving, killing myself, or abandoning my deeply rooted antipathy for the enemies of humanity (and the Earth) who have stolen the United States from We the People.
Jesus as a commodity... and a weapon
One of the American elite's (amongst whom I include their complicit disseminators of propaganda in the mainstream media) most repulsive means of grabbing and maintaining power has been its shameless use of spiritual manipulation, a heinous form of psychological abuse. Preying on fear, insecurity, and ignorance, they have perverted true Christianity to the extent that a third of those voting for George Bush, a man as morally repugnant as Dorian Gray, were a part of the radical Religious Right.
With the help of mendacious, avaricious, and highly sophisticated hucksters like James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, and Ted Haggard, the American plutocracy has packaged and commercialized spirituality like an Extra Value Meal at McDonald's. You want fast food salvation done the American way? Look for the Golden Crosses, zip into the drive-through, drop some donation money, and accept Christ as your savior! Forget spiritual pain or sacrifice. Jesus died to grant you a path to easy street. So be on your merry way with your Big Mac of two all beef patties and guaranteed eternity in heaven. Chase it down with an enchanting Golgotha collector's cup filled with smug certainty that you are now morally superior to the rest of humanity. Savor a side of Schadenfreude fries delightfully spiced with visions of the abject torment the "heathens" will face when Jesus the Avenger returns to Earth to smite the sinners.
Acknowledging that not all those comprising the Religious Right are created equal, and that there is a great deal of diversity amongst their beliefs and practices, there is enough commonality to conclude that the malefactors at the helm of the US have leveraged the hateful, narrow-minded beliefs of enough of these fanatics to garner sufficient support to commit egregious acts of torture, passive mass murder (New Orleans ring a bell?), massive slaughter under the guise of military intervention, and theft of public funds.
Men like Dobson shepherd their flocks to vote for bellicose champions of the wealthy because these "moral stalwarts" have pledged their undying support to a "culture of life". Despite their "devotion" to making abortion illegal, ending the use of human embryos (even those which would otherwise be discarded) for stem cell research, and denying equal rights to 5-10% of our population (gays and lesbians), the power brokers have perpetually been incapable of making good on their promises. While championing these "family values", they have mesmerized their Religious Right followers into supporting the false dichotomy of Christianity vs. Islam, an imperialistic and murderous agenda in Iraq and throughout the Middle East, and domestic policies which significantly erode the economic well-being of their radical Christian base (and the rest of us amongst the working class). Thomas Frank explored this mind-blowing phenomenon in great detail in his book, What's the Matter with Kansas.
Realize that I am not disparaging the Christian religion in general. Personally, I am a spiritual person with a belief in a Higher Power, but I am not Christian. However, I recognize that there are many rational, compassionate, and decent human beings who practice Christianity. If one reads many of my essays, one will discover that I often find myself defending Islam and its followers in my writing. I do this because they have been the victims of Western imperialism for years. I make no claim that either the Muslims or Christians are better. I am simply deeply concerned about the Western genocide and acts of imperialism committed against Islamic peoples since oil became a valued commodity. In spite of the despicable misdeeds committed in our names, we wonder why so many in the Middle East harbor such hostility against the United States and its residents. We act befuddled, violated, and validated in our belief that we are morally superior when obscenely oppressed and exploited people resort to "terrorism" in a desperate attempt to defend themselves from the mightiest military and economy in the history of the world.
I abhor the violence committed by both sides, but we are not the "good guys". The prevaricators leading our nation and writing our history have portrayed Americans as wearing the white hats for far too long. Transgressions and atrocities have been committed by many nations and people throughout history, including the United States and its leaders. Consider the most recent example in Iraq. Our occupying force has killed over 100,000 innocent Iraqi civilians. This is state terrorism at its worst and it needs to end. With our resources, the United States could become a humanitarian force. Sadly, the Neocons have chosen guns over butter (using our tax dollars and a mountain of borrowed money) to a shameless degree, enraging many of us who still have a social conscience.
Do as we say, not as we do....
Just as some Islamic fundamentalists wield religion as a weapon, the morally bankrupt aristocracy of the United States utilizes religion as a tool of war. Employing the power of spiritual manipulation to muster the support of their minions of extremist Christians, the authors of the Project for the New American Century mobilized enough popular support to invade a nation which had not harmed the United States, to eradicate the poor in New Orleans through passive mass murder and a Diaspora, to sell our children's future by committing to $8 trillion worth of debt to power their war machine, to cut taxes on the rich, and to increase war spending while cutting spending on programs which benefit humanity.
I hate to burst the bubble of those still deluded enough to accept the false premise (advanced by the Bush Regime) that we are a Christian nation embroiled in a modern day crusade against the followers of an Islamic religion which teaches them to hate democracy and brutally violate human rights. Here is a dose of reality. Over the last century, this "good Christian nation" and our friends in Israel have slaughtered, murdered, and tortured millions of Islamic people, both directly and indirectly (through proxy dictators). In contrast, Islamic murders of Americans, Christians and Jews are a relative drop in the bucket. Rather than "spreading freedom and democracy", Bush has the United States spreading imperialism, torture, and murder of innocent civilians. Saddam Hussein's removal from power was a mere sideshow. If the United States was so concerned with its moral obligation to remove a ruthless dictator from power, there were many others they could have targeted. It was oil, power, and increased security for our terrorist proxy occupying Palestine that motivated the United States to invade Iraq.
Speaking of concern for human rights and humanitarian intervention, when is the United States going to stop funding Israel and launch an invasion against them to stop the Palestinian genocide? When groups like Hamas have the audacity to resist oppression and murder, Americans and Israelis label them as "terrorists". Now that Hamas is the democratically elected ruling party of the PA, the United States has elected to cut its aid to the Palestinians, a people who are already wallowing in the misery of Israeli-inflicted poverty and racial extermination. (As a side note, the Israelis are able to inflict genocide on the Palestinians because of the obscene amounts of financial and military aid they receive from the United States). To add insult to injury, Israel has determined that they can once again disregard international law by withholding the Palestinian tax revenues they collect (the Palestinians' chief source of income). As is typical, the United States and its proxy are free to violate treaties, international laws, UN mandates, and humanitarian standards with impunity while applying the same laws to the rest of the world to the nth degree.
How about calling us a pluralistic nation with freedom of religion?
The notion that the United States is a Christian nation is false on numerous levels. Certainly we are heavily influenced Christianity, but to say we are a Christian nation flies in the face of the raison de' etre of America.
Consider the following:
1. According to the 1990 US Census, 91.6% of Americans were Christians. By 2000, the percentage had decreased to 85%. We 42 million "heathens" represent a pretty significant portion of the population.
2. Many of the Western Europeans who settled the original thirteen colonies fled their nations of origin to evade religious persecution and state-imposed religions.
3. Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, two of our most prominent Founding Fathers, were Deists. Washington and Jefferson were not particularly religious but tended more toward Deism than Christianity.
4. Thomas Paine, whose writings were a powerful catalyst for the American Revolution, vehemently attacked Christianity in one of his polemical works and refused to embrace Christianity, even on his death-bed.
5. God is not mentioned in our Constitution. The Declaration of Independence simply mentions "Nature's God" and a "Creator", neither of which specifically imply a Christian god.
6. Per the Treaty of Tripoli, endorsed by President John Adams and ratified unanimously by the US Senate in 1797: "As the Government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion..."
7. If Christians lay claim to the United States as their nation, that means they bear the sole responsibility for the evils of slavery, the virtual annihilation of the Native Americans, and the many acts of state terror perpetrated by the US military and CIA over the years.
8. In 1864, the equivalent of today's Religious Right cowed Congress into passing legislation mandating that the US begin stamping "In God We Trust" on several of our coins. Besides caving to the powerful influence of Christian fundamentalists, our federal government also recognized the psychological boost the power of Christian symbolism would give them after the blow to their authority rendered by the Civil War.
9. McCarthy-inspired anti-Communist hysteria motivated Eisenhower to sign Public Law 140 in 1956. Going forward, all US coins and paper money bore the propagandistic slogan "In God We Trust" to reassure Americans that we were better than the godless Communists. The same year, the words "under God" were added to the Pledge of Allegiance. It took 180 years for this Christian nation to fully embrace its identity. Or perhaps it simply took our plutocratic rulers that long to recognize the power of spiritual coercion....
As an aside, the original motto on the United States was E Pluribus Unum (Latin for "Out of many, one"), which obviously encourages more unity and cohesion than an exclusionary national motto dedicated to a god worshipped by one segment of the population.
Sleeping like babies....
Aside from the power of radical Christianity to subjugate the masses, this disturbing perversion of healthy spirituality does come with an added "benefit". It enables its devotees to support politicians who rob from the poor to give to the rich, who wage murderous and imperialist wars to enrich the military industrial complex, and who allow their corporate collaborators to blatantly abuse employees, consumers, and the environment. Thanks to the salve provided to their consciences by "knowing" they live in a Christian, morally superior nation (not to mention the security provided by their "guaranteed blissful after-life"), the mélange of groups and people comprising the extreme Religious Right can swear their allegiance to a group of monstrous human beings without feeling a twinge of guilt.
As many of my antagonists have pointed out, I am not without limitations (and I do not claim to be). Remaining in the United States to wage a non-violent struggle for human rights and social justice virtually assures that I will be a party to enabling the US war machine and corporatocracy in some way. Besides the fact that I pay federal taxes (fairly unavoidable for a working class family person), buy some products from grossly corrupt corporations (albeit as few as possible), and have my share of personal spiritual struggles, my other glaring sin is the hostility I harbor toward the enemies of humanity sitting atop the throne of power in our nation. However, even Jesus himself directed outrage at the money-changers and legalistic religious leaders of his day. If someone of his moral capacity directed anger at the corrupt establishment, who am I to presume I could overcome my rancor against the malevolent forces comprising the United States ruling elite? If their numerous crimes against humanity were not fanning the flames of my anger, I would no longer be breathing. My challenges are to prevent my ire from evolving into festering hatred or desire for revenge and to strive to maintain constructive anger (which motivates me to seek justice and positive change). That is a challenge to which I can rise, despite my human short-comings.
Please excuse my use of profanity above, but it felt so good to echo Cheney's choice sentiments back to him and his unwholesome cohorts. Meanwhile, send Satan a postcard on his vacation. Our imperialistic rulers do not need him to perpetrate their acts of profound moral depravity. They glide on the momentum generated by fanatical followers who believe they have the market cornered on morality and that Jesus will soon return to Earth as the ultimate WMD.
Jason Miller is a 39 year old sociopolitical essayist with a degree in liberal arts and an extensive self-education. When he is not spending time with his wife and three sons, doing research, or writing, he works as a loan counselor. He is a member of Amnesty International and an avid supporter of Oxfam International and Human Rights Watch. He welcomes responses at firstname.lastname@example.org or comments on his blog, Thomas Paine's Corner, at http://civillibertarian.blogspot.com/ .