Saturday, May 21, 2022

Musings of a Maverick Methodist on the Ascendancy of Evil in Politics and Religion

             By Rudy Barnes, Jr.


Democracy has made us masters of our own destiny, but demagogues like Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump have exploited democracy and Christian nationalism to promote evil in both politics and religion.  Edward Simmons has asked, “Who can deny that we are living in a period when evil is on the ascendant in our globalized world?”


The 18th century Enlightenment was based on reason and advances in knowledge, and it ended the divine right to rule with the advent of democracy.  Today autocracy is making a comeback.  A 21st century enlightenment is needed to end the ascendancy of evil, and restore the primacy of reason and truth in politics and religion.


Toxic church doctrines ignore the altruistic and universal teachings of Jesus that are summarized in the greatest commandment.  It is to love God and our neighbors of other races and religions as we love ourselves.  God’s will is to reconcile humanity, and Satan’s will is to divide and conquer; but Satan has done a convincing imitation of God in politics and the church. 


Demagoguery has sacrificed Jesus on the altar of radical-right politics.  Putin’s aggression in Ukraine is motivated by a Russian world ideology promoted by the Russian Orthodox Church; and in America most white Christians support a radical-right America First ideology.  Both are based on the nativist great replacement theory, or white supremacy.


Jesus once said, if you hold to my teachings, then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free (John  8:31, 32).  You don’t need to be a Christian to know the truth that will set you free.  Demagogues are not the real enemy in a democracy; voters are their own worst enemies.  While demagogues are deceivers, they can’t suppress a desire for the truth.  


Unprincipled demagogues obscure both truth and reason to promote their worldly power; and the reason and truth needed to overcome blind loyalty to demagogues are too often ignored in nationalist forms of Christianity.   In Russia, Putin censures the media to obscure the truth; while in America, social media sites promote all manner of radical-right causes.

Knowledge and truth can end the blind loyalty of Russians to Putin’s megalomania to resurrect the Soviet Union with the destruction of Ukraine’s democracy.  If Russians don’t reject Putin in the elections of 2024, they will doom their own minimalist democracy and freedom, and leave Russia a pariah nation.  The same can be said of Trump’s future in America.    


Putin and Trump are demagogues who share a bipolar view of politics and religion that subordinates knowledge and reason to a cosmic battle between the forces of good and evil.  Satan seems to be winning the popularity contest, reflecting the depravity of human nature and corruptions in Christianity.  The future of democracy depends upon the inexorable power of God’s truth and reason to overcome evil; and the jury remains out until the elections of 2024.        



Notes:


In response to his own question, Why Do We Let Evil Prosper?, Edward Simmons has said “There are purveyors of modern technologies, using them for deception and personal gain at the public expense, who have captured the most popular forms of media, undermined the moral foundations of a party that once saved our country from internal destruction, and subverted entire segments within Christianity so that they no longer follow the fundamental message of Jesus. Political leaders are no longer held accountable, no matter the long-term damage to democracy, human rights, or the equal and fair administration of justice. Truth is being drowned out by algorithm-generated tsunamis of false information. 

What Is Evil? The first verse of Psalm 1 provides a functional description of evil. It happens when wicked people attract large followings, or block the way of the truthful.  …It refers to ethical standards stated in the Sermon on the Mount, parables like the Good Samaritan, and the Golden Rule. Seeking and adhering to the truth is coupled with ethical behavior in the Torah and the Gospels as part of respecting the God behind truth.  According to this Psalm, those who are grounded in the truth will bear fruit and ultimately will flourish, while the wicked lack grounding and their accomplishments will lack substance or permanence. This Psalm is a statement of faith that ultimately evil must lose, even though we see it prospering to greater or lesser extent in various historical periods.

So how can we recognize a wicked person? According to Psalm 1, we recognize them by their behaviors and the people they choose to associate with. The most obvious current example of wicked behavior is Vladimir Putin who does not care for truth, justice, or basic human empathy. 

Why Is Evil Prospering? The answer is clear in the case of the United States. First, far too many Americans have deserted truth, basic honesty, and respect for the law as they choose political leaders to support. Those who stand against evil are vilified using algorithm-driven methods that follow the Russian example. They claim to do it out of religious or political principles that transparently turn reason inside-out. Second, there are people in Congress and in positions in state governments who are more determined to gain or hold on to political power at the expense of every value they claim to support and in violation of the oath of office they took.  

What must happen next is for Americans to muster the courage and determination to stand against the forces of evil, no matter the momentary sacrifices, until the current surge of evil is defeated.” See https://progressivechristianity.org/resources/the-urgent-question-for-today-why-do-we-let-evil-prosper/


Alexander Dugin is a Russian far-right intellectual and confidant of Putin who sees the ascendancy of evil in America and the West, with Russia as “the spiritual and cultural inheritor of the legacy of the Roman and Byzantine empires, the center of a distinctly anti-European dominion, one powerful (and authoritarian) enough to withstand the perceived threats of liberal modernity, multiculturalism and progressive values. The notion of an independent Ukraine, in this view, is a fiction propagated by the “secular authorities” of the decadent West. Instead, to the Russian president, Russia and Ukraine exist in “spiritual unity” — not only because of their shared Orthodox Christian faith but also because both peoples claim the lineage and cultural ancestry of “Ancient Rus,” a medieval, Kyiv-centered federation. The idea of “spiritual unity” hints at a mystical strain in Putin’s thinking. Indeed, he appears to see his imperial war as an earthly manifestation of a wider, mythic battle between traditional order and progressive chaos.

In a 1991 manifesto, “The Great War of the Continents,” Dugin laid out his vision of Russia as an “eternal Rome” facing off against an individualistic, materialistic West: the “eternal Carthage.”  Dugin later argued the contemporary world order had to be understood as a pitched battle between the forces of “human rights, anti-hierarchy, and political correctness” represented by the “Atlantic” Americans and Europeans, and the distinctly “Eurasian” Russian culture, which was still capable — unlike the sclerotic West — of honoring the mainstays of human life: “God, tradition, community, ethnicity, empires and kingdoms.”  For Dugin, as for all Traditionalists, the culture war is a cosmic battleground: a jihad against a liberal order explicitly coded as demonic.  As Dugin told “60 Minutes” in 2017, “We need to be free and liberated, not only physically as a state, as a people, but as well [a] revival of Russian logos, of Russian spirit, of Russian identity that is much more important.”  See  https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2022/05/12/dugin-russia-ukraine-putin/?utm.


The Washington Post  Editorial Board has described “America First” as America at its worst. See https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/05/14/america-first-is-america-its-worst/?utm.  .


Michael Gerson has asserted that  GOP leaders ought to banish officials who embrace “replacement theory.” But the racist ideas associated with the Buffalo killings are being granted impunity daily within the Republican Party. The problem is not just that a few loudmouths are saying racist things. It is the general refusal of Republican “leaders” to excommunicate officials who embrace replacement theory. See https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/05/16/replacement-theory-white-supremacy-banish-racist-gop-officials/?utm.


Doug Mastriono is a retired Army colonel and Trump-endorsed GOP nominee for governor in Pennsylvania.  According to Michelle Boorstein he rejects the ”culture wars” of Falwell and Ralph Reed for a more supernatural war between the forces of good and evil. “Mastriano’s use of religion and politics is similar to Trump’s in that neither look to big denominations or established clergy or church sermons for influence. They instead tap into how disaffiliated Americans are becoming from organized religion. (Less than half of Americans belong to a congregation and three in 10 say they have no religious affiliation altogether.) Religious identity and practice are becoming hyper individualized, with no need for a denomination or clergy member to validate a person’s beliefs. People can be devoutly Christian whichever way they choose, including by following a political candidate’s message.

Mastriano speaks in stark terms about good and evil because “he sees the culture boldly holding Christianity in contempt.” Pastors are using common excuses: ‘Oh, we’re not supposed to be involved in politics.’ If that’s the way your church is, you’re in the wrong church.

”The Founders had varying views about the role of religion in general and Christianity in particular in public life. But since the 1980s, there has been a pronounced and organized effort by some conservative Christians, White evangelical Protestants in particular, to cast U.S. history as less religiously diverse and secularly minded, and then to argue for a kind of orthodoxy — or “originalism” — that would set these interpretations of the past as the mold for the future. Many conservative Republican leaders seem in recent years to be using more exclusionary and sharper religious language, some experts on U.S. religion say. As institutional religion has slipped in stature in a more secular America, rhetoric from the independent fringe of charismatic faith — where life is about a real, daily battle between Satan and God — has risen to the fore. “Things like: ‘You are the devil, you don’t belong in this country and I’m going to elect people who are on God’s side.’ This kind of rhetoric is incapable of discourse. There is no distinction between political argument and spiritual warfare. That is new,” said John Fea, chair of the history department at Messiah College near Harrisburg. Of Mastriano, Fea said: “I don’t think Pennsylvania has ever had a ‘God and country’ candidate like this.”  Earlier generations of leaders who promoted “Christian values,” such as Falwell and Bush, Fea said, were making more cogent arguments about the role of faith in a diverse society and were engaged in public debates with real opponents. Mastriano, by contrast, makes it a badge of honor to not deeply engage with anyone but his supporters.  See https://www.washingtonpost.com/religion/2022/05/16/mastriano-pennsylvania-republican-christian-nationalism/?utm.


What matters most about Tuesday’s Republican primaries is how far to the right the GOP’s electorate has veered. The most important and frightening outcome is the decision of Pennsylvania’s Republicans — by a big margin — to make extremist state Sen. Doug Mastriano their party’s nominee for governor.

Mastriano is an ardent 2020 election denier — “insurrectionist,” is not too strong a word — who attended Trump’s rally that preceded the Jan. 6 riot, organized buses to take Pennsylvanians to it and wanted the state legislature to overturn the popular vote for electors committed to Joe Biden. He spoke at a QAnon event last month, at which conspiracy theorists presented him with a ceremonial weapon they called the “sword of David.” Yes, democracy itself will be on the ballot this fall when Mastriano faces state Attorney General Josh Shapiro, the Democratic nominee. In a state where the governor appoints the secretary of state who oversees elections. Mastriano said he would “reset” the state’s voters rolls so everyone would “have to re-register.” See https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/05/18/tuesday-primaries-show-that-trumpism-has-metastasized/?utm.



For previous commentary on  Musings of a Maverick Methodist on America’s Holy War  (March 2018), see http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2018/03/musings-of-maverick-methodist-on.html

On issues of religion and politics with Putin and Trump in 2022, see 

(3/26/22): Musings on Civil Religion, Christian Nationalism, and Cancel Culture

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2022/03/musings-on-civil-religion-christian.html.

(4/2/22): Musings on the  Battle for Legitimacy in Democracy and Autocracy

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2022/04/musings-on-battle-for-legitimacy-in.html.

(4/9/22): Musings on the Failure to Protect Freedom and Democracy in Ukraine

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2022/04/musings-on-failure-to-protect-freedom.html.

(4/16/22): Easter Musings of a Maverick Methodist on the Toxic Mix of Religion and Politics

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2022/04/easter-musings-of-maverick-methodist-on.html.

(4/23/22): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on Why Americans Are Losing Their Religion

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2022/04/musings-of-maverick-methodist-on-why.html.

(4/30/22): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on the Obsolescence of Christianity in Politics

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2022/04/musings-of-maverick-methodist-on.html.


Saturday, May 14, 2022

Musings on Inflation, the Stock Market, and the Economy

             Rudy Barnes, Jr.


The stock market was once the barometer of America’s economy, but now it reflects the economy of the rich, not the rest.  Most of the means of production and the prices of most products are controlled by megacorporations on Wall Street.  The stock market is now a measure of inflation, but the President, Congress and the Federal Reserve ignore that reality.


An early sign of inflation was the stock market’s surge of more than 55% over the past five years, with most of those market gains going to the top 10% who own almost 90% of U.S. stocks.  Stock market investments are normally speculative, but during the pandemic the Fed reduced those risks with subsidies and low interest rates that bolstered the stock market.


The Fed has finally reduced subsidies to megacorporations and raised interest rates to reduce spending and cool inflation; but spending is needed in a strong economy and higher interest rates increase the cost to sustain America’s massive national debt.  Controlling inflation will require a delicate balancing act in monetary and economic policies.


Fed subsidies to megacorporations and Congressional spending during the pandemic were inflationary, as were Interest rates kept below 1% to support the stock market and home sales.  With increasing interest rates, the stock market and home sales are dropping and rents are increasing.  With a 20% drop in the stock market, we’re going from a bull to a bear market.


Unemployment is now less than 4%, with two jobs available for every unemployed person.  Automation is changing employment policies.  Megacorporations are not reinvesting their profits in personnel and expansion as they have done in the past, but instead paying dividends to shareholders and using buy-backs to increase the value of their stock.


Competition is the primary means of preventing big businesses from exploiting consumers, but the many brands available can be deceptive.  Mega-mergers and acquisitions coupled with corporate diversification have reduced competition with more brands produced by fewer megacorporations. 


With less competition and few regulations to protect consumers from the unrestrained greed of America’s megacorporations, they have become bigger and richer, along with their shareholders.  The result has been increasing disparities in wealth and a shrinking middle class; and those demographic changes have destabilized American democracy.


With runaway inflation and increasing disparities of wealth, exacerbated by few restraints on public spending and a massive national debt, American capitalism is facing an existential crisis.  Socialism looms if regulation, taxes and more competition cannot reform capitalism.  But don’t hold your breath.  Megacorporations are mega-patrons of Congress, and with their wealthy shareholders they have so far prevented needed reforms of capitalism.

   


Notes:


Forbes has reported that the S&P 500 hit a new 2022 low as “staggering” market losses continue.     “Markets are continuing one of the worst starts to a year in history as mounting losses have dragged the benchmark S&P 500 index to a new low point for 2022.  Investors continue to offload stocks, with increasingly negative investor sentiment weighing on markets.  The S&P 500 has fallen 20% so far this year, while the Dow is down nearly 15% in 2022, and the Nasdaq has dropped 29%.”   See https://www.forbes.com/sites/sergeiklebnikov/2022/05/12/dow-falls-600-points-sp-500-hits-new-2022-low-as-staggering-market-losses-continue/?sh=100058d31befMarkets.


Catherine Rampell is a Democrat, but she sounded like a Republican when she asserted that an inflation conspiracy theory is infecting the Democratic Party.  Coining the  term “greedflation” to describe President Biden’s and Elizabeth Warren’s criticism of Wall Street’s recent big profits, Rampell describes it as “a pejorative tautology. Yes, prices are going up because companies are raising prices. Okay. This is the economic equivalent of saying ‘It’s raining because water is falling from the sky.’”  Actually it illustrates the need for America to decide whether it supports the Fed’s efforts to reduce inflation by discouraging consumer spending or Wall Street’s efforts to promote consumer spending to make big profits. See

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/05/12/democratic-conspiracy-theory-on-inflation-makes-things-worse/?tm_campaign=wp_todays_headlines&utm_medium=email&utm.


The Washington Post editorial board has affirmed the statistics that show the correlation between inflation and the dramatic increases in the stock market over the last five years. See  https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/05/06/stock-market-decline-not-all-bad-news/?utm.  


Previous commentary relating to religion, inflation, the stock market and the economy:  

(10/1/16): The Federal Reserve, Wall Street and Congress on Monetary Policy

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2016/10/the-federal-reserve-wall-street-and.html

(2/11/17): The Mega-Merger of Wall Street, Politics and Religion

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2017/02/the-mega-merger-of-wall-street-politics.html

(2/17/18): Musings of a Maverick on Money, Wall Street, Greed and Politics

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2018/02/musings-of-maverick-on-money-wall.html.

(4/27/19): Musings on the Legitimacy of Crony Capitalism and Progressive Capitalism

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2019/04/musings-on-legitimacy-of-crony.html.

(5/9/20): Exposing the Corruption of Crony Capitalism

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2020/05/exposing-corruption-of-crony-capitalism.html

(5/16/20): The Evolution of America’s Libertarian Democracy from Plutocracy to Kleptocracy

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2020/05/musings-on-evolution-of-americas.html?.

(6/20/20): The Fed Just Made Investments in Stock as Safe as Bank CDs

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2020/06/the-fed-just-made-investments-in-stock.html.

(6/27/20): Musings on a Zombie Economy Fostered by the Federal Reserve

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2020/06/musings-on-zombie-economy-fostered-by.html.

(8/22/20): Musings on America’s Two Economies: One for the Rich and One for the Rest

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2020/08/musings-on-americas-two-economies-one.html.

(2/6/21): Musings on the danger of economic disparities and excessive debt in America

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2021/02/musings-on-danger-of-economic.html.

(2/27/21): Musings of a Maverick Methodist on Debt as a Vice or Virtue

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2021/02/musings-of-maverick-methodist-on-debt.html.

(7/31/21): Musings on a Socialist Experiment in a Nation Burdened by Pandemic Debt

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2021/07/musings-on-socialist-experiment-in.html.

(9/25/21): Musings on an American Economic Apocalypse

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2021/09/musings-on-american-economic-apocalypse.html.

(10/30/21): Musings on Modern Monetary Theory, and Why National Deficits and Debts Matter

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2021/10/musings-on-modern-monetary-theory-and.html.

(2/5/22): Musings on the Stock Market, Inflation and Providing for the Common Good

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2022/02/musings-on-stock-market-inflation-and.html.


Saturday, May 7, 2022

Musings on Abortion as a Constitutional Right or a Political Issue

By Rudy Barnes, Jr., May 7, 2022


A woman should have the right to an abortion, albeit with restrictions   If the Supreme Court overrules Roe v. Wade (1973), as expected, any right to abortion will depend on Congress or the states providing it--and that’s how it should be.  The Supreme Court doesn’t make laws; its jurisdiction is limited to interpreting laws in the context of the U.S. Constitution.


The jurisdiction of the Supreme Court is limited by the Constitutional separation of powers.  Article I states that “All legislative Powers herein granted  shall be vested in Congress.  Article III provides that “The judicial power of the U.S. shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.” 


The decision of Roe v. Wade was based on the constitutional right of a woman to choose life or death for a fetus she carries.  It’s based on the 4th Amendment rights to privacy that protect “the right of the people to be secure in their persons…against unreasonable searches  and seizures…”; but it says nothing about protecting the rights of a fetus in the womb.  


There’s a precedent for reversing Supreme Court precedents.  In Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) the Supreme Court found that “separate but equal” laws did not violate the Constitution; 60 years later in Brown v. Board of Education (1954) the Supreme Court ruled that “separate but equal” laws were unconstitutional in public schools, effectively overruling the Plessy decision.


Religion is a major factor in the abortion debate, as it was with slavery; but abortion is not mentioned in the Bible or in the Constitution. We can’t expect the Supreme Court to resolve the issue, and we don’t need to fight another civil war over abortion. We need only require that Congress functions as it should to resolve this contentious issue.


Abortion, like euthanasia, involves issues of life and death that are defined by law.   Abortion has its focus on when life begins, while euthanasia (the right to die) has its focus on how and when life ends.  A fetus has no voice in what happens to it, and with euthanasia the right to end one’s life has traditionally been denied based on the sanctity of life.


The 9th Amendment provides that rights provided in the Constitution do not “deny or disparage others retained by the people.”  The 10th Amendment provides that “The powers not delegated to the U.S. by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the  States respectively, or to the people.”  They reflect a federal system of state and federal rights.


On the issue of abortion, the Supreme Court is not the problem.  The problem is that America’s polarized partisan politics have failed to find a compromise on abortion rights.  If the two parties can’t resolve this contentious issue in Congress or in the states, American democracy will fail, and both parties will only have themselves to blame.



Notes


Asserting that The Supreme Court might never recover from overturning Roe v. Wade, the Washington Post Editorial Board revealed a misunderstanding of the separation of powers in the Constitution, the  role of theSupreme Court, and the distinction between fundamental Constitutional rights that are beyond the reach of Congress, and rights that can be created or changed by Congress.  

The opinion cites Justice Alito’s “dreadful reasoning and extreme potential consequences…that declare Roe ‘egregiously wrong,’ and  obliterate its guarantees of reproductive choice and empower lawmakers to abridge at will this long-held right.”  The editorial goes on to say that ”The court’s legitimacy rests on the notion that it follows the law, not the personal or ideological preferences of the justices who happen to serve on it at any given time. Americans rely on the court to exercise care and restraint against making sharp turns that might suddenly declare their everyday choices and activities unprotected or illegal.”  

The editorial attributes Alito’s draft decision to blatant partisan politics: “What brought the court to its current precipice was not a fundamental shift in American values regarding abortion. It was the shameless legislative maneuvering of Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.).”

The editorial suggests that the Supreme Court should be guided by public opinion rather than by the Constitution. “A Post poll found just last week that Americans support upholding Roe by a 2-to-1 margin. For most people, Roe is a workable standard on a fraught issue.  Absent a clear understanding about when life begins, and with the moral implications surrounding that question far from settled, the Constitution’s guarantees of personal autonomy demand that pregnant people be able to make the difficult decision about whether to end their pregnancy according to the dictates of their own conscience.”

The opinion engages in blatant fear-mongering: “It is Justice Alito’s proposed decision that would further divide the country, starting in nearly every statehouse. He would inaugurate a terrifying new era in which Americans would lose faith in the court, distrust its members and suspect that what is the law today will not be tomorrow. They would justifiably fear that rights will be swept away because a heedless conservative fringe now controls the judiciary.”  See

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/05/03/supreme-court-might-never-recover-overturning-roe-v-wade/?utm.

  


Thursday, May 5, 2022

Musings of a Maverick Methodist on the Relevance of Jesus and Reconciliation

  By Rudy Barnes, Jr.

        

         Are the teachings of Jesus, as distinguished from Christian beliefs, relevant today?  Jesus called his disciples to follow him; but the early church knew that the teachings of Jesus would never be popular and subordinated them to exclusivist beliefs in the divinity of Jesus.  It was a form of cheap grace that attracted converts, but Jesus never taught that he was divine.


The teachings of Jesus are summarized in the greatest commandment to love God and our neighbors of other races and religions as we love ourselves.  Paul’s atonement doctrine made belief in the crucifixion of Jesus as God’s blood sacrifice the only means of salvation.  While blood sacrifice was a means of atonement under Mosaic Law, Jesus taught love over law, and mercy over sacrifice.  The crucifixion of Jesus was the vengeful act of man, not God.


The crucifixion and resurrection are deeply mysterious events.  Paul, a Jewish zealot, convinced 1st century ChristiIans that the crucifixion was God’s blood sacrifice to atone for sin; but there was no Jewish precedent for the resurrection.  It could have been God’s affirmation of the teachings of Jesus as God’s eternal Word, rather than making Jesus into a divine Christ.


  Jewish and Islamic beliefs consider it blasphemous to equate a man with God, but the church never considered explanations for the resurrection that would have been compatible with those beliefs.  Had church doctrines emphasized the teachings of Jesus as God’s Word rather than Jesus being God, it would have changed the trajectory of Christianity and world history.  


     The altruistic teachings of Jesus have proven to be timeless truths of reconciliation in a tribal world of polarized partisan politics and exclusivist religious beliefs; but the church has continued to subordinate the universal teachings of Jesus to exclusivist beliefs.  It’s little wonder that the church is losing popularity; the only wonder is why it has taken so long.

        Christianity is the world’s largest religion, but it’s losing ground in a world of increasing religious diversity.  Jesus was a Jew who never promoted any religion, not even his own.  While Judaism and Islam recognize Jesus as a great prophet and accept the greatest commandment as a common word of faith, they both consider belief in the divinity of Jesus blasphemous.


        Jesus emphasized God’s will to reconcile people of all religions with God’s love, while Satan’s will is to divide and conquer.  Democracy has made popularity the measure of success in both politics and religion and enabled demagogues like Trump and Putin to use religion to divide and conquer.  Reconciliation should be the first priority of religion and politics.


        To make Jesus relevant and to promote religious and political reconciliation, the church should make following the  teachings of Jesus a priority over worshiping Jesus Christ.  Thomas Jefferson considered the teachings of Jesus “the most sublime moral code ever designed by man.”  The church rejected Jefferson’s Jesus, but history has validated his teachings as moral imperatives that can reconcile our faith and politics. 



Notes:


On love over law, see 

(1/18/15): Love over Law: A Principle at the Heart of Legitimacy

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2015/01/love-over-law-principle-at-heart-of.html.


On Paul’s atonement doctrine as an explanation of the crucifixion and resurrection, and Jesus saying “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” (Mt 9:13), see Seeing The Resurrection in a new light, April 5, 2015, at 

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2015/04/seeing-resurrection-in-new-light.html.


Martin Thielen has debunked blood atonement as the foundational belief in Christianity.  See https://doubtersparish.com/2022/03/29/the-night-i-stopped-believing-in-substitutionary-blood-atonement/.


On a recent poll taken by the Episcopal church on how Jesus is perceived (and often ignored) in America, and how the church might improve the relevance of Jesus in the church and politics, see  https://www.episcopalchurch.org/publicaffairs/new-poll-confirms-jesus-remains-important-spiritual-figure-but-pandemic-had-effect-on-religious-activity/.


On The Jefferson Bible, see Kevin Spinale, When Thomas Jefferson rewrote the Bible,

America Magazine, December 04, 2020, at  https://www.americamagazine.org/arts-culture/2020/12/04/catholic-book-club-thomas-jefferson-bible-239382?utm_source=piano&utm_medium=email&utm.  See also, Barnes, Jefferson’s Jesus and Moral Standards of Legitimacy in Religion and Politics, March 17, 2018, at http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2018/03/jeffersons-jesus-and-moral-standards-in.html.


On popularity as a corrupting influence on the church, see Musings on Popularity as a Corrupting Influence in Democracy and Christianity,  January 1, 2022, at 

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2022/01/musings-on-popularity-as-corrupting.html.


On Musings on Reconciliation to Resolve the Dilemma of Diversity in Democracy,  see

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2022/02/musings-on-reconciliation-to-resolve.html.


On The Relevance of Jesus and the Irrelevance of the Church in Today’s World, April 22, 2017.  see 

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2017/04/the-relevance-of-jesus-and-irrelevance.html.


On how exclusivist Chritian beliefs subordinate the moral teachings of Jesuss, and the need for Christian universalism to restore the primacy of the moral teachings of Jesus in Christianity, see the following:

Religious Exclusivity: Does It Matter?, June 17, 2017, at    http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2017/06/religious-exclusivity-does-it-matter.html; see also,

Hell No!, July 22, 2017, at http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2017/07/hell-no.html; see also.

Does Religion Seek to Reconcile and Redeem or to Divide and Conquer? August 5, 2017, at 

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2017/08/does-religion-seek-to-reconcile-and.html; see also

The Universalist Teachings of Jesus as a Remedy for Religious Exclusivism, August 12, 2017 at    

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2017/08/the-universalist-teachings-of-jesus-as.html; and

Musings of a Maverick Methodist on the Resurrection of Christian Universalism, September 29, 2018 at 

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2018/09/musings-of-maverick-methodist-on.html.


For Musings on Morality and Politics and the Need For a Civil Religion  in  America (May 22, 2021) see  

http://www.religionlegitimacyandpolitics.com/2021/05/musings-on-morality-and-politics-and.hm.