Jesus Stayed Out of Politics

July 24, 2004

I do not fully agree with Shadia Drury’s take on the historical Jesus, but she is very much on target when she discusses how his name and “cover” have been used down through the centuries and today. Here are three short quotes:

The reason for resisting efforts to re-empower the Churches is that people who believe much of what Jesus believed are not likely to behave well in positions of power — unless they are willing to keep their religion out of politics as Jesus did.[1]

Jesus seems to have been very deliberate about not seeking political power. But they killed him anyway. Although he did not pursue secular power, he did not avoid speaking the truth to those powers. Here’s more from Drury.

The political prominence of the religious right within the Republican Party is likely to make American politics resemble the politics of the Middle East — a politics of extremism fueled by religious hatred. Insofar as the disestablishment of religion is the bedrock of the American founding, the neoconservative rejection of this principle sows the seeds of the American un-founding.[2]

By introducing a wedge between church and state, [liberalism] prevented the state from using religion to buttress its power; but it also prevented the church from relying on the violence of the state to punish heretics and protect orthodoxy. Liberalism was not an attack on religious life itself; it was meant to guarantee religious liberty and provide a solution to religious strife and persecution.[2]

So, the religious right is actually quite un-American (and I believe also quite un-Christian) in philosophy as well as in practice. (That of course is not true of all individuals who associate themselves with that movement.)

[1] from Terror and Civilization [2] from Leo Strauss and the American Right



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