Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Jesus: the conservative Republican

Oded Gebert
(Oded Gebert/Flickr)

I have no animosity toward conservatism. I was brought up in democratic Massachusetts, so I do not think I really understand it. I do not hate Republicans by principle, though I do think that the country should move in a direction different than the one they represent. I do not have any exceptional knowledge of the Bill of Rights or the intentions of the Founding Fathers. I do not have a greater knowledge of the Christian New Testament or church doctrine than any other American. But what I do have is at least a modicum of respect for truth and honesty. The Republican Party presents itself as the Christian party, with some of its members even suggesting that the United States was founded as a Christian nation. It seems to me that the Republican Party claiming to be the party of Christianity is a misrepresentation of the truth in light of the words and actions of Jesus of Nazareth.

The Bible is a long, repetitive, occasionally boring and often beautiful book. I did not read all of the Gospels to write this column. Rather, I am going to focus on the Corporal Works of Mercy, the Greatest Commandments, and the Sermon on the Mount.

The GOP stands for cutting social welfare programs as a means of reducing government spending. The justification is that there are members of our nation who abuse these programs out of laziness; a free ride paid for by the average American’s hard-earned tax dollars. In Christianity, there are seven Corporal Works of Mercy: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, visit the imprisoned, and bury the dead. In summary, support the less fortunate. In the first century, this meant literally handing food to hungry people on the streets of Jerusalem, giving the clothes off your back to anyone who needed it regardless of race or creed, Jew or Gentile, Roman or Israelite. In the United States today, it seems to me that we may practice these merciful works on an institutional level, such as with the programs established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. Yet, the Republican Party judges these programs to be not fiscally worthwhile.

Furthermore, Republican President-elect Donald Trump ran a hateful campaign. Liberals have not by any means stood out as the bastion of kindness and love during this campaign season, but the fact stands that Trump has been remarkably offensive both this year and throughout his life. There are plenty of examples, but the mocking of a disabled reporter and the sexual assault “locker room talk” stand out in my mind.

In contrast, when the Pharisees asked him which of the Commandments was greatest, Jesus said “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is similar to it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love God, and love each other. No one in history has ever been entirely innocent of hate, and yet it is set in Christianity as the ultimate goal to aspire to. The Republican platform calling for the deportation of Mexican immigrants and blocking of Muslims stands in direct opposition to the Jesus’ inclusive love.

Finally, as the GOP is outspokenly pro-Christian, I would like to address Jesus’ stance on public faith. In his sermon on the mount, Jesus said, “when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others.” He said to pray in private, to pray for the purpose of strengthening your faith and relationship with God. Christians have a majority in this country, so it makes sense to try to get the Christian vote by being outspokenly religious. That is part of the GOP’s strategy. They appropriate faith as a political tool. It seems to me that this is not what Jesus would have wanted.

I don’t care about having a Christian party in this country, as the First Amendment dictates that church and state shall be separate. I think Thomas Jefferson got that one right. However, any politician that represents caring for the marginalized, loving thy neighbor, and doing those things not to be seen doing them but because they are the right things to do, has my support. But most of all, I just don’t like being lied to. The Republican Party is not the party of Jesus Christ.

Dan Riley is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected].

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  • E

    EricSteamerDec 22, 2016 at 6:26 pm

    Interesting article. @david you bring up some interesting points, but not really. Interesting point about the prison-industrial complex, but tough look trying to pin that on one party. This article did not involve race, and thus bringing up that point seems to miss the point of the article and just blindly attack the left. You’re better than that, David.

    I think the overall issue with many of these comments is that it is trying to attack the article with positive sweeping assumptions. Ultimately I don’t think either major political party represent religion very well, thus I think it is fair to call into question the GOPs treatment of Christianity.

    Furthermore, I dislike the argument about immigrants. Yes, you may be right, but actions speak louder than words; good intentioned policies often have harsh side effects, and one has to question whether or not the side effects of deporting many families would positively outweigh our current immigration policy; I would tend to argue that it wouldn’t.

  • J

    Joe RicciDec 22, 2016 at 6:25 pm

    @luckieLou explain Obama then?

  • R

    RoscoeDec 21, 2016 at 1:50 am

    I’ve never met a conservative who gave to the poor. Unless Focus on the Family qualifies as “poor.”

  • D

    David Hunt 1990Dec 8, 2016 at 10:58 am

    @Luckie Louie: Liberals define “charity” as stealing from others at the of a gun and then giving that money away… and then crowing about how wonderful they are.

    CHARITY, as you or I or other moral people define it, is GIVEN, not TAKEN.

  • P

    PatsfnDec 7, 2016 at 9:01 pm

    The Republican platform doesn’t call for the deportation of Mexican immigrants. Only illegal aliens.

  • L

    Lucky LouieDec 7, 2016 at 4:50 pm

    I’m not sure what this article is about, really. However, I find it ironic that those who are bashed the most, the conservative Christian right, are also the most altruistic in their personal lives. Christians in the Bible belt are consistently shown to be the most charitable people in the country. They give more of their time, money and emotions to the very causes that they are against politically. On the other hand, liberals have earned the moniker “limousine” liberals, because their philosophy is primarily that “the government” should take of various social ills. The mentality is to throw money at those troublesome problems and “let someone else deal with it.” Think about it, people in Massachusetts run a silly 5k or are “sponsored” for the Boston Marathon to give a few bucks to the Jimmy Fund. People in Texas actually adopt abandoned children.

    Perhaps the “backwards” conservative Christians are on to something when they do not support the government intervening (and thereby, tacitly condoning, various social ills). Maybe it’s because a lot of them are living with the consequences through their charity work and they realize that the government can hardly provide its basic functions. Maybe many of our divisions boil down to a simple difference in philosophy.

    Coastal “educated elites” want a European style system where the nanny state provides a whole bunch of services and social comforts. Of course, it does so poorly and many people suffer needless mediocrity in the name of no one slipping through the cracks. Things in Europe are as bad as they have been in 75 years, why would we ever want to emulate them in any respect other than architecture or public transit? This country was founded in large part on the free will and the power of the individual. That is an idea still alive and well in the middle of the country. You reap what you sow….and so forth.

    I don’t know how much Christianity has to do with government, but I do know that the blowhards who own all the microphones on TV and in print probably have it all wrong. Might just explain why a certain election just went the way it did.

  • D

    David Hunt 1990Dec 7, 2016 at 11:43 am

    And we Conservatives who object to this re-enslavement of blacks are smeared as “greedy” and “racist”. The sheer malignant evil genius of this is captured in a quote from LBJ: “I’ll have the n*ggers voting Democratic for the next two hundred years.”

    He knew what he was doing. But of course you never hear about this. Why? Because of the Democrats’ ring of invisibility – the Press-ious.

  • D

    David Hunt 1990Dec 7, 2016 at 11:40 am

    It is perfectly appropriate, and good, to love thy neighbor and want to help them out. The difference between Right and Wrong, er, Left is that Conservatives want to help people from their own resources, given voluntarily. People on the Left want to use the coercive power of the government to TAKE from people, then give it to others, and then thump themselves on the chest about how generous they are.

    Not to mention that the whole social safety net, e.g., welfare, food stamps, public housing allowances, etc., are nothing but a Vote Pump.

    Democrats destroyed the black family through the financial incentives of the “Great Society”. They created a dependent subculture of entire generations living off the government’s teat. These people, not willing to cut their own benefits, vote for people who promise more goodies.

    So, in exchange for food pellets and a cage, er, EBT and housing subsidies, Democrats have turned blacks and other minorities into lab rats.