Jesus: the conservative Republican

By Dan Riley

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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]