Would Jesus Join The Tea Party?

Would Jesus be a tea partier if he were walking the earth today? No, I don’t believe he would. Would he be a member of the Occupy Wall Street movement? I definitely don’t buy that one. How about this—he would be Jesus, transcendent of the political strife of our times.

The Bible, after all, teaches that Jesus is God, the maker of all creation.

I have a hard time believing that he would waste time wandering in the mire of the early 21st Century politics of the U.S.A. I imagine God would have better things to do, if he chose to appear in human form in our times.

Apparently, not everyone believes as I do.

The American Values Network, a leftist Christian non-profit, has created a soon-to-be released animated Internet movie, depicting Christ as a tea party leader.

The movie was produced in order to make the point that Jesus’ teachings in no way coalesce with what the tea party believes. The American Values Network was created by Burns Strider, former senior advisor and director of Faith Based Outreach for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign when she ran for president in 2008.

In the movie, words are changed in Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount” in a “Sermon on the Mall”—meaning the National Mall–to disparage the tea party.

Jesus is flanked by so-called tea party leaders (his disciples) including Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, Ayn Rand, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.

Here’s the trailer:

My first reaction to this is did I miss something? I have been following the tea party since it’s inception and never saw it as a religious movement or one that proclaimed that they are doing the Lord’s work. Of course, there is a strong Christian contingent of the tea party—that’s a given.

I have been to many tea party meetings, both as news reporter and as a participant. Working as a political columnist, I often opined favorably about the tea party. I saw it as a Constitution advocacy group and I agreed with it.

Unbeknownst to me, I was chosen as political liaison for the American Patriot Tea Party—a tea party group out of Franklin Parish—because I was deemed a friend of the movement.

After I was told and accepted the position, my job was to update the group on political happens in local, state and national government and I performed that duty at meetings. I don’t think there was ever a Jesus liaison.

I seem to remember a prayer opening every meeting, but after the prayer religion wasn’t on the agenda.Tea partiers seemed much more concerned with saving the country than saving souls.

Franklin Parish is an ultra-religious region of Louisiana, a state that sits firmly in the Bible Belt—excluding New Orleans, of course. I have also been to other tea party meetings around the state, including one in Alexandria that consisted of tea party groups throughout Louisiana. I don’t even recall if that one was opened with a prayer, but I know that religion wasn’t anywhere near the forefront of discussion, which centered on reducing government, getting real conservatives into office and educating the young about the Constitution.

If the American Values Network knows something that I don’t know about the tea party, I would be surprised. I doubt that any member of the group has actually been to a tea party meeting.

More likely, they are relying on tired, old stereotypes of conservatives as narrow-minded Bible thumpers who want to shove The Good Book down people’s throats if they don’t see things their way. They also think that conservatives are basically evil, greedy people who hate the poor.

Here is their rewriting of the Sermon on the Mount from the movie:

Jesus: Blessed are the mean in spirit, for theirs in the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for lower taxes, for their own pockets shall be filled.

Blessed are those who follow my prophet Ayn Rand and disparage the merciful, for they shall never have to show mercy.

Blessed are the pure in ideology, for they can demonize any who disagree.

Blessed are those who refuse to compromise, for their obstinacy will obstruct progress

Blessed are those who are persecuted for the Right’s sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when you revile and persecute and utter all kinds of evil falsely.. Rejoice and be glad. Great is your reward, for in the same way the prophets Beck and Limbaugh have persecuted others before you.

You have heard it said, “Turn the other cheek, and love your neighbor as yourself,” but I say to you, demonize your enemies and never forger their slight against you.

You have heard it said to leaders in ancient times, “If you do away with malicious talk and spend yourselves on behalf of the hungry and oppressed, then your light shall rise in the darkness, and your night shall become like the noonday.” But I say, malicious talk is what generates ratings and the only thing that shall rise from governments caring for the hungry and oppressed are more parasites to feed.

You have heard that it was said to government leaders , “Seek justice, rescue the oppressed, plead for the widow, defend the cause of the poor and needy,” but I say run as fast as you can from churches preaching social justice, and seek only your individual interest.

For any who believe our governments should help the poor show contempt for their Maker and whoever ignores the needy honors God.

You have heard it said, “Don’t swear falsely,” but I say to you, if uttering falsehoods furthers our cause, it is righteous.

Therefore, if your eye causes you to sympathize with parents who have lost their jobs, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your eyes than for your whole body to go into socialist hell. If you are tempted to extend your right hand to help a neighbor in need, cut it off and throw it away; it’s better to lose one hand than to help someone who clearly doesn’t want to work.

Beware of the Old Testament prophets who came in sheep’s clothing but inwardly were socialist wolves. You shall know them by their fruits , for in the name of God they commanded government leaders to defend the cause of the poor and needy. But we all know such things are un-American and threaten our economic freedom.

All then who hear these words of mine and act on them shall be like the wise people who built their nation on individual interest. Threats came from poor children wanting better schools, from billionaires saying they shouldn’t pay lower taxes than their maids, from regulators wanting to keep Wall St. and oil companies in check. But the nation rejected all of these and did not fall, because it was built on self-interest.
But all who hear these words of mine and do not act on them shall be like a foolish people who built their nation on a belief that our neighbor makes us stronger. They wasted their money on Social Security and Medicare for the elderly, on government jobs for teachers and cops, and on repairing crumbling bridges and roads. And so that nation fell—and great was its fall!

The idea that the tea party would be receptive to a speech like this speaks volumes about the American Values Network’s ignorance of the movement.

The tea party focuses on adherence to the Constitution and limiting the size of government and, for the most part, tries to steer clear of social-conservative issues.

I’m sure there are exceptions, but there are exceptions in any groups of people that unit around a movement.

I have known pro-life people, and abortion is a central issue among religious conservatives, who are part of the tea party who don’t want the issue brought up at tea party meetings because they feel it distracts from the larger message of smaller government.

And saying that the tea party is “mean in spirit” is just lie.That’s not the case. The American Values Network can produce all the questionable photos it wants of tea party people carrying pictures of President Obama with a Hitler mustache, but we know the truth. If these people exist, they are the rare exception to the rule. In most cases, they would be asked to leave any tea party rally.

In a parting shot to the American Values Network, I don’t think that y’all quite have a handle on the philosophy of Jesus that you seem to think you have.

Jesus said “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” If Jesus believed what you think he did, he would have said, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesars, so Caesar can go out and do God’s work for him.”

Jesus taught salvation on an individual level and not as part of some great collective in which the government taxes people so that corrupt officials can decide the best way to distribute it to accrue power for themselves. The last 100 years can attest to how that system has lead to the wholesale slaughter of millions around the world.

As Tom Paine wrote,”Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.” Evil really ain’t the Jesus way.


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