Brian Normoyle – Actor, Producer, Commentator
Posted: 02/23/2012 2:02 pm
Buzzfeed reported Tuesday that Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum claimed in a 2008 interview for the Oxford Center for Religious Life that there is no such thing as a liberal Christian. He was and is wrong.
Every election cycle, we see more of this callow silliness whereby the Christian right and conservative politicians contend in one way or another that Republicans may claim moral superiority as the party of Jesus — (R-Nazareth), apparently — while “liberals” are godless and dangerous.
But while many political opportunists cynically pander to an evangelical base by half-heartedly nodding to socially divisive issues they only cursorily believe, I don’t doubt the sincerity of Santorum’s beliefs or the strength of his convictions. Of course, that’s precisely why he’s not only out of touch with the views of a majority of mainstream Americans, but with many fellow Christians and the principle teachings of Christ himself.
Even if Santorum could make a credible case that American civil law must “comport with God’s law” (he can’t) he doesn’t get to have it both ways. The Bible is replete with passages condoning polygamy, slavery, the subjugation of women and all sorts of outdated or unsavory tenets Santorum and conservatives like him so selectively disregard. But the issue isn’t just that evangelicals cherry-pick scriptural precepts they like and turn a blind eye to those they don’t — or that the Constitution explicitly proscribes the establishment of a religion (any religion) — it’s that Republican Jesus doesn’t square with the version of the man depicted in the Bible.
Was Christ a war-friendly, pro-death penalty, pro-assault rifle, pro-corporatist, anti-environmentalist who walked among the dinosaurs? Or he was he the compassionate, charitable man who saw love and acceptance of others, tolerance, and generosity towards the poor as the principle paths towards an enlightened, God-like life?
To be clear, I don’t believe Jesus follows or cares about American politics any more than he’s invested in who wins the Super Bowl or an unprovoked war. But if we must perennially engage in this futile, neanderthal exercise of trying to divine a deity’s personal positions on a nation half a world and two millennia removed from where and when he lived, then we can’t ignore the countless references in his Gospel to social justice, welfare, and tolerance while inventing words he absolutely didn’t say about gays and abortion, despite their prevalence in his time.
And whether championing the right to affordable health care, nondiscrimination, and social justice or fighting to protect basic welfare, living wages, and the earth we tread and air we breath — liberals and their standard-bearers have traditionally favored policies distinctly more geared towards the very issues about which Christ spoke and for which he was marginalized and condemned: the poor, the sick and those suffering from injustices of unfair systems.
I’m not a Christian anymore. But given Santorum’s selective use of the Bible and his clear misunderstanding of the overall message of Christ, neither is he. At least — to use Rev. Franklin Graham’s evasive innuendo about Obama’s faith — I can’t “categorically say” he is. Perhaps, like his own statement on Obama’s faith, Santorum just subscribes to “a phony ‘theology’… based [not] on the Bible… [but] a different theology.” Either way, it has no place in American civil law and certainly no place in a serious presidential political discussion.
Besides, Santorum was wrong. There is such a thing as a liberal Christian. His name was Jesus.
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