Religious Liberty contra Jesus

"We [the Moral Majority and Religious Right of the early 1980s] had the power," writes former Moral Majority advocate Cal Thomas, "to right every wrong [with a Republican win via the victory of Ronald Reagan] and cure every ill and end every frustration that God-fearing people had been forced to submit to by our 'oppressors,' whom we labeled secular humanists, abortionists, homosexuals, pornographers, and 'liberals.'"1 The book is published by Zondervan in 1999. What did the Religious Right gain?

"That was twenty [now approaching forty] years ago," continues Cal Thomas, "and today very little that we set out to do has gotten done. In fact, the moral landscape of America has become worse."2 The so-imagined political and cultural power is in the hands of conservative evangelicals and the morality of our culture only got worse. But the "liberals" against whom the Religious Right oppose, and campaign against, already knew that no one can legislate morality (and conservatives revile that base fact):
Two decades after conservative Christians charged into the political arena, bringing new voters and millions of dollars with them [which could have been spent on the poor and destitute or evangelizing the unreached nations] in hopes of transforming the culture through political power, it must now be acknowledged that we have failed. . . . We failed because we were unable to redirect a nation from the top down. Real change must come from the bottom up or, better yet, from the inside out.3
Did conservative evangelicals learn their valuable lesson? Not even remotely. Franklin Graham, campaigning for the most immoral, unethical, godless and hypocritical candidate for the presdiency this nation has ever witnessed, Donald J. Trump, under the guise of a national political campaign titled Decision America Tour 2016, perpetuates the same exact vitriolic rhetoric today as the failed Moral Majority of 40 years ago: "The enemy is not the British today," states Franklin Graham, "but godless secularism and people who call themselves progressives [i.e., "liberals"] who are undermining the morals and the God-given biblical foundation that our Founding Fathers gave this nation." (link) His pomposity and rhetoric appears to be read right out of the conservative evangelical playbook from 40 years ago. Consider the words of Thomas:
If you were to do a content analysis of the fund-raising letters of the Religious Right [from 40 years ago], you would discover that they are all basically the same, regardless of the organization. First, they identify an enemy: homosexuals, abortionists, Democrats, or "liberals" in general. Second, the enemies are accused of being out to "get us" or impose their morality on the rest of us or destroy the country. Third, the letter assures the reader that something will be done: We will oppose these enemies and ensure that they do not take over America. Fourth, to get this job done, please send money (and the letter often suggests a specific amount).4
Nothing has changed. They will not relent, not repent, but reject Christ. Conservative evangelicals maintain the same rhetoric, propagating the same failed agenda, naming the same enemies of the Church and of America and opposing their rights while seeking to protect their own rights. Never mind that Jesus calls us to forfeit our rights. Never mind His command to love one's enemies. Never mind that evangelical leaders like Franklin Graham, Jerry Falwell, Jr., Eric Metaxas, James Dobson, David Barton, Vice President Mike Pence, Ben Carson, and a host of others too numerous to count, ignore Jesus and promote their own political brand of religion and name it biblical Christianity.

For Jesus, love looks like the Cross, like sacrifice. (John 13:1) Love looks like giving up your rights, your freedom, for the rights and freedom of others. (Rom. 12:9, 10, 16) Love looks like passively allowing others to persecute and take advantage of you (Matt. 5:10, 11, 12; Rom. 12:14; 1 Cor. 6:7), without retaliation (Matt. 5:38, 39, 40, 41, 42; Rom. 12:14, 17, 19), but rather return a blessing (Matt. 5:43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48; Rom. 12:14, 20, 21). Love incarnate would not only bake a cake for a same-sex wedding if asked but, even if Love incarnate hypothetically did not agree with same-sex marriage (cf. Matt. 5:41, 42), would do so lovingly, prayerfully, and to the best of Love's ability.



For the Religious Right, in order to promote their bigoted brand, notes Cal Thomas, one must "constantly have enemies, conspiracies, and opponents as well as play the role of righteous victim [always playing the martyr while victimizing others] in order to get people to send in money"5 or, I add, to earn their trust and to garner their Republican vote. Tell me you finally understand the corruption -- spiritual, moral, ethical -- of the Religious Right and in evangelical leaders like Franklin Graham, Eric Metaxas, Ben Carson and Jerry Falwell, Jr. Tell me that the eyes of your understanding are beginning to open, and you see for yourself the false, manipulative, fear-based, political religion created by these men but labeled under the guise of conservative biblical Christianity.

Tragically, yet inevitably, we are again witnessing the results of the marriage between evangelicalism and politics, namely, the Republican party. Donald Trump is expected to sign yet another executive order (for which he, now hypocritically, endlessly ridiculed President Barack Obama): the religious liberty executive order. (link) No doubt the likes of anti-LGBTQ proponent Mike Pence, Jerry Falwell, Jr. and his Liberty University ilk, James Dobson, Franklin Graham et al. are giddy with self-righteous exuberance that they will, finally, be protected by law to maintain and practice their bigotry.

Once again these religious frauds demonstrate that they do not follow Jesus -- they do not follow Jesus. (Matt. 5:10, 11, 12, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48; Rom. 12:9, 10, 14, 16, 20, 21; 1 Cor. 6:7) They, like their Puritan forefathers (who also perpetuate an unwarranted martyr complex), care primarily about their own imagined rights than in following Jesus or protecting the rights of others with whom they disagree. Cal concludes: "Jesus emptied himself of power that was rightfully his. We try to fill ourselves with power that belongs to the world and seek to usher in a kingdom not of this world by using tools that are of this world."6 What I fear most for these evangelicals is that they, to their horror and surprise, could be the ones to hear from the Savior:
Not everyone who says to me, "Lord, Lord," will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy [preach, tells others the Gospel of Jesus] in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?" Then I will declare to them, "I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers [or "lawless ones" -- those who reject His law; cf. Matt. 22:37, 38, 39]." ...

"You that are accursed [καταράομαι, to be pronounced (by Jesus) as cursed], depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me." (Matt. 7:21, 22, 23; 25:41, 42, 43)
They made certain that their specious so-called religious rights were secured but they failed to actually read the words of Jesus and follow them. (Matt. 7:24, 25, 26, 27) In other words, they lived their lives as they interpreted the scriptures -- telling others about Christ, opposing evil, performing good works in Jesus' name (cf. Matt. 7:22) -- but in conjunction with securing their own needs (seeing properly to being fed, having drink, welcomed among their own community, possessing desirable attire, being healthy, Matt. 25:41, 42, 43). The words in the blockquote above are frightening: no one wants to hear these words from Jesus -- especially when one thinks that he or she is "standing up for the Word of God" by opposing what one deems wrong, sinful, evil. But you had better consider carefully whether your actions and positions actually betray the very basic commands of Christ. You will, sadly, discover that Jesus is not a Republican.

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1 Cal Thomas and Ed Dobson, Blinded by Might: Can the Religious Right Save America? (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999), 22. The answer expected from the question posed in the subtitle is no and such has been proven many times over.

2 Ibid., 23.

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid., 54.

5 Ibid., 55.

6 Ibid., 80.