Monday, April 05, 2021

In god we trust less

 Last week a man from Indiana or Virginia, depending on the source, drove his car into a barricade in Washington, killing one Capitol Police officer, William Evans, and injuring another before being killed himself.  Investigators have scoured his Facebook page but learned nothing except that Noah Green was unemployed and belonged to the Nation of Islam.  

Rep. Ilhan Omar tweeted her grief and observed, "The death toll would have been worse if the assailant had an AR-15 instead of a knife."  This outraged Rep. Greg Murphy (R-NC), who retorted, "Would have been worse if they [sic] had been flying planes into the buildings [sic] also."  Omar can trigger Islamophobia like a cat setting off a motion sensor alarm.  Got it, Greg, all guns good, all Muslims evil.  Your check from the NRA is being messengered as the US Mail is still a mess.

Yesterday Senator Raphael Warnock, who moonlights Sundays as a Baptist pastor, tweeted, "The meaning of Easter is more transcendent than the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Whether you are a Christian or not, through a commitment to helping others we are able to save ourselves."  This outraged former Trump lawyer turned theologian Jenna Ellis, who called it "false gospel and heresy" and sneered, "Read Romans, 'Reverend' Warnock.  You are a false teacher."  Preach the gospel according to Jenna or STFU.

What is it about Easter that makes the bile burst from so many Christians?  Is it just closer to the surface?  From the Middle Ages until a few decades ago countries like Russia and Poland marked Good Friday with a traditional pogrom, because Jesus clearly said, "Avenge my death."  The most recent occurred in Kielce, Poland, in 1946 and took the lives of 42 Jews out of about 200 who had somehow survived the Holocaust.  That particular custom did not cross the Atlantic, but we had plenty of lynchings and other hate crimes like the one transfixing daytime cable right now.  All the trial of Derek Chauvin lacks is a religious dimension, but I won't be shocked if the defense puts his clergyman on the stand.

Evangelicals announce every few months that the Day of Judgment is at hand, and they always go away mumbling and promising to crunch the numbers again.  This time, however, they may be right -- and they have only themselves to blame.  After years of attaching themselves to the white nationalist wing of the Republican Party (now the only wing there is), they have succeeded in alienating so many people that only 47 percent of Americans are willing to admit to the Gallup Poll that they belong to a church, mosque or synagogue.  Twenty years ago it was 70 percent.  Younger people especially are disgusted by attempts to push religion in public schools, deny legal protection to LGBTQ people and destroy reproductive freedom.  The most enthusiastic churchgoers are still African Americans who have depended on the church for community organizing and protection since before the Civil War.  The "prosperity gospel" crowd could learn from this, but they won't.  Another reason for hope.


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