I hosted a trivia contest for a youth group of a local church last weekend. The person in charge of the fundraiser wanted a category to be about Biblical villains. I was only too happy to do this. We had eleven tables for a total of around 100 Christian minds working on this and nine other categories. I was particularly curious to see how they did on two questions. Being a preacher's kid myself, I had a fairly strong background in the contents of the Bible, and I have been thoroughly dismayed by the antics of people who proclaimed themselves as Christian. This is why my curiosity to how these two questions would be answered led me to answers about my non-understanding of their behavior.
The first of the two questions was the following: Jesus lost his temper just one time with what group of people, causing him to turn tables over? Now, I thought this answer was a gimme--moneychangers. Half of the group got this question wrong. The second question was "According to the Books of Luke, Mark, and John, Jesus said that the likelihood of what person getting into heaven was the same as a camel going through the eye of a needle?" Only two tables got this one correct--a rich man. Two or three tables wrote down Satan for the answer, and my natural tendency toward irony almost accepted this as correct, but I did not want to turn the event into something that was not about the kids--but it was tempting.
So, what did I get out of this? I have long felt that big money has corrupted our Christianity for political reasons. It can be seen in a number of ways, but I thought this was the proof I needed. I truly believe that the money seeps into the seminary schools by making sure that people with money are not treated badly by the ministers. How else can one explain that members of a church are not familiar with a quote found in, not one, not two, but three books of the Bible? How else can a fairly substantial number of faithful members of a congregation not know the story of the moneychangers? It reminds me of a quote by Senator Al Franken before he got elected: "Rush Limbaugh hid his drugs in his Bible after he cut out all the references to helping poor people."
This is the Peace and Justice Caucus blog. Peace and justice will never be obtained when money is allowed to be infiltrated into our most important philosophical aspects of our daily decisions. The 91% tax rate for the top earners during the republican administration of DD Eisenhower was designed with the purpose to eliminate a continuous money class, and it succeeded to create the strongest Middle Class this country has ever seen. When WWII occurred, the country assumed a shared responsibility for everybody, and Harry Truman went after the war profiteers with strong public support. When big money was taken out of play, the ideals were clear, and the pride of the country in achieving a goal together was palpable.
Now, we are divided, and big money is the biggest reason. Wars are being created to give corporations a bigger profit. Eisenhower warned us of the military-industrial complex. He saw this coming. When FDR was elected, big money tried to fund a revolution against him--not in terms of getting him voted out, an actual coup d'etat type revolution that was thwarted by a Gen. Butler. Big money funds radio corporations to fund gasbags like Limbaugh and Hannity with super-huge contracts that the radio corporations could never afford so that the lies/misinformation can go unencumbered to many who feed off of the fear of these dangerous people. Big money is insuring that peace and justice will become an exception in this country and not the rule with the tainting of the political process so that radically dangerous Supreme Court justices get named.
How do we counter this? We have to educate people to the truth. I know that sounds like a Pollyanna view, but this is what we are good at--education. We have to be relentless in this educational process. We have to push for certain policies that will get us back on track. Reinstate the 90+% tax rate. Charge a 50% surtax when we get into an overseas war/whatever-Orwellian-word-we-use-for-war. Reinstate the draft. Do what we can to make people stand up and pay attention. The 50% war surtax and the draft will make people be engaged when big money pushes into another "armed conflict." Go to church and fight back when the minister insists on quoting Old Testament verses to support war movements, or quotes from Paul that counter Christian values expressed in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Do not allow the minister to endorse a candidate or an anti-Christian policy. Boycott mega-church establishments and media events as big money is bankrolling these pharisees. Be engaged! Stay engaged! Push back! Push hard! Demand what you know is right!