Religion

Jesus Mandate: Peace and Stewardship

Jesus as portrayed in stained glass as the Good Shepherd.

Modern biblical scholarship has enabled critically thinking Christians to understand what the historical Jesus actually said and what was tacked on later to serve the interests of Rome and early church leaders, but those original messages remain politically inconvenient today, writes Rev. Howard Bess.

The Inconvenient Truth about Jesus

Jesus delivering his Sermon on the Mount as depicted in a painting by Nineteenth Century artist Carl Heinrich Bloch.

There is much religiosity in the U.S., with the Supreme Court’s right-wing majority even approving Christian prayers at the start of government business. But there is little appreciation of the radical political and economic message at the center of Jesus’s teachings, writes Rev. Howard Bess.

Kerry Grovels over Israeli ‘Apartheid’

Secretary of State John Kerry speaking to the AIPAC conference on March 3, 2014.

Exclusive: Secretary of State Kerry gets to say whatever half-truth or fiction comes into his head about Syria, Russia or other “designated villains,” but when he cites the inconvenient truth of Israeli “apartheid,” he must scramble as fast as he can to retract and apologize, Robert Parry reports.

Pope Francis Signals Eased Moral Strictures

Pope Francis. (Photo from Casa Rosada)

For decades, the Catholic Church has alienated many followers with its rigid stance on sexual behavior and marriage. But there are indications that Pope Francis is seeking a less judgmental approach toward these issues, as moral theologian Daniel C. Maguire notes.

Telling the Truth about Easter

Depiction of Jesus's Crucifixion by 16th Century artist Mathis Gothart-Nithart.

Jesus, a radical preacher who advocated for the poor, was crucified for turning over money tables at the Temple and other insurrectionary acts. His body was likely left to wild animals, but his chroniclers sought to glorify his ending with myths about a resurrection, as Rev. Howard Bess explains.

Misunderstanding Jesus’s Execution

Jesus, driving the money-changers from the Temple, in a painting by El Greco.

From the Archive: Over the centuries as Christianity bent to the interests of the rich and powerful, the story of Jesus’s fateful week in Jerusalem was reshaped to minimize its pivotal event, overturning the Temple’s money tables, a challenge to religious and political power, says Rev. Howard Bess.

Israeli-Palestinian Talks Founder, Again

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

President Obama pondered freeing Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard to keep Israeli-Palestinian negotiations sputtering along, but Israel’s demand to be called a “Jewish state” and its refusal to free more Palestinian prisoners have pushed the talks to the brink, notes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

Tolerating Saudi Arabia’s Intolerance

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.

The U.S. government insists that it abides by principles of international law, democracy and respect for national sovereignty, but its actions often belie its words, with the U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s monarchy a stark example of the hypocrisy, writes Lawrence Davidson.

Standing Up to Militarism

Sister Megan Rice, one of the three Transform Now Plowshares activists sentenced to prison for a symbolic protest at the Oak Ridge nuclear facility in Tennessee.

A federal judge meted out multi-year prison terms to three anti-nuclear activists from the Transform Now Plowshares group for a symbolic protest at a U.S. nuclear facility in Tennessee. The protesters had been inspired by the courageous White Rose movement in Nazi Germany, as Gary G. Kohls explains.

Oklahoma as the Vanguard of the Right

Oklahoma's Republican Gov. Mary Fallin, who pressed for Clayton Lockett's execution despite doubts over the drug cocktail to be used.

Exclusive: As Tea Party and Evangelical right-wingers consolidate control over Republican “red states,” the GOP is dividing into something like two political parties, pitting the very conservative against the very, very conservative, as Richard L. Fricker observes in Oklahoma.