From the Archive: Christian conservatives are cheering Mitt Romney’s attack on a 14-year-old comment by Barack Obama endorsing a limited “redistribution” of wealth, but they ignore that Jesus called for a far more radical wealth redistribution – and it may have led to his crucifixion, as Rev. Howard Bess wrote in 2011.
Popular psychology, in discussing self-love, sometimes references Jesus’s edict to “love your neighbor as yourself,” noting that you can’t love others unless you love yourself. But Rev. Howard Bess sees that logic as missing what Jesus meant when he talked about love.
Many Christians claim a personal relationship with Jesus but show little regard for his commandments to serve the poor and love thy neighbor. Some conceal these contradictions by narrowing the definition of “neighbor,” as Rev. Howard Bess explains.
Republican vice presidential choice Paul Ryan calls himself a devout Catholic, but his right-wing politics would divert more wealth to the rich at the expense of the poor, the opposite of both the teachings of Jesus and the recommendations of the Vatican, notes Catholic ethicist Daniel C. Maguire.
Exclusive: A Russian judge has sentenced three female “punk” rockers from the group “Pussy Riot” to two years in prison for performing a protest song at a Moscow cathedral, what the judge called anti-religious “hooliganism.” But Ray McGovern sees the protest as in the spirit of Mary, mother of Jesus.
Recent historical discoveries about northern Palestine of two millennia ago reveal how radical Jesus’s message was, what risks he was asking his followers to take, and why he was arrested and crucified as an insurrectionist when he ventured south to Jerusalem, says Rev. Howard Bess.
If the teachings of Jesus were really taken seriously, the Christian Right wouldn’t be devoting so much time to protecting the wealth of the wealthiest. True Christians would be demanding redistribution of the world’s riches in ways far more radical than modern politicians would dare propose, as Rev. Howard Bess explains.
In reshaping American politics and society, the Christian Right has applied a distorted version of Jesus’s teachings, downplaying his pacifism and his contempt for wealth while emphasizing later revisions that didn’t threaten the powerful. That’s why Rev. Howard Bess says the search for the true Jesus is crucial.
Exclusive: On Good Friday, Christians observe the brutal torture and crucifixion of Jesus at the hands of Roman occupiers, but many modern Christians don’t mind when it’s “their” side doing the extraordinary renditions of alleged subversives to be tortured and sometimes killed, ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern notes.
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 perhaps its central event, his overturning of the money tables at the temple, a challenge to the merging of religious and political power, says Rev. Howard Bess.