I look at political neo-conservatism as a quasi-religious entity, like freemasonry – a kind of social religion. The religious people involved seem to be looking for precisely a quasi-religious talmudism that allows them to re-interpret the historical Christ and Christianity much like the Talmud allowed Hebrews to reinterpret the requirements of the law. The focus is on keeping most of your money and rejecting responsibility for the poor, militarizing against foreigners, foreign nations, and immigrants and rejecting the love of strangers, and maintaining a closed, bigoted society and rejecting the diversity required by following Christ’s teaching. In short, to be a neo-conservative is to become a religious Pharisee, with all the attendant self-righteousness, obfuscation of rational debate, and filibustering to paralyze society when it doesn’t cooperate with the agenda. It is the religion of this world, expressed in the particular formula recognizable in all fascist societal movements.
To say that I have no respect for it, is an understatement. Certainly, I don’t have respect for the ideas, thoughts, motivations, and activities of its adherents, any more than I do those of brown shirts or black shirts. But I also see it as a tremendous blight and cancer upon civilization. It is the formulized antithesis to Christianity itself.
- Christ preaches constant concern for the poor. They preach constant concern for “us and our own” and that the poor can take care of themselves. You stick with yours, I stick with mine.
- Christ preaches welcoming and embracing the stranger, the foreigner, and the alien. They preach denying hospitality and treating the alien as less entitled. There is a reification of nationality, and overtones that nations of other ethnicities are generally inferior. Who are they always bombing? Little brown people.
- Christ preaches tolerance continually for others, religious, cultural, gender, ethnic, sexual, everything. Yep, that means gays too. They preach denying to those who don’t hold their values the very things Christ freely gave – his community, his attention, his interest, his compassion and charity, his involvement, his help, and his protection.
- Christ preaches visiting those in prison, relieving their suffering, and healing their wounds. “I was in prison,” says Christ. They preach putting more people into prisons, depriving prisoners of adequate medical care, decent food, and substantive emotional and mental comfort, and closeting them in ever more deprived situations, far from the public eye. In some cases, they preach secret prisons, torture, and utter deprivation of human dignity – things that no Christ, real or imagined, can inspire.
- Christ preaches constant concern for the sick, and securing their health at our own expense, just like the good Samaritan. They preach “I am not responsible”, and letting the sick die for lack of anyone to treat or attend them. They say the government should not be involved, but they do not themselves, like the ancient Christians who founded the first hospitals as charities, found hospitals to heal those who cannot find healing.
In the end, the only relationship of neo-conservatism, especially as a para-religious society for protestant fundamentalists, to Christ and the Christianity of the Holy Apostles and the Holy Fathers is an inverse one. It is the antithesis. It is every word of Christ turned on its head, sandwiched in a “yeah but”, “only if”, or “that means”, just as the Talmudists did to the law. And Christ preached also against Talmudism – saying they had reinterpreted the law and thereby ignored its precepts.
In short, neo-conservatism in general, and religious fundamentalism in particular, are systems of modifying Christianity and Christ until you get the pseudo-“Jesus” of the airwaves and the campaign trail and the Klan rally and the closed community. It is “Jesus” as a Rush Limbaugh figure, “Jesus” as an Oliver North figure, “Jesus” as the powerful fascist leader that keeps soccer moms and “women of God” safe from the unclean hordes outside the culdesac. “Jesus” of the Country-Western station and the torture chamber and the neighborhood association. It is the “Jesus” of beating up “faggots” behind the bleachers, “Jesus” of the prom queen who thanks him for winning. It is a made-up, tooth-fairy Jesus who doesn’t exist, most certainly is not due our worship, and is in fact a demon masquerading under the name of the very God who pointed out that there will be false Jesus’ and false Christs. The “Jesus” of expedience, of convenience, of national interests – the red, white, and blue clad “Jesus” of U.S. hegemony.
The false “Jesus” is the “Jesus” who told the poor that they should get a job, and turned his back – the “Jesus” who chased away the stranger or called immigration or the police when they showed up, and who plotted how best to invade the Samaritans. It is the “Jesus” who told the woman at the well that she belongs at home – the “Jesus” who cast the first stone at the harlot and asked if they had any gays on hand. It is the “Jesus” who said, “you didn’t visit me in prison – good job – they were too easy on me, anyway.” It is the “Jesus” who told the blind man and the sick, “you’re not my responsibility. I don’t believe in social welfare”. It’s the “Jesus” who instead of saying, “my mother and my brothers are those who do the will of God”, said, “I’m for good, old-fashioned family values – family comes first. To heck with staying on the cross for people I’ve never met, charity begins at home, can someone give me a ladder?”. This “Jesus” would never have gone to the cross in the first place – it just wouldn’t make sense. The false “Jesus” says the end justifies the means, the outcome justifies whatever we have to do, “collateral damage”, torture, suspending rights, punishing sedition, and building a security state. This “Jesus” would never feed 5,000 from a few loaves – he would say “we can’t help everyone” and then go to Dennys with the apostles for a “Men’s breakfast” and eat five pounds each of fatty foods.
Do you see how the “Jesus” of neo-conservatism deserves only our derision and scorn, our contempt and ridicule? And if the mascot of their movement, then the movement as a whole. The people are lost people, deceived people, enthralled by a false Christ, in the power of the demonic, and compassion is what we must provide. Contempt for their ideas, compassion for their persons. We must never do what they have done – commit the heresy of reducing persons to their ideas or affiliations (“those people” while forgetting that they are people like us) or reducing persons to their actions (“terrorists”). That last is the fallacy into which existentialists fall, and it is heresy, and rejected by the Church. It is a denial of the Incarnation. Hate neo-conservatism, but love the neoconservative. At the same time, this system of neoconservatism deserves unrelenting opposition as an anti-human, anti-life, anti-Christ, and anti-Christian force to substitute fascism for faith at the expense of every person and group they would abandon, imprison, or trod under foot in the name of a demonic “Jesus” who hates you if you don’t follow him.