Friday, July 25, 2008

Loving the Emperor more than Christ

Lawrence Vance, on the Lew Rockwell site, often writes about the calamitous war policy of Washington's current rulers. Recently, he received a letter from a former R.O.T.C. member, a college student, thanking Vance for his writings. "After three years of going along with the crowd, my eyes were opened," the young man writes, and he then goes on to detail his Baptist background and his "hardcore Republican" household.

In reading of his experience with military chaplains, I found his story to be similar to ones I had heard before from other military personnel. These chaplains are the strangest "men of God." You would expect a religious chaplain to be like any other church pastor, that is, a counselor, a comfort, one concerned with the welfare of the individual seeking his advice. Not so, these uniformed martinets. These guys who wear the cross on their lapels are military recruiters first and foremost – and loyalists to the state before any commitment to a God. Many of them are known for their mean-spirited reactions towards anyone who expresses doubt about the current administration's Middle East mission.

The young writer to Vance tells of his change of heart – evolving from a blind yahoo supporter of the invasion of Iraq to an antiwar conscientious objector. He says that throughout the process of parting from the military, "I was disappointed to see that the most hateful, disrespectful, and arrogant people I encountered were the chaplains and pro-war pastors who interviewed me. Nothing convinced me more of the danger Christians face when they begin to accept Constantinian assumptions than the conduct of these 'men of God.'"

The behavior observed by this student would come as no surprise to traditionalist conservative pastor, Rev. Chuck Baldwin, who is a staunch opponent of the current regime in Washington and a fierce defender of the Constitution and its founding principles. He claims that the Christian church is in a state of "apostasy," meaning that its pastors and members have forsaken and abandoned Christ's teachings. He writes, "Today's pastors and Christians seem to display more loyalty and devotion to George W. Bush than they do to the Lord Jesus Christ. This stands in stark contrast to Christians throughout Church history."

Rev. Baldwin reminds us that the Roman Empire did not persecute Christians because they worshiped Christ. The Romans did not care which god you worshiped. The Empire persecuted Christians because they believed their god to be the One and Only God, above all other deities, including Caesar, the Emperor, who assumed the mantle of a deity. Rev. Baldwin suggests that today's Christians have placed a similar mantle on Bush, and that the "beginning of the end came when Christian conservatives began idolizing President George W. Bush." Their worship of this man is such that "they have come to accept just about any and all abuses against the Constitution, Bill of Rights, Declaration principles, and even our very way of life." Not only have they become "robotic foot soldiers for universal and everlasting war," they "see no harm in the decimation of individual liberties, as long as it is a Republican who is stealing them."

Baldwin shows how even the long fought for pro-life positions have been cast aside, as Republican party operatives expediently give "donations" to key conservative organizations, as well as to principal church ministers. "Regardless of how the Republican Party has compromised, capitulated, and castrated genuine conservative principles, conservatives -- including Christian conservatives -- continue to refer to the GOP as 'God's Own Party,' and other such nonsense." On the whole, Baldwin charges, "Republicans are just as dangerous as Democrats. In fact, more constitutional freedoms have been lost under George W. Bush than any President (including Democrats) in modern memory."

And then there are those Christians who claim a non-involvement in politics. Rev. Baldwin has heard some say, "This President is God's man, and while we should pray for him, we should never oppose him." And there are those who offer that ultimate cop-out: "This is all part of prophecy; there is nothing we can do about it."

To these old mantras, Rev. Baldwin asks, "If George W. Bush's push to merge America into a North American Union is the 'fulfillment of prophecy' and should not be resisted, then why should we resist al-Qaida? Who are we to say what is or what is not the 'fulfillment of prophecy?'" He continues, "Most of my fellow believers who say we have no Christian duty to oppose President Bush as he strips us of our liberties, defies our Constitution, and makes a mockery of justice, will turn around and shout the loudest in support of a war against a nation that had nothing to do with 9/11 and did not even pose a legitimate or imminent threat to our country." Where is the logic of "prophecy" here, he asks.

And, furthermore, contends Rev. Baldwin, if it is God's will that one should only pray for a President and never oppose him, why did these Christians raise such an outcry against President Bill Clinton? He suggests that his fellow Christians "will not be using the same mantra" of pray-but-don't-resist, if a Democrat is elected as the next President.

He appeals to Christians to "tear away the blinders" and play their proper role as citizens of this free country, and regrets that "Somewhere down the line, the Christian Right has lost track of the importance of constitutional government. They have forgotten (or never learned) the principles of liberty. Sadly, the Christian Right has allowed The Bill of Rights to become an antiquated and incidental document with no importance whatsoever to them. Beyond that, in many respects, the Christian Right has become as totalitarian in philosophy as many of the Pagan Left. One should understand that the extremes of both left and right end up at the same place: Tyranny."

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