Republished with permission from John Pavlovitz
Have you ever noticed that nearly all Republican politicians claim to be Christians—but they never mention Jesus or his teachings? I have.
Pay attention the next time you see a Conservative member of Congress parading their supposed faith in a press conference, stump speech, or FOX News fluff piece. (It shouldn’t take long.) You’ll notice they use words like “God” throughout and they reference “The Bible” a whole lot and even mention “faith.” but they completely exclude the very namesake of their declared religious tradition.
This isn’t an oversight, it’s a necessity. There’s a simple reason for the omission: they can’t gaslight us with the words of Jesus. You see, over the past few decades, these people have become experts at slapping a shiny veneer of religion onto the most abominable of ideas and the most sociopathic of behaviors.
They know they can weaponize the rather generic idea of “God,” manufacturing a deity in their own bloodthirsty, morally-inverted, predatory image: a vengeful, joyless, avatar.
They can wield a few random, poorly-exegeted obscure scripture passages like a hammer in order to justify their every phobia and hangup, making frequent mention of a Bible they’ve torn a majority of the later pages from.
They can brazenly conflate Christianity and America and give life to the grotesque, Frankensteined violent nationalism they daily traffic in as if it were sacred, and they will find a small army of devoted disciples willing to suspend disbelief so they can ratify their hatred.
Republicans can use all sorts of theological gymnastics, pseudo-piety, and performative religiosity to fashion something out of God and the Bible to build a theocratic order and fool their rank-and-file.
But they can’t f*ck with Jesus.
They can’t make him say what they want him to say or get him to consent to their brutal wills—so they’ve simply erased him.
The Sermon on the Mount, his central treatise, is antithetical to the Republican ethos.
They are oppositional movements: the former rooted in empathy, focused on interdependence, and compelled to invitation—the latter built on fear, strengthened in cruelty, sustained on exclusion.
- Jesus’ heart for the poor cannot be twisted into the open contempt the GOP regularly shows them.
- His generous feeding of the multitudes can’t justify them taking away free lunches to children.
- His call to be peacemakers and caregivers doesn’t allow for their warmongering and gunlust.
- His healing of the sick and suffering can’t be manipulated into denying people basic healthcare.
- His compassionate heart for the hurting and the vulnerable can’t be transformed into their unapologetic cruelty toward immigrants and foreigners.
- His command to incarnate love for neighbor and stranger and enemy, doesn’t mix well with strident “Don’t Tread of Me,” America First bullying.
There is literally nothing in the totality of Jesus’ words in the New Testament that does anything but convict and condemn the Republican Party in both philosophy and in practice—and they know it.
Republicans realize that if they were to even allude to Jesus, that his life and teachings would swiftly become the loudest and most powerful public rebuke of their vile movement, that his words would come and violently flip their very tables.
They would be forced to admit that not only do they no interest in the compassionate, benevolent, open-hearted life of Jesus, they actively despise it.
So the vague GOP “God and guns” platitudes will come—and Jesus will be there to tell them that those who live by the sword, die by it.
They will speak about America being a Christian nation—and Jesus will be there to remind them that God so loved the world.
They will be there to trot out some antiquated tough guy, alpha male religion—and Jesus will be there to say the blessed will be the mourners and the last will be first and the humble will be raised.
Republicans will talk about legislating “Biblically”—and Jesus will be there to ask them where they are feeding and healing and loving and helping and welcoming.
They will revel in violence against the different and the disregarded—and Jesus will be there to remind them that he inhabits the least of these and they treat him the way they treat them.
So, the next time you hear a Conservative politician or Evangelical preacher sermonizing about the God they claim they’re listening to and speaking for and governing on behalf of—do something that will confound and infuriate and confront them: just bring up Jesus.
John Pavlovitz is a writer, pastor, and activist from Wake Forest, North Carolina. A 25-year veteran in the trenches of local church ministry, John is committed to equality, diversity, and justice—both inside and outside faith communities. When not actively working for a more compassionate planet, John enjoys spending time with his family, exercising, cooking, and having time in nature. He is the author of A Bigger Table, Hope and Other Superpowers, Low, and Stuff That Needs to Be Said.