Why my Bible seems to differ from Billy Graham’s

By Roland Martin, CNN Contributor, Tue October 23, 2012, CNN.com

Excerpt

To those of my fellow evangelicals who are on the religious right, please, stop your fake trumpeting of biblical values if you’re going to run roughshod over your biblical convictions and let your partisan views take center stage…[Billy] Graham is urging Americans to vote for candidates who base their decisions on “biblical principles,” “support the nation o fIsrael,” “protect the sanctity of life,” and “support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman.”

That’s it. Nothing else.

The teachings of Jesus Christ are filled with examples of him helping the needy, feeding the hungry, healing the sick and wounded, and taking the haves to task for ignoring the have-nots…

Graham, and so many others on the religious right, apparently want to narrow the Bible’s teachings down to only abortion and same-sex marriage.

Does the rest of the Bible matter, or are we to tell Bible believers that one or two issues matter more than any other?…Should Bible believers not be concerned with Rep. Paul Ryan’s proposals to massively cut programs that help the poor?…

What has happened over the last 30 years is the religious right has perverted the Bible to fit its narrow view of what Christians should pay attention to. Abortion and homosexuality. Nothing else matters.

Well, my Bible is bigger than that. My faith is bigger than that. And my Jesus Christ cares about more than abortion and homosexuality….

I refuse to think the biblical and social justice issues touted by the Revs. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Fred Shuttlesworth, Ralph Abernathy, C.T. Vivian, and countless other pastors during the civil rights movement aren’t worth considering today.

Support who you want, Rev. Graham, but don’t dare limit the biblical values to what I can count on one hand.

Full text

To those of my fellow evangelicals who are on the religious right, please, stop your fake trumpeting of biblical values if you’re going to run roughshod over your biblical convictions and let your partisan views take center stage.

When Mitt Romney was running for the GOP presidential nomination, many on the religious right were highly critical of his faith. The Southern Baptist Convention and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association characterized Mormonism as a cult.

But Billy Graham’s association scrubbed that view from its website in the wake of the Rev. Graham meeting with Romney. And at least one prominent Southern Baptist leader who called Mormonism a cult has put that aside in order to endorse the Republican nominee.

Graham, “America’s pastor,” has run full-page ads in national newspapers like the Washington Post andUSAToday that are thinly veiled endorsements of Romney. In them, he shows he has forgotten big portions of biblical teaching.

The ads read: “I believe it is vitally important that we cast our ballots for candidates who base their decisions on biblical principles and support the nation of Israel. I urge you to vote for those who protect the sanctity of life and support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman.”

Billy Graham: Vote based on faith
CNN Explains: MormonismIn a similar full-page ad that ran inOhio’s Columbus Dispatch on Sunday, Graham said: “We are at a crossroads and there are profound moral issues at stake. … Please join me in praying for America, that we will turn out hearts back toward God.”

Graham is urging Americans to vote for candidates who base their decisions on “biblical principles,” “support the nation ofIsrael,” “protect the sanctity of life,” and “support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman.”

That’s it. Nothing else.

The teachings of Jesus Christ are filled with examples of him helping the needy, feeding the hungry, healing the sick and wounded, and taking the haves to task for ignoring the have-nots.

The Bible talks about Jesus spending his time with social outcasts and not basking in the glow of the 1%. So, Rev. Graham, why no mention of the poor, sick or needy in your newspaper ads?

Graham, and so many others on the religious right, apparently want to narrow the Bible’s teachings down to only abortion and same-sex marriage.

Does the rest of the Bible matter, or are we to tell Bible believers that one or two issues matter more than any other?

I know the history of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, as well as Graham’s son Franklin, helping the needy through Samaritan’s Purse. But isn’t it worth mentioning and advocating these issues to our presidential candidates?

I wonder how Catholic bishops and nuns feel about Graham not advocating that Bible believers cast their ballots on the issue of health care? Should Bible believers not be concerned with Rep. Paul Ryan’s proposals to massively cut programs that help the poor?

Should Bible believers know about the fatherhood initiative launched by President Obama to shore up families and to confront the crisis of fatherless homes?

Should Bible believers be concerned about the candidates’ stance on guns and gun violence? Is that not a biblical issue, Rev. Graham? Should Bible believers be concerned about who prefers to end wars across the globe?

Should Bible believers vote on who is best able to tear down the `-industrial complex that is destroying this country fiscally? Should Bible believers know who is more concerned about the rich getting richer?

Seriously, Rev. Graham, are these not moral issues that should be considered?

What has happened over the last 30 years is the religious right has perverted the Bible to fit its narrow view of what Christians should pay attention to. Abortion and homosexuality. Nothing else matters.

Well, my Bible is bigger than that. My faith is bigger than that. And my Jesus Christ cares about more than abortion and homosexuality. Please, make your case about those two issues. But don’t talk to me, Rev. Graham, Franklin Graham, or any other right-wing evangelical, about the sanctity of life when you are silent about such things as Trayvon Martin being gunned down or police brutality taking the lives of innocent Americans.

I refuse to think the biblical and social justice issues touted by the Revs. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Fred Shuttlesworth, Ralph Abernathy, C.T. Vivian, and countless other pastors during the civil rights movement aren’t worth considering today.

Support who you want, Rev. Graham, but don’t dare limit the biblical values to what I can count on one hand.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Roland Martin

Editor’s note: Roland Martin is a syndicated columnist and author of “The First: President Barack Obama’s Road to the White House.” He is a commentator for the TV One cable network and host/managing editor of its Sunday morning news show, “WashingtonWatch with Roland Martin.”
http://www.cnn.com/2012/10/22/opinion/martin-billy-graham-politics/index.htnl

A Vote for Historic Christianity at Election Time

by Dr. David P. Gushee, Professor of Christian Ethics, Huffington Post, 1/02/2012

It was perhaps inevitable that as the final weekend of the election campaign loomed, appeals on the basis of religion would intensify. On the very day I write this article I can report receiving an open appeal to join a Christian leaders’ letter endorsing Barack Obama for re-election. Meanwhile, I have received or learned of numerous appeals to endorse Mitt Romney openly, or to support “candidates” who share “Christian values” on the three most important issues in the election, which happen to be abortion, gay marriage and a particular understanding of religious liberty.

I am a Christian ethicist. My work takes me into the public square on a regular basis. I have edited three books on faith and American politics, most recently “A New Evangelical Manifesto” (Chalice, 2012). One would think I would join the parade toward either Democrat-Christianity or Republican-Christianity and just be done with it. It would be so much simpler. All I would need to do would be to go ahead and join seemingly everyone else in collapsing the distinction between the Christian faith and its moral values, on the one hand, and the agenda of one of the major American political parties, on the other.

In my 2008 book, “The Future of Faith in American Politics” (Baylor Univ. Press), I dealt with this issue mainly by saying that no single political party holds a monopoly on Christian values. Positioning myself as an independent-minded centrist, I argued that the best Christian approach to American politics is something like a both/and evangelical centrism that takes the best concerns of the right and puts them together with the best concerns of the left insofar as both reflect biblical principles. Thus Christians should care about both abortion and the environment, both marriage and poverty, both euthanasia and war, and so on. This is an old, familiar trope in center-left Christian public engagement. I Iearned it at least 25 years ago.

It is not bad, as far as it goes. One could do worse for a values agenda in American politics. But it does not do anything to address what I am beginning to think of as the most important issue, from a Christian perspective. That issue is the erosion of historically recognizable Christian identity in American religious life, and a concomitant erosion of the distinctive mission of the church and the particular role of the Christian minister.

Sidney Mead said long ago thatAmericawas a nation with the soul of a church. It has also been true that the American Christian Church is a church with the soul of a nation. Perhaps because of the long informal establishment of (Protestant) Christianity asAmerica’s culture-religion, long ago theAmericanChurchbecame confused about what exactly it means to be the Church. We don’t know what the Church is, or what it is to do, or what its ministers do that might be different from what other people do.

I have made a turn in recent years toward a deeper immersion in historic Christianity. For a new Christian prayer book edited with my wife — “Yours is the Day, Lord, Yours is the Night” (Thomas Nelson) — we collected more than 700 great morning and evening prayers from every era and nearly every communion in the great international Christian family. So the Te Deum mingles with John Wesley and the Orthodox liturgy with the prayers of Augustine. Immersing in 20 centuries and seven continents of Christian prayer has retrained my ear for what it means to be Christian, what the historic Church has yearned for, prayed about and sought to achieve. It has also shown me how Christian leaders of old addressed God, their congregants and the world.

Thinking and praying with the ecumenical, global Church in this way makes it seem unthinkably vulgar for men and women of the cloth to use their sacred offices to endorse or quasi-endorse candidates for public office in our particular nation. Such endorsements stand at odds with the historic Gospel ministry of the Christian Church, with the care of souls in a politically divided nation, and with the recognition in Christian tradition that no earthly political party or agenda can represent the agenda of God for a redeemed world.

I will vote, certainly. I have my own opinions as to which of the available candidates might do a better job in addressing severe governance challenges in our nation for the next stage of its history. But I do not confuse the significance of my vote, or the outcome of the election, with the mission of Christ’s Church in the world. And I hope to devote the rest of my career to helping the Christian Church recover its identity by connecting with its historic traditions and convictions, and by taking a much more measured approach to political engagement. I vote for historic Christianity at election time this year.

David P. Gushee is distinguished university professor of Christian ethics and director of the Center for Theology and Public Life at Mercer University.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-david-p-gushee/a-vote-for-historic-christianity-at-election-time_b_2064980.html

Biblical economics

 Prosperity Christianity, or what some call “health and wealth” religion…is the adoption of the logic of free enterprise and branding as a way of understanding, experiencing, and proselytizing Christian religious values.…. As a set of religious teachings and training, the theology is centered on the notion that God provides material wealth—prosperity—for those individuals he favors… the teaching that believers have a right to the blessings of health and wealth and that they can obtain these blessings through positive confessions of faith and the ‘sowing of seeds’ through the faithful payments of tithes and offerings… How Christianity Became a Lucrative Brand By Sarah Banet-Weiser, New York Press, posted on Alternet.org, December 17, 2012

Biblical Capitalism – The Religious Right’s War on Progressive Economic Policy by Rachel Tabachnick, Talk to Action, Feb 01, 2011… “Biblical Capitalism” or the belief that unregulated capitalism is biblically mandated. The Religious Right is well known for its regressive social activism, but less publicized is the role it has played in the war against progressive economic policy, labor unions, the regulatory structure and social safety net. The sacralizing of laissez-faire capitalism predates the Tea Party movement and has been a major theme of fundamentalist textbooks for more than three decades…

Capitalism and Christianity by Peter Montgomery, ReligionDispatches.org, July 19, 2013

God Favors Supply-Side Economics, Post by Gordon Haber, ReligionDispatches,org, August 2, 2013

Jesus Hates Taxes: Biblical Capitalism Created Fertile Anti-Union Soil By Peter Montgomery, Religion Dispatches, March 14, 2011 – While the assault on unions by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and other GOP governors and legislators seems driven mostly by the billionaire Koch brothers and corporate-funded groups, religious right leaders and activists have spent decades creating fertile soil for anti-union campaigns through the promotion of “biblical capitalism,” which researcher Rachel Tabachnick describes as “the belief that unregulated capitalism is biblically mandated.”
Pseudo-historian David Barton, a frequent guest of broadcaster Glenn Beck, is using his newly enlarged audience to promote American exceptionalism (America was created by its divinely-inspired founders as a country of, by, and for Christians) and Tea Party-on-steroids economics (Jesus and the Bible oppose progressive taxes, capital gains taxes, estate taxes, and minimum wage laws). The Religious Right has a long practice of claiming divine mandate for its policy agenda as it makes for an exceptionally potent political argument: if God supports radically limited government, then progressive policies are not only wrong but evil, and supporters of liberal policies are not only political opponents but enemies of God.
Two days after the November 2010 elections, Barton, Newt Gingrich, and Jim Garlow (who runs Gingrich’s Renewing American Leadership group), held a conference call with pastors to celebrate conservative political gains. On the call, Garlow and Barton asserted a biblical underpinning for far-right economic policies: Taxation and deficit spending, they said, amount to theft, a violation of the Ten Commandments. The estate tax, Barton said, is “absolutely condemned” by the Bible as the “most immoral” of taxes. Jesus, he said, had “teachings” condemning the capital gains tax and minimum wage.
Barton also enlists Jesus in the war against unions and collective bargaining…and went on to explain why the Bible is anti-union…
It’s clear that the attempt to once again “break the spine of labor” is meant to cripple any opposition to the vision of a country in which corporations are given free rein to maximize profits without concern for workers’ safety, community well-being, and environmental protection. The seeds of that vision were first planted by Christian Reconstructionists and The Family and today’s conservative Christian leaders are only too eager to take advantage of the fruits of those labors to make the case that Jesus opposes efforts to ensure a living wage to workers, and that workers should accept as good slaves whatever treatment their employers dish out.

The Debt Ceiling Crisis and Biblical Economics by Julie Ingersoll,  ReligionDispatches.com, July 14, 2011 – An interesting week for biblical economics: the longstanding voice in the wilderness Ron Paul…In many ways prompted by tea party ideological intransigence, Paul has brought what were once considered extreme, fringe, even “crackpot” economic views to bear on the American economy and potentially the global economic system…his ties to the Reconstructionists…The new GOP coalition, built on tea party support, is breaking down over the debt limit crisis…now tea partiers like Michele Bachmann are saying they won’t vote to raise the limit at all and are claiming that the administration is exaggerating the impact a default will have. Moreover, they’re so sure about the tea party members staying in line on a vote, they’re going after Republicans who want to cut a deal.…
rooted in what I described at a “theocratic reading of the Bible…
It’s much harder to make something happen (eliminating the Federal Reserve) than it is to keep something from happening (raising the debt limit)…
for proponents of biblical economics, there’s a much deeper motive. As I explained in the November 2010 piece on the Fed:
North’s overarching schema is that there is an impending social collapse which will provide the opportunity for biblically-based Christians to exercise dominion by replacing existing humanistic institutions with biblical ones…
“people will at last decide that they have had enough moral and legal compromise. They will at last decide to adopt a simple system of honest money, along with competitive free market principles throughout the economy.”…
For North, default of the U.S. economy is inevitable; he argues that it has already begun. We know who he thinks will pick up the pieces.

Does God Want You To Be Rich?

Let There Be Markets: The Evangelical Roots of Economics By Gordon Bigelow, Harper’s Magazine, May 2005

Why Taxing the Rich is the Godly Thing by Peter Laarman, Religion Dispatches.org, July 28, 2010