Sean Illing, according to Salon, teaches political theory at Louisiana State University, but a quick look at the LSU website fails to turn up his name. Maybe he is just a student there which, whether a student or teacher at LSU, a recent article titled “Jesus is a Political Prisoner” leaves much to be desired. If this is the work of a “scholar” then higher education is in deeper trouble than anyone thought. (www.salon.com/2015/05/24/jesus_is_a_political_prisoner)
He starts from the supposition based on a Pew Research poll that found less people identifying themselves as being “Christian” today as being caused by conservatives co-opting Christianity to gain politically. He acknowledges that he is not a Christian, but then selects certain snippets of quotes by Jesus Christ to illustrate that Christ was neither a libertarian nor a capitalist. In fact, he uses but a single quote: “…sell what you have and give to the poor…” Of course, Jesus in the correct context was telling his followers that there would be no need for worldly goods in the Kingdom of God, a “kingdom” Mr. Illing likely doubts even exists.
This is such a common ploy by those on the Left and it is growing boring. He then states after a brief history on how corporate America before World War II co-opted Christianity and that “prosperity theology is the gospel of those who want to feel good about serving themselves…” If Illing wants to make this claim, then it certainly applies equally to those on the Left. What is “prosperity theology” if not the Reverend Al Sharpton running about the country aggrandizing himself in the name of improving race relations? What is “prosperity theology” if not enriching oneself before the altar of faulty science like Al Gore?
He places the blame for dysfunctional government- which by his definition means not choosing the socialist solution to income inequality and failure to act on climate change- on today’s Republican Party beholden to the religious Right. Funny, but I thought they were beholden to the Tea Party. Or is it the Koch brothers? As proof, he states: “Candidates are forced to pander to religious lunatics who pine for theocracy, and who insist on imposing a religious test on candidates.” Of course, he fails to name any religious “lunatics” by name most likely because the religious lunatics are not exclusively a conservative/Republican phenomena (see Al Sharpton, Jeremiah Wright, Jesse Jackson).
Further, he states: “It (Christianity) is the source of anti-intellectualism in the GOP. It is the reason the Republican Party does not pay a political price for denying science as a basis for public policy.” We have heard this before also. If the Left had its way, we would be governed by a council of scientific experts who would devise policy after running it through their models. It would sort of be like the High Council in The Planet of the Apes. By anti-intellectualism, one assumes he is talking about climate change. But I wonder: Would Mr. Illing be so willing to accept the concept of scientific consensus if it can be proven, by consensus, that an unborn child can feel pain at five months of gestation?
Then he goes on to say. “There isn’t another serious country in the world in which presidential candidates are rewarded for their abject stupidity as they are in today’s GOP.” By “abject stupidity” he means proving one’s credentials as a Christian. Really? I think Saudi Arabia and Iran are serious countries and is Mr. Illing suggesting that religion, or a religious test, is not involved in picking the rulers of those countries? Most likely, he is more willing to vilify and condemn Christianity because he knows the chances of being branded a “bigot” or having his head chopped off are considerably less than if he vilified or condemned Islam. Religious freedom in a predominantly Christian country like the United States is certainly greater than in any other country.
“The party has become a theo-political movement, unable to govern and unwilling to compromise.” Well, one can certainly say the same of progressive movements like Woodrow Wilson’s Democratic Party or even Franklin Roosevelt’s Democratic Party (Rev. Charles Coughlin). Lest he forget, it was the Progressive movement’s and the Democratic Party’s “theocracy” that forced Prohibition on the country. And incidentally, after less than six months of a Republican Congress, there have been more roll call votes and more amendments offered than at comparable times in the previous Democratic-controlled Congresses, especially the Senate.
Finally, he reaches the crux of his argument: “The Republican ranks are brimming with bigots and unthinking purists… much of the base consists of old, disconnected white people…” So, if you are a conservative Republican, then you are likely “old,” “white,” “disconnected,” and “a bigot.” And it is all because of Christianity. This is the inevitable Leftist ad hominen attack. Feel free to yawn now.
I am not quite sure why people write or publish these articles. Personally, I think he makes such outlandish assertions to create some controversy, see how many hits he can get on Google, and have his 15 minutes of fame. But, the fact is that despite what Illing writes or who he tries to convince, the United States is still, according to that Pew survey, greater than 70% Christian. Although the numbers have fallen off, it is still a clear and convincing majority.
Jesus is not a political prisoner and no one on the Right pines for a theocracy. If anyone pines for theocracy, it is some on the Left and their never-ending defense of and apologies for radical Islam. To the Left, it is acceptable to take as gospel the words of officials from CAIR, but when Christianity is defended, you are a “disconnected, old, white bigot.” This is another tendency of the Left- to project onto others that of which they are guilty. It is Illing who is a prisoner of “abject stupidity” and ignorance. And it is suggested that if you are to quote the words of Jesus Christ, quote them in full context. Better yet, just avoid any class taught by this jerk at LSU.