Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Let's You and Jesus Smash the State!

Last weekend I saw a number of people in social media endorsing street violence by invoking the cleansing of the Temple Court by Jesus, a story that appears in all four canonical gospels.  I've written about the episode at length before, and won't go into much detail today.

What first got me going was the reaction to Donald Trump's use of a Washington, D.C. church as the background for a photo op (and probable campaign ad) proclaiming "law and order" as he waved a Bible around.  There were cries of "sacrilege," and the Episcopal overseer of that church denounced Trump to the Washington Post: "I was not given even a courtesy call that they would be clearing with tear gas so they could use one of our churches as a prop, holding a Bible, one that declares that God is love and when everything he has said and done is to enflame violence."  The Bible also contains many divine commands to commit genocidal violence, plus threats of eternal punishment in fire and fury, the likes of which the world has never seen.  "God is love" appears once, and not very convincingly in such a context.

There has been less outrage over Joe Biden's appearance in another church, the Bethel AME Church in Wilmington Delaware, in which he taught the true meaning of love: "Instead of standing there and teaching a cop when there's an unarmed person comin' at 'em with a knife or something to shoot 'em in the leg instead of the heart is a very different thing."  You know - the thing.  So far I haven't seen anyone denounce as sacrilege this endorsement of violence in a holy place, but I might have missed it.

So, those guys who encouraged undefined violence against unspecified targets with Jesus as their role model: what do they have to say about Donald Trump's invocation of the Bible to justify smiting evil?  This is one more example of why the Bible has no authority: you can use it to justify almost anything, but an informed reading isn't going to be kind to selective, biased quotation by anybody.