A long time ago, in my early twenties, I was still harboring a remnant of a belief system having to do with Roman Catholic Christianity. I even joined my local church choir at St. Barbara’s, in Brookfield, Illinois.
The most memorable phrase from the gospels for me attending weekly mass for so many years was, “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brother, that you do unto me.”
During that time singing with the St. Barbara’s Choir, I came across a report in the local newspaper that the village was moving against an elderly couple, Bert and Elizabeth Kuellmar, with condemnation proceedings. Concerned about “the heavy hand of the state,” I decided to investigate. What I discovered was a friendly elderly couple that was somewhat eccentric. They were employing a compost pile before that activity became popular. Evidently the neighbors believed that composting attracted rodents and so, got the long arm of the law on them. I really didn’t see much else one could complain about. The couple was poor. The inside of the house looked somewhat run down, but nothing of the dangerous sort. As if that was anybody else’s business anyway.
To make a long story short, I wrote an open letter to our pastor that appeared in the local newspaper, appealing to him as a Christian to help those people out. After all, I thought that was what Christianity was all about. Never heard back from him but I received plenty of feedback from some of my fellow choir members who thought I was way out of bounds in soliciting help for the Kuellmars. Evidently, those signing a petition to have the elderly couple’s house condemned were fellow parishioners (including a neighbor of the Kuellmars who was eyeing the property). I was stunned, flabbergasted. There I sat and sang with the choir every Sunday hearing the Word of Jesus’ teachings; “Love thy neighbor”, “love they enemy,” “Jesus, the prince of peace,” “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brother, that you do unto me.” I quit the church soon after . . .
I hadn’t thought much about that episode in my life lately, until I heard presidential candidate Rick Santorum expressing pleasure at the idea of scientists being assassinated in Iran. Now Mr. Santorum isn’t just any candidate; he is the most pious of Christians running. Just ask him. There is a favorite bumper sticker among Christians: WWJD? What would Jesus Do? I have a few suggestions myself that might get more to the point. How about, WWJK? Who Would Jesus Kill? Or WWJB? Who Would Jesus Bomb? And maybe a new hymn is in order.
Whatsoever you do to the least of my brother,
That you do unto me ...
Excepting those Muslims,
You might want to kill,
Especially the Taliban,
O grant us our fill,
Collectively we cheer on
more blood of our brothers.
We will do what we crave,
Let’s bring on more murder,
Warring crusade is our love.
And now, as a matter of exclamation point, the South Carolina Republican primary debate provided all viewers with a very telling insight into the mindset of too many folk who call themselves Christians. Ron Paul calls for a foreign policy based on the golden rule. The jeers and boos from the South Carolina Republican audience (of which 60% or more call themselves evangelical Christians) I’m sure were heard all the way to heaven, even if they might have been instigated from a different source.
So from my perspective, whether at the community level, or the level of global foreign policy, the Christian Right has spoken loud and clear. My only question is, to what extent do my Christian friends and acquaintances support what I believe to be such a diametrical aberration from Christian doctrine. Please let me know. I will consider silence as acquiescence.