What Does Big Government Have to do with Jesus? | Sojourners

What Does Big Government Have to do with Jesus?

"I'm here to stand up for Jesus," said the anti-health reform protester to a CNN correspondent. "Government is getting too big."

What does big government -- or small government, for that matter -- have to do with Jesus?

Non sequiturs like the one above are demonstrating to the world just how twisted the faith of many Jesus "followers" has become. Faith is being trumped by fear-based Left Behind hysteria mixed with a hefty dose of political ideology.

So here is a gift to the Blue Dogs; a cheat-sheet to help them navigate the syncretistic Conservative/dispensationalist worldview they may encounter back home:

  • Small government = Jesus
  • Big government = the anti-Christ
  • Small government = individual freedom and the American Way of Life = Jesus
  • Big government = communism, socialism, despotism, fascism, and all the isms you could possibly think of -- except racism and sexism, of course. ("True Americans" don't care about those).
  • Small government = apple pie and baseball and pick-up trucks and gun racks and cheerleaders = Jesus.
  • Big government = death camps, tribulation, all that is evil, and all that is un-American

My Christian faith sprang to life in a birth-place of fundamentalist America -- South Jersey. I remember the first time I saw the 1970's rapture movie, Thief in the Night. In Russell S. Doughten's end-times thriller, a lone electric razor buzzed in the sink when all God's children were beamed up to heaven without warning. The Rapture had come and the Anti-Christ ruled the earth. U.N.I.T.E. (United Nations Imperium for Total Emergency) marked every person left behind with the "mark of the beast." (Note: fear of "big government".) In response, young people across the U.S. turned to Jesus for fear of missing the Rapture and being caught in the web of the anti-Christ's big government.

Then, in 1998, Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins passed the torch to the next generation. The Left Behind series, 16 best-selling novels-turned-films, warned of the Rapture and the rise of the Anti-Christ, a Romanian leader of the United Nations.

This same compromised movement has recently proposed a ludicrous new version of the Bible, the Conservative Bible Project. Right now, they are working to change the scripture's language by taking out all hints of a "liberal" agenda and replace the words of Jesus, and Moses, and Luke, and James, and Amos, and Isaiah, and Micah, etc. with conservative-friendly lingo. Okay, can they get any more obvious? Can the faith get more twisted?

Significant swaths of Blue barking constituents have been influenced by LaHaye and will thump self-constituted Conservative Bibles at rallies coming soon to super malls everywhere. So, with all the ranting back home, the Dogs of congress might be feeling backed into a corner.

Here's a Blue clue. It is possible to be a true-blue conservative and support monumental change that honors the role of government in civil society.

Sam Tanenhaus, author of the book The Death of Conservatism, explained in Newsweek (August 29, 2009), "Mature, responsible conservatism honors America's institutions, both governmental and societal." According to Tanenhaus, the conservative movement commenced its slow death when it veered from founder Edmund Burke's call to be enslaved to no ideology. Rather, Burke said, take stock of societal changes and adjust for the good of the conservation of civil society and "a state without the means of some change is without the means of its conservation." William F. Buckley Jr. followed Burke's lead throughout the turbulent 1960s, choosing the stabilization of society rather than ideological loyalty. Now it's the Blue Dogs' turn.

Everyone agrees, we must reform the health insurance industry and control sky rocketing insurance costs. The American business sector, the middle class, seniors, and especially the working poor will be broken by the health industry's escalating costs within the next generation if we don't act now. For the sake of civil society, Blue Dogs must follow their constituents' founder, Edmund Burke. They must be a slave to NO ideology. They must do whatever is necessary to conserve civil society -- even if what is necessary is monumental systemic change