The following is quoted from an essay by Phil Zuckerman of Pitzer College titled “Why Evangelicals Hate Jesus,” published today on The Huffington Post:
Jesus unambiguously preached mercy and forgiveness. These are supposed to be cardinal virtues of the Christian faith. And yet Evangelicals are the most supportive of the death penalty, draconian sentencing, punitive punishment over rehabilitation, and the governmental use of torture. Jesus exhorted humans to be loving, peaceful, and non-violent. And yet Evangelicals are the group of Americans most supportive of easy-access weaponry, little-to-no regulation of handgun and semi-automatic gun ownership, not to mention the violent military invasion of various countries around the world. Jesus was very clear that the pursuit of wealth was inimical to the Kingdom of God, that the rich are to be condemned, and that to be a follower of Him means to give one’s money to the poor. And yet Evangelicals are the most supportive of corporate greed and capitalistic excess, and they are the most opposed to institutional help for the nation’s poor — especially poor children. They hate anything that smacks of “socialism,” even though that is essentially what their Savior preached. They despise food stamp programs, subsidies for schools, hospitals, job training — anything that might dare to help out those in need. Even though helping out those in need was exactly what Jesus urged humans to do. In short, Evangelicals are that segment of America which is the most pro-militaristic, pro-gun, and pro-corporate, while simultaneously claiming to be most ardent lovers of the Prince of Peace.
Dr. Zuckerman bases his claims about the beliefs of American Evangelicals on data from a recent Pew Forum Poll on the beliefs of the Tea Party and the connection between White Evangelicals and the Tea Party. I have left out everything but this stark contrast he draws between the teachings of Jesus and the beliefs of Evangelicals. Much of the rest of the essay seems more hyperbolic than it needed to be to deliver its point.
Most Christians will denounce Zuckerman as an anti-Christian crusader without doing any research on the man; I know nothing of his personal life and will therefore not judge him. What I do know is that Christians like Ron Sider (among many others) have been pointing out for years the same disparity between we believe and what our Teacher taught us. The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscious is a must read if you really want to know what they guy in the pew next to you believes.
Of course, many will argue that this is not an accurate depiction of Evangelicals, and of course no one is saying that it is all Evangelicals, but it seems to ring true. At least in my experience, and Sider’s, and polls, and numerous other studies.
At the very least it begs the question: Why do the people who proclaim to the world that they are the closest to the Holy Scriptures, think and live so far from it?