Jesus Rebranded: Capitalism is the reason for the season

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

Mark Fiore has a new video mocking the FAUX News "War on Christmas" and conservatives' mental breakdown over Pope Francis attacking their "sacred" belief in faith based supply-side "trickle down" economics. Mark Fiore's videos – Vimeo (link to video, no embed due to privacy settings). Mark Fiore writes:

Between the "War on Christmas" and the accusations that Pope Francis is a Marxist, some people can't seem to make up their mind.  Who better to wage a war on Christmas than the people who want the Pope to be more of a capitalist!  Seems like the most holy Christmas ever was one without rampant consumerism.  (Remember, Joseph and Mary had the nerve to stay in a place for free on Christmas Eve– sounds like a couple of moochers to me!)

Amidst the imagined attacks on Christmas, Rush Limbaugh and some Fox News characters accused Pope Francis of being Marxist after he said some critical words about our economic system.  Never mind that Pope Benedict had similar complaints.  Everything has been coming up Pope Francis lately, who was picked as Time's "Person of the Year" and was featured on the cover of the New Yorker.  Having been raised Catholic and having done plenty of cartoons about the scandals in the Catholic Church, I'm happy that we're talking again about things like helping the poor, imagine that.

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As usual, you can also find more links to news stories behind this cartoon on my website.

Screenshot from 2013-12-23 08:28:11

Fiore's sharply pointed video dares to broach a subject that is taboo for most media villagers: the influence of religion on public policy. More to the point, the influence of the corruption of the teachings of Jesus Christ among certain religious sects here in the United States. That is the influence among some fundamentalist religious sects since the 1950's of prosperity theology which teaches that financial blessings and material wealth are God's blessings for a virtuous life. Conversely, if you are not blessed with riches and material wealth, you should assume it is your fault for being a sinner.

Prosperity theology flips the teachings of Jesus Christ on their head to justify the accumulation of great wealth, and to ignore the plight of the poor. See, Matthew 25:31-46 – The Sheep and the Goats (which Fiore touches upon in his video).

The modern-day GOP, influenced by the Religious Right, has fused prosperity theology with Ayn Rand "invisible hand of the free marketplace" economic theory into a capitalist cult.

Cathleen Falsani, the religion columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, wrote this piece titled The Worst Ideas of the Decade (washingtonpost.com) about the "insipid heresy whose popularity among American Christians has boomed in recent years," The prosperity gospel:

In the Gospel of Saint Matthew, we are told that Jesus said, "You cannot serve both God and money" and, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

The "prosperity gospel," an insipid heresy whose popularity among American Christians has boomed in recent years, teaches that God blesses those God favors most with material wealth.

The ministries of three televangelists commonly viewed as founders of the prosperity gospel movement – Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland and Frederick K.C. Price – took hold in the 1970s and 1980s. One of the oldest and best-known proponents of prosperity theology, Oral Roberts – the television faith-healer who in 1987 told his flock that God would call him home if he didn't raise $8 million in a matter of weeks – died at 91 last week.

But the past decade has seen this pernicious doctrine proliferate in more mainstream circles. Joel Osteen, the 46-year-old head of Lakewood Church in Houston, has a TV ministry that reaches more than 7 million viewers, and his 2004 book "Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential," has sold millions of copies. "God wants us to prosper financially, to have plenty of money, to fulfill the destiny He has laid out for us," Osteen wrote in a 2005 letter to his flock.

As crass as that may sound, Osteen's version of the prosperity gospel is more gentle (and decidedly less sweaty) than those preached by such co-religionists as Benny Hinn, T.D. Jakes and the appropriately named Creflo Dollar.

Few theological ideas ring more dissonant with the harmony of orthodox Christianity than a focus on storing up treasures on Earth as a primary goal of faithful living. The gospel of prosperity turns Christianity into a vapid bless-me club, with a doctrine that amounts to little more than spiritual magical thinking: If you pray the right way, God will make you rich.

But if you're not rich, then what? Are the poor cursed by God because of their unfaithfulness? And if God were so concerned about 401(k)s and Mercedes, why would God's son have been born into poverty?

Nowhere has the prosperity gospel flourished more than among the poor and the working class. Told that wealth is a sign of God's grace and favor, followers strive for trappings of luxury they can little afford in an effort to prove that they are blessed spiritually. Some critics have gone so far as to place part of the blame for the past decade's spending binge and foreclosure crisis at the foot of the prosperity gospel's altar.

Jesus was born poor, and he died poor. During his earthly tenure, he spoke time and again about the importance of spiritual wealth and health. When he talked about material wealth, it was usually part of a cautionary tale.

If you want to understand how GOP politicians can treat the poor and working poor with such utter contempt and disdain, and to reject previously noncontroversial public assistance programs by opposing extended unemployment insurance benefits and proposing draconian cuts to food stamps — at Christmas time no less — then you must understand the religious indoctrination that motivates these public policy choices. As the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "budgets are moral documents" that reflect our national values. The GOP's capitalist cult is as far removed from traditional Christian values as one can possibly get.

One response to “Jesus Rebranded: Capitalism is the reason for the season

  1. The prosperity gospel can be found in the bible, but in the law of Moses–not the gospel of Jesus. The law of Moses says that if Israel obeys God’s laws for it, then it will receive God’s blessings of prosperity in its promised land. Later prophets, however, emphasize that those who have become rich cannot neglect or oppress the poor in the land. Then Jesus brings a new kingdom of disciples, which confronts the greedy rich (and wannabes) and calls for a love that is generous to the poor, so generous that those who give this much become closer to and among the poor. Now it is more blessed to give than to receive.