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Anyone claiming to be a follower of Jesus Christ has a very high standard to live up to. Christians are supposed to love everyone, their enemies included, without exception. That means loving Iraqis. It means speaking up when “our troops” kill and maim them. Christians are supposed to be truthful and avoid even the appearance of evil. That means Christians shouldn’t lie about the existence of weapons of mass destruction. It of course follows that Christians shouldn’t give the Medal of Freedom to the creators of those lies.

Jesus said that it isn’t possible to serve two masters. That means rejecting Bush hush money, also known as the Faith Based Initiative. Like most offers of help it comes with a non-disparagement clause. You can’t bite the hand that feeds you.

Christians believe that everyone in need is their sister or brother. That means they must protest when Alberto Gonzales, the architect of torture at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, is nominated to serve as Attorney General.

Christians love to say that they are superior to non-Christians. They generally don’t say those words, but going on endlessly about being different from people who are “in the world” has he smell of superiority. Curiously, the same people who use their religious belief to constantly proclaim their moral superiority suddenly lose all powers of speech when the powerful run afoul of God’s laws.

If love of money is the root of all evil, why are churches lining up to get more of it from the government? If it is a sin to kill, why do Christians act like everyone else and proclaim, “We’re already over there. We can’t leave now.” In other words, let’s keep killing. After all, we already started. No point in going home until we finish the job, or rather finish off the Iraqi people.

The average American Christian thinks and behaves no differently than the average non-Christian. They ask how high when the powerful tell them to jump. They obey their government, rendering to Caesar a lot more than they need to.

It is said that nearly every American home has a bible in it. Those bibles must be covered in dust because very few of their owners seem to open them up and read them. The bible tells us, “All those who say Lord, Lord will not enter the kingdom.” And yet right on cue, like obedient, frightened little children, Christians take at face value Bush’s claims of being a good Christian. Very few stop to ask if a Christian would steal two presidential elections, kill people in Haiti, kill people in Iraq, take money from the struggling and give it to the wealthy, and poison the earth God gave us.

On the other hand, perhaps they are being good Christians. We don’t like to admit it now, but Christians gave God the glory as they first killed one another in Europe. The term Wars of Religion would seem to be an oxymoron. It wasn’t. Various Christian denominations took turns burning one another at the stake for taking communion or baptizing differently.

They then brought their sickness to the rest of the world. Anyone who didn’t worship the same God was forced to convert at the point of a sword or a gun. They were also told to change their names, speak the conqueror’s language, and be glad about all of it.

Perhaps it was too much to expect that Christians would elevate their thinking in the 21st century. Like Christian soldiers of old they submit to group identify first, and to God’s will second, if at all. Following God would mean rejecting the idea of supporting the troops even when they kill. Supporting the troops might mean publicly condemning warfare, the way Christ did. It might mean making people mad.

It will mean making “our troops” mad. We are told that not supporting them is akin to a stab in the back. It turns out that the saintly troops are like everyone else in America, afraid to talk back to the high and mighty.

They come home suffering from post-traumatic stress and then demand silence from the very people who exposed the lies that caused them so much pain. Perhaps their stress would be lessened if they confronted the people who sent them into harms way. I suggest picketing at Halliburton’s next annual meeting.

The appeal of the story of the birth and life of Jesus is obvious.  A perfect being comes to earth in the most humble circumstances and tells the world how to live. Love everyone. Treat others as you would be treated. Forsake violence. Forgive others because God in his infinite love forgives you too. What’s not to like?

The hardest thing about truly celebrating the life of Christ is knowing how he died. He was killed after crossing the powerful one time too many. There is nothing new under the sun. It is still dangerous to talk back. If you want proof read the Patriot Act.

If we only want parties and gift giving we should just celebrate the solstice. But if we are willing to really follow Jesus we should loudly proclaim, “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good fight.”

Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in   Ms. Kimberley is a freelance writer living in New York City.  She can be reached via e-Mail at [email protected]. You can read more of Ms. Kimberley's writings at


December 23 2004
Issue 119

is published every Thursday.

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