Dr. Teresa Whitehurst
March 16, 2005
"Donít Let the Car Fool You, My Real Treasure is in Heaven": Bushianity Makes a Mockery of Christ
A few days ago I saw a brand new PT Cruiser with a bumper sticker that, at first glance, didnít make sense: ďDonít Let the Car Fool You, My Real Treasure Is in Heaven". Several classy-looking Christian symbols adorned the vehicle, along with the ubiquitous ďWe Support Our Troops and President Bush" and ďW" window seals.
As I stared at this odd assortment, the meaning dawned on me. Unlike the old bumper sticker that read, "My Other Car is a Mercedes", this one wasnít an exercise in self-deprecating humor: It was bragging to passersby about the driverís money, which isnít too shabby, since a new PT Cruiser starts at $14,000. Bob Sheer writes about this new culture of greed, cleverly disguised as "Christian":
Of course, imposing the Bible on a diverse population is what the Bushians do best -- but not the whole Bible, as Mr. Sheer notes. Not only are inconvenient verses in the Old Testament ignored by rightwing politicians, but most of Jesusí teachings are, as well. For the Bush administration, Christís most deplorable teachings are those that advocate nonviolence, love of oneís enemy, social justice, the refusal to store up riches on earth, praying privately without wearing oneís piety on oneís sleeve, and choosing instead to share with the needy and vulnerable.
I do wonder how the strategy meetings must have gone in the months and years prior to November 2000. The primary question on the minds, if not the lips, of Bushís more cynical strategic advisors must have been: How in the world can we get Americaís huge Christian population to sign on with a wealthy movement aiming to disconnect Jesusí non-Republican teachings from Christianity, hollowing out the last vestiges of charity and justice that remain in Americaís legal codes, moral values and social contract?
Easy, some bright fellow may have said while sipping his cappuccino -- just look Christian, talk Christian, pray Christian, and nobody will ever know the difference. When promoting unChristlike policies, be careful to surround them with a lot of prayer and somber-faced talk about "values" and "godliness". Always end with "God bless America", throw in "One nation under God", and talk a lot about Jesus saving you from this or that sin. But never quote Jesus if you can help it -- too liberal.
The Difference Between Bushianity and Christianity: "That Poor-People Stuff"
Bushianity is really all about power and wealth -- the divine right of the haves to get more of each, in order to better supervise the have-nots. Bushianity is quietly (discretely, always discretely) hostile to Jesusí teachings, but loudly praises his birth (before he could teach) and his death (after he could teach). Nothing between those two events in Jesusí life is of interest to Bushians, who greatly prefer the fire-breathing biblical writers advocating ruthless wars, slavery, female submission, the massesí unquestioning obedience of rulers, and the death penalty for homosexuals and rebellious children.
The faith-based Bush administration, disinterested as usual in "that poor-people stuff", is working fast and furious on a number of fronts to put working and financially strapped Americans in their place. Its hallmark strategy for stealing from the poor to give to the rich is to overwhelm the public with multiple simultaneous changes, thus pre-empting time to think about, pray about, or oppose them.
The ultimate goal is to replace traditional American "weíre all in this together" culture with the Bushian "Youíre On Your Own-ership Society". In this nightmare world, the working people are thrashed with measure after measure aimed at taking what once was theirs. The rationale underlying this "society" (a huge cluster of individuals with no obligations to one another) is as follows:
The Bushians have been incredibly successful in their efforts to strike Jesusí teachings from the record and from the hearts of Bush supporters. They decry any attempt to remove four words, "one nation under God", out of the pledge, while working to purge Christís values from something thatís a matter of life and death for many vulnerable Americans: the national budget. Bob Sheer sheds light on the sorrow that lies ahead:
Jesus Didnít Plead
The Bush budget is indeed immoral, and as Sheer points out, itís unpatriotic too! Progressive Christians are terribly upset and worried about what lies ahead, and are trying to get this administration, falsely advertised as "Christian", to change course. I agree wholeheartedly with the objectives of the "Christian Left" -- but something is missing. We are tilting at windmills because we donít really see what weíre up against.
Yes, the Bush budget is troubling, and will harm American citizens, particularly the young, the old and the sick, from sea to shining sea. But Iím afraid that the good churches can plead for an eternity and see nothing more than a condescending nod from the White House. Sorry to be a pessimist, but the truth of the matter is that we canít expect Bushians to listen to Christians. Thatís because, in spite of their joint use of the label "Christian", these religions are quite different.
You canít fight what you donít understand. Until we admit that Bushianity is the mirror opposite of Christianity, weíll keep "pleading". Such entreaties may make us feel better but theyíll fall on deaf ears. Christians, if we hope to be actually help the poor, the weak and the suffering, must stop making the soothing but dangerously mistaken assumption that "weíre all Christians, after all", following the same teachings and worshipping the same God. We are not. Itís time we woke up and smelled the coffee, as Ann Landers used to say.
When Jesus saw the corruption of the temple by "the money changers" -- actually a highly political use of religion with monetary rewards for the "haves" -- he didnít plead. He didnít expect the hypocritical religious and political leaders of his day to have ears to hear, and focused his energies instead on calling sincere religious people to turn away from their greedy leaders and back to God. Itís time we did the same.
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Dr. Teresa Whitehurst is a clinical psychologist, author of Jesus on Parenting: 10 Essential Principles That Will Transform Your Family (2004) and coauthor of The Nonviolent Christian Parent (2004). She offers parenting workshops, holds discussion groups on Nonviolent Christianity, and writes the column, "Democracy, Faith and Values: Because You Shouldnít Have to Choose Just One" as seen on her website.