On this day, December 25, 2015, when Christians around the world are celebrating, perhaps, the holiest day of their calendar next to Easter and when everyone from the President of the United States to the Queen of England are putting out messages emphasizing peace, it just seemed appropriate to me that a more balanced message of reality be added.
The title of this blog post/message, if I have my Latin right, reads (and should read) “Against the City of God and the Sorrowful Path”. And the title almost says it all, but should still be added to. See, we have just endured, perhaps, one of the most hideous years in all of human history. And I will not recount the many, many human atrocities committed over the course of this year alone here as if to read out some end of the year review because, frankly, I don’t want to be reminded in detail of the events of this year and I won’t, therefore, remind the reader of them either. But that is not to say that these events should be forgotten because to forget them would invite repetition. Suffice it to be said that one atrocity, if one takes the words of Jesus as written in the gospels literally, is just as bad as another. Thus, although this will surely anger some, rejecting the needy, including fleeing refugees, is just as bad as murdering them on television and destroying their holy places.
But even that is not the main point of this blog, so I will not elaborate upon it further. The main points of this blog are two: (1) that endorsement of political candidates by religions leaders – preachers, evangelists, etc. – is wrong and un-American and (2) that defining “evangelicals” as “social conservatives” is now politically fashionable, but completely incorrect and just as dangerous.
Now, concerning the first point, the separation of church and state (which most conservative Americans do not believe in), is a fundamental part of our national political and social structure. It is meant to prevent exactly what we are seeing in our politics today – politicians worrying about and pandering to certain religious groups, necessarily to the exclusion of others. It is also meant to prevent certain religious groups from wielding a kind of power in our political system. In short, no religious group or leader should endorse or otherwise advocate for any particular political candidate and, conversely, no candidate should seek the endorsement and/or support of any religious leader or group. But, we see that this is not adhered to anymore so that the concept is regularly skirted by politicians and religious leaders. And, again, political conservatives don’t believe in the separation of church and state, after all. They have no understanding that this fundamental flaw in their thinking lends to greater instability and division rather than stability and inclusion. And, frankly, they don’t care. They don’t care about those who would be left out or marginalized because of the fact that they are so intent upon preserving their vision of this supposed Judeo-Christian social and political system. Their vision of the “City of God” burns so brightly that they cannot even see anything else, including those that they have been charged by their Lord to accept, help and even love. They grudgingly believe in religious “tolerance” (in that the Christian majority is supposed to tolerate other religious groups, but not really accept them, for the most part) while they have no real concept of religious “freedom” as laid out in the First Amendment to the US Constitution. After all, for them religious freedom only applies to, it would seem, Christians and Jews, but applies to no one else.
The second point follows directly upon the first. The above are indeed “social conservatives”. They are those who fully believe in rejecting and even suppressing those who hold to beliefs other than their own. They are not, however, the same as “evangelicals” and I, for one, am rather tired of seeing the two equated in some media outlets. Evangelical can be defined as one who seeks to adhere as strictly as possible to the tenets of the New Testament to the best of their understanding. There is really nothing political about the concept. I used to be an evangelical, determined not only to do the above but also to spread the message of the gospel in every way possible. That is what evangelicals are all about. However, they are NOT rightly equated with “social conservatives”. There may be social conservatives among them, but that is not part of the definition of evangelical. But today our news media and our politicians have conflated the two and often refer to them as one and the same. Thus, certain politicians court the “evangelical vote” and seek to be endorsed by the movement’s leaders while the leaders of this movement seek certain types of candidates whom they can feel comfortable endorsing. And, obviously, they could by no means endorse anyone who is not a Christian (or maybe someone who is Jewish) just as these politicians in no way openly seek the vote of, say, the Muslim community. This is all a sick perversion of reality but one which the folk have generally adopted without much thought. They have generally been lulled into complacency with reference to these points.
Let me add here that the media’s deliberate and misleading emphasis upon Christian refugees from Syria and Iraq, often referring to them as Christians from the very birthplace of Christianity, is meant to confuse the subject so that the above can be seen as legitimate. In other words, they are making a big deal about these Christian refugees and their plight while saying nothing about certain other Christians in the Middle East, such as many Palestinians. Yes, probably up to half of all Palestinians are Christians. But our media does not seem to care a whit about them – those ho actually do live in the area that was the very birthplace of Christianity and who are marginalized from the greater society of Israel at best. While they often reside in squalid, practically unlivable conditions, no one seems to be interested in their plight.
And, on that note, what of the birthplace of Christianity anyway? You know, the place where the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is located (supposedly located over the tomb of Jesus) and the place where the procession of the Via Dolorosa is performed each year at this time. Let it be stated here that, while it is thinly possible that the Church might be located in or close to the right place, it is absolutely impossible that the Via Dolorosa is correct. This is because Hadrian is said to have marked the spot of the tomb of Jesus with a later Roman temple to Venus and, therefore, it could actually later be found. But as for the city – he so changed Jerusalem (also renaming it Aelia Kapitolina and settling Pagan Romans there) that it is simply no longer the city that Jesus walked in. These are just facts. But, please Christians, don’t let me disturb your faith with facts!
Still, I wish to end with this final fact. As a Pagan I neither seek the support or endorsement of any religious body or person nor do I seek to endorse any. Of course, I am not running for political office either. But I wanted to get that out into the open because some have proposed that we Pagans should stick together politically and should, therefore, endorse and support the one sole political candidate for the US Senate who says he is a Pagan – one Augustus Sol Invictus of Florida. In my mind, for Pagans as a group to do so would be tantamount to us doing exactly what I have written against here. Never, in my mind, should Pagans as a group rally around a certain candidate just because he or she is a Pagan. And, frankly, I agree with some of the criticisms that have been leveled against him by others so I don’t find him to be a particularly good candidate in any case. This is especially the case with reference to his statements that he believes he should lead some sort of second civil war or something. That is quite disturbing, to say the least. No accounting, however, for those running against him here.
In the end, let me state that I am against the Christian vision of their “City of God” just as much as I am against the falsity of the Via Dolorosa and all that comes with both. And I am equally against supporting someone who calls himself a Pagan but who appears to offer nothing of substance. I don’t pick candidates and vote for them based upon religion and neither should anyone else.
Hekataios Amerikos is also the author of the book “Apocalypse and Armageddon, The Secret Origins of Christianity: The First Shall be Last and the Last Shall be First”.