Talking Points


Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him, they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. (For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders; and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles.) So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?”

As usual the Pharisees trot out their talking points:

  • ritual cleanliness is next to Godliness
  • keeping the Sabbath day holy is the most important thing a believer can do
  • the poor are that way because they have chosen to defy God with their lifestyles
  • non-believers are lost

And, as usual, Jesus puts them in their place: “Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.’ You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.”

The problem with the Pharisees’ talking points (besides their patent falsehood) is that they allow adherents to focus on things which matter not a whit to God, but which greatly please those people who fancy themselves the elect of God.

Today, when we are faced with a Congressional proposal to slash the budget for the poor by $50 billion, conservative religious leaders are uttering nary a peep in protest. For only these are their talking points:

  • outlawing abortion is next to Godliness
  • gaining a Supreme Court “originalist” majority is the most important thing a believer can do
  • the poor are that way because they have chosen to defy God with their lifestyles
  • non-believers are lost.

Meanwhile, according to the AP, “U.S. Capitol Police arrested 115 religious activists who were protesting a House Republican budget plan’s cuts in social programs when they refused to clear the entrance to a congressional office building Wednesday.”

Imagine, Christians being arrested for praying in the U.S. Capitol, and not there is not a word of protest from Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, or James Dobson! Nothing from David Limbaugh or Walter Williams. Not a single anti-ACLU editorial in the Wall Steet Journal. Nothing. Zip. Nada.

Instead, here is today’s headline from the conservative Christian news organization WorldNet Daily:

“Silent Night” gets reprieve: School agrees to perform beloved carol after 1st secularizing traditional lyrics

Why the silence of the lambs? Because the poor aren’t in the right’s talking points. Because what they really care about is political power. Because their hearts aren’t even on the same planet as God’s heart.

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