Editor's note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "The American Bible: How Our Words Unite, Divide, and Define a Nation," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.
By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN
(CNN) – Over the last few days I have fielded hundreds of angry e-mails from pro-Mitt Romney evangelicals about a recent Belief Blog post in which I took Billy Graham and other white evangelicals to task for turning Jesus into a water boy for the Republican Party.
A disturbing number of these complaints about my alleged "evangelical bashing" have been hateful, ill-informed and explicitly racist. But the more intelligent responses have taken two tacks.
First, readers have told me that they are voting for Romney not because Mormonism is proper Christianity but because Romney is the lesser of two evils. Some in this camp, convinced (wrongly) that President Barack Obama is a Muslim, say they would rather vote for a Mormon than a Muslim.
Second, readers have argued that Romney's political views are more biblical. And repeatedly they have referred me to two central issues: abortion and same-sex marriage.
One pastor who reports he is working on a doctorate in theology says he believes “that the Bible is the literal word of God.” Because of this belief, he will vote for Romney: “ If you claim Christ as your king, how on earth can you justify the murder of God given life through abortion or any other means?" he writes. "If you accept Christ as your king, how on earth can you accept the moral deviancy of homosexuality as normal?”
In my book "American Jesus," I demonstrated how American views of Jesus, rather than adhering strictly to the unchanging biblical witness, have shifted with the cultural and political winds. Over the course of U.S. history Jesus has been a socialist and a capitalist, a pacifist and a warrior.
In other words, he has been used, by both the left and the right. Or, as I put it, “The American Jesus is more a pawn than a king, pushed around in a complex game of cultural (and countercultural) chess, sacrificed here for this cause and there for another.”
This problem of mistaking your God for the God – the problem, that is, of idolatry – was captured beautifully by Albert Schweitzer, who suggested that scholars on a quest for the “historical Jesus” were looking down into a deep well and seeing not the real Jesus but reflections of themselves.
This is what is happening, in my view, to my angry evangelical readers. In this case, however, they are looking down the well and seeing some mashup of Ronald Reagan and Romney. Instead of the biblical Christ, they are seeing the Republican Jesus.
There are many ways to support my argument that the preoccupations of the Christian Right today are not the preoccupations of the Bible.
One is to point out that abortion is never even mentioned in the Bible. (Yes, Jeremiah 1:5 reads, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,” but when did that formation happen? At conception? At quickening? At birth?)
Another is to point out that American evangelicals didn’t care about the abortion question until the GOP taught them to care.
As Jonathan Dudley observes in a recent Belief Blog post, U.S. Catholic leaders began to take on abortion right after Roe v. Wade legalized it in 1973, but American evangelical leaders continued to teach that life begins at birth until the late 1970s and early 1980s. If the Bible clearly teaches us that our politics should center on the abortion question, why did it take nearly 2,000 years for Bible believers to figure this out?
Here is my basic proposition: Bible-believing Christians who want to base their politics on the Bible ought to get the Bible straight, which is to say (a) correct and (b) directly from the page, rather than filtered through the spin of the GOP.
To this end, I would like to challenge them to look at an amazing website, part of “The Official King James Bible Online,” which lists each and every word in that translation of the Bible in order of popularity.
Not surprisingly, “and” and “the” are the top two. But how do more meaningful words rank?
Abortion, of course, is not on the list. Neither is homosexuality, though there are, I will admit, perhaps a couple dozen references to what we now call male homosexuality (and either one or zero to lesbianism, depending on how you read Romans 1:26).
So these issues are not central. But which issues are? Well, faith, grace and salvation, for starters. (They appear 231, 159 and 158 times, respectively.)
But if you turn to the political questions that beset us today, what does this quantitative approach to the Bible yield? First and foremost, a preoccupation with "war” (280 times) and “peace” (470). Second, a preoccupation with economics, and especially with the rich (109) and the poor (233).
The Bible also seems far more concerned with “prison” and “prisoners” (109) than we are in U.S. politics today. And, I might add, with famine (101).
Finally, the Bible mentions Israel a lot (2,509 times) – even more than heaven (644). So that seems to be something that both candidates got right in the third debate.
To conclude, I have no problem with evangelical Christians voting for Romney. My complaint arises when they say they are doing so because the Bible commands them to vote for the candidate who is opposed to abortion rights and opposes same-sex marriage.
The Bible itself is relatively unconcerned with these matters. It is far more concerned with questions of poverty and wealth, war and peace, and (need I add?) theology.
If you think otherwise, it's not the Bible speaking. It's the political operative at the bottom of the well.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Stephen Prothero.
Nothing changes. Christian hypocrites continue to fantasize that the Bible actually mentions abortion and that God opposes killing fetuses.
Vote for the best candidate, not because of something that isn't true.
Compare Jesus's Sermon On The Mount with Fox News (and Republicans in general) on the mount! Let alone Mormonism, and the thinking a shopping mall with a Tiffanies is somehow charity? I hope Obama wins, because he understands the sermon on the mount, not the serpent on the amount.
Obama could have admitted that forcing someone to pay a rich banker for "health insurance" he doesn't need, won't solve anything, but will in fact, erase jobs. Instead of handing bankers bailout funds, the money could have helped debtors, rather than foreclosing on their homes. The bankers that made bad decisions, should have paid for them, themselves, rather than tax payers. Why did they bail out the rich, rather than the poor? If they'd bailed out the poor, the rich would have still had their debt paid too, instead the rich got the funds, and the poor person's property as well. The economy cycling... ask why short selling is so popular, it's like legalized theft, devaluing assets, then buying them from panicing asset owners at a cut rate... as the economy "gets worse"... it never was bad in the first place, until it got shorted into oblivion.... extracting out the cash... and then bailed out... again extracted cash... paid for by tax payers... all the cash going to the rich. Cash flows uphill, sewage flows downhill.
The majority of the banks that were bailed out have repaid the money.
You claim you haven't been able to afford to see a doctor in years, but you think you "don't need" health insurance.
You seem to be complaining about the size of your welfare check.
Why do I need to go to a doctor? Since when? I haven't gone in years because I have no need to go. And for that matter, why is Obama saying I need to go to any doctor? Again, since when do I need to go to a doctor?
John. Yes the bailout could have been handled better with more accountability for those who knowingly lent money to people they knew couldn't afford it. As to the ACA, again not ideal but they were dealing with a pretty messed up system to begin with: insurance through employers, pre-existing conditions uninsurable, medical profession paid for what they do not how healthy their patients are, etc. So I think was an improvement. None of us will never need insurance and we can never predict when an accident or tragedy may occur. Even a pregnancy can require a c-section at the last minute which is unpredictable, uncontrollable, and expensive.
You do need to go. Desperately.
Tom, let me put this in perspective for you. Obama saying I need to see a doctor, so I need to pay a rich banker for "health insurance", when I have no need to see a doctor, period, is much the same as if he said YOU need a John Deere tractor in your living room, left running, just in case you have corn growing in the carpet.
No, John, it isn't. Everyone gets sick. Everyone. At some point, you will, too. And when you do, you'll either see a doctor, or get even sicker and end up in the emergency room. Or you'll be in a car accident and end up in the emergency room. Or you'll fall off a ladder, cut yourself on a broken glass, get bitten by a ra bid racc oon, slip in the bathtub and hit your stupid head, get drunk and fall down the stairs, or get infected by a flesh-eating bacteria. And you'll end up in the emergency room. Uninsured. Which will cost ALL of us more than necessary because you think you don't need health insurance.
In fact, you sound like you need medication right now. You're loopy.
John. Not only is that a terrible analogy, unless you are the only person in the western world who has never needed medical attention, I fail to see why you think access to healthcare is a bad thing. You were born, had vaccinations, had illnesses. You have had medical attention and as I said in my last post you can never predict when you'll need it (unless you never drive and live away from flight paths, earthquake zones, flood zones, tornadoes, etc. and always wear a mask around other people).
If I'm in a car accident, I already have insurance for that. I have funds to pay for whatever I need health wise and don't need anyone saying I must be kept alive "at all costs". Heck, if my head is nearly severed and I'm paralized... why bother... it's pointless. The last doctor's visit I had was for a toenail, and that I fixed myself. The doctor recommended surgury... screw that. A peice of plastic solved it and it's been fine ever since, like new. I'm not saying doctors are worthless, but even they admit they just sew stuff back up, and let your body do the rest. Screw with bankers all you like and their "health insurace" scam. Hand them all your money. Enjoy.
John, some parts of your comments make perfect sense, and it seems that you see the things how they really are. But when you assume that since you haven't been to the doctor in years no one needs too, that's when your view of things becomes murky. The health care that we here have is one dark spot on this county's conscience, and when Obama tried to do something about it, at least he did something to curb the greed which fuels this country's health care engine. It's just that he didn't go far enough, and has allowed the corporate healthcare moguls and their cronies have too much to say in fashioning the bill. Every country, society, civilization is known by how it treats those in need who cant' help themselves. There ar people literally dying for lack of health care in this country. They simply don't go to get treatments because they can't afford them. And you say we don't' need it?! If there were everything right with this country, and but the health care were in the hands of greed y vultures the way it has been till now, it would be the festering sore that would affect eventually the whole body...It is really that serious, because of the root of the problem which is corruption through greed ! Just think about it, and be honest about it.
1. Most who lost their homes gambled. When I bought my home I made sure that I could still pay the mortgage even if I was working at McDonalds. If you can't say that about your loan, your living above youself. If you have saving, add this into your calculation. But don't ask me to bail you out because you took achance.
2. You have no idea what medicine costs, and what you claim you have, unless its over 10 million, may not be enough, even whenyou have a life very muchworth liviing still. You won't kill yoursel; you'll just be taking everyone else's money because you refused insurance. Have you actually seen the margins at insurance companies – they only make any money at all because of investments...MORE goes out that comes in.
The sum total of all doctors visits I personally have had over the years, amounts to asking a doctor about a small fat bump, a toe nail, and a broken finger in high school... and that's over my entire lifetime. If anything major comes up, so be it, it's time to go. Society doesn't need to pay $10 million to keep my head sown on and tubes to feed me the rest of my life. I wouldn't enjoy it anyway. If someone is burning up lots of health care costs... then those people should pay them.... or change their lifestyle. People should have the choice to join an insurer, or decline the offer. I don't need it. If you do... join them. I don't grow corn in my carpet, so I don't need a John Deere tractor in my living room... same thing as the forced health care.
LOL! .....MCR, Their kool aid must be to you of very likable flavor.... you obviously guzzled much of it down .
John, you're probably right. No doctor can fix stupid and that's your main affliction.
Everybody gets sick. You will, too. And when you do, and need pain relief for your incurable cancer, or bypass surgery at age 65, you'll be getting on the public dole because you're too short-sighted to understand what can and does happen to people. One of my friends developed a brain tumor at the age of 30 and had to have surgery. Can you imagine what would have happened to her family if she hadn't had insurance? They would have gone bankrupt because they wouldn't have been able to pay for her surgery. Are you so ignorant that you don't realize that things like this happen?
1 Betty 1 1-3
blessed is the christian who criticizes others faith, for we call this love.
cursed are those who return the favor, for we call this persecution
Rodents love them some Betty. There's one about Mormons that's High-lair-ee-ous. :)
don't worry Stephen that what evangelicals do
they criticize other religions then the second you criticize them they yell persecution email attacks is kind of their thing to
"Abortion rights," what a prhase.
Does the right to make one's own medical decisions bother you less? Probably not, but who gives a crap, since you aren't in charge of deciding for anyone else on ANY medical decision.
Funny how the GOP say the government should stay out of people's lifes except for abortion.
If you like the idea of other people making medical decisions for you how about you being forced to donate a kidney or part of your liver, etc.
... and the bedroom.
i say life starts at the naughty look that lovers give to each others
their now S3x is a Sacred act more s3x for every one
just don't forget to use protection, cant stress that enough
you are not pro life if you spay or neuter your other specie house mate; you are not pro life if you hunt for sport; you are not pro life if you cote in favor of the death penalty; you are not pro life if you support going to war with Iran; you are not pro life if you use pesticides; you are not pro life if you eat!
lets face it you cannot be truly pro life without pro choice, stop using radicals.decide your own morality, and live by it if you don't want to kill your child in an abortion then don't, i now i don't but aloow others to do what they want they will suffer the punishment for it.
i may be pro life in fact i bet I'm more f4ck3n pro life then you! but i also am more pro choice because i love freedom. so if the woman wants an abortion go for it,.. and ill see you in hell; its quite nice in the fall
The rodents are celebrating tonight.
Only 12 hours, and we can begin to bite the ankles of the Obama voters, and finally begin the apocalypse.
We will thus gain the everlasting grati'tude of our Lesser Squirrel God, Bippy.
Republicans (their leaders and politicians) are the modern day Pharisees ( like the ones of Christ's time). He called them whitewashed tombstones full of dead bones. People who are persuaded by their cunning ways are like dumb sheep following and bleating for them....
Who will Stevie vote for?
Why do you care?
El Chupacabra and the abominable snowman from Alaska; Are going to get anyone who dares speak evil against St. Reagan the Patron Saint of the GOP/TP, the Celestial powers of Wall Street and the mighty god Mammon. Joe Biden and Paul Ryan will kiss the Pope's ring. :-D :-D
:-D :-D :-D Thanks for the laughter, I needed it!!
“ If you claim Christ as your king, how on earth can you justify the murder of God given life through abortion or any other means?"
Republican is vary much anti king
Jesus is the king of kings
Jesus is a liberal and anti conservatism
you are an oxymoron
They are, in fact, expressions inspired by demons and perform signs, and they go forth to the kings of the entire inhabited earth, to gather them together to the war of the great day of God the Almighty.Rev 16:14
an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out with a loud voice and said to all the birds that fly in midheaven: “Come here, be gathered together to the great evening meal of God,that YOU may eat the fleshy parts of kings and the fleshy parts of military commanders and the fleshy parts of strong men... Rev 19:17,18
"In Greed We Trust"
In 1994, Bain invested $27 million as part of a deal with other firms to acquire Dade International, a medical-diagnostics-equipment firm, from its parent company, Baxter International. Bain ultimately made nearly 10 times its money, getting back $230 million. But Dade wound up laying off more than 1,600 people and filed for bankruptcy protection in 2002, amid crushing debt and rising interest rates. The company, with Bain in charge, had borrowed heavily to do acquisitions, accumulating $1.6 billion in debt by 2000. The company cut benefits for some workers at the acquired firms and laid off others. When it merged with Behring Diagnostics, a German company, Dade shut down three U.S. plants. At the same time, Dade paid out $421 million to Bain Capital’s investors and investing partners.
For 15 years, Romney had been in the business of creative destruction and wealth creation. But what about his claims of job creation? The layoffs and closures at other firms would lead Romney’s political opponents to say that he had amassed a fortune in part by putting people out of work. The lucrative deals that made Romney wealthy could exact a cost. Maximizing financial return to investors could mean slashing jobs, closing plants, moving production overseas and loading up already struggling companies with debt.
Marc Wolpow, a former Bain partner who worked with Romney on many deals, said the discussion at buyout companies typically does not focus on whether jobs will be created. “It’s the opposite—what jobs we can cut,” Wolpow said. “Because you had to document how you were going to create value. Eliminating redundancy, or the elimination of people, is a very valid way."
Example: Bain closed GST Steel plant in 2001 laying off 750 workers.
Example: Controlling share owner Bain Capital closes BRP plant (Southern Illinois) so the 340 jobs there could be outsourced to Mexico.
BAIN'S INVESTOR "SUCCESSES" WERE PRIMARILY CONTINGENT ON MASS LAY-OFFS OF WORKERS
Greed is good.
I wonder why this bigot reporter is even challenging the decision to be made by evangelical christians. If's what they believe in, Why can't he live and let live. It just shows his true liberal color and couldn't accept the fact that there will be a huge turn out of solid congregations of evangelical christians. Why didn't this writer even studied the black liberation theology and black supremacy teachings of Jeremiah Wright who is a great influence on Obama. Would he care to expose it. I guess not.
okay, sparky, we got you
Jesus answered: “My kingdom is no part of this world. If my kingdom were part of this world, my attendants would have fought that I should not be delivered up to the Jews. But, as it is, my kingdom is not from this source.” John 18:36
“‘Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified.Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth. Matt 6:9,10
Do you have any quotes from Zeus? What about Rah the Sun God? Lord Ganesh? Oh wait. Since you are of european decent and it is the year 2012 you only believe in Jesus.
Just another mindless bible spouter.
WELL IVE TURNED OFF THE FAWCETT..GET USED TO IT PEOPLE YOU HAVE A MORMON PRESIDENT...YOU SEE CHHEESEMAKER.. I HAVE THE SPIRIT OF GOD WITH ME..BLASPHEMY YOU SAY...YOU HAVE A MORMON PRESIDENT...BELIEVE THE FALSE POLLS LIKE YOU BELIEVE THE FALSE PROPHETS ON THIS SITE...CHEESHEADS ...ROMNEY WINSIN LANDSLIDE...TIMESTAMP IT...GOODNITE CHHEEESSSHHHHEEEAAADDSSS
Turn off caps lock, please.
Shmeesle- shmozzle-BEER !!
Joseph Smith was a fraud...
he knew that there is a sucker born every minute, you are just one of many Frank.
Republicans are usually white trash rednecks. Dems are usually douchy liberals. Jesus was definitely a douchy liberal.
Libertarians are usually vote wasting inbred niqqer faqqots.
Well, you're right about the vote wasting. I'll vote Johnson, but I realise it's pointless as everybody else is choosing between the giant d.ouche and the turd sandwich.
I think I understand what God was thinking when he said I knew you before I formed you. I breed racehorses; I plan the mateings and know what the result will be. I have always thought; I knew them before they were formed in the womb.
So as not to be misunderstood; I have come to the understanding that the complicated beyond human comprehension formation that takes place in the womb can only be done by the superior intelligence of God. If that is so; abortion aborts the will of God but it is a matter between the mother and God and no one, President or Priest has the right to judge her.
Separation of Church and State means both directions.
Families are the substance and the salt of this earth. Families are the handiwork of god..bred early.
But you do not have an idea about reality do you? Sure it is lovely to think of family as ma and pa and the white picket fence. Go out on the street, pregnant women on drugs, babies born with fetal achohal syndrome, more and more being born with autism, deny reality all you want. An unwanted child is just that, you want to fill up the orphanages and then the prison system, get real.
"I have come to the understanding that the complicated beyond human comprehension formation that takes place in the womb can only be done by the superior intelligence of God."
that means your god makes a lot of mistakes....
My wife was not a virgin when I met her.God did not impregnate her-I did.Say what?
JEREMIAH –BEFORE I FORMED THEE IN THY MOTHERS BELLY I KNEW THEE AND ORDAINED THEE A PROPHET UNTO THE NATIONS..here is the lord telling jeremiah that he knew him in the first estate or the premortal existence
And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. jude1/6
Or that is a guy writting as if he were god using that type of language to give Jeremiah the appearance of authourity as a prophet...
We really need proper context if we are to discuss this accurately. Both the candidates are multi-millionairs and have no touch with the reality of the poor or minimum wage earners, if someone is even working, or can find work. All the jobs are sent overseas, and people on welfare, are playing video games rather than studying for any useful job. Broom pushing can be had by illegal immigrants that don't pay taxes, but do get free welfare and health care. Obama wants to have everyone pay rich bankers for "insuraance" they don't need. I haven't been to the doctor in years, and when I do need to go, I doubt the insurers will pay anything if the program even exists then. It's all take the money from the poor, and give it to the rich, just because they say so. They're all rich in congress, none of them wonder where their next meal is coming from, or if the houses they own will be heated, even if they're not vacationing there at the time. The governement is filled with the same ignorant idiots you voted in... none of them know what to do, to help you work, pay bills, or much of anything else, because quite frankly, they don't give a damn, they're set for life... you're not.
Obama was not always rich and and can remember being poor. Mittens has always been rich and doesn't have a clue
The unemployment rate is now higher than when Obama started. Jobs still flow to Asia. Kids still play video games instead of going to college. The rich still get richer, and take all the cash out of society so they can horde it in bank vaults where no one can use it. The banks themselves are bailed out, rather than the debtors... making the rich richer. The poor are handed welfare checks they can't live on, and told they'll run out soon. There is no health care, there is just the promise that, you will have to pay for it yourself, to a rich banker who will 'insure you' and probably won't pay the bill when it comes due, if you ever do go to a doctor... I haven't gone in years. It's all a sham. What good is having truck loads of cash in a bank vault so a clan of rich people can say they're richer than the guys starving in the street... since when do rich people spend money they horde? The USA used to be great. It's pitiful anymore.
Either choice is bad, because both candidates, and all of them in congress are rich. Obama is a multi-millionair, he's also an expert at taking cash out of society, that's what the rich do, they extract wealth, and horde it. The poor that need the cash... don't get it. The rich that don't need it... lock it up. What's new? Taken to the logical conclusion, you get a pitiful USA, a country to be pity'd, a country in it's weak, sickly state, dying on it's death bed. Take the cash out of society, and what do you have left? Nothing... because the rich took all the property too. Have fun dying on the curb begging for handouts.
John, how is it you are able to afford a computer and internet service?
What does internet service have to do with Obama not doing ANYTHING to lower unemployment? It's worse now than when he started. His solution is not jobs, it's handing out welfare checks you can't live on, and telling people they need to pay bankers for "health insurance" they'll never use. Romney... what good is he? He would just as soon hand jobs to Asia as any other businessman would that's looking to save a buck, or a billion of them. Congress is filled with rich idiots that horde cash, and hand out checks no one can live on... until they can take everything in the end. Their end goal: to be billionairs, and then trillionairs... as much as it takes, to take it all... everything... horde everything, and you... you can starve... you're expendable... you don't matter... you're not in the club. To the curb with you.
If you are as dest itute as you claim, John, how are you able to afford such luxuries as internet service and a computer?
The economy is improving very slowly, but it is improving. This country very nearly went into a complete financial disaster; it isn't going to bounce back from the brink overnight OR in 4 years. Regardless of the president, the economy goes through cycles and there really isn't much ANY politician can do to prevent it. The fact is that the lack of regulations on the banking industry and the world-wide economic slump created this situation, and it isn't going to improve rapidly no matter who's in the White House.
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.