Although the GOP incumbent candidate for Congress in Mississippi, Thad Cochran, didn’t know that the House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost his primary election, most other people are aware of this historical first. Cantor’s loss also changes the religious demographics among GOP members of Congress. Cantor is the only Jewish member of Congress on the GOP side–in fact, the only non-Christian. With his disappearance, all GOP members of Congress (278 if the GOP opponent wins) will self-identify as Christians—no other Jews, no Muslims, no pagans, no other minority religions.
On the Democratic side (257) are 32 Jewish, three Buddhist, two Muslim, one Hindu, one affiliated, and 10 unspecified. That’s a total of 49, 19 percent of Democrats compared to 20.8 percent of people in the United States who do not classify themselves as Christians.
Christians running for legislative are becoming more and more conservative. For example, Scott Esk, a candidate running for the Oklahoma House, thinks that stoning LGBT people would be just fine.
“I think we would be totally in the right [to execute homosexuals by stoning]. That goes against some parts of Libertarianism, I realize, and I’m largely Libertarian, but ignoring as a nation things that are worthy of death is very remiss.”
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) is a little broader in his hatred. He used his time during a Congressional hearing to declare that all non-Christians are going to hell. He made his position clear to a Christian reverend about religious freedom in the United States. Gohmert interrupted the testimony of Rev. Barry Lynn, president of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, to argue with him about the journey to Hell.
Gohmert: “Okay so, you don’t believe somebody would go to Hell if they do not believe Jesus is the way, the truth, the life?”
Lynn: I personally do not believe people go to Hell because they don’t believe a specific set of ideas in Christianity.”
Gohmert: “No no no, not a set of ideas. Either you believe as a Christian that Jesus is the way, the truth, or life or you don’t. And there’s nothing wrong in our country with that—there’s no crime, there’s no shame.”
Lynn: “Congressman, what I believe, is not necessarily what I think ought to justify the creation of public policy for everybody, for the 2000 different religions that exist in this country, or the 25 million non-believers.”
Three members of the subcommittee were “non-Christians,” but that wasn’t a problem for Gohmert because they didn’t belong to his political party.
Gohmert is one of the Christians who have a Jesus far separate from the one in the Bible. Rev. Howard Bess believes that the Jesus in the Bible is a man of peace, non-violence, love, and kindness. Living in a time of economic disparity, Jesus advocated redistribution of property and possessions among the tribes of Israel, by law to have taken place every 50 years but never accomplished. Jesus told a man to sell everything and give the proceeds to the poor; he also ridiculed the man who built bigger and bigger barns to hold his wealth. As the 278 Christian Republicans in Congress argue for another war in Iraq and oppose helping the poor, they can only talk about going to Hell if you don’t believe in Jesus’ existence.
The Bible is always used to show the evils of being LGBT. For example, one minister gave this advice to parents of adult LGBT offspring: “Alienate them. Separate them. Isolate them. Refuse to have a meal with them. Turn them over to Satan.” When some found his advice objectionable, a blog protested the responses:
“You need to follow ALL of Christ’s teachings not just a few…. One thing the believer needs to realize is that most scriptures do not come with escape clauses. They do not say ‘do good to everyone except…’ or ‘be just and merciful to everyone except…’. You really need to examine all scripture on how to act and not cherry pick the few that justify your anger, humiliation or shame.”
According to the Bible, Jesus never said anything about homosexuality. All the objections come from the Old Testament. To help the protester avoid cherry-picking scripture, I’ve provided a few issues that Christians like Louie Gohmert need to deal with:
No foods from cattle or pigs: The Old Testament forbids any foods that have fat or blood, and any food taken from an animal that does not both chew their cud and have split hooves. There goes that bacon cheeseburger at McDonalds. Keep in mind as you compare this and other sins to homosexuality that the New Testament has declared all sins equal. Then it tacks on the order to not judge anyone because it’s the same as condemning yourself.
No genetically modified foods and blended fabrics: Mixing or cross-breeding animals and plants are sins as is wearing clothes made of two kinds of fabrics. If you negate this sin by the New Testament ruling that the law no longer has power, then there go all the laws—including discriminating against LGBT people.
No tearing your clothes and uncovering your head: The New Testament doesn’t let you out of following this law. In fact, it adds praying or prophesying with an uncovered head is a sin. Someone needs to tell Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) that. Jesus doesn’t like praying in public.
No making idols: Most people would say that they don’t do this, but the mandate is that “you shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.” Other no-nos are graven images, literally hieroglyphic paintings and drawings—any representative art, photographs, statues, sculptures, jewelry, etc. The Old Testament doesn’t let you off from that sin.
No fashion statements: These include styling hair, shaving beards, getting tattoos, and wearing jewelry and expensive clothing.
No mistreating foreigners: The scripture specifically orders you not to “vex” strangers. This law cannot be voided. According to Jesus, you have to be nice to everyone.
No marrying after a divorce: Remarrying after a divorce is adultery. Newt Gingrich missed this law.
I will give Pope Francis credit for trying to communicate Jesus’ message about wealth inequality. During last month’s meeting in the U.N., he said that a more equal form of economic progress can be achieved through “the legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the state, as well as indispensable cooperation between the private sector and civil society.” Afterwards he was even more passionate about his beliefs:
“It’s madness. We discard a whole generation to maintain an economic system that no longer endures, a system that to survive has to make war, as the big empires have always done. But since we cannot wage the Third World War, we make regional wars. And what does that mean? That we make and sell arms. And with that the balance sheets of the idolatrous economies — the big world economies that sacrifice man at the feet of the idol of money—are obviously cleaned up.
“But we have placed money in the center, the god of money. We have fallen into the sin of idolatry, the idolatry of money. The economy moves by the desire to have more and paradoxically it feeds a disposable culture. By discarding children and the old, we discard the future of a people because the young will pull us strongly forward and the old will give us wisdom.”
Over 30 percent of congressional members are Catholic, many of them on the GOP side of the aisle. It’s time that they took the pope’s advice about alleviating poverty.
Update: The religious demographics of Democrats in Congress has been updated to include one Hindu and one unaffiliated. That raises the percentage of non-identified Christians to 19 percent of the Democrats.