For those of you who don’t know, I’m an atheist. Yep. I’m one of those godless heathens those hellfire-and-brimstone preachers warned you about. I don’t believe in Jesus – in fact, I don’t believe that Jesus really existed at all. I think Jesus is pretty much a compilation of all the various god myths from all over the planet – they all are pretty much the same: born of a virgin at the winter solstice and all that.
Ironically, simply because I don’t believe in God, there’s a poll out there that says that you’d trust a rapist before you’d trust me.
But that’s not the point here.
Even though I’m a godless heathen, I wanted to share with you one particular verse from the Bible that speaks to me. It not only speaks to me, but it defines my political philosophy as well. That verse is Matthew 25:40:
In plain terms, Jesus said this: Whatever you do to the least of your brothers, you do also to me. If you kick your brother, you kick me. If you hate and despise your brother, you hate and despise me. If you step over the poor woman on the sidewalk and mutter, “Get a job,” that’s what you do to me.
That’s the one thing that I would like to say to all those evangelical Christians in America who plan to vote for Mitt Romney – or for any Republican, Tea Party or otherwise. How can you call yourselves Christians, when you have so much hate for your brothers and sisters who are less fortunate than you are? You despise the poor for being shiftless and lazy. You talk about “welfare queens,” and begrudge the minimal amount those single mothers get from the government to house, feed and clothe their children. You complain endlessly about the dirty and possibly ill homeless people sleeping on your streets and in your parks. You call your child’s hardworking teacher a union thug and begrudge her a salary that could not be considered princely under any circumstances.
How can you approve of cold-hearted men like Paul Ryan, who tell you with wide-eyed sincerity that we must take the food from the mouths of hungry children and give it to the rich – or America is doomed? How can you nod your head and agree when someone like Ron Paul tells you that anyone who doesn’t have health insurance should be allowed to simply die in the street? Then you grab your lunch of fried shrimp, while wearing your rayon tee-shirt, feed your maltipoo a few treats, show off your cool tattoo – and you tell me – with your mouth full – that being gay is an abomination. There are so many darned rules and abominations! I get them all mixed up: lobsters, women wearing pants, bratty kids who have to be stoned, rules for slaves, dead brother’s wives to impregnate, fornication, working on the Sabbath…well, the mind boggles.
And there you are, every Sunday, sitting in that front pew at your church, bellowing out the hymn of the day, smugly putting your little envelope in the basket passed ‘round by the ushers while the organ plays softly. There you are, worshiping a long-haired hippie socialist who gave away free stuff like loaves and fishes – and even alcohol (Jesus loved a good party!) – who ignored pre-existing conditions and healed the sick without making a profit, and yes, hung out with the prostitutes and the dirty homeless lepers. This same long-haired hippie asked his followers to help those who needed it, and to “render unto Caesar” that which was Caesar’s, a quote interpreted today to mean that Jesus wanted his followers to pay their taxes.
And here I am, a godless atheist, and I get it. I understand what Jesus was saying in Matthew 25:40. I get it; I really do. What I don’t understand is why you, who sit in the first pew on Sunday morning and proudly and loudly claim to be followers of Jesus, don’t get it… I don’t think I’ll ever understand.