I would recommend never, ever, ever, EVER listening to Robert Jeffress, the lead politician at First Baptist Church in Dallas, but if you must, listen to this. It illustrates perfectly the circuitous logic of extremist religion in America. Note a few things:
He begins by pointing out that Islam (not just radical Islam) is an evil, violent religion. To do so he compares the Quran and the Bible saying that Christians follow the latter, but particularly the New Testament. This is a thinly veiled way of saying, “Pay no attention to the 3/4 of the book that is full of war, violence, and a vengeful God” (despite having vociferously argued for the inclusion of the ten commandments, an Old Testament set of rules he believes should be followed in literal interpretation on the lawn of the Capitol of Texas). After chopping the Bible and his own views into pieces he continues by saying that not a single verse can be found in the acceptable portion of the Bible, The New Testament, which supports violence or the perspective of a vengeful God.
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”
-Jesus, Gospel according to Matthew
Obviously the Quran requires interpretation and cultural and historical placement – AS DOES THE BIBLE!!!
In all, the point Jeffress is trying to make early in his pre-sermon stump speech (note the red tie, his favorite selection) is that Christianity is peaceful while Islam is violent.
In conclusion Jeffress proclaims in his best campaign rally voice that it is a Biblical response to “bomb the you-know-what out of ISIS!”
Did you catch that? Let’s break it down. Jeffress’s argument is:
- Christianity is a peaceful religion that serves as an underpinning of American life.
- The Bible proves that to be true.
- Therefore we should “bomb the “you-know-what” out of ISIS.
I’ll be the first to admit that these radical morons in Syria are pushing my own pacifist leanings near the breaking point, but this kind of inconsistent, manipulated & manipulative rhetoric is unhelpful. Even if we are beyond the point of no return regarding the use of violence with ISIS, we have only gotten to this point by being dishonest about our own American use of force. We have simply wrapped our violence in the cloak of militarism and American exceptionalism. We have proclaimed to the world in the voices of Jeffress and others like him, “When you kill, you are evil; when we kill, we are God’s agents of Peace.” No wonder we’re identified by groups seeking to bring in the apocalypse as something like the great Satan! Early Christians viewed Rome, the occupying power that secured peace by violence as the same!
Jeffress and those like him are:
- Ripping up the Bible.
- Spewing religio-political rhetoric that instigates and props up violent worldviews.
- Radicalizing those who stand against the purported American values of peace and inclusion.
So why don’t we consider this guy a terrorist?