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The Christian Right is Wrong

I cannot understand the so-called “Christian Right.” They profess to be Christians but their political philosophy strikes me as decidedly non-Christian.

What is so Christ-like about the distorted, hateful campaign they continue to wage not just against President Obama’s policies but also against his legitimacy? I believe Christ stood for truth and understanding.

Would Christ have encouraged the widespread ownership of firearms of all sizes and descriptions? I doubt it. He stood for peace and would have opposed the development and distribution of weapons, large or small, designed to kill or maim.

Would Christ have turned his back on the poor and displaced? Of course not; he stood for mercy and compassion, particularly with respect to the least fortunate among us.

The Christ to whom I turn for direction and support placed little value in wealth or the accumulation of possessions. He saw the dangers of materialism. He would have been in favor of a fairer distribution of goods and services. Does anybody doubt he would be in favor of health care for all?

Christianity stands for social and economic justice far more in keeping with liberal, even radical, policies than the narrow, protectionist attitudes of many on the right.

That is not to say we throw open our borders or eliminate incentives for accumulating wealth. But, rather, that we show greater compassion and understanding for those immigrants drawn to this country by the American dream. After all, how did we merit being born in a wealthy country?

The gulf between rich and poor can be narrowed without eliminating the rewards and benefits of those, who through talent, hard work, or good luck, become rich. But there should be a limit to the fortunes accumulated by those who achieve great wealth that borders on the obscene.

One cannot have economic justice in an impoverished country. It assumes a stable government and a system that develops infrastructure, promotes business, and supports education. It implies a carefully balanced structure with incentives and rewards on the one hand and concern for minorities, the sick, and the poor on the other.

That means those who are better off must help the disadvantaged. It means sacrificing for the greater good, which is sometimes referred to as Christian charity. It means we need an institution, the government,with all its flaws, to strike that balance.

Critics on the right argue that government is a blunt instrument often incapable of making sensible decisions, and they are correct. But what else do we have? Because government comprises human beings just like us, to one degree or another it will always be inefficient, ignorant, corrupt, petty, contentious, and driven by the self interest of those who operate and influence it.

If the Roman Catholic Church, which purports to be God’s instrument on earth, manifests similar failings even as it calls for economic and social justice, what are we to expect of institutions with less lofty credentials.

“Whatever you do for these, the least of my brethren, you do for me” captures the essence of what Christ taught. Does the Christian Right reflect those principles? I think not. Too often it engages in hypocrisy, professing a born-again commitment to Jesus Christ while practicing a mean-spirited and self-serving distortion of fundamental Christian values.

I am a Democrat, not because I necessarily agree with the party or its leaders, but because I am a Christian fundamentalist. As such, I believe Democrats better reflect inclusive, fair, and compassionate concern for the different and the disadvantaged.

If “Love thy neighbor as thyself” is the goal, how do we best fashion institutions and policies that incorporate that ideal? It is a controversial and difficult task because many disagree with the objective while others, who in the abstract may agree, find it elusive, particularly in light of human nature’s obvious impediments.

James W. Dolan is a retired Dorchester District Court judge who now practices law. His e-mail address is jdolan@dolanconnly.com.