*There is a very vocal group of conservatives in the United States that also openly avow their religious affiliation as Christian. And from the way they speak so confidently about the conservative principles and their religion you wouldn’t think there was a major contradiction. But there is.
The plain truth is that Jesus did not proclaim any political philosophy, but if he did it would’ve been communism.
I realize this is hard for most people to accept. But that is mainly because of Cold War politics and the way it twisted our understanding of communism. Let’s refresh. Most of us have been taught in school and socialized in general to believe that the economic system of capitalism is the equivalent of freedom, that capitalism is designed to ensure that all people can succeed; communism by contrast is an evil system that takes away individual freedoms and choices. In reality communism is an economic system (not a political system) based on sharing resources and the absence of private ownership; communism in theory is an economic system that arises once the people implement it.
Such perspective of capitalism and communism is typical in the United States because of position in the Cold War in which we opposed the Soviet Union for the second half of the 29th century. We have been taught to conflate the economic and political systems that the two countries used.
The United States employed the economic system of capitalism which in reality encourages that only a few will prosper. At the same time American politics has always been based on an inclusive citizenry that participated in the political process. The Soviet Union operated a pseudo-communist system but definitely under a totalitarian political setup – thus giving communism a bad name.
Jesus was someone who led a movement based on giving away a gift. Jesus instructs people to give away all they have. He confiscates lunches and redistributes the resources among the attending group. In short he embodied an individual giving away what he had for the benefit of others and encouraged his followers to do likewise.
Without the element of the Cold War and their bastardized version of communism we would be better able to accept communism and see its basis in Christianity.
The contradiction of conservatives in this country espousing capitalism while professing to be followers of Jesus and his teachings is ironic because I do not believe that most people doing this truly understand capitalism, politics, or Christianity. Most are merely following the economic, political, and religious traditions they were taught as children and surrounded by as adults.
The irony stops the situation from being tragic and ugly as if folks were engaging in the contradiction intentionally.
Still at some point the religious right must accept Jesus’ teachings or cease pretending to avow Christianity.
Trevor Brookins is a free lance writer in Rockland County, New York. He is currently working on a book about American culture during the Cold War. His writing has appeared in The Journal News. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @historictrev.