Witte: This is what a Christian America should look like


Photo: Nicole Wiegand/Iowa State Daily

Rick Santorum, former Pennsylvania congressman, jokes about the abundance of Pizza Ranch restaurants in Iowa while addressing the crowd at his post-caucus party at Stoney Creek Inn in Johnston on Tuesday, Jan. 3. He attributed Iowa’s cuisine, notably that present at the Iowa State Fair, for the “reason I don’t have my jacket buttoned up tonight.” 

Jacob Witte

Just this weekend, Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum said that President Barack Obama agenda is “not about you. It’s not about your quality of life. It’s not about your jobs. It’s about some phony ideal. Some phony theology. Oh, not a theology based on the Bible. A different theology … “

Santorum, a devout Roman Catholic, ought to know a lot about the Bible. Anyone who is a self-professed “devout” follower of any religion ought to know a lot about their specific religious text. So I am going to break down how an American agenda would look being based on the Bible.

Because the main messages of the Old and New testaments are radically different from each other, I will speak mainly of the teachings of the New Testament — because most Christians I know, when confronted about the atrocities in the Old Testament, quickly claim to only follow the New Testament. Of course, when it comes to gay rights, oppression is just as quickly cherry-picked out of the Old Testament for their justification.

An American agenda that follows the teachings of Christ, taken from the New Testament, would have perhaps the first thing Christ taught — complete pacifism under any and all circumstances. One of Jesus’ many nicknames was the “Prince of Peace,” after all. Perhaps the most famous verse that demonstrates this is Matthew 5:39, “Do not take revenge on someone who wrongs you. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.”

For America, this would mean a complete abolition of all military forces. And although I am aware of the “Just War Theory” postulated by St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, I am taking verses straight out of the Bible, later theologians withstanding.

Iran is looking to create nuclear weapons? Bully for them. They could strike a dozen American cities and a Christian America would welcome a dozen more. The Bible tells us to “love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.” In this case, looking at a country that is full of intolerance — Iran — with tolerance makes us all the better in the eyes of the Almighty.

Moving on, the peaceful teachings of Christ also display a shocking malice toward those who are greedy and, therefore, rich. I would expect a Christian American agenda to enact radical wealth redistribution from the rich to the poor, the likes of which would have Karl Marx himself blushing.

My favorite Bible passage regarding wealth is taken from Matthew 19:23-24. “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Someone should tell that one to Mitt Romney.

We even get a nod from the Old Testament on this one, written in Psalms 37:16: “A little that a righteous man has is better than the riches of many wicked.” And while most conservatives look on programs like Welfare, WIC and food stamps with disdain, it is these programs and others like them that attempt to bolster the meek, who, as the Bible says in Matthew, will one day inherit the earth. Romney even said, just weeks ago, that he is “not concerned about the very poor.” How very Christian of him.

Another aspect of a Christian America would be equal rights for all. This includes women, ethnic minorities, homosexuals, nonbelievers and all others whose rights are not met adequately.

The Equal Rights Amendment, which would have ended all discrimination based on sex, was not ratified by the states because of opposition from people like Phyllis Schlafly, a staunch anti-feminist and powerful voice of the Christian Right, who felt that women should be subservient, never equal, to their husbands.

Matthew 12:31 tells us to ” … Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater … ” All Americans, nay, all peoples of all lands fall under this category of “neighbor.” If we looked upon each other with love and kindness instead of fear, caution and anger, perhaps we would better get along with each other.

Going back full circle, let us take a look at the policies and thought processes of Santorum. Santorum voted for the wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq and has openly said he would bomb the nuclear facilities of Iran — hardly a pacifist.

He voted for the Bush tax cuts and the repeal of the inheritance tax, and he wants to further lower both the tax rates for corporations and the super-rich — not exactly a defender of the poor. Furthermore, Santorum wants to eliminate contraceptives and any and all forms of abortion, virtually eliminating reproductive rights of women. Decimating decades of gay rights progress is also high on his list.

So when Santorum insists that the Obama agenda is not “based on the Bible,” what exactly is Rick’s agenda based on?