When ideology trumps theology

Can America survive the ugliness that has erupted in the wake of the passage of the health-care reform bill into … Continued

Can America survive the ugliness that has erupted in the wake of the passage of the health-care reform bill into law?

I am watching, stunned, as angry, hateful rhetoric and threats and acts of violence are breaking out all over the country. It is one thing to be angry; it is quite another to spew hatred and do violence because one didn’t get one’s way.

I have listened in vain for GOP leaders like Sen. John McCain and others openly and quickly decry the hateful rhetoric that is spreading like an aggressive cancer. Sen. John Boehner stepped up, but so few other Republicans have done so, and Sarah Palin and her PAC are actually posting gun-sights on a map that shows where some Democratic supporters of health care might be found.

America? Is this really you?

My 21-year-old son, who has been a lover of peace and not easily drawn into discussions about racism, voiced pained concern.

“Mom, did you see Sarah Palin’s Facebook page? This stuff is getting bad, and it’s only getting worse. It’s pure hatred…our leaders are acting like spoiled middle school kids just because they didn’t get their way.”

“I have always hated war, even the thought of it, but these people are leading this nation to a state of war,” he said. “It’s sick. It’s subversive. It’s so hateful.”

“People are buying guns, Ma,” he said. “All this makes me feel like all of us should be prepared to protect our families.”

I was stunned at his words, at least as stunned, no, more so, as I’ve been at the explosion of hatred. And, yes, I think it’s racism. My “there’s no racism” son slowly came to the same conclusion.

“And all this is because a black man is in the White House and he got a really important win.”

My theology makes me believe that health care for all Americans would be what God would want. The ideology of many Americans, apparently, would take issue with that thought. It seems that American patriotism includes an ideology which pushes what might be the will of God aside – i.e., it is better to spend money to kill people in wars than to spend money to help people get decent health care so they don’t have to die …or at least get as sick as too many have gotten.

Theology and ideology always crash when they meet in this country. To help the masses, which is what I would think would be a theological mandate, is labeled as being socialist or fascist or Nazism. Ideology pushes God aside.

The Bible, which has always been conveniently used, is pushed aside, including the words contained within it which direct God-followers to help the poor, the dispossessed. The words from the Gospel of Matthew, which remind us that when we help or not help the hungry, thirsty, naked and imprisoned, we do it or refuse to do it, to and for God.

Nowhere in the ideological debate is there concern about doing to others as we would have them do to us.

The words of the Bible are replaced by the words of the Constitution. The words of God, the words of the Christ, have been shown, were uttered, in fact, to bring people together and to bring justice to people, all people.

I guess neither the Constitution nor the Bill of Rights intended to do that.

Why else the clash of ideology and theology? Why else the lack of theology-driven protest over rhetorical language which is dangerous and hateful and divisive? Shouldn’t the presence of God in us hold us to a theological standard?

My son brought up yet another point. He said that these silent leaders, and these people spewing hate-filled rhetoric, are the same ones which promote zero-tolerance in schools.

“The kids are looking at them,” he said, disgustedly. “They can’t ask kids to do something which they apparently cannot do themselves.”

“This is a violent nation,” he said softly, “and it’s a really scary thing.”

Susan K. Smith
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