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The message, ‘peace on Earth, goodwill toward men’ seems lost on many Christians
Every religion revolves around some significant story that is integral to their belief system, and during the holiday season, Christians hold the birth of Christ as the promise of redemption, salvation, and everlasting life as important as the resurrection story. The symbol of the silly virgin birth story is the nativity scene, and as popular as it is to Christians, the Annunciation by angels to shepherds tending their flocks is oft-repeated in song and sermon alike with a message most adherents can recite from memory. However, as important as the message, “peace on Earth, goodwill toward men” is to Christ’s life and teachings, it is lost on a large segment of American Christians.
Over the past year, the most vocal Christian fanatics demonstrated that not only do they oppose the idea of peace on Earth; they have, with their legislative arm, the Republican Party, worked tirelessly to portray “goodwill” as a cardinal sin and miscarriage of justice. However, even though there are Christians who embrace the concept of goodwill, their support of politicians who consider goodwill toward Americans anathema to freedom counters their phony portrayal as followers of Christ. In fact, as their lord and savior said, “by their works you will know them,” and he meant that Christians who actively support policies that deprive human beings of food, shelter, healthcare, and wellbeing is not only a hypocrite, but are living a life contrary to his teaching and the notion of goodwill towards mankind.
After the 2008 general election, and particularly the 2010 midterm elections, Americans learned a nasty lesson about how hardline conservative Christians interpret the bible’s message of goodwill toward anyone. Whether it was the outrageous assertion that healthcare was a privilege reserved for the wealthy, or a perpetual attempt to eliminate social safety nets, or the vicious assault on women’s rights, there were always extremist Christians supporting Republicans protecting the rich at the expense of the needy. Indeed, in the recent election, 47% of Americans supported Romney and Ryan whose idea of goodwill entailed stealing from children, the poor, elderly, and Veterans to enrich the wealthy, and most of their supporters identified themselves as some kind of Christian; but not Jesus Christians.
Over the past week, another example of Christian opposition to the bible message of peace on Earth is the frenzy to put more firearms in the hands of more Americans, and it belies Christ’s teaching of not returning evil for evil, or taking up weapons. One may be inclined to believe many Christians are unaware of the peace on Earth and goodwill Christian message, but every Christmas for a month the message is repeated ad nauseum in every store, Christmas card, and Christmas carol so that it is impossible to ignore Christ’s most important teaching; except for conservative Christians.
Whether one celebrates Christmas or not, the most important part of the Christian message is not that a virgin gave birth in a manger, but that in heralding the event, the angels previewed Christ’s message of peace and goodwill inherent in all of his teachings. It is a universal message for all mankind to follow, but for America’s neo-Christians it is a message of what not to do and little more than Christmas carol lyrics or words on seasonal greeting cards. Perhaps this Christmas will be different and the preponderance of Christ’s message of peace and goodwill will have the desired effect on “followers of Christ” as they tear up over the virgin in a manger story, or the good news that their object of salvation was born at all, but it is highly unlikely.
If the past four years are any indication, on December 26, so-called Christians will ignore Christ’s message and support more guns in Christians’ hands, more Republican attempts to cut Christian children’s’ school lunches, Christian seniors’ Meals on Wheels, Christian women’s cancer screenings, Christian Veterans’ benefits, and housing assistance for elderly Christians, because the idea of peace on Earth and goodwill toward mankind are, like all of Jesus Christ’s messages, not worthy of following.
One thing is certain, those most likely to follow Christ’s teachings at Christmas time and throughout the year are Secular Humanists, Pagans, Hindus, Heathens, Buddhists, and Muslims, and they, like Christ’s message of peace and goodwill, are the number one target of America’s conservative Christians. One hopes this holiday season, whether one celebrates Christmas or not, all Americans will reflect on, and work towards, achieving peace and goodwill at home and around the world because it is a message of humanity, and the one thing America desperately needs right now is humanity; something foreign to America’s conservative Christians. Happy Holidays from a Zen-Atheist Secular Humanist.