Many pundits have noted that if biblical Jesus ever appeared in America preaching from the Gospels to care for the poor, obey the government, pay taxes, and protect the environment, teabaggers, Republicans, and sundry conservatives would seize and crucify him on the spot with extreme prejudice. However, if “Republican Jesus” showed up with an AR-15 strapped across his back and a battalion of white armed militiamen in tow to kill people of color, take food away from children and the elderly, and slaughter poor people seeking medical care conservatives would welcome him with open arms and proclaim him god almighty. Fortunately neither of those mythological characters are ever going to show up in America, but next week Jesus Christ’s representative on Earth is coming to Washington and he will be preaching like biblical Jesus to angry Republicans who have quietly waged a war on the Pope. One hopes the White House has arranged very robust security for the Pontiff when he visits Washington D.C. because he will be entering hostile territory and be met by very angry enemy combatants in the Koch Congress.
There has been a well-executed Republican war against Pope Francis that began in earnest in January that has continued unabated leading up to the papal visit next week. As a self-labeled “proud Catholic” from Arizona, Republican Paul Gosar exemplifies the battle-ready “theocon” combatant preparing to ambush the Pontiff for being a follower of Christ. Gosar wrote a very typical evangelical Republican screed that would make Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz proud announcing why he intends to boycott the Pope’s historic visit to Congress next week.
Gosar wrote that Republicans concluded that when the Pope visits America next week he would seize “the opportunity to be the world’s great religious advocate and address the current intolerance of religious freedom.” He claimed that the Pope’s message should be “challenging the government to address the persecution and execution of Christians, and to address the enslavement, belittlement, rape and desecration of Christian women and children.” Republicans also expected the Pope to spend most of his time “condemning the intentionally planned genocide of unborn children by Planned Parenthood and American society,” and take the opportunity to “refocus America’s priorities on right from wrong.” Of course, Gosar, evangelicals, and their Republican facilitators expected a ‘Republican Pope” to lay down some serious theocratic conservative policies to embolden the Koch Congress and put the fear of god and the church into Democrats.
Since the Pope has instead spent the past year reiterating Christ’s teachings about caring for the poor, the environment the poor live in, and the unfettered corporate greed keeping the poor in poverty, conservatives are waging a war against the Pope. The crux of the issue for Gosar and Republicans is that this Pope is adhering to Jesus’ teachings and not Ayn Rand, Charles and David Koch, and every angry racist teabagger in America. Subsequently, the Pope’s visit to Washington will place him in extremely hostile territory surrounded by enemy combatants in Republican ranks. Gosar summed up the mindset of Republicans by justifying his decision to boycott the Pope’s congressional visit when he said, “when the Pope chooses to act and talk like a leftist politician, then he can expect to be treated like one.” What irks Gosar and Republicans is that the Pope chooses to act and talk like Jesus Christ, and because he does conservatives are at war with him.
In January, one theocon, Maureen Mullarkey, wrote a nasty article condemning Pope Francis as “an ideologue and a meddlesome egoist who views man as a parasite and sullies his office by using demagogic formulations to bully the populace into reflexive climate action with theologized propaganda.” Republican shill and Catholic conservative Steve Moore wrote that the Pontiff’s “public policy pronouncements on economics and the environment are a complete disaster proving he’s allied himself with the far left and embraced an ideology that would make people poorer and less free.” It is a typical Republican and Koch brother claim that combating income inequality is an ideology that makes people poorer and less free, and one wonders if any Republican will argue with the Pope about his “completely disastrous ideology.”
The real problem conservatives in general and Republicans in particular, have with this Pope “is simply that Francis has broken free from too many elements in the Republican Party’s platform.” Between the Pope’s less-than-hateful statements about homosexuality, calling for forgiveness for abortions and divorce, criticism of unrestrained capitalism and trickle-down economics and caring for the environment, Republicans have had just about enough of Pope Francis. They are sick to death of him talking like Jesus Christ; or in conservative parlance like a liberal humanitarian. It is just too much for conservatives to take and they are rejecting the Pope’s Jesus message and embracing religious Republican hate and dedication to greed.
Republicans have had a measure of success defaming the Pope at every available opportunity because according to a Gallup poll, the Pontiff’s popularity declined from 76 percent a year ago to 59 percent in July. It should surprise no American that religious conservatives are driving the Pope’s declining popularity and there can be no doubt it is because he advocates for Jesus’ teachings and not Republican hate.
After stating again that he is a proud Catholic, Gosar boasted his Jesuit education where he was taught to think critically, to welcome debate and discussion, but he also claimed to be a conservative member of Congress, a constitutionalist and a firm believer in First Amendment protections; particularly the freedom of religion.” But, he says, all that critical thinking education and love of debate and discussion drives his moral obligation and “leadership responsibility to call out leaders who ignore Christian persecution and fail to embrace religious freedom and the sanctity of human life. If the Pope plans to spend the majority of his time advocating for flawed climate change policies, then I will not attend.” Gosar reiterated what most Republicans claim should be the Pope’s only topic for discussion when he addresses Congress; “religious tolerance and the sanctity of all life…not the fool’s errand of climate change and concern for the poor.”
The Pope likely believed that coming to a country that Republicans spend no small amount of time preaching is a “devout Christian nation” would be a friendly visit and that Republicans, particularly, would welcome his Christ-like messages. However, Pope Francis represents the Jesus of the Gospels, the humanitarian Jesus, and Republicans expected the conservative Jesus with guns blazing and trampling the poor and sick asunder. After a year of preparation and propaganda that the Pope is an abomination to “theocon” ideology, the Pontiff is entering hostile territory and a war zone rife with evangelical Republican combatants waiting to ambush him in the Koch Congress.