*The following is an opinion column by R Muse*
As this column is wont to do occasionally, it is time to take a break from the 24/7 assault on one’s sensibilities as a member of the human race coming from the fascist know-nothing living in the White House. It isn’t going to be a complete departure from commenting on the Trump or his administration’s attack on Americans though, because a major portion of those attacks, including from Trump’s “bad Christian” cohort in the Republican movement were the target of a world leader with a faithful following of about 1.2 billion people from around the world, and those are just Catholics.
What seems to be a recurring theme of Roman Catholic Pope Francis’ addresses since his installation as the Holy Father is criticizing the number of people who claim to be followers of Christ (Christians) but act contrary to everything the religion’s namesake preached. The Pope is right, after all, that one of greatest sins is that of hypocrisy and the Holy Father based a sermon around the idea that in his acutely religious mind; “it is better to be an atheist than a bad Christian.” Remember that the Pope immediately made a name for himself by claiming that atheists are not going to be excluded from Heaven, and setting aside the absurdity of an atheist wanting to go to Heaven, the Pontiff did what he does best and bluntly explained his point without condemning atheists – fake Christians like America’s religious right were not so fortunate.
Like Jesus Christ preached on more than one or two occasions, Pope Francis said during his Homily at Thursday Mass that if a person says they’re a Christian and exploits other people, leads a double life, or runs a “dirty business,” that perhaps it is better not to call yourself a Christian; because you are really a hypocrite. The Pontiff said:
“So many Christians are like this, and these people scandalize others. How many times have we heard — all of us, around the neighborhood and elsewhere — ‘But to be a Catholic like that, it’s better to be an atheist.’ It is that: scandal. But what is scandal? Scandal is saying one thing and doing another.”
For Catholics, and indeed Christians, causing scandal, like hypocrisy, is a very grave offense. And it is an offense that the Pope wasted little time lashing out at fake Christians over and whom he said would be better off being a non-believer, an atheist, than a “bad Christian.” According to the Pope, there are a growing number of “bad Christians” and although he did not cite America’s seriously “bad Christians,” including in government, by their geographical locale there is little doubt he was describing religious Republicans and their evangelical extremist supporters that any sane person already knows are rank hypocrites.
Because he was addressing Catholics, the Pope referred to the Catholic faithful, but he was clearly addressing all of the phony Christians and may as well have called out America’s religious right, and their Republican facilitators, by name. He said that Christians who act rigorously in their “ritual observance” but don’t apply the religion’s values to their lives are causing scandal, are hypocrites.
“A totally double life: ‘I am very Catholic [Christian], I always go to Mass [church], I belong to this association and that one; but my life is not Christian, I don’t pay my workers a just wage, I exploit people, I am dirty in my business, I launder money.”
The Holy Father then presented the prospects of any of those “bad Christians” ever making it to biblical Heaven and he fairly took the words right out of one of Jesus Christ’s sermons in Matthew. He talked about the “scandal” of hypocrisy saying:
“Jesus talks, in the Gospel, about those who commit scandal, without saying the word ‘scandal,’ but it’s understood: But you will arrive in heaven and you will knock at the gate: ‘Here I am, Lord!’ – ‘But don’t you remember? I went to Church, I was close to you, I belong to this association, I did this… Don’t you remember all the offerings I made?’ ‘Yes, I remember. The offerings, I remember them: All dirty. All stolen from the poor. I don’t know you.’ That will be Jesus’ response to these scandalous people who live a double life.”
It is a travesty that the Pope isn’t afforded the same national spotlight in America as the likes of any number of “fake Christian” leaders or religious Republican hypocrites. The Pope’s most recent condemnation of “bad Christians,” like America’s religious right, is a near reiteration of his harsh criticism barely four months ago where he cited the “West’s” hypocrisy in claiming Christianity while persecuting different faiths and mistreating the least fortunate among us; refugees.
Then, as now, the Pontiff reinforced the concept that according to Jesus’ teachings, the sin he condemned most was what most in the evangelical fundamentalist movement, including nearly every Republican alive, are guilty of; rank hypocrisy, being “bad” Christians, or just being inherently inhumane to other people. They may call themselves Christians, but according to the Pope and the mythological Messiah he represents, they are never gaining admission to Heaven. With only one other destination available, they are going straight to the proverbial Hell they deserve for a litany of sins against the American people, not for their ugly hypocrisy which is another sin altogether.
**The above article is a report with commentary by R Muse**
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.