I Only Cry On Thursdays

FEBRUARY 10, 2011 4:09PM

Holy Hypocrisy

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There’s nothing that shouts religious hypocrisy better than the baptism scene in The Godfather.  While the words of Christian holiness resound, Michael Corleone’s people are on their Christian shooting spree murdering all the heads of the New York mafia families as well as Moe Green out in Las Vegas.  Michael stands removed from the carnage he orchestrated - on the altar in the church - looking as innocent and reverent as a choirboy.


Last week, President Obama made his yearly appearance at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington D.C. – a tradition that goes back to the Eisenhower days.  And nothing says piety louder than an event filled to the coffee brim with the President and First Lady, members of Congress, foreign diplomats and religious, business and military leaders.  No poor or homeless invited.  No one who can’t afford the haberdashery of the finest Washington boutiques need try to attend - so step away from the door.


During the President’s speech, with its usual blurring of the lines between church and state – the hypocrisy so thick you could cut it with a butter knife - Obama made all the usual sounds of respecting everyone’s religion, and even threw in a little shout-out to atheists.  It was also an opportunity for him to make his religious affiliation unequivocally clear.  He is not a Muslim.  He is a Christian – he loves Jesus and follows those teachings.  God called and he listened.


And, he had this to say:


“But no matter what we choose to believe, let us remember that there is no religion whose central tenet is hate.  There is no God who condones taking the life of an innocent human being.  This much we know.” 


Okay, so my question is, if President Obama “knows” this, then how come his military has killed thousands of innocent civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen – to name just a few places?  Does he think Jesus won’t have a problem with this?  Does Jesus recognize the separation of church and state, much as our government is supposed to (but doesn’t) do?  Does he think that because he’s president and has the power to wage war when it’s in our “national interest” that somehow that excludes him from an accounting of those murdered by him, his government and his military?  Will God call that an accident or collateral damage, much as the military does, and let bygones be bygones?  In light of all the bloodshed, how does he remain a Christian in good standing?


Toward the end of the beastly breakfast, Obama also said:


“For it is only through common struggle and common effort, as brothers and sisters, that we fulfill our highest purpose as beloved children of God.”


I don’t know – maybe it’s me and my self-esteem issues – but I don’t think I could go sashaying around calling myself a beloved child of God.  If there is a God, I’m not sure he even likes me.  But, whatever, the bottom line is that you simply cannot have it both ways.  If this God/Jesus of his is real – then he can’t rationalize what he does in his job as if it has no bearing on the big God-picture.  You can’t engage in military actions that destroy lives and then take out the missal when it suits you and pray for guidance.  Oh, sure, that’s all well and good with the concept of separation of church and state, but as for a religious excuse – it just doesn’t wash.  Jesus doesn’t make distinctions about who you can kill or when it’s acceptable.  Yes, I know, according to Christian teaching, God will forgive just about anything.  So, if you kill a person a day and every night you ask God to forgive you – the theory goes – that God of course will forgive you and in the end you’ll get to go to heaven no matter how horrible you were in real life.  I wonder though, does God have a maximum number of bodies that he’ll tolerate?  Is he ever like, “Dubya!  That’s enough!  You cannot kill one more person in your war on terror!  I mean it this time!”


Anyway, this whole Christian/war president equation just doesn’t add up - so what’s left is a choice - it’s either an overt and calculated lie that any of this religiosity means anything to Obama, or it’s some kind of narcissistic rationalization that makes him think he’s above the ordinary rules of God/Jesus that the rest of us are supposed to follow - he’s president so he’s extra special.  Kind of like all those people that win awards and gush effusively about how they want to thank God for giving them so many blessings and all of that.  Every time I hear one of these acceptance speeches I want to scream.  Jesus!  What does that say for the rest of us – that God doesn’t love us as much?  That the fact that we tried but didn’t succeed or our dreams didn’t come true means they are loved more by God than we are?  And sometimes in my more paranoid moments, it’s made me think that God was part of the inner-circle - the oligarchy, the elite, the jet set, the “haves.”  On the other side of the velvet rope are not just the beautiful people, but God is sitting in there with them, drinking Cristal from a gold chalice with Beyonce.  Poor, ordinary people aren’t allowed in this high-end gathering.  And those of us that had bad luck or just plain failed in our endeavors – well, it wasn’t bad luck at all, it was God picking favorites.


None of this religious/Christian stuff makes any sense to me at all.  But still, I really hope the whole God/Jesus story is true, especially the basic Christian tale - the one about love, charity, humility, turning the other cheek and rich people being as likely to get into heaven as a camel getting through the eye of a needle - because that could be really cool.  If one day, at the gates of heaven, I see Obama, Petraeus, Cheney, Rumsfeld, the Clinton’s, Condi Rice and every last Bush (including Laura), and none of them can get in, but I’m ushered right on through the pearly gates – then all of the angst during this life, all of the unfairness, greed, lies, war and corruption – would be assuaged by some measure of justice offered up in the final chapter.  And because I wasn’t greedy, murderous, selfish or narcissistic – and also because I wasn’t running around calling myself a Christian and praying in public while shrouding myself in the cloak of false piety while I did the opposite of what Christ taught, I’ll get to hang with the angels while all those politicians, military and business leaders who go to elite, networking prayer breakfasts are down there somewhere ducking demons. Yeah, that would be pretty righteous.

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Excellent post and I agree with you. I have problem with the concept of "Confession" which is in a way the same of sinning and having one's sins forgiven by a prescribed number of "Hail Marys". It takes away from refraining from killing, if one believes that at the end the all forgiving god will forgive him. What Mr Obama says and does, unfortunately, is what any politican would do. Rhetoric is not the same as true conviction and practice.
Your last paragraph is especially funny because that promise of hope for justice in the afterlife is precisely the illusion that deceives so many poor for so many centuries to endure their suffering at the hands of the rich.

I do not think there is a great conscious spirit that is more conscious than all of our minds together, and I think that the concept of god originated with the powerful alpha males of history who organize a gang and control land and exploit poor people for their own gain.

So in my view Obama as Christian War God is perfectly in line with all the kings of the Old Testament and Medieval Europe who do the will of the alpha male god leader of the empire to destroy enemies for land and resources. It is the law of the jungle played out in the process of evolution where groups crush other groups and assimilate the survivors.
FusunA - When I was young, I intuitively knew that confession was ridiculous...Hail Mary's to wash away the sins. And of course, there is a Christian litmus test for becoming president nowadays. They want you to be one, but not too much of one. It's all absurd.

Surazeus - I do agree with you - and I believe that all of organized religion is just a means to further control the masses. I'm certainly not one of those who will endure my suffering quietly thinking I'm going to get some glorious afterlife though...I was more fantasizing over the unlikely possibility that justice would be meted out in a final reckoning of sorts. Sort of divine retribution. And, thanks for getting the "funny" part...not many people have commented that way, and I always appreciate when someone does!
I don't have an answer...it is enough for me to work on compassion toward all living things...xox
I'd imagine (and I don't know cause we haven't talked in awhile) that the reason President Obama went to this is that it was part of the "they want you to be a Christian but not too much of one" thing that you spoke to. In any event, there is a really strong argument (see a book called "The family" by Jeff Sharlet )that says that any one President or head of any state is dwarfed by the evil that is The National Prayer Breakfast. In other words, those people are more powerful than the President and he ---like any politician--stays away from fights he can't win. Which is not to defend him. Just to try and make sense of it.

The real issue is the teachings of Jesus and the extent to which they are followed. Most times they are not. I don't see that as a reflection on the teachings. I see that as a reflection on us.

And every time someone tries to explain "just war" theory to me I get very confused.

Real faith carries doubt as a central element. It's the people who "know" who scare me. Not those who doubt. At my church we use a term called "questioning believer" in our welcome.

And the LAST thing we are, on our one little street corner, is organized. Not even close. We're a mess! Just a bunch of people trying to figure it out together. Which beats trying to figure it out alone.
Robin - I hear you loud and clear.

Chicago Guy - You make excellent points as usual. That's a very scary notion - but obviously true about the Prayer Breakfast and the powers that run the whole show behind (or right in front of) the scenes. I love the sound of your church though! That's the kind of place for the stumbling and questioning and unsure ones such as myself, could find the solace and companionship that I crave - in that searching and maybe not finding answers...but hope and sustenance. I have a long background in spirituality (and even "religion") - though with things like this - the blatant surreal quality of it all boggles my mind. As you say "just war" and Jesus simply don't mix. And if there is that eternal afterlife, then you can run but you can't hide from the eventual reckoning - but these suits in power - obviously don't believe what they say, or they'd be quaking in their expensive shoes. And, again, I wish I had your church to go to...sounds like a place I'd feel at home.
Well, (a) if Obama didn't do the piety thing he'd be in worse trouble with the populace than he is, and (b) these Christians tend to pay less attention to Jesus than to all the blood-and-gore God of the old testament.

When you look at things with a cold eye, all those government people are hypocrits. But, also, I think they're more puppets than we realize or they figured on when they were running, esp. the prez, who has the intelligence people and military and CIA, not to mention the money people, who have so much power...

But, really, would it be the end of the world of some government leader spoke truth and actually eschewed war... There may be necessary wars (defeating Hitler, for instance), but the U.S.'s recent wars don't seem to have been anything but misguided adventures...
Chicago Guy must go to my church (I am an atheist and I still like my socialist Lutheran Church).

Anyway, that was some comparison at the outset between Michael Corleone and the baptism with BO and the prayer breakfast (which is a term that makes me want to puke, BTW). My father goes to them. "The evil that is the prayer breakfast" really resonates with me.

Anyway, I get so sick of hearing that Obama is powerless. There was so much power he could have harvested for good, but no. He goes on Bill O'Reilly which is okay, but why not Tavis Smiley? Why fire someone just on the say-so of some rightwing nut organization? Why continue an illegal war and let all the war criminals go free? Michael Corleone the hypocrit indeed.

I did like your last paragraph. I read something in Big Salon years ago that was about the power-mad control freaks, which was that death was the great unifier. If you get used to manipulating all things in this world, you are in for a big shock at the end of your life when for all intents and purposes your control will be limited, if you're lucky.
The Bible has a lot to say about hypocrits-don't wear sack cloth and ashes to show how good you are, don't go around moaning when you are fasting, don't tell other people when you do something good, give money in secret to those who need it, the last shall be first (like your heaven daydream) etc. Obama, like most politicians, can compartmentalize his life and actions, with the best of them.
That scene in The Godfather is extraordinary and scary. Great post.
The teachings of Jesus are so radical that two thousand years later most of those who claim his name can't begin to accept them. The plain fact is the pillars of the teachings are pacifism and communism -- or communalism for those fearful of the other word. The plain fact is that most of those who claim to follow him do not accept that fact, and many have in fact never heard it despite having spent their lives attending church.

Unfortunately, the pillars of the faith, as practiced, are something quite different, something much more incline to worship of the violent, vengeful, prejudiced God of the Old Testament. How ironic that the human who most closely followed the teaching of Jesus was not a Christian, but the Hindu, Mahatma Gandhi.
You know my feelings on the whole Christian thing. I do not understand it either. Most Christians are against abortion, but send their sons and daughters to kill or be killed in a war.. How does one determine which life is more important? Great post, my friend.. ~r
Great Read. I took care of a few domestic chores and have been pondering all day.
I confess I followed Tom C.
I agree. We see righteous bigots.
They kill Jesus and virtue followers.
I wanted to believe in Barack Obama.
I kept hearing him say "kill" as a candidate.
I sensed?
B.O.'s being propped up for corporate CEO's.
I was in DC's VAMC and recall black et., Hopes.
Mortgages etc., People were wearing B.O Hats.
T- shirts etc.,
The morning after the election workers beamed!
I was in hospital lobby waiting for the Wash/Post.
People came to work as if they wore new panties,
and did't care if they had holes in trousers or socks.
People didn't seem to care if they had double chins?
Today they speak`
Betrayal, dismay,
grave personal hurt.
I'd not wish the job on anyone.
Corporate greedy have big guns.
They have a proverbial gun to heads.
Greedy Psych's and CEO's kill `Jesus.
They slaughter Art, Tom, Jane, Bob etc.,
They are the Scribe (media) Pharisees etc',
I don't have the answers. On market days`
I'd mumble `O, and now we enter the belly!

Belly Of The Beast!
I read that somewhere.
I have read the Beatitudes.


(ruin life)

DC's the Lap of Wicked!
I say`wait until Funeral!
Wear blonde hair piece?

At One With - Harmonious.
They're murderous hypocrites.
Telephone poles (mote) in eyes.

They are blind leading the blind.
They lost the capacity to see/care.
The devil has them all Tattooed.
They (everyone) could be true.
This Life journey is personal.
No Pope or politico will save.
A ethics class wouldn't hurt.
They choose to be the Fool.
It's as clear as any daylight.
They who sell-out know it.
Look at their fear. Misery.
I am venting. I believe it.
I may rabble more. Well.
I'll banter in my dreams.
I love sound calm sleep.
They can't sleep well?
They can answer self?
They have awful sex?
They best sleep alone.
They sleep with a huh?

The dark devil forces.
Principalities. A Evils.
Powers - Principality.

That was the lawyer. Woe. O, Sadue? holy?
A Sadue was a hypocrite of the day. Vanity.
The Self Righteous caste blame. Projection.
Myriad - It really is rather amazing, this government that we have.
And, frankly, I too would like a little truth. Just show a little bravery and dare to question some of this national assumptions we have.

latethink - Thanks...that's the way I think...I'd like to say that I'm all about forgiveness and all that stuff - but when it comes to these big issues and the way a person comports themselves knowingly deceitful in life - and having the power to wield changes for good or ill - I'd really like some retribution to come into play in the great unifer - it's only fair!

Janice - Thank you! Much appreciated. And yes, I agree. They can enjoy all the rationalizations they want to - but in the end - if there indeed is a heaven and all of that - that's not going to go over too well...or shouldn't at any rate.

Tom - Great comment...eloquently stated...you said it perfectly!!

Barb - Thanks Barb!!

Art - Thanks for your kind words. ..and the fascinating thoughts and connections! I enjoyed reading your comment very much.
Kate Flannery. I read you etc., and then I'll just pause. Honest. I don't have the luxury time to read blogs all day. I come here. I'll 'hit' a Alter/Net site`
another opinion`
We humans opine.

I shut `
I went for a short walk.
I no stuffed my pockets.
I no studied gynecology.
I go gnaw marshmallows.
You sure made me smile.
I gnaw sunflowers seeds.
I no love sauerkraut much.
I'd love to share my lettuce.
I thumb through memories.
Thanks. No sweat profusely.
No be a strings bikini model.
Thanks for helping me smile.
If in ICU - No smoke tobacco.

No nickname editor a`Psycho.
No blow nose on blouse`Hanky.
No travel to Cairo for` Pedicures.

No sneeze or hyperventilate @ O.S.
No let snot mucous drip on keyboard.
No smoke pipe tobacco while blogging.
Take walks.
No pluck eyebrows.
I really love your blog.
And other's too @ O.S.
Time is very a` fleeting.

No call editors` Psycho.
Visit a goat petting zoo.
Tickle people or poodle.

No steal any limo hearse.
Ya know pick-up gimmicks?
Please ignore me. I'm gone!

I may sip big portion. wine!
I really don't imbibe. A Lie?
Honest. I love sobriety. Ah!
Does he think Jesus won’t have a problem with this? Forgive me, I know you were very seriously addressing the horrible hypocrisy we all witness every day of our lives. But that was funny.

Rant on! You've got a righteous axe to grind...
Linnnn - Thank you so much for finding some of what I said funny - despite the serious content. Honestly, I almost never write anything that doesn't have humor in it - even if it's sarcastic humor - but at least to me (if to no one else) I find things funny and absurd and try to convey them that way, even when the topic is more weighty. Thank you for getting that! Seriously - much appreciated!!!
Confession involves more than just saying a few "Our Fathers" and a few "Hail Marys". In order to be forgiven, one must be sorry for your sins and "...resolve to sin no more and avoid the near occasion of sin". I'm not a big fan of Confession either, but it is a little more involved than portrayed in your post and the comments that followed.
Shawn - Yes, I do understand that actually. It's sort of like I said to someone else recently, or wrote in the comments - I can't recall where exactly - if you don't actually repent...if you aren't clear and conscious about the fact that you've done something wrong - then it's not okay...it's not simply forgiven. But the general thrust of the post was about the hypocrisy of the entire paradigm. If you follow Christ - whether Catholic or Christian - and you also don't give a whit about the poor, the suffering, the sick - or you're bombing the crap out of Arabs - it just is either total hypocrisy or rationalization of God. By minimizing the confession aspect of it - I was trying to make the point that the whole sensibility and piety of these politicians is absurd.
I agree with the hypocrisy you point out. This day in age the words politician and hypocrite are synonymous. Although I am not a big fan of President Obama, when he got elected and promised change, I actually thought we might get someone. He actually gave people the impression (myself included) that he was different than other politicians. Here we are two years later and and we are finding out he's just another politician. I'm embarrassed that I actually thought he would change things in Washington. The sad truth is this: For a politician to go any further than his local town council, he has to make deals with the powers that be and other politicians. As a result, it is practically impossible for a person with any morals to be elected to the Presidency. It's a shame.
Shawn - I couldn't agree with you more! I too, also felt that way about Obama...cautious, but optimistic. In an elemental way, I feel like a fool and am embarrassed that I actually donated money to this guy and worked on his behalf...and then it's kind of a slap in the face. He had the perfect opportunity to make notable systemic changes - or at least to frame the issues - fight for them - and he just went with the money instead.
I read a lot of truth in this piece, well written and thought out, but do not despair, check out my posts and see what the truth is.
If he refused to use the American military to bomb innocents, wouldn't that be an act of a religious nature, therefore violating separation of church and state? Answer: nope, nope, nope ... Christianity is rife, in public practice, with acts of violence on a mass scale ... sounds pretty American Jesus to me.
SPIRIT-TU-ALL - Thank you.

Douglas - "American Jesus" - I like it. Maybe a President could look at not bombing people as a counterintuitive measure...as a waste of resources...as a purely unnecessary exercise in American imperialism...I don't know - just off the top of my head - might be lots of reasons to not go around the world killing people willy nilly that don't have to be framed in the context of religion. And oh...is American Jesus anything like Green Day's American Idiot?
Rwoo5g - I love the historical perspective you bring to issues. I'm going to look up some of that...very interesting...
The strange thing about the National Prayer Breakfast is not the political sanctimony -- one expects a certain amount of that, from all sides -- but the fact that it is put on by the secretive right-wing organization which calls itself The Fellowship, also known as The Family. See this NYT article from last year, which draws attention to that organization's contributions to the virulent homophobic movement in Uganda: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/04/us/politics/04prayer.html
Mark - Yes, I do know about this...it's really too creepy - and of course, it makes the President's (or anyone else not in the "club") appearance that much more distrubing.