Tipperary-born scholar John Dominic Crossan has a book coming out in a few weeks entitled How to Read the Bible and Still be Christian.
Crossan better be careful. The way things are going in America, not only is he going to be called out for his obviously anti-Christian message, he may well get stoned or crucified, since there are some people in this country who seem to feel that Christian justice is far superior than, you know, the regular kind with courts and judges and all that.
Consider Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, who is defying a recent Supreme Court decision on gay marriage, apparently believing the one big judge in the sky is far more important than the nine robed jurists in Washington.
Then there was the outcry earlier this month, after President Obama spoke at a national prayer breakfast.
“Lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. . . So this is not unique to one group or one religion.”
At this point, you’d think Christianity would be strong enough to withstand a reminder that not everything done in Jesus’ name has been swell. But nope. Swiftly came the cries that not only was Obama mischaracterizing history, but that he was “anti-Christian.”
It really does make you wonder -- if you can’t mention the Crusades without being labeled anti-Christian, what exactly can you say?
We can only expect things to get worse in the coming months, as the 2016 presidential race heats up, and as GOP candidates in particular chase the party’s base.
Consider what Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal said a few weeks back.
"I do not believe in hyphenated Americans,” Jindal said during a speech in London. “This view gets me into some trouble with the media back home. They like to refer to Indian-Americans, Irish-Americans, African-Americans, Italian-Americans, Mexican-Americans, and all the rest.”
He added, "My parents came in search of the American Dream, and they caught it. To them, America was not so much a place, it was an idea. My dad and mom told my brother and me that we came to America to be Americans. Not Indian-Americans, simply Americans.”
Jindal, of course, said he was not “suggesting for one second that people should be shy or embarrassed about their ethnic heritage.”
No, of course not. That must be the reason why he’s generally known as Bobby, rather than by his birth name, Piyush.
There is a tradition in American history of bashing “hyphenated Americans,” and it is as bi-partisan as it is unsavory. Theodore Roosevelt as well as Woodrow Wilson had fun blasting hyphenated-Americans in the early years of the 20th Century.
Then, as now, this has as much to do with ethnic Americans (you disloyal types know who you are!) as it does to do with the speaker, who is pretty much saying you can’t possibly be as patriotic as him if you happen to care even a little bit about where your ancestors came from.
Jindal, of course, is still mulling a run for the Republican Party’s 2016 nomination. And, sadly, his remarks about hyphens seem to be a small part of what appears to be a dominant Republican strategy to embrace the absurd.
There’s no point merely being patriotic. You must erase any aspect of your identity that is not true red, white and blue!
So can we can expect all of the Republican candidates to out-Christian and out-America each other in the coming months?
As Amy Davidson recently noted in The New Yorker, “There has never been a Catholic Republican nominee for the White House … although there may be one this year.”
In the recent past, Davidson adds, liberal Catholics like John Kerry had to answer tough questions about where their faith fit into their politics. But with an unapologetic socialist in the Vatican these days, it is now Catholic Republicans such as Chris Christie, Jeb Bush and, yes, even Jindal, who may not be able to wear their faith on their sleeves, lest they too be blasted as socialistic.
It will certainly be fun to watch. As long as no one mentions the Crusades.
* Contact “Sidewalks” at tdeignan.blogspot.com.