PHOTOS: Easter Sunday shoppers at West Edmonton Mall. Is nothing sacred? Well, actually, something is: The Almighty Market, god of Canada’s state religion. Below: A brass idol to the Market God in New York City’s Wall Street district. Below that, two unchristian politicians beloved by North American Christian conservatives: Doug Ford Jr. and Donald J. Trump (Photos: Wikimedia Commons).
If you thought the War on Christmas was bad, consider the War on Easter, Christianity’s most important and solemn celebration. While you’re at it, consider by whom it’s being waged.
If the concept of High Holidays were common in Christendom, Easter’s Holy Week would be it.
On Easter Sunday, Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. He was killed because, in the words of Canada’s greatest poet, Milton Acorn, born 95 years ago Good Friday last, he tried to use words “to break the rods and blunt the axes of Rome.” Sudden death, by cross or drone, is always the risk when an aspiring religious leader takes on the official religion and power of a mighty empire.
Fast forward two millennia, give or take a few years, from the ugly crucifixion in occupied Palestine by the soldiers of Rome – many followers of the rival cult of Mithras – to the religion Jesus (possibly unintentionally) founded. What do we have?
Or, to ask that question in a more practical way, what were contemporary Christians actually doing yesterday during the most solemn day of the liturgical calendar?
Well, in some parts of the world people may be inclined to mark the most important Sabbath of the Christian year by reflecting on their faith and values with their families. In Russia, for example, which nowadays is increasingly overtly Christian – although they won’t celebrate the occasion there until next Sunday, according to the Orthodox calendar. In Canada, by contrast, they were mostly shopping. Or working in shopping malls to bow down before the desires of the monied classes.
So much for remembering the Sabbath and keeping it holy!
I don’t offer this as a lament, by the way, and certainly not as an argument we should all be hunkered down at home over hot cross buns and Easter ham. Only as a recitation of fact, since it is the very people who whine constantly that there is a cultural war against Christmas and Christianity waged by liberal secularists, non-Christian immigrants and “social justice warriors,” who not only encourage this state of affairs, but demand it.
I speak, of course, of the coalition of Christian fundamentalists (who mostly ignore the fundamentals of Christianity) and market fundamentalists (who demand the violation of Christian fundamentals in the pursuit of their profoundly anti-Christian economic superstitions).
So the now-dominant congregations of “conservative” Christianity are hard at work supposedly preserving their values by promoting politicians who work openly to entrench a state religion of devotion to covetousness and greed that is antithetical to Christian values. At least, that is, if you think Christian values are those taught by, you know, Christ.
Apparently conservative Christians have abandoned the fundamental principles of their religion so they can continue to practice a small number of (anti) social customs associated with Old Testament accounts of Iron Age society, such as the persecution of homosexuals and the subjugation of women.
Well, the Bible is at times a contradictory and inconsistent book, but the enthusiastic abandonment by supposed Biblical literalists of fundamental New Testament teachings, and many from the Old Testament too (i.e., honouring the Sabbath), and their furious endorsement of the worst aspects of Old Testament law seems hypocritical to say the least.
So is the enthusiasm for war in what was once upon a time explicitly a religion of peace, although probably more understandable if we recognize that any state religion, like the god of the Israelites, brooks no competition. Let’s just say it is ironic that Christians who increasingly practice a religion of violence and subjugation are so vociferous in their insistence certain other religions do the same thing.
Beyond such garden-variety hypocrisy, conservative Christians’ enthusiasm for far-right politicians who not only wage a daily war against the message of Jesus, but behave in a repugnant, immoral, unchristian fashion in their personal lives is positively bizarre.
Paul Melinchuk, evangelical preacher of Toronto’s Prayer Palace church, recently held an “anointing ceremony” for Mr. Ford. “God’s hand will rest upon Mr. Ford,” he told his flock, urging them to sign up to support Mr. Ford’s campaign to lead the Ontario Conservatives, and after that the province. As media noted, Pastor Melinchuk has a controversial history – though not for his theological or political views, which are nowadays absolutely mainstream in evangelical circles.
Surely the invocation of Jesus in the service of such people takes his name in vain!
This relationship is obviously transactional – indulgences granted in return for power and support of the conservative Christian agenda of social control.
As an aside, supporters of Mr. Ford, Mr. Trump and their ilk love to lecture commentators who mention such inconvenient facts that Christianity is a religion of forgiveness. This, unlike most of their pronouncements about the teaching of Jesus, is actually true. But they fail to acknowledge that repentance needs to precede that state of grace.
Despite their ostentatious personal piety, men like Andrew Scheer, the Canadian Conservative Party leader, and Jason Kenney, his elder in Alberta, would likewise implement policies that are unchristian in nature and, whether intended or not, would speed the replacement of traditional religions with the worship of markets and money. But at least as far as we know, they live personal lives that are virtuous or, if not, have the good sense not to sin in public.
So, yes, there is a continual, relentless war on Christianity. It was being waged yesterday in the shopping malls of Canada. For the most part, it is being waged by Christians themselves and the politicians they finance and support.
For, if you believe what the Bible says Jesus said, you can have God or Mammon, but you can’t have both.
If the Christian faith is all but done for, militant, fundamentalist Christians have no one to blame but themselves.