Agitate, America!: Christian values

Nancy Churchill
Nancy Churchill

By Nancy Churchill
A Progressive Visionary

I received an e-mail from state Sen. Tim Bivins, R-Galena, after chiding him in my last column for ignoring my letter regarding the pension bill. It was overlooked, he explained, as one of more than 4,000 communications he’d received on the matter. He’d voted against the bill, he said, considering it unconstitutional. Kudos, Sen. Bivins, for doing the right thing. Shame on those who voted for it.

Segue to today’s controversy, just in time for Christmas. Conservative blowhard Rush Limbaugh got all in a snit because Pope Francis, a member of the Jesuits, or “Society of Jesus,” warned that the “idolatry of money” would lead to a “new tyranny.” He also blasted trickle-down economics because it “expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power.” OK, so he’s no capitalist. So, Limbaugh called him a Marxist.

No, Rush, the Pope’s fulminations do not make him Marxist, but, rather, “Christ-like.” As in Jesus Christ, the one whose birth we’re celebrating, remember? The Holy One behind at least three major Christian faiths around the globe, worshiped for ministering to the poor, healing the sick (for free!), and, in His only fit of rage, throwing the money-changers (today’s capitalists?) out of the temple.

Pope Francis is parting ways with his predecessors by living up to Jesus’ exhortation to follow His example. Christians everywhere should recognize what conservatives like Limbaugh may not: progressive values happen to be consistent with the values taught by Jesus Christ. I think that makes Jesus the quintessential liberal.

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., put in her Christ-like, and populist, 2 cents on the Senate floor last August: “The suggestion that we have become a country where those living in poverty fight each other for a handful of crumbs tossed off the tables of the very wealthy is fundamentally wrong. This is about our values, and our values tell us that we don’t build a future by first deciding who among our most vulnerable will be left to starve.” Amen!

But conservatives’ austerity budgets rule the day, even as tax cuts are lavished on the wealthy. Mark Karlin put things in perspective by quoting David Cay Johnston (The Progressive Populist, Dec. 15): “Pretax profits of all firms in 2012 totaled $1.77 trillion, compared with $800 billion in 2000. That is a gain of 121 percent. During the same period, total real wages grew by just 7 percent, less than the 11.2 percent population increase.” The population is growing three times as fast as jobs are, he pointed out. And, it seems, conservatives like Rush Limbaugh are determined to keep it that way.

Yet, recent electoral victories by Bill DeBlasio in New York City and labor leader Martin Walsh in Boston give us hope. Perhaps as far as the electorate is concerned, the days of austerity for the poor and lavish corporate subsidies for the wealthy are numbered. Maybe we’ll yet figuratively throw the money-changers out of the temple.

That’s not Marxism, it’s Christ-like liberalism. Merry Christmas!

Nancy Churchill was raised in the D.R.C. (Congo), raced stock cars on short dirt tracks for 25 years, and is a proud, lifelong member of “We, the People.” She lives in Oregon, Ill.

From the Dec. 25-31, 2013, issue

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