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Onward Christian Soldiers …

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Pity for the decent evangelical folks, the gentle flock of Christians truly given to pious good deeds for their fellow human beings, pity their souls for they are increasingly represented by wolves wearing the pelts of sheep.

Pity the ones who can hope with the one who suffered on the Cross that one day the lamb will lay down with the lion, in peace and harmony and that communities of human beings, particularly those that believe in a Creator, will beat swords into plowshares - because the people who have politicized and polarized Christianity, we believe, are of a mind to alter the country, where America as a society becomes increasingly intolerant so much and so consistently, that the character of Americans will change forever.

We have to believe that there is a different point of view in Christianity, that to be a lover of Jesus does not immediately make one a supporter of war policy as primary basis for dealing with the discontent of the world's peoples. This too deserves pity. Pity the longing of Jesus of Nazareth for a flock of human beings steeped in humility and exalting simplicity and modesty in all things.

We have to believe that there is a different point of view in Christianity because many in Indian country have lived it.

Pity the decent evangelical folks who want a better world and that can intuit from the message of their Savior, who is the Sacred Heart of their door to Heaven, that good deeds in this world must be multiplied and that good Christian society requires the provision of the million good deeds for the millions of people who deeply need the most rudimentary of human existence; pity the open-minded Christian who is curious about the world and not just scared or angry and who has lived through experience guided by good-hearted intelligence as central to the works of all the good people.

We have to believe that there are such Christians. Because right now, Christianity is being distorted and hijacked as rapidly as Islam was into hatred as worship.

Huge wealth is being amassed globally by a very few people while so many others are displaced and disjointed by the mighty pulls and pushes of the globally-controlled trends and the decisions of its all-powerful, immensely wealthy captains. The good Christians, many of whom over the centuries have been of great assistance to Indian peoples, have to wonder about the place of the Christian faith now used as political ideology. The ethic that the transnational-corporate mentality follows is too often creating a world with little or no responsibility for place, nor for the people of a place. Where and who would be the Christians who will identify and assail the violent demagoguery representing them, while the mainstream media gapes at the wonderful sound bytes, anger and verbal assault can produce?

Would those be the Christians, such as Quakers in Northeastern North America, who took the time to debate their proper Christian conduct in their relations with Native peoples; or those such as Father Bartolome de las Casas, who principally sought peace and justice in the name of Christ; or, such as the present elderly Pope, who defies severe pain with spiritual integrity that calls for peace, for a better American understanding of the miserable poverty confronting most of the world's peoples?

It doesn't seem so. Biblical fundamentalism in today's America appears married to ostentatious braggadocio, loud-talking reverends with gold chains and diamonds and huge personal estates. It has at its own core perhaps even a mass of people embracing a righteous ignorance that, like it or not, invites comparison with the zealots on the other end of Abraham's family of warring religions, the Islamic fundamentalists. The political, emergent American Christianity is married to great wealth, not necessarily benign, and it is presently led by a political coalition that has excited masses of well-meaning Christians as much as it endangers them. Rigidity, conformity, anger, more self-righteous than righteous, fuels it.

There is nary a mention of any kind of social or economic justice approach to the world's problems, where so many huge masses of human beings are increasingly in such misery as to be unable to meet the most rudimentary requirements of clean water, food and shelter for their families. There is nary a recognition of the swath of plunder that has passed over the world for too many centuries and which in large part has created the miserable conditions of Latin America, Africa and most of Asia. That drive to appropriate American indigenous resources has now plowed over its own middle class of workers and producers, selling the raw materials of the country, its production facilities and now even its service sector, directly to the lowest labor bidder to be found, anywhere in the world. This is hailed as the wonder of globalization by entities called "American corporations," which have little allegiance to any country or peoples and, in fact, proudly embrace the label "trans-national." It is a market-driven trend that is so bent on profits it is willing to wreak havoc on ecosystems and peoples far and wide.

All of this needs to and could be done better. A more Christian attitude - the Christianity of St. Francis of Assisi, say, of Martin Luther King Jr., and not of the Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson variety - from America would be of great relief to humankind.

Pity the Christian who truly thinks that a society will function best that produces the broadest possible range of its own needed goods, trades sparingly on other items and works to guarantee easy economic access to good food, healing institutions that work and respect for living communities of peoples.

Many who know the history of U.S.-Muslim relations mark the turning point at the CIA overthrow of a legitimate government in Iran, which caused within a generation the mass overthrow of a Shah (the American-imposed king), whose armies actually reached the point of blood saturation when the soldiers finally refused to shoot at the civilian demonstrations that kept coming at them. Which is to say: There is a lot to know about these so-called religious wars of Christians against the Muslims, which recur every few decades and go back over 1,000 years.

We gave up here long ago on the concept of divinely-inspired wars. The forces of Creation in our estimation do not invest energies in supporting the mass murder of war, for whatever meager and pitiful reasons any particular group of human beings can construct, with which to justify the killing of others. But human beings sure are good at justifying killing with their concept of God. True enough, America's evangelical fundamentalists are not as of this writing on the brutal path of their Islamic counterparts, who have eschewed all human empathy from the messages of their God - but then, again, the Muslim world's ayatollahs and imams were not so easily disposed to such violent preaching even two generations ago. Whereas now, violent hatred of America, always easily manipulated, dominates the region.

We continue to reject the notion that an unjustified war, a war that has the potential of becoming a war of religious civilizations, is the answer to the brutal crime of Sept. 11, 2001. War, divinely inspired or not, Bible-interpreted or Koran-interpreted, is always war. A more pragmatic and less ideological approach, a less "religious" approach, we submit, would have achieved and will achieve clearer and more positive results.

For Christians, we believe, the question is still relevant: What would Jesus do?