It’s educational when religious-right leaders reveal — inadvertently or not — the crass ideological calculations that motivate their agendas. A press release yesterday from Terry McIntosh, a Christian minister who evangelizes Muslims in the Middle East, offers a good example. The press release, headlined “America First,” warns Christians “against the dangers of socialism in the guise of social justice”:
Social justice generally refers to a society based on the principals of equality and solidarity that recognizes human rights and the dignity of every human being, and is increasingly used to solicit Church participation.
McIntosh says it threatens freedom of choice. “Christians recognize the dignity of every human. However, when it comes to conflict of ideology and way of life, I am an American First and citizen of the world second. The call for social justice mandates that a community provide for all citizens equally, and has the appearance of being righteous. Someone said, ‘This is what Jesus would do.’ They are creating a jesus, little j, that plays into the socialist agenda. Jesus advocated generosity and caring for the poor, but he did not advocate government mandates that forcibly takes from one person and gives it to another.”
McIntosh’s rejection of a basic Christian ideal by embracing right-wing political theology isn’t particularly surprising — after all, the religious right is a political, not religious, movement. But it isn’t always just religious principles that suffer. Basic civic principles also have become targets of political attack by the far right these days.
Last spring, for example, the Texas State Board of Education removed the concept of responsibility for the common good from a list of the characteristics of good citizenship in new social studies curriculum standards for first grade. (Efforts to remove the concepts of justice and equality failed.) Board member Don McLeroy, R-College Station, explained that the concept of “responsibility for the common good” sounded too much like communism to him:
“Most of the great tragedies in the world have been done in the name of humanitarian, utopian ideals.”
Maybe McLeroy’s copy of the Constitution doesn’t include the part about promoting the general welfare. And we haven’t got a clue what version of the Bible McIntosh uses.