Republicans confuse "Atlas Shrugged" for the Bible

A new poll suggests a majority of party members think Jesus would have denounced universal healthcare

Published July 14, 2014 5:31PM (EDT)

This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

AlterNet Do you recall the part in the Bible where Jesus healed the leper, the blind, and raised Lazarus from the dead? I do. Apparently, Republicans remember those three respective biblical stories a little differently. According to a new YouGov poll, Republican Jesus did indeed heal the leper, the blind, and a dead man, but only after he asked each for a co-pay.

The poll was conducted July 1-2 among 1,000 U.S. adults using a sample selected from YouGov's opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population. On a wide range of political issues, from healthcare to gun control, from raising taxes on the rich to climate change, respondents were asked what would Jesus support or oppose.

According to the results of the poll, a majority of Democrats and independents have read the same version of Christianity’s Holy Book as I. For Republicans, however, it appears that, once again, they’ve conflated Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged with the Bible.

Eighty percent of Democrats and 52 percent of independents said Jesus would support universal healthcare. Indeed it’s hard to imagine Jesus would deny care to those who lack the financial means to enjoy the comfort of our for-profit capitalist healthcare industry. But that’s not the Jesus Republicans know. Only 23 percent of Republicans believe Jesus would support healthcare for all.

“I was sick and you looked after me….I tell you the truth, whatever you do the least of my brothers, you also do for me,” Jesus said.

“Whatever,” Republicans say.

The Bible makes it clear Jesus was a Marxist before Marxism had a name. He distrusted the rich. “It’s easier for a camel to walk through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter Heaven,” forewarned Jesus. The credo of the Beatitudes demonstrated Jesus saw the world in terms of class struggle. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the earth.”

But only 18 percent of Republicans believe Jesus would support higher taxes on the rich; taxes that benefit the funding of the common good — schools, hospitals, and safety nets for those the capitalist machine leaves downtrodden. (Sixty-three percent of Democrats believe Jesus would support raising taxes on the rich.)

The decline of the mainstream church has allowed the Christian Right to misuse the Gospel to champion unfettered capitalism. For Republicans, “prosperity theology” has replaced the Beatitudes. In this Ayn Randian philosophy, God rewards the faithful with material wealth. The flip side of this theology is that to be poor means you are of little faith, and, ipso facto, must be a sinner.

On guns, 68 percent of Democrats believe Jesus would support stricter gun laws, whereas only 28 percent of Republicans think likewise. Things that go bang hadn’t yet been invented during Jesus’ time. But swords of the first century were the guns of today. “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword,” said Jesus. (Matthew 26:52)

On other issues, 9 percent of Republicans said Jesus would support gay marriage, and 6 percent of Republicans said he would support legalized abortion. Forty-three percent said he would support the death penalty for murderers.

Clearly, Democrats align themselves more with the values of Jesus than the proclaimed party of Jesus, the GOP. To put Republican values in view, consider Matthew 25:31-46. In this oft-quoted New Testament passage, Jesus says, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

A popular blog mocked the idea of a Republican Jesus with a mock passage from a fictitious conservative Bible. In this twisted version of scripture, Jesus says, “You were hungry and thirsty, so I eliminated funding for Meals on Wheels and food banks. You were a stranger, so I vilified you and demanded you be deported. You were naked, so I called you an evil liberal who hates conservative family values. You were sick, so I repealed your only hope for health care. You were in prison, so I tortured you.”

It was Martin Luther King who said, “On some positions, cowardice asks the question, is it expedient? And then expedience comes along and asks the question, is it politic? Vanity asks the question, is it popular? Conscience asks the question, is it right?” And then comes a time, as Chris Hedges points out, “when a true follower of Jesus Christ must take a stand that’s neither safe nor politic nor popular but he must take a stand because it is right.”

By CJ Werleman

CJ Werleman is the author of "Crucifying America" and "God Hates You. Hate Him Back." You can follow him on Twitter:  @cjwerleman


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Alternet Atlas Shrugged Ayn Rand Jesus Christ The Bible