Could Jeb Bush pass His own Christianity Test?
The news of Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz proposing Christianity tests to the refugee Syrians before letting them into the USA is a proposal that they feel will assure us of their suitability to being in our country. These families are seeking solace and new beginnings, seeking safety and compassion. In response to this proposal by Bush, I have reflected on Christianity: its roots, beliefs and basic principles. While I’m not a theologian, and no longer a Christian, years of a Catholic upbringing engraved the teachings onto my brain and into my heart. And without religion, I follow many of the precepts, just kind of automatically, like many of us do. Let’s look at some very general and basic principles of Christianity and wonder how Jeb Bush would fare on the test he is proposing.
1. Love Your Neighbor as yourself. (NIV Mark 12:31) The idea behind this precept is pretty transparent. Even in a discreet interpretation, it would mean that you love everyone, that your compassion is broad sweeping, that you can imagine yourself in the same situation as others, and treat others the way you’d want to be treated. Including refugees. And LGBTQIA, and POC, and by the way, women.
2. The expulsion of the moneylenders. In Mark 12:40 and Luke 20:47 Jesus accused the Temple authorities of thieving and this time names poor widows as their victims, going on to provide evidence of this in Mark 12:42 and Luke 21:2. The commitment of Christ to the poor is long standing; his abhorrence of the commerce as it was practiced in this instance is basic. Does this support Halliburton making $39.5 billion in the Iraqi invasion?
3. Love your enemy. Matthew 5:44–45 “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Bush has repeatedly supported the invasion of Iraq, and says he’d do it again. Which leads to the next one…
4. Don’t lie: Proverbs 14:5 “A faithful witness will not lie: but a false witness will utter lies.” Repeat after me: weapons of mass destruction.
5. Give to the poor: Luke 3:11 John replied, “If you have two shirts, give one to the poor. If you have food, share it with those who are hungry.” Not a fan of public assistance, Jeb Bush is aggressive in finding the worst examples of what he calls, “welfare queens, as a way of imposing limited assistance for those in need, but not neglecting everyone.
I begin to wonder, when Jeb Bush makes this proposal of the Christianity test, whether he knows the Bible, and whether he has ever looked at the teachings of the Qu ‘ran which are even more rigorous (and more charitable) than the New Testament. Bush clearly missed the chapter on throwing stones. John 8:7 “But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”
When recently interviewed, he stood beside his idea from 1995 that women who give birth out of marriage should be “shamed.”
One of the practices I was taught as a Catholic was self-reflection, self-responsibility and the humility that discourages judging others. I have hung onto these. They are good and they don’t belong solely to Christians or even to believers. These are moral stances that make us good citizens of the earth.
I find it daunting, that in the face of refugees, which should draw the most compassion, is testing our charity — the most basic of Christian values. The values that Jeb Bush thinks should be the deal breaker.
But let’s give ourselves the Christianity test, whether we’re Christian or not. When we want to put children in cages on the border or deny persecuted people a refuge, what are our guiding principles?
It’s frightening that a candidate can suggest accountability but not be accountable himself. And he can convince voters that he has a right to. That we all have a right to judge. The disconnect is huge. The very suggestion is straight from the Pharisees. It does make you wonder, how much of a Christian Bush is.
So Jeb Bush, good luck on your Christianity test and if you are using your Christianity to create policy… If the values you believe are the ones listed above, some changes are ahead.