I think that most people now realize that you and I are living in a surveillance state, and I am not just referring to the tens of thousands of cameras littering the street corners, at ATMs, and along our highways. I’m not just referring to the cameras that capture and track our car license plates as we drive about collecting where we go and when. I’m not just referring to the government capturing every phone call we make, every e-mail we send and receive, every website we visit, every Facebook status update we post. And on, and on, and on…[pullquote]Surely, the church believes that human beings are living souls created in the image of God.[/pullquote]You and I are also living in a corporate state—a country in which corporations are legally viewed as human beings, as actual people2. Does our legal framework actually believe that corporations are a living human soul? According to the SCOTUS, corporations have a right to free speech, and money is considered free speech in our electoral process.
Corporations are collecting, buying and selling massive amounts of information about you and about me3. In their view, we exists solely as a collection of data points that, when carefully analyzed, can generate and maximize revenue stream. Corporations want to maximize revenue while minimizing the amount of money they have to spend to get it. They want to pay as little money as possible in wages and taxes and, when possible, have the government subsidize their expenses. This is the way of pure capitalism: maximize profit margins. Nothing else matters. Exploitation has the green light, the right of way.
You and I are living in a nation whose government has redefined patriotism to mean war, has weaponized virtually everything and is accountable only to corporations and individuals with the greatest wealth and influence. The very nature of our democracy, of “We the people,” is threatened, probably even dead.
The Stance of the Church Amidst This Human Degradation[pullquote]Why is the church silent in these matters that matter?![/pullquote]So, while you and I are increasingly being dehumanized into nothing more than a collection of data points, data points that can be easily erased with a drone strike, where is the church? Surely, the church believes that all human beings have great value as living souls created in the image of God. Am I wrong? This is not a rhetorical question?!4
Does the American church now believe that “corporate personhood” can love God5? Are corporations now more important to the church than people? Are churches now the crowning achievement of the pure greed of capitalism: tax-free corporations that also exploit human souls?[Updated: And here’s a superb article by Jonathan Merritt that is a must-read. He’s speaking about the church’s castrated value system that perpetuates a myth that Hobby Lobby is a Christian business. The article is: Stop Calling Hobby Lobby a Christian Business. Hobby Lobby’s values have nothing to do with Christ and everything to do with maximizing profit margins—corporate, religious personhood. Their business practice dehumanizes people in China for profit.]
Why is the church silent in these matters that matter?! Why is the church only talking about the fetus and some imaginary homosexual agenda as if that’s what matters most right now in this country?
What about issues related to social justice? What about the issues about which Jesus himself spoke—you know what Jesus actually talked about, right6? What about the outrageous and increased level of poverty in the United States, the out of control level of incarceration (in for-profit, corporate-run prisons) in this country7, people having to work multiple jobs just to provide their families with poor nutrition and third-rate rental housing? What about the tens of thousands of mentally ill living on the streets8? What about the horrendous disparity in what hard working people are paid for their labor? What about very serious ethical questions surrounding the scientific possibilities for tinkering with life and death, of permanently altering plant life and human life on this planet? What about the endless wars we choose to create that have nothing to do with protecting freedom and everything to do with the free flow of oil9. What about our endless addiction to killing people in our own neighborhoods10? This list could go on at length!
Are these issues inconsequential to the church? Apparently so.[pullquote]The message of Jesus has been dead in this country for decades, and we are now living with the results…[/pullquote]The self appointed religious charlatans holding the public microphone sit on their African diamond mines and bank accounts worth millions upon millions, charge $850 for a seat in a service11, build religious empires that only outrageously enrich themselves, and construct mega-churches the size of amphitheaters complete with their own “lifestyle centers?” The money these fat cats live off of is stolen from “the least of these.12” Jesus loathes what every one of them is doing in his name! Loathes it! He actually said so himself as he drove out the money changers from the temple.
Something is horrendously wrong. The church has sacrificed its much-needed influence. This horrific misstep has been documented all the way back to the 1970’s13, to the racist agenda and greed of Jerry Falwell, Bob Jones, et. al, that now elevates the fetus and hating gay people above everything else! I highly recommend you read The Real Origins of the Religious Right: They’ll tell you is was abortion. Sorry, the historical record’s clear: It was segregation.14 What an evil mess these wicked fruits of racism15.
The message of Jesus has been dead in this country for decades, and we are now living with the results: unchecked greed; ruthless, out-of-control capitalism; corporations substituted for people; government serving the interest of the corporate elite; silent news media; hideous levels of income disparity16; and religion that has been repurposed into Jesus factories enslaving people with poverty level wages to enrich their vile, ruthless overlords.
A New Catechism
2014 brings us a new catechism. Repeat the New American Creed, after me:
I am no longer a human soul. I am merely a post-fetus collection of data points meant to enrich the powerful, greedy, wealthy elite. World with an end (soon). Amen. Amen.
Here’s just one source on this topic: Bill Moyers’ Everything We Know about What Data Brokers Know about You ↩
I read too much hatred, often tied to fundraising, being spewed from religious leaders to make any assumption that this core Christian value is still true. ↩
Vastly higher than any of the other nations of the world ↩
Not to mention all over the world with drone strikes and bombing campaigns ↩
UPDATE: Maybe even back to George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards who greatly influenced religious development in what was to become the United States. Both owned slaves. I recommend this thought-provoking article by Fred Clark: Unlearning the Lies We Learned from the Theologians of Slavery, part one and part two. ↩