Chris Hedges responds to the battle for Wisconsin (update)
While doing so he criticized his usual targets, which he grouped under the name he recently gave them, the Liberal Class. When developing his criticism with respect to the events in Wisconsin, Hedges makes what amounts to an implicit call for an American liberation theology.
The pillars of the liberal establishment, which once made incremental and piecemeal reform possible, have collapsed. The liberal church forgot that heretics exist. It forgot that the scum of society — look at the new Newt Gingrich — always wrap themselves in the flag and clutch the Christian cross to promote programs that mock the core teachings of Jesus Christ. And, for all their years of seminary training and Bible study, these liberal clergy have stood by mutely as televangelists betrayed and exploited the Gospel to promote bigotry, hatred and greed. What was the point, I wonder, of ordination? Did they think the radical message of the Gospel was something they would never have to fight for?
Atheists like me sometimes forget that the teachings Jesus left to posterity are vastly superior to the teachings of the religious institutions which loudly carry his flag. We forget that Jesus would make his way to the side of Wisconsin’s public employees, to the homes of the illegal immigrants in America, to the poor loafing about in America’s cities, and so on. And he surely would find his way to these people just as he had during his lifetime. Why, therefore, have America’s religious leaders remained silent about the battle for Wisconsin (and much else besides)? Why do they emulate the Pharisees of Jesus’ time? I ask because I know that their silence is a fact that is as rare as it would be welcomed in so many other cases.
As for me, I will not waste my time waiting for the Christian right to stand with the poor, weak and threatened. The institutional churches, well….
Peter Laarman addressed the issue raised by Chris Hedges in his essay “Will the Religious Side with Workers?,” which recently appeared in Religion Dispatches. Here are a few passages from his essay:
At this moment, when the embattled US labor movement urgently needs strong community-based allies and much greater moral legitimation, there ought to be no better place to find both than among the faithful. Yet broad-based strategic and moral support from the religious side has been slow to materialize.
In saying this, I do not disparage or minimize the importance of the religious support that public sector workers, in my home state of Wisconsin in particular, have been able to marshal.
I want to ask why many more of the faithful never took sides during the long war against unions and union workers that’s been raging since the mid-1970s — even prior to Ronald Reagan’s 1981 firing of the Air Traffic Controllers.
Where were the vast majority of American religious leaders during these decades of attacks on workers and their organizations? It’s not that labor’s gospel of gaining a fair share of the economic productivity that workers help create is so very different from religion’s stated interest in shared prosperity. And it’s not that no religious figures ever took the side of unions in earlier U.S. history.
Cross-posted to All Tied Up and Nowhere to Go