Tea party Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount

Animation is not just for kids any more. In fact, there’s nothing at all “Mickey Mouse” about the cartoon video … Continued

Animation is not just for kids any more. In fact, there’s nothing at all “Mickey Mouse” about the cartoon video just released by the American Values Network. “Tea Party Jesus: the Sermon on the Mall” is a cartoon send up of “Teavangelicals,” the Tea Party attempt to brand itself as a Christian movement.

Tea party Jesus, unlike Jesus of Nazareth, doesn’t take his inspiration from the Hebrew prophets. Instead, he preaches using the sayings of the tea party. Tea party Jesus preaches on the national Mall, not on a Mount overlooking the Sea of Galilee. The text is a little different too:

“Blessed are the mean in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for lower taxes, for their own pockets shall be filled. Blessed are those who follow my prophet Ayn Rand and disparage the merciful, for they shall never have to show mercy.”

What is shocking about this video is that this appalling “preaching” is taken directly from tea party statements. The script on the Web site documents this with links to the actual material. What is even more jolting is the real Sermon on the Mount preached by a different cartoon Jesus at the end of the video.

This cartoon just beginning to pick up buzz online. Yet, with tea party favorites Michele Bachmann and now Rick Perry having dropped out, it is up to the likes of Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, both conservative Catholics, to carry this dubious flag. Gingrich’s support of child labor and Santorum’s tax plan that overwhelmingly benefits the 1 percent seem to fit the Tea Party Jesus perfectly, however. The blessings of being mean in spirit and hungering and thirsting for tax cuts is alive and well in this GOP primary race.

And tea party Jesus does not have to soldier on alone with only GOP candidates for disciples. Glenn Beck’s words inspire tea party Jesus, and Rep.Paul Ryan’s favorite inspirational reading, the works of Ayn Rand, are “prophetic” texts for tea party Jesus too.

There is nothing “evangelical” in the views of the tea party when you define evangelical in its original sense as “in agreement with the Christian gospel.” Nothing. Just nothing at all.

The “Tea Party Jesus: the Sermon on the Mall” makes this crystal clear, and as a video on YouTube it will reach a much wider audience, especially the twenty-something generation who may not have as much biblical knowledge as do older Americans.

In an extraordinary presidential campaign season, with debates that have featured booing a gay soldier and cheering execution, and then the onslaught of the comedians, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, with their own Super PAC running ridiculous political ads, it is only logical that cartoons would be next.

Let’s just sum up, shall we? None of what the tea party preaches has anything to do with the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. If it takes a cartoon to drive that message home, so be it.

About

Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite Rev. Dr. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite is Professor of Theology and immediate past President of Chicago Theological Seminary. She is also a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. Her most recent books are "#OccupytheBible: What Jesus Really Said (and Did) About Money and Power" and, as contributor and editor, "Interfaith Just Peacemaking: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Perspectives on the New Paradigm of Peace and War."
  • WmarkW

    Jesus believed that the world was going to be destroyed within a few years, so one should sell all your belongings to give to the poor, because the righteous would be favored in his post-apocalyptic world order. His opinions on such things just aren’t relevant to the continuation of an ongoing economy.

    The entire democratic world is mired in government debt. Debt that was generated by buying votes with government benefits, to be paid by taxes on future generations. If you want to fix things, tell us what spending you’ve traditionally supported that you’d be willing to cut. Otherwise, you’re just continuing the cycle of deficits.

  • Carstonio

    I’ve been following the Tea Party Jesus site for a while. As I am not a member of any religion, I claim no expertise on whether the statements quoted reflect anything attributed to Jesus or reflect authentic Christian doctrine. I do know that I’m thoroughly repulsed by the sentiments – xenophobia, authoritarianism, privilege, Just World Fallacy, and just downright meanness.

  • Susanh49

    Carstonio, Just to be clear, the video and everything at teapartyjesus.org was satire. The only thing that reflects what Jesus really said is the last minute when they have the different looking Jesus who is quoting Scripture. From you post, it sounded like you might think some of the Tea Party Jesus stuff was a reference to Christian doctrine. The video works because the Tea Party language being used by Tea Party Jesus is SOOO counter to Christian doctrine. I realized the whole script is cited and linked at the groups webpage, so you can check on where everything comes from if you have any questions. Don’t want you to get the wrong idea about Christians!

  • Susanh49

    This is wonderful! Great summary of the issues at stake and a compelling and enjoyable short movie. It makes you laugh about things that are actually kind of horrible to see, which is a great way for them to make the case. And did anyone else notice that Bachmann is looking off camera through the whole thing like she did in her response to the State of the Union? About half way through when I realize that, I burst out laughing!

    This will make many in my evangelical circles think. And we always like accountability. Thanks so much for bringing this to my attention! I’ll be sharing widely.

  • jeb_jackson

    There are some consequences for false teaching and especialy for offending one of these little ones, meaning, of course, those who are innocent when it comes to the teachings of Jesus. Assuming you teach at CTS what you express on the Post, especially your last sentence, it would be appropriate for you to suspend your responsibilities forthwith.

  • thebump

    WHAT DOES THIS DESPICABLE, HATEFUL, SLANDEROUS, AND PURELY PARTISAN SCREED HAVE TO DO WITH “ON FAITH”?

    WHY DOES THE POST CONTINUE TO GIVE THIS EXTREMELY PARTISAN AUTHOR A PLATFORM HERE, RATHER THAN CLASSIFYING HER WITH OTHER OPINION BLOGS?

    COMPLAIN TO THE POST OMBUDSMAN (AND ANYONE ELSE YOU CAN) — THERE ARE PLENTY OF OTHER OUTLETS FOR PARTISAN VITRIOL — WHY SHOULD “ON FAITH” BE TURNED INTO YET ANOTHER ONE?

  • WmarkW

    This is an opinion site about the intersection of religion and politics. If we only discussed doctrinal matters, it would have run out of material years ago.

    There’s nothing wrong with including SBT as a columnist. The problem is that all the political conservatives come from doctrinaire Christianity, creating the impression one can’t use reason and come up with conservative positions.

  • jans4

    Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for dominion over others
    ^
    This is neither Christian nor Tea Party doctrine. It is Marxist. It was what the Big Government crowd wants. This cartoon is pure satire, written by an outsider who does not understand Christians or Tea Partiers.

  • ezrasalias-socialize

    I am encouraged by this cartoon. Not because I believe in the divinty of Jesus, as I am an Secular Humanist, but because it is time that moderate Christians fight against the orthodox and the social-conservatives. Fight on, my friends, I am with you.

  • thebump

    But religious issues are not a concern of the mainstream tea party movement. Therefore the movement has nothing to do with the intersection of religion and politics, and is merely a pretext for the authoress’s hateful vituperation.

    It’s entirely the Post’s prerogative. I’m merely saying that her pieces ought to be classified appropriately—in the interest of truth in advertising.

  • thebump

    There is nothing “evangelical” in the views of the tea party

    No one claimed otherwise. The mainstream tea party movement has nothing to do with religious matters. The authoress, like all bigots, lumps together the objects of her hate.

  • ccnl1

    Or did P, M, M, L and J simply make him into a first century magic-man via their epistles and gospels of semi-fiction? Most contemporary NT experts after thorough analyses of all the scriptures go with the latter magic-man conclusion with J’s gospel being mostly fiction.

    Obviously, today’s followers of Paul et al’s “magic-man” are also a bit on the odd side believing in all the Christian mumbo jumbo about bodies resurrecting, and exorcisms, and miracles, and “magic-man atonement, and infallible, old, European/Utah white men, and 24/7 body/blood sacrifices followed by consumption of said sacrifices. Yummy!!!!

    So why do we really care what a first century CE, illiterate, long-dead, preacher man would do or say?

  • James210

    Enough the King bellowed , The maiden is my guest at this table. Had it not been for her providing me with the source of healing, then certainly I would not be here and, the King seated. Several glasses were raised in the Kings honor, as there were several calls of continued health and wealth to the King and kingdom. The dinner was a wonder of talk and laughter, never had the maiden seen or heard of such things.
    One such prince had returned from a great land where the culture had offered many gifts to the King . “Treaties of Alliance, have been signed” he reported. “I also offered them the princess, my sister! as gift on our behalf, father”, he added. Which drew an aghast look from the princess and, a chuckle from the King and Queen. “Now, now” the King said, we cannot reap any benefit from such an offering, for surely your sister the Princess, will wage war on our very house, merely as a point propriety.
    She agreed, “rightly so father, for I learned well!”.
    An embellishment and work of fiction to be sure. To be continued?

  • James210

    an excerpt from
    the Maiden of the Forest- the Darker Angel of our better soul.

  • James210

    precursor?
    Yet to be written.
    The maiden unaccustomed to attending a Royal Feast worried . It had been a few weeks since the recovery of the King but only a day since the notice of celebration. The Knight’s instructions clear. “Maiden of the forest, you are summoned to the Castle on the eve, of morrow, to attend the celebration of His Majesty’s health”
    (Skip to the feast)
    The maiden found herself seated to the right of the King and across from princess . The princess staring at her as if she was the enemy of life. There was rumor, the princess would have the common beheaded! merely for looking up at her, when she passed by in the kingdom. One, finally had realized, the chair she was seated in, had been the chair of her sister, a princess in passing. Oh, dear god, she thought, What hath thou done to be “blessed” so? she prayed silently.
    As all seated , she was unaccustomed to such privilege and etiquette. She had started to eat only to have the princess across the table throw her an icy stare. Again, she thought , a dismemberment for sure is to come her way, for the princess seemed to despise her vary presence. “I did not ask to be here” she humbly said to the princess, “ I only know my ways and, apologize for not knowing yours”. Will you forgive me for this transgression?”. Nothing was said, and, the silent icy stare of the princess remained.

  • jimwalters1

    The bulk of On Faith articles are opinion pieces about the intersection of religion and society / politics, and they have been so for the several years that I have been reading this section. This article is very consistent with that history. Since there ARE prominent individuals (Michelle Bachmann, for one) who are loudly proclaiming both he Tea Party line and their Christian credentials, there is NOTHING in appropriate at looking whether they are compatible.

    I thank you for your outrage, however. Your attempts to shoot the messenger show me that it is on target, and that you cannot dispute its facts. It and the video force you to choose between Tea Party doctrine and Christian doctrine. You appear to have chosen.

  • Susanh49

    Trying Googling “Teavangelical.” There has been a strong effort to lump the two groups together. Ralph Reed just held a big event saying they are the same. That was basically the claim of Bachmann and Perry, both of whom were Tea Party darlings and said their political politions were rooted in their Christian faith. All the “disciples” in the video have made that claim.

  • thebump

    @jimwalters1: With all respect, there is nothing remotely Christian about the authoress’s vile ideology.

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