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The Bible, False Prophets and Pete Kelly

Happy Easter to all those who celebrate this day. Polls show Alaska is one of the least religious states in the nation. That’s probably true for organized religion but I suspect most Alaskans are pretty spiritual people. It’s hard not to stand at the top of a mountain, in the middle of the wilderness or at the base of a glacier in Alaska and not believe in some higher force. When Sunday morning rolls around and my partner says, “You wanna go to church?” I will be on the boat halibut fishing pretty soon. If I were to generalize, I’d say the vast majority of Alaskans live by the Golden Rule – do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

This past Friday, the several very conservative members of the state Legislature stood up and spoke about Good Friday. About the sacrifices Jesus made for us. How he loved us and died for us. I have total respect for people’s religious beliefs. But I just can’t help but ask what Jesus would think about the actions of some of these people. Take Sen. Pete Kelly. He spoke graphically on the Senate floor about Jesus’ crucifixion and then asked members to reflect upon what Jesus died for.

So I’m taking Sen. Kelly’s words to heart. I will agree with him that dying by crucifixion is a horrific way to die. I’ve actually been hearing all the specifics about it in church my entire life. And I’ve given lots of thought to his question about why Jesus died. And here’s what I come up with. I feel pretty confident in saying that Jesus did not die so that Pete Kelly could pass a bill making regents allow concealed weapons on university campuses, as Sen. Kelly was proposing on Holy Thursday.

In Sunday school, I recall reading Luke 6:27-29, which says: “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either.” Did my Sunday school teacher omit the part about shooting the SOB between the eyes?

The graphic details about how Jesus was put to death, explained by Kelly, were detailed in their violent nature. He compared the nails in Jesus’s feet to stepping on a Lego in the night – only worse. Really. As bad as it was, Jesus still said, “Father, forgive them,” as he died. Being tortured to death didn’t make Jesus angry, but there was this other time where he got really mad. It was right before Passover on a trip to Jerusalem when he saw people getting ripped off in the name of God. He came unglued and drove the moneychangers out of the temple. To clarify: things that make Jesus mad – crucifixion, no; moneychangers, yes.

Sen. Kelly is the co-chair of the Finance Committee. He’s one of the lawmakers who write the state budget. I feel quite certain that Jesus would not cut funding for the poorest seniors, for foster kids, for developmentally disabled people, as Sen. Kelly’s budget did, all the while continuing to allow hundreds of millions in tax credits for the oil industry and for refiners – so much so that we are paying the oil industry $771 million more in tax credits than we are getting in production taxes.

My version of the Bible, at Proverbs 31:8-9, says: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” Perhaps there is a different version of which I am unaware that speaks to defending the rights of the rich and powerful.

I know I don’t go to church as often as Sen. Kelly, but I suspect there has never been a sermon about Jesus urging his disciples to go out and break the law so that they could acquire a palatial Legislative Information Office that costs five times what a similar property would cost. If I’m wrong, perhaps I could be directed to the scripture where it says otherwise. According to my Sunday school teacher at the First Organic Free Range Christian Church in Homer, Jesus actually gave specific directions in Mark 10:21, “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.” I guess it would be out of the realm to suggest the LIO become a homeless shelter, but that’s more on point than what has happened.

Maybe Sen. Kelly can take to the Senate floor and direct me to that sections of the scripture that I am surely overlooking. Or perhaps I can direct the rest of us to one more, at Matthew 7:15. “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”



6 Responses to “The Bible, False Prophets and Pete Kelly”
  1. Mike D says:

    Political opportunists use religion to coalesce their base and to distract them from thinking about issues that actually matter. How did the state benefit from Kelly’s self-aggrandizing display of piousness? Were constituents moved by Kelly’s passion play?

    As to the notion that Alaska is not a very religious state, I’m not buying that, at least in terms of how the state consistently votes. Conservatism and religion are inexorably linked. Soon after Obama was first elected, an acquaintance of mine said she thought Obama might be the anti-Christ. I replied that she couldn’t really believe that. Her response, “I have no proof he is not.” If that is a typical conservative point of view, people who reject that sort of craziness and manipulation need to vote in all and every election, local, state, and national.

  2. mike from iowa says:

    Kelly looks like a guiltier version of Glen Beck,w/o the warmth and charm of a serpent.

  3. Really? says:

    Whatever happened to the Separation of church and state? I’m not too surprised Alaska is on the list as being one of the least religious states in the nation, with all the confusing talk,arguing and lost violent story lines.
    have a fantastic spring.

  4. Megaera says:

    Wow Shannyn. Just wow. <3

  5. To cultural conservatives, Jesus is merely the patron saint of the white picket fence and possibly a prophet who foretold the coming of the free market. He might mean something more to them in a rare moment, but they’ll get over it. Kindness to some folks is a bit like a hangover. Just give it time and the feeling will pass.

  6. mike from iowa says:

    Amen,Sister Shannyn. This gospel needs to be repeated all through red state wingnut America every damn day of the election!

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