Confronting the Jesus Christ Crisis

Jesus loves you: It’s the Christians you have to worry about.

You see, unlike their lord and savior—who 2,000 years ago was brutally beaten, ridiculed by the scribes, and nailed to a wooden cross so Mel Gibson could make a movie with subtitles—Christians absolutely hate you. In fact, their malice for you is what fuels their devotion. Why? Because in times of spiritual doubt—or weakness—hatred is as good a substitute for faith as anything. And believing that you—dear reader—will suffer in a fiery hell until the end of time is what allows most Christians to sleep at night.

That—and Girls Gone Wild videos.

But wait, you say, I thought Jesus preached love and acceptance? While this is technically true, you forget, as I’ve said elsewhere, a Christian is a member of a worldwide sect of people who follow the teachings of a book they’ve never read.

Needless to say, this selective illiteracy leaves the Bible open to wildly different interpretations. For example: whereas some believe the Bible should be “read” literally and that it prescribes strict moral laws, many others believe the pimples on their ass form an image of the virgin Mary.

And while some view the Bible as the sacred testimony of god, still others believe it to be much longer than The Lord of the Rings movies but with fewer dwarf jokes.

Seriously, there is a reason most of the stories we know from the Bible happen to come from the first two books: Book one, “Genesis,” in which Adam and Eve eat some bad fruit—probably from Mexico—and Book two, The DaVinci Code, which has been made into a movie, so you don’t have to read it anyway.

Regardless, the Bible plays an important role in all our lives, if only because it gives us something to steal from Motel 6, where even the towels are bolted to the floor.

In other words, Michael Jackson had a more sincere relationship with Lisa Marie than most Christians have with Jesus. Which is a good thing for those of you who don’t ritually tune into FOX News for daily affirmation and instruction. It’s good because, despite the bumper stickers people put on their cars as an homage to the…sacred?…America is not a Christian nation.

Oh sure, you’ll occasionally run into someone who is truly devoted to the teachings of Christ. And if you hadn’t watched so many horror movies when you were young, you’d laugh right in his/her face. But you have watched a lot of horror movies, and you understand that the question, “do you believe in god?” can mean only one of two things: one, the person you are talking to is selling literature you don’t want to read, or, two, the person you are talking to is about to eat your kidneys.

Seriously, is there a more frightening question than “do you believe in god?” You hear that from a stranger, and your only appropriate response is to shit your pants and hope you don’t meet that future suspect’s “profile.”

Of course, not every Christian you meet is an insane cannibal. In truth, many sincere Christians are perfectly decent people who simply haven’t snapped yet.

I happen to ride the bus to work with such a person. Each morning when I get on the bus, I see him in the back, all by himself, literally pouring over a dog-eared copy of the Bible. And he doesn’t just read it; he highlights passages and takes notes in a tattered memo pad. And let me tell you, watching him passionately study the word of god never fails to warm my heart, because it’s not every day you see a retarded person travelling alone.

Not that he’s retarded for reading the Bible. Or at least he wouldn’t be if he were from another country and just here to take your job. But this guy is an American for god’s sake. I know this because he’s obese, packs his lunch in a plastic Wal-Mart bag, and listens to Toby Keith CDs while he reads the good book—and by “good book” I mean TV Guide; he takes his headphones off when reading the Bible.

No, this man is retarded because he completely overlooks the single greatest benefit of being an American, which is: you don’t have to believe the shit you say just as long as everyone else does. You see, American Christians understand that religion is a lot like a necktie. You put it on when you go to work or to a public function, but the second you get home you rip that puppy off, kick up your feet, drink a beer and download some Asian porn.

Unless you’re from the South where viewing Internet porn is a lot like thumbing through family photos. So instead of porn, you download snuff films.

No shit: the Bible Belt downloads more snuff films, per capita, than any other region in the world. I don’t have the actual statistics on this—because I’m making it up—but how could it not be true?

***

What is true, though, is that most American Christians practice a model of religion that is, at best, rhetorical—a religion where voicing a moral code excuses one from the burden of actually having to live by that moral code.

Incidentally, it’s this rhetorical aspect of American spirituality that makes Christianity and the U.S.—whose citizens are increasingly intoxicated with a sense of entitlement—such a perfect fit. After all, what’s more American than a religion that literally requires no lifestyle sacrifices other than the occasional donation-plate gift to “god,” and yet offers such an amazing reward? No shit: Say “Amen” and you’re in? Come on, either Jesus’ followers are overlooking something pretty fundamental—like conviction, which my local franchised mega-church has assured me can be procured by check or money order—or Christianity is the no-brainer get-rich-quick scheme of the hereafter.

It’s apparently a popular sales pitch because according to the 2000 U.S. Census, roughly 80% of Americans describe themselves as Christians—with a full third of that group claiming to practice Catholicism. The remaining 20% of U.S. citizens are: Jews at 6%, Muslims at 1%, People Who Failed Math at 19%, and Pat Buchanan at 7%, pending a recount.

Now, these statistics should come as no surprise to any of you, as people are always conducting surveys and reporting their findings.

But what is interesting about the numbers is that nearly 80% of our country felt the need to lie about their religion on an anonymous survey. Hell, the 2000 U.S. Census won’t even be made public until 2072, and, according to Jerry Falwell, the apocalypse will have wiped us all out by then—which is why it’s so important to send him all our money now.

Of course, some of you might disagree with my thesis. No Mike, you’re thinking, America is a Christian nation. And, to be honest, I understand why you’d think such a stupid thing. After all, just look at the impact Christian morality has had on politics in the last couple of years. From abortion to gay marriage to intelligent design, we haven’t seen this much proselytizing in the public sphere since The Exorcist scared the shit out of Zeppelin fans in the ‘70s.

I mean, not since the glory days of Ronald Reagan’s early dementia (circa 1982) have evangelists had such a prominent role in the media. From the aforementioned Falwell to Pat Robertson to the entire army of fund-raising evangelicals out there—all of whom are sporting the requisite eight layers of pancake makeup and Wayne Newton’s patented cotton-candy coif—our televisions are saturated with more cries of “oh god” than a gay bath house.

So yes, Christianity is a mighty political force in the U.S. That, however, is the issue: In America, Christianity isn’t a religion, it’s a political party—or, at the very least, it’s one of the most powerful political lobbies our nation has ever seen. And for the last two decades, churches have been funneling all those tax-exempt dollars into Republican campaigns, activist think tanks, news networks, and Christian rock.

And who, by the way, is listening to that shit? No kidding, man: Christian rock does for the ears what steel-tipped boots do for testicles.

That said, it’s important not to confuse politics for religion. Because, whereas religion seeks to liberate the soul, politics seeks to oppress it. And sadly, despite the New Testament’s message of love, tolerance, and body piercing, the only time evangelical Christians turn to the Bible for guidance is when they need a justification for hatred.

For example: overly obsessed with what gay men do with their dicks? Invoke the name of the lord. Think the Muslim world is far too dark-skinned to govern itself? Invoke the name of the lord. Believe your schools are teaching your children too much about the world you’ve lied to them about it? Invoke the name of the lord.

Invoke, invoke, invoke. That’s right. Because for American Christians the name “Jesus” is little more than an excuse for ignorance and an answer to the question, “Why?”

Why? Because Jesus said so.

Yep, “because Jesus said so” is the only way American Christians can justify their oppressive, anachronistic morality, which is as out of place in the modern world—what with its 21st century conception of human rights and individual liberty—as Jessica Simpson would be at a Mensa meeting.

And in case you haven’t noticed, there is a direct correlation between the number of times a person says “because Jesus said so” and their proximity to Texas—which, for over a hundred years, has served proudly as our nation’s epicenter of dumb.

No kidding, the next time you hear someone utter that dogmatic oath, listen closely and see if you can’t hear the aluminum walls of the trailer they live in echoing through their words. From there, you have only to scope out the mark of the beast—a Bush-Cheney ’04 sticker—plastered on the bumper of their pickup truck to confirm that the person you’re talking to a: hates you, and b: owns a gun.

And that’s something you don’t want to mess with because, if there’s one thing a Christian knows how to do, it’s pulling a trigger.

***

For those of you who have lingering doubts about the true nature of American religiosity, ask yourself the following question: would you rather spend the rest of eternity in heaven listening to people talk about love and singing “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, down in my heart,” or waste away forever at the Playboy Mansion, which gives out more rides, annually, than Disneyland?

I mean, come on, is there a more envied man in all of America than Hugh Hefner, who has devoted the better part of a century to tapping ass so fine it belongs in a China cabinet? Seriously, that dude has fucked more people than the IRS, and, with the advent of Viagra, the only thing holding him back now is your daughter’s hymen.

But we don’t have to end our critique with Mr. Hefner. No, because the simple fact is America spends more money on porn, per capita, than any other nation in the world. In truth, we’re obsessed with porn. That’s why you know more about the lives of Jenna Jameson and Ron Jeramy than you do about those of Billy Graham and Mother Theresa.

So, no, America is not a Christian nation.

The most watched TV show in the U.S. is American Idol. We watch the show for two basic reasons: First, we get to sit in on the most embarrassing and painful moments of the contestants’ lives, and, second, we get to watch someone evolve into a soulless pop star who will someday use their sexuality to pimp albums to our children.

So hey, score a victory for Christ, who would be rolling over in his grave if he hadn’t already risen from it.

But no, America is not a Christian nation.

America’s second most popular show? Desperate Housewives.

Ahh, the desperate housewife, a figure more mythical than sasquatch, more sought after than the Xbox 360 at X-mas. Holy crap, are you serious? What, are the developers of this show the same people writing letters to Penthouse? Still, what says wholesome Christian values more than bored women banging their very young gardeners while the hubbies are at work? Get real.

As for the rest of Nielsen’s weekly top ten? CSI, a show about murder, Cold Case, a show about murder, and The Unit, a show about murder. And let’s not forget about C.O.P.S., which has been on the air for 17 years. What that means is that for 17 years drunken losers have been watching other drunken losers go to jail in what can only be described as a national pandemic of “double-wide déjà vu.”

But yeah, America’s a Christian nation.

We rob, rape and murder more people than any other nation, per capita, in the world. We do more drugs—illegal, FDA approved, or super-sized at McDonald’s—than any other nation in the world. We pollute, consume and exploit more than any other nation in the history of the world.

So say it with me: America is not a Christian nation.

If you still have doubts, go spend an hour on your local freeway and count how many times you’re cut off, pissed off, or flipped off by somebody with a What Would Jesus Do? bumper sticker. Or, how about smiling and saying “hello” to each and every person you pass on the street, most of whom will respond, not with kindness, but with confusion and/or pepper spray. Open the door for strangers. Wait as patiently as you can in a long line at a convenience store. Or, even better, go to a restaurant and watch how people treat the wait staff.

Do any of those things, and you’ll realize rather quickly that America is not a Christian nation, and that the rhetoric we spout in front of our peers has little to do with the way we conduct our lives.

Don’t get me wrong: the last thing I want is for us to start practicing what we preach. In fact, quite the opposite. Start preaching what you practice. Own up to who you are: embrace it. Enjoy it. That’s got to be a healthier approach to life than trying to oppress your innate desires with a “Jesus Christ band-aid.”

Lying about your faith doesn’t help you, and it certainly doesn’t help the rest of us. Because, despite the open hatred and ignorance of the Christian political engine, the sheer power of its rhetorical usage of the “lord’s” name—in vain—is having a dramatic impact on the lives of millions of Americans.

Not that we’re changing the way we live, god forbid. No, we’re just lying about our lifestyles more than ever before. But the lies are not the problem. The problem is with those who actually believe the lies—the ones who begin to wonder what’s wrong with them.

And what is wrong with them? Only their inability to recognize bullshit for what is, to understand that if Christians really believed what they say, they wouldn’t need our legislators to outlaw temptation; they would simply live their lives according to their beliefs.

But that would require a tremendous amount of faith and devotion. And hell, most Christians have a hard enough time getting up to go to church on Sunday—unless it’s Easter, and they only go then because they were promised chocolate.

And right about now you’re probably thinking to yourself, “Hey, I would like some chocolate.” And you know what, me too.

Preferably chocolate smeared all over a desperate housewife.

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