Bernie Sanders gave a speech recently, regarding topics like economic inequality, healthcare reform, mass incarceration and providing more opportunity and earning potential for the poor, at Liberty University. The college, founded by televangelist Jerry Falwell, is the largest Evangelical College in the world. Generally speaking, it has been a Republican indoctrination school for most of its existence. The crowd went wild when the implication of banning abortion was brought up by an interviewer, as if this was the only social ill that plagued society.
However, at least one person, a very conservative Evangelical pastor that worked on the Bush-Cheney campaign, is now comparing Bernie Sanders to John the Baptist.
This pastor is literally comparing Bernie’s message to that of one of the most important figures in Christianity and he is NOT doing it in a sarcastic or satirical way.
The following are excerpts from the letter written by the pastor:
And if you’re an Evangelical listening to me today, you already know where I’m going with this. When I heard Bernie speaking in that way, when I saw that guy on stage at Liberty University, I saw John the Baptist. I saw the wild-haired, roughly-clothed John the Baptist, eating honey and wearing camel’s hair, and crying out to the religious leaders, the Pharisees of his day, calling them corrupt and complicit with those who have all the power and all the money and all the wealth, and for abandoning the people that God loves, that God cares about. For the Pharisees, who were siding with those who already have power and wealth and saying that they will be the last in the Kingdom of God, and that the weak, and the meek, and the simple, and those who need help—they are first in the Kingdom of God.
And I saw that guy, that John the Baptist figure, who is standing up and saying ‘There is coming a messenger, there is coming a messenger who will bring equity and justice to the poor, and to the weak, and who will stand for ’the least of these.’ That’s the wild-haired Jew that I saw up on that stage. I saw, and felt, the same voice coming from the Bible when I read about John the Baptist, who cried out in the desert to the Pharisees, warning them that Jesus was coming, the messenger of God. And that he was coming to restore justice, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and to value ’the least of these’ when the Pharisees had failed.
And yet somehow, we commit to the mental gymnastics necessary that allows us to abandon ‘the least of these,’ to abandon the poor, to abandon the immigrants, to abandon those who are in prison. I listened to Bernie Sanders, as he said he wanted to welcome the immigrants and give them dignity. As he said he wanted to care for the sick children, and mothers, and fathers, who do not have health care. As he said he wanted to decrease the amount of human beings who are corralled like cattle in the prisons. As he said he wanted to do justice for those who have nothing and live homeless. And I remembered the words of Jesus, who warned his disciples that there will be judgment, and on that day he will look to his friends, and he will say ‘Blessed are you, for you cared for me, for I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick, and you cared for me; I was hungry, and you fed me; I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink; I was in prison, and you came to visit me; I was homeless, and you gave me shelter.” And the disciples said, ‘Jesus, when did we do any of those things for you?’ And he said, ‘If you have done it for ‘the least of these,’ you have done it for me.’
I follow the teachings of Christ: to care for ‘the least of these.’ And I believe that just as John the Baptist once cried out in the desert for justice, and called the religious establishment to account, and hearkened unto the day that Jesus would walk among us, and declare equity and justice and good news for the poor; and just as that day came, that Jesus stood in front of the multitudes at the religious institution and said ‘I have come to bring gospel to the poor,’ I believe that Bernie Sanders now stands in front of us, wild-haired and hoarse-voiced, and he now declares justice for the poor. He declares good news for ‘the least of these.’ He has come to bring gospel. And I wouldn’t be much of a Christian if I didn’t stand on the side of gospel for the poor. Because the last time I checked, that’s where my master Jesus stood, and I’ll stand with him. And for now, that means I stand with Bernie Sanders.
To have even one hardened, life-long, possibly former Republican interpreting their faith in this way and comparing Bernie to someone like John the Baptist, is profound to say the least. However, he is right. These are the actual teachings of Jesus and nobody can deny that. It will be very interesting to see if this is a trend that continues among people who call themselves Christian and what it means for the 2016 election.
Source for all quotes and full text of response: Reddit
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