It has been fascinating lately to watch Fox News go after the Pope for reiterating long-standing Catholic and Christian doctrine about the false god of materialism. By echoing Jesus’ insistence that you cannot know the kingdom of Heaven if you are bound up in wealth and possessions, the Pope drew charges of Marxism (which is anathema to Christians for the same reasons that unrestrained market capitalism is) and engaging in politics (from a channel that has long insisted that Christianity cannot and should not be relegated to the private sphere). Maybe it’s because they have not subjected their own views to anything passing as critical engagement for so long that they have forgotten that Christianity is deeply, profoundly opposed to any system of government that values human beings by the material wealth they create. The worship of money that you see in the incoherent rants of Stuart Varney or Larry Kudlow has no place whatever in Christian thought – and remains a daily assault upon it.
Now comes Megyn Kelly with a flat assertion that “Jesus was a white man, too.” Let’s go to the clip, which has now become famous in the world of Stewart and Colbert:
Now it’s clear this was an ad lib, not really thought through, so we should cut Kelly some slack. But she’s wrong on two levels – wrong because Jesus was not a Northern European white person, but a Middle Eastern Jew. And as a Middle Eastern Jew under the Roman empire, Jesus was at the bottom of the heap in the power-structure of his time. And that’s the point. The Messiah came from the lowest rung, not the highest. The comfort that white people feel when they are a majority in a democratic society is about as far away from Jesus’ experience of the world as it is possible to get.
She’s also wrong in even considering the color of Jesus’ skin – something unmentioned in the Gospels – as relevant. Of the great Pauline statements about Christianity, the following is among the most thrillingly liberating:
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
The categories of race, of gender, and of social class are abolished in the Christian vision. This doesn’t mean they cease to exist as part of the world, for reasons of biology and social construction. But it does mean that Christians will never seek to underline these distinctions, to build a politics out of them, or to identify a nation according to them. Some on the left do this, as do some on the right. But Christians shouldn’t.
When you absorb the constant racial undertones on Fox, and its constant worship of the god of money, when you absorb their long list of fears about the “other”, whether immigrants or gays or the poor, when you recall their glee at the torture of human beings, or their passion for the death penalty, you can’t help but wonder if they are not one of the most powerful forces against Christianity in our culture. They have competitors out there, but Roger Ailes is never satisfied with being Number Two, is he?