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Truthdig Podcast: ‘Jesus Rode a Donkey’ Author
Posted on Apr 10, 2007
The other thing they found in a study of these abstinence-only programs: There’s a lot of facts in there that are not factual. There’s a lot of things said that are incorrect. One of them talks about a 43-day-old fetus as a thinking person. There’s a lot of sort of sexism in some of it. You know, poor guys; they just can’t stop themselves. There’s a lot of things in those programs. Henry Waxman from California was part of working with a study and had a very interesting analysis that I read of some of these studies. But the Democrats definitely feel that should be part of any sexual education.
Scheer: And I agree. This about Christian Democrats ... are Christians going to be able to accept that, that people are having sex and that we’re going to be giving condoms because the right-wingers have kind of said, “No.” And we have Dr.—I call him “Dr. Non-Condom”—but Dr. Eric [Keroack] in the White House is controlling that. He has a no-condom policy and it’s abstinence only.
Seger: Well, here’s the problem. There’s a point that Christians have to be realistic and they have to recognize that the Christian life is not just, “Let’s follow the 10 rules.” It’s about being in a relationship and trying to gain wisdom and clarity about very, very difficult issues, and that many times Jesus said, “It used to be said this, but I say that.” And he comes out with things and you say, “Wait, that’s a contradiction of something that was said in the Old Testament.” And there is this fluidity and sort of a sense of flexibility at many times with Jesus, and he deals with very difficult situations and you expect him to do one thing and he does the opposite. For instance, a woman taken in adultery. She was supposed to be stoned. And what does he say is, “You who are without sin cast the first stone.” And everyone walks away. And you say, wait a minute. What’s that about? He wasn’t following the rule correctly. Well, he wasn’t. He was putting a rule of love and care and compassion over the rule. Now, how one does that with any Christian has a whole lot to do with—you’ve got to figure it out. It isn’t always so clear when things—. What do I put first? The life of the mother or the life of the fetus? There are going to be some times when a Christian has to say, “Oh my gosh. If I don’t do anything they’re both going to die. If I do this, the fetus is going to die. If I do that, the mother is going to die. I don’t have any real clear choices right here, so how am I going to figure that out? Well, I better do a lot of prayer and say, ‘It’s not going to be perfect.’ ” We live in a flawed universe. So I think when someone says, “What’s the Christian perspective?” to say, “There’s a lot of different Christian perspectives.” And some Christian perspectives I think are really pretty clear and others I don’t think are. I think the Christian perspective of caring for the poor and the oppressed is very, very clear. I just see thousands of verses in the Bible about this, and yet even that verse—I talk to a lot of Republican Christians. They say, “Well, the government isn’t supposed to do that; individual charities are.” And I say, “Well, if individual charities were going to do that, how come they haven’t fixed New Orleans? Where are those Christians who are supposed to go down and fix something that ordinarily a government—.” You need a compassionate government to do certain acts.
Scheer: Now would the Christians maybe be happier if they formed their own party?
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Seger: No, and I don’t think they ever would. The Bible has a lot of different interpretations and a lot of different theologies and a lot of different things people focus on. And a lot of what happens with Christians is, you have to sit down and prioritize your values because there is no perfection in either political party and in what I would call this flawed universe. So when I prioritize my values, I don’t put abortion at the top. I put things that have to do with compassionate government up there. But other people would put abortion on the top and I would say each of us has to figure this out. How are you going to do this?
Scheer: Don’t you feel you’re going to get placated to in either party because they’re going to go right to whatever they think you’re going to want to hear? Isn’t that how the Republicans really kind of bamboozled the evangelicals? They said they would get to poverty down the line but they really just got to abortion and gay marriage?
Seger: Yeah. I think [Sen. John] McCain is doing that. He seems to have turned on so many of his positions. Suddenly he’s more conservative than the conservatives, and I thought, where did that come from? He’s never been like that historically. What is this all about? I think it can. I think what’s happening is going to be different between the Republicans and the Democrats in this next election. I think that the Democrats are going to start to find ways to talk about their faith, and I’m not talking about making it up. Barack Obama is a man of great faith. Hillary Clinton is a woman of great faith. Hillary Clinton has been in prayer groups and in Bible study, in fact, all the way through her husband’s presidency and continuing, and I think that they contain people from both parties. That’s how I understood it. I think others—. We have a Mormon running. Others of these people are people of faith, and I think what has happened with the Democrats, they so want to be equal and not tread on other people’s toes, that they have not always known how to express the fact that they are people of faith. And I think that the Democrats are going to start doing that more. Now one of the things I’m hoping that my book will help them, is to give them some ways of articulating this without becoming anti people of other faiths. Because we certainly don’t want to suddenly say, “We’re Christians but we’re against Muslims and Jews and Buddhists, etc.” ...
Scheer: ... [We hear that] we don’t know really that if Hillary was in this prayer group. ... I mean, we hear things like that. Shouldn’t the actions—. I don’t know. With Confucianism, the teachings of Confucius say, “Practice what you preach. Don’t just preach it.”
Seger: Yeah, and people have to look at everyone’s value systems and their voting records and where do their values line up and who best lines up with your own particular values. And, yes, you do have to look at, so, what do they do, what do they say? I believe that just like when George Bush says, “I’m a Christian, I’m born again,” I believe him. And when Hillary Clinton says, “I’ve been in a prayer group and a Bible study,” I believe her. I have no reason not to. I know that she’s a Methodist. In fact, when people talk about a Christian nation, it’s funny because almost everyone in Congress is a Christian. We have a few who are not, although most of those seem to be other religions. But our Congress—you can start judging and do a litmus test and say, well, are they really so Christian? I think that’s really not a very good way to go. I mean that’s up to God to judge, not up to us.
Scheer: Yeah, but what I’m saying is, if I’m an atheist candidate, say, somewhere in the United States, and I’m running for Congress. Not just an atheist, but I’m a Jew, maybe, but I’m a half-Jew, half-Christian. I might go and say, “I’m going to play up the Methodist side because I know that’s going to win me votes. ...”
Seger: Well, you’d better not do that because, probably, if you’re not Methodist, you don’t know what the Methodist side is.
Scheer: No, but I’m saying, if you have a Methodist side. If you can learn—. I mean, these people are skilled at—and this is BS—they’re skilled at changing the topic. They can figure out what to say to convince people.
Seger: What’s funny, though, is they’re not very good at it when they don’t know it. We know what happened with [2004 presidential candidate Howard] Dean is, someone asked what his favorite book was in the New Testament and he said Job, which is in the Old Testament. Don’t start talking about this stuff if you don’t know what you’re talking about. The hope is that people will speak from their heart. I think a lot of people respect [Sen. Joseph] Lieberman being Jewish because they know that he is devoted to his religion. And they might not respect his other policies or certain other policies, but I have no doubt that he seems to be a very committed Jew, and that’s great. And it’s interesting, this whole thing the Muslim in Congress who used the Koran. A lot of Christians were upset about that, but it’s quite interesting. He got the book that Thomas Jefferson had—Thomas Jefferson had a Koran—and he used that for part of his swearing-in. I guess there’s two different swearing-in ceremonies, but he used it for one of them. I think people need to be pretty careful about all this litmus test and trying to figure out who is and who is not a Christian and what that relationship is.
Scheer: Wouldn’t the easiest litmus test be, again, with the voting record and not if you start quoting the Bible? I mean—.
Seger: Yeah, I agree.
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