Much has been made of the revelation that Osama bin Laden remained committed to murdering massive numbers of Americans.
The Guardian reported that the al-Qaida leader made extraordinary attempts to figure out how many American deaths it would take to make political leaders in this country reverse our Middle East policies and remove ourselves from that region.
The documentation for these claims evidently can be found on the materials taken from the compound where bin Laden lived for years undetected.
Although some doubt that he had the means to command these attacks, just the seeding of that idea in the minds of continuing dedicated followers has been seen as justification for ending his life by the Navy SEALs.
While by no means representing the orthodox teachings of Islam, bin Laden’s heretical appeal to a divine mandate for his murderous agenda has had the consequence of intensifying the loyalty of his followers.
It has, as well, provided excuses for some non-Muslims to heighten their Islamophobia and claim that this faith is aligned with a God not of life but of death.
Next to nothing has been made of the fact that a large group of American politicians remain committed to harming the lives of thousands of their fellow Americans.
It isn’t that these politicos have been keeping their plans secret. They have been quite open, even prideful, about it.
Most of the time, it is the first pledge they make to the voters. It goes something like: “If elected, I promise that I will immediately and tirelessly work to repeal Obamacare,” by which they mean the Affordable Care Act that became law in March 2010.
Back in January, 245 members of the House of Representatives (242 Republicans and three Democrats) made good on their vow to vote for repeal, even though they knew that the Democrat-controlled Senate would take no such action and that the president would surely exercise his veto power if needed.
Since that time, the legislators have tried to have their way by blocking funding for the implementation of the health care reform legislation.
Moreover, officials in a number of states have filed suits in federal courts to have the legislation declared unconstitutional, based on the so-called “individual mandate,” which is the law’s means for achieving nearly universal health insurance coverage.
Writing in the National Review Online recently, John R. Graham opined: “Repealing Obamacare is not something Republicans can waffle on in the slightest… Every single Republican presidential candidate will promise to repeal Obamacare: that’s the price to the dance.”
That, despite the fact that the reform legislation when fully implemented will expand insurance to better than 30 million Americans through a widening of Medicaid and subsidies to lower- and middle-income people so they can purchase private coverage.
If the health care reform law isn’t implemented, it is estimated that approximately 550 Americans per week will die unnecessarily.
Do the math: Annualized, that’s more than 28,000 deaths per year.
Compare that to 9/11 and even to 9/11 multiplied over a number of years, according to Osama bin Laden’s design.
Like bin Laden, some Americans claim a religious – a divine – mandate for their cause of demanding repeal.
They see it as a socialist plot and, therefore, an instrument to undermine the divinely blessed free market economic system upon which the current health care and insurance industries are based.
According to this rationale, evidently, it’s perfectly all right to have hundreds or thousands of people die unnecessarily in order to protect those competitive and so-called “free” markets that have been crafted by human minds.
The same group of politicians is proposing that the country’s Medicare program be dismantled and replaced with a voucher system that will cause millions of seniors to be denied the health care they need in order to live.
Evidently, Christians of this kind have no problem aligning themselves with a God not of life but of death.
When the Apostle Paul was visiting Athens (Acts 17), it is reported that “his spirit was irritated within him, because he saw that the city was filled with idols.”
It was his irritated spirit that took him to the Athenian synagogues and the public square of the city to make his case against the human-made idols and on behalf of faith in the God of a resurrected Jesus – a God, therefore, not of death but of life.
Then, the story goes, he spotted an altar with the inscribed words “To an Unknown God” and used that occasion to identify the once divinely unknown with the now divinely revealed and known.
That is, the God “who made the world and everything in it,” the God “who does not dwell in temples made by hand,” the God who “from one human being made every nation of humans to dwell over the entire face of the earth.”
The apostle appealed to the Athenians not to align themselves with the human-crafted idols and ideologies that represent the God of death, but the God revealed in Jesus who needs nothing from human hands since this now known God “gives life and breath and everything to everyone.”
“For in that God, we live and move and have our being.”
That’s an apostle’s address about alignment that Americans need to hear again – even with an irritated spirit – in their places of worship, public squares and political assemblies.
Larry Greenfield is executive minister for the American Baptist Churches of Metro Chicago. He also serves as editor and theologian-in-residence for The Common Good Network.
Larry Greenfield retired on Dec. 31, 2018 as the executive director of the Parliament of the World’s Religions. He served previously as executive minister of the American Baptist Churches of Metro Chicago, a regional judicatory of the American Baptist Churches U.S.A, and the theologian-in-residence for the Community Renewal Society.