Tom DeLay is not Jesus. That may not seem like a shocking statement, but it may be for some Christians who gathered last week in Washington, D.C., for the “War on Christians and the Value Voters” conference.
The conference speakers with the persecuted-Christian complex included preachers (Rod Parsley and Michael Marcavage), conservative activists (Alan Keyes, Phyllis Schlafly, Gary Bauer and Janet Parshall), and Republican politicians (John Cornyn, Todd Akin and Tom DeLay).
Rick Scarborough, president of Vision America, hosted the event.
Scarborough unsuccessfully ran as the fundamentalist candidate for the president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas in 1996.
Despite being indicted and forced to resign as House Majority Leader, DeLay was invited to address the conference. During the introduction of DeLay, Scarborough contended that DeLay’s only fault was that he was a Christian, not that he broke the laws.
“I believe the most damaging thing that Tom DeLay has done in his life is take his faith seriously into public office, which made him a target for all those who despise the cause of Christ,” argued Scarborough.
Scarborough proclaimed DeLay to be “the man God has appointed in this last day.” Scarborough went even further as he compared DeLay to Jesus: “God always does his best work right after a crucifixion.”
In addition to being blasphemous by comparing a sinful man to God, the statement also represents poor theology. While the resurrection was a remarkable event, God’s best work was the crucifixion. That is when Jesus explained, “It is finished.” That is when the Temple curtain was torn. That is when our salvation was bought.
But the suffering and powerless Jesus is not exciting to people attempting to build a political kingdom. They want a powerful and conquering hero. They may complain of a “war on Christians,” but they seem pretty excited to jump into battle.
“A spiritual invasion is taking place,” Rod Parsley declared at the conference. “The secular media never likes it when I say this, so let me say it twice. Man your battle stations! Ready your weapons! … I came to incite a riot! Man your battle stations! Ready your weapons! Lock and load!”
As for now, however, DeLay will not be able to use his gun in this crusade since his permit to carry a concealed handgun has been suspended as a result of his indictment. Perhaps he will lead the troops into battle with just his hammer. Or perhaps he should buy a sword from Parsley. Then he could play the role of the conquering Jesus in the latest Left Behind book.
In Glorious Appearing, Jesus returns to violently kill people with his sword: “Tens of thousands of foot soldiers dropped their weapons, grabbed their heads or their chests, fell to their knees, and writhed as they were invisibly sliced asunder. Their innards and entrails gushed to the desert floor, and as those around them turned to run, they too were slain, their blood pooling and rising in the unforgiving brightness of the glory of Christ.”
Now that is a Jesus that DeLay, Scarborough and Parsley could love. Here is the conquering hero they want, not the poor and powerless Jesus. They want power. They want war.
Perhaps the oddest remark came after DeLay’s speech. As DeLay was leaving the stage with a standing ovation Scarborough cried out, “Keep your eyes on Jesus.” Only God knows how many people then looked over at DeLay.
As Scarborough and others continue their worship of DeLay, Jesus is pushed to the backseat. For instance, before the conference Newsweek reported that Judy Deats, a Texas Republican, stood next to DeLay and declared, “Right now, I wouldn’t vote Democratic if Jesus Christ was running.”
As “The Hammer” continues to garner the praise of the many Christians, the teachings of the One who was hammered to a cross are left behind.
Brian Kaylor is communications specialist with the Baptist General Convention of Missouri.
Brian Kaylor is editor and president of Word&Way, associate director of Churchnet, and a contributing editor for EthicsDaily.com.