Carlyle Fielding Stewart III

Writings on Democracy, Social Justice, and Religion

“The Hypocrisy of Some Forms of Public Religiosity.”

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There is certain hypocrisy at work when we claim to love God and want the best for others but then engage in actions that demean, devalue and destroy them out politics and self interest. I keep hearing about how America is a “Christian” nation but cannot understand why some self professing religious believers in powerful leadership positions can be so mean and selfish when it comes to helping those truly in need.

We see so called religious people talk openly about serving a greater humanity while only helping those who already have more than enough. I keep hearing so called Christians talk about the importance of following Jesus and then doing the opposite of what Jesus commanded such as “loving one’s neighbor as oneself.” I keep hearing some politicians, religious leaders and some business leaders talk about what a great nation America is and how we are the richest nation on earth but see very little charity or compassion from these people when it comes to helping those in need. These same people control the levers of power in this country and they seem more interested in helping themselves and meeting the demands of the people who bankroll their movements or pandering to the prejudices of religious or political bigots than really serving the people.

There is something gut wrenching about such hypocrisy, for the litmus test of so called religiosity is not what I say with my mouth but what I think with my mind and do with my hands and heart; how I treat other people and how I help people who cannot truly help themselves.  

To say that I love God and then hate someone because he or she is black, white, poor, rich, old, young, male, female or something other is outright wrong. To say that I love God and love America and then hate soldiers who sacrifice their lives serving and defending America or besmirch the character and worth of people because they do not fit my standards of righteousness is hypocrisy of the worst order.

It is not what I say but what I do that tells others who I am. To boast a deep and profound religiosity in the public sphere and then engage in actions that deny others their rights to be human and live as free persons in a free country and to keep from them their basic means of subsistence in the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness is religious hypocrisy of the highest order.

Now it is true that we all fall short of the glory of God. “The biggest room in the world is still room for improvement.” I am not speaking of our sins of omission, our peccadilloes and other frailties to which we are all subject that are part of our spiritual DNA as incomplete and imperfect human beings.

What I am talking of here is publically and openly professing all this great religiosity and charity and then knowingly developing social and political policies that beat down the disadvantaged and kick to the curb those in need. It is talking love but living hate, speaking peace but engaging in violence and war, professing benevolence but living malevolence, preaching unity but fomenting divisions, pretending  prosperity for all but sponsoring austerity for the poor and middle class.

It would be better for these so called religious believers to remain silent than engage in all of the vainglorious sermonizing and pontificating about how righteous they are and how they want to serve a greater good. It would be better to keep all of this religious doublespeak out of the political arena and stop playing this game of  pretending to love and know God while serving up the “Sugar coated Satan Sandwich,” to use the recent words of Representative Rev. Emmanuel Cleaver.

The time has come for some of our leaders to stop using religion and God talk as a means of luring the public into believing that they have a heart for God when they really don’t. It is time to stop using the veneer and smokescreen of religion as a ploy to delude people into believing that some leaders stand for a greater and more united America when in truth they work to create a more unjust and divided America.

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