If you’re reading this, it is very likely that you are an internet-savvy consumer of political opinion. If you are an internet-savvy consumer of political opinion, it is very likely you have seen memes that purport various things Jesus would say or do.

There’s an interesting thing about many of those Jesus memes: they’re often generated by leftists in an attempt to sway the opinions of right-wing Christians towards leftist positions (often on socialized medicine, government “charity,” and redistribution of wealth). These are usually the same leftists who have no use for Christianity’s teachings or tenets, who find the Catholic Church’s position on abortion abhorrent, and who in general deride religion and the religious (except for Islam and Muslims, of course). Sure, now that they’ve got a socialist Pope from whom to cherry-pick quotes, they’re more apt to… well… cherry-pick quotes, but lets not kid ourselves, leftists who quote Jesus aren’t doing so from a position of devout faith.

Why, then, quote Jesus if they’re not religious types and adherent of the teachings of Christianity? Consider Saul Alinsky’s Fourth Rule for Radicals:

Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.

Conservative followers of the teachings of Christ are, thus, “the enemy.” Quoting Jesus to Christians in order to shame or embarrass them into changing their minds on a particular position is a combat tactic, not an honest promotion of Christian philosophy. Moreso, it’s both an appeal-to-authority fallacy AND almost invariably a misrepresentation of what Christ actually taught.

Christ wanted you and I to be good to each other, to help each other, to be charitable to each other. Nowhere in that message is there any mention that I should demand that the government force your charity or vice versa. Nowhere is the teaching “demand that people with weapons take from those who have in order to give to those they believe do not.” Yet those are the actual positions the Left advocates when it speaks of socialized medicine and income inequality.

Thus, the Jesus quoters aren’t even effecting Alinsky’s Fourth Rule properly. They’re misrepresenting the Right’s book of rules, and hoping that the emotional impact and will hide that fact.

Quoting Jesus to advance leftist agenda items is thus a bagful of grotesqueries. It denigrates religious belief, it is hypocritical, it is disingenuous, it misrepresents Christ’s teachings, it is deceitful, and it is combative.

Why, then, do they do it?

Because they are not content arguing their position honestly and granting those who disagree with them the right to disagree. Because they only care about having their way, and have no qualm in playing dirty to do so. Because they don’t consider people of the religious Right to be equal citizens, but instead dub them “bitter clingers,” “deplorables,” “fly-over country,” and so forth. Because they don’t respect individual liberty and self-determination, as evinced by their utter intolerance for any dissent of opinion.

Most of these tactics are common in political arguments, and they’re not the sole province of the Left. But, there is something especially disrespectful about this, because religious belief is so deeply important to the people targeted by this tactic. It’s little different from attacking someone’s children in order to score political points. It’s dirty, especially when it’s dishonest in the ways I noted.

The typical response I see from the faithful to liberals’ Jesus quotes is a deconstruction of the message. That’s the equivalent of responding to street brawlers with Marquess of Queensbury protocol, and it’s not going to work. The meme generators aren’t interested in understanding why their assertion as to what Jesus would do is wrong – they’re not genuine believers, and they’re not going to follow Christ’s teachings even if you correct them. Furthermore, responding with such a dialogue is letting them draw you into a debate they’ve no interest in arguing honestly either.

Instead, the response should be to call them out for attacking your religion. And, if you want to play in the dirt with them, ask them about some of the things they support that violate Christianity’s tenets, like abortion. Or, ask them if they quote Mohammed with equal aplomb?

Arguing politics and policy in the age of social media is an increasingly nasty business. Thus, it behooves us to look past the veneer of others’ arguments and at the core of their tactics. This one’s a particularly dirty one, and it’s good and proper to challenge it as such.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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