This April 1, I fear I won’t be able to say “Happy Easter” to anybody. I’m even thinking about boycotting the festival altogether as a cruel April Fool’s hoax.
That’s because Easter is a celebration of life’s triumph over death. Yet we “Americans,” despite the fact that 70 to 75 percent of us claim to follow the risen Christ, find ourselves immersed in a culture of death.
We love it; we’re actually necrophilic. Somebody’s got to protest that. Examine the evidence so out of sync with Americans’ faith claims:
▪ Our religious fundamentalist party, the GOP, is engaged in all-out terrorism on God’s creation. Republicans are worse than the Taliban or ISIS. Alone in the world, they bully every creature on Earth by denying human-caused climate change. Millions of humans and billions of other creatures will die as a result.
▪ Totally beholden to the arms industry, U.S. politicians of every stripe choose violence as their first response to most problems they face. Their remedy for school shootings? Above all, don’t adopt the common-sense policies that have worked in every other industrialized country. Instead, bring guns to school; arm kindergarten teachers.
▪ Rather than pursue nuclear disarmament, they tear up past agreements and modernize our overwhelming arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. (They stand willing to totally destroy North Korea for doing something similar.)
▪ While claiming to be pro-life, they wage a genocidal war in Yemen (and half a dozen other places) where children face mass starvation and an unprecedented cholera epidemic.
▪ Our commander-in-chief proposes a military parade in D.C. that will cost up to $50 million that could be better spent on programs to help veterans needlessly traumatized by our country’s absolutely futile and endless wars.
In fact, nothing has changed, except for the worse, since Martin Luther King Jr. identified the United States as the greatest purveyor of violence in the world. On Easter Sunday, doesn’t all of this seem ironic — and infuriating?
That’s because everything I’ve just described profoundly contradicts the Christian faith so many Americans claim as their own. Jesus was non-violent. He refused to take up arms to defend himself or his family and friends. He had no fear of death. Or rather, he overcame his fear and endured torture and capital punishment rather than take a life. Protecting himself or his loved ones by killing or sacrificing others was not Jesus’ way. Quite the opposite.
He taught his followers the Golden Rule. He said we should love our enemies. When attacked, he told his followers to put away their swords. In the midst of his death throes, he prayed for his executioners His Easter greeting was the repeated phrase, “Peace be with you.”
Imagine if 70 to 75 percent of U.S. citizens truly accepted those teachings and called upon that faith to demand that President Donald Trump sober up, stop the bombing and abjure permanent war that is the cause (not the solution) of the world’s problems. And what if they recognized the National Rifle Association, the arms industry and their political servants for the terrorists they are.
A faith like that would be worth embracing. It might allow Jesus’ followers to say (and truly mean) “Happy Easter” instead of sneering a cynical “April Fools’!”
Reach Mike Rivage-Seul, retired Berea College professor and former priest, at Mike_Rivage-Seul @berea.edu.