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Friday, January 28, 2022

Money Changers in the Temple

Jesus drives the money-changers from the temple – James Jacques Tissot

Someone called me a communist this week.

Pop Moore was a teacher and principal at Nikolaevsk, a Russian village near Homer, from 1970 until 1992. My mother taught school there. I grew up hearing stories from Old Believers who had escaped Soviet communism, about barns full of men, women and children burned to death for not renouncing their faith. I saw handwritten holy books that had been strapped to the heads of men swimming across rivers into China to escape, before China went communist.

I was about as tall as the post office counter when a clerk said to Pop, “You still working with those commies? I sure am tired of my tax money going to that school out there.”

Pop reached in his pocket and pulled out a handful of change. “This should cover your contribution to their education.” He turned to leave, stopped and said, “They’d be on the front line to fight communism coming here. They actually know what it is.”

The Old Believers knew communists didn’t believe in the separation of church and state — Russian churches had to serve the state. I eventually came to understand that the separation of church and state is what protects us from a government that wants to tell us whether or how to worship.

Our founders wanted to make sure we never had an American version of the Church of England. Theocracies are not all that different from communism. They are every bit as controlling. A nonexistent threat of theocracy has stampeded state lawmakers across the country to introduce “No Sharia Law” bills — a paranoid fantasy of Muslim bogeymen under every bed.

It drives me crazy when politicians use religion to push their agendas, or when the venal twist faith for political expediency or the ignorant to support their prejudices.

As a frightening example of the latter, consider Arkansas Republican Rep. Loy Mauch, who wrote, “If slavery were so God-awful, why didn’t Jesus or Paul condemn it?”

I guess the exodus of slaves from Egypt wasn’t enough of an anti-slavery story for him. (I’m no Bible expert, but wasn’t there something about the Nile turning to blood, clouds of locusts, dead first-born children and a call to “Let my people go!”)

I learned in Mrs. Harris’ Sunday school class about the day Jesus walked into a temple where the investment bankers and Wall Street tycoons of the time were ripping people off. Jesus got mad.

I loved that story because I always thought getting angry was a sin. And good thing, because I’m experiencing some righteous anger.

Last week an unholy alliance between church and state had a party. Gov. Sean Parnell headlined a benefit for a shape-shifting “religious” organization that spends most of its time obsessing over free-range uteruses and “curing” the gays. The melding of Alaska’s “religious right” with its “fiscal conservatives” is now a done deal. (Personally, I don’t find the religious right to be either, and there’s nothing conservative about giving away $2 billion to oil companies in exchange for a guarantee of precisely zero new oil production.)

A poster of the Koch brothers greeted attendees. Jim Minnery of the Alaska Family Council and its new overtly political arm, Alaska Family Action, explained that the two organizations had identical boards and were both run by Minnery. Now, with a flip of the light switch they can go from “religious” group to “political” group.

Tricky! Hey, 38 other states had figured it out and now ours has too.

The event was to raise money to buy access to a new database sold by the reactionary Koch Brothers. The database actually marries church records and Internet shopping histories to better target voters likely to oppose — in the present case — the Alaska Senate Bipartisan Working Group. Minnery explained that this little invasion of privacy was for “the Glory of God and to get conservatives in power.”

The governor and Minnery want nothing to do with Sharia law, unless it’s their own flavor (which of course is the way every theocracy operates). All these two lack are the turbans.

So they’ll be buying and selling your personal information to try to get you to vote against senators who have risked their political careers to protect the interests of every Alaskan.

Parnell and Minnery are inviting the money-changing Koch Brothers right into the temple, doing all they can to ensure that the rich get richer at the expense of the rest of us.



22 Responses to “Money Changers in the Temple”
  1. Pat says:

    Jesus was proud to be a 99% member of society; isn’t that the basis of throwing out the money changers to protect his people? Common sense shows that the aims of Jesus have been defeated in modern life, by church, and by state.

  2. NickDanger says:

    The bible only says enslaving Hebrews is wrong. That’s the whole story of the exodus. Otherwise, the bible includes proper instructions for handling your slaves. Pro-slavery Southerners before the Civil War frequently and accurately quoted the bible as justification for believing humans were the same a farm equipment. The fact that abolitionists could quote it too proves nothing except you can find a quote to support just about anything in that horrifying book. Murder, incest–it’s all ok as long as you Believe!

  3. Cloud Racer says:

    “If slavery were so God-awful, why didn’t Jesus or Paul condemn it?”

    Because enlightenment values have made us (well a lot of us) better than that.

  4. The Lawman says:

    Shannyn…check out Malia Litman’s Blog…upcoming federal trial has the Palins reeling…not happy campers…;)

  5. AKPetMom says:

    Having studied religion in college but not having been involved in it since Sunday school at age 8 I can’t help but not embrace any of it and feel very sorry for those whose lives have been impacted by it. I think as we move along as humans we will find less reason for it and our world will be a more peaceful place because of it.

  6. Alaska Pi says:

    Good job Shannyn!
    The light switch flipping thing irritates the daylights out of me. It’s just the same old goofs when the lights come back on.
    The same goofs who think the biggest things facing this state are ” four controversial social areas with their legislative efforts–revoking the reproductive rights of women, preventing marriage equality, promoting school vouchers instead of public schools, and the catch-all “religious freedom.”
    along with Governor Torpedo’s horsepunky about the oil tax giveaway.

    Oh Pfffftttt!
    A thousand times, Pfffftttt!
    We have so many things more important than these piddly fart things to do that I can’t believe they can look at themselves in the mirror after saying these dumb things.
    How is any of this crap going to address the horrible suicide rate amongst our rural youngsters?
    How is any of this crap going to develop infrastructure in far flung communities- for all of us who don’t live in the road and railbelt corridor like these twits do?
    How is any of this crap going to deal with the losses of schools in the bush? Yeah- vouchers. Pfft. Tell me how that is going to work in Aniak or Point Hope or Hoonah , anyway?
    How is any of this crap going to sort out the poor law we have for minerals extraction, some useful way to measure one resource in relation to another while weighing plans to do something?
    How is this going to sort out our relationship with the Fed on /in federally managed fisheries which affect our salmon?
    We have a lot more important things to be doing than dealing with this stuff.

    But – here we are again having to pay attention to these time wasting, mind numbing twits.

    • Zyxomma says:

      Alaska Pi, you’re so good at pointing out the REAL issues to which Alaskans should be paying attention and devoting energy. How many of the goofs, as you call them, would be willing to live without schools and sewers? How many of them have ever lost a relative to suicide? You have a way of contributing perspective, and showing how petty the goofs’ concerns really are. Thanks.

  7. COalmostNative says:

    Last week our associate minister’s sermon was on the “camel through the eye of a needle” verse, very appropriate during the election season. His point: Jesus did not advocate a prosperity theology, but a take care of your fellow man version

    Those chapters are probably not in the Koch Bible…

    • Or the Bible of most right wingers. I’m more and more convinced that they don’t really read the Bible, for all their thumping that goes on. I think they only read select verses out of context when it suits their point of view.

  8. StElias says:

    Spot on Shannyn. A most perceptive analysis and dialogue of what confronts us here in Alaska right now. People better believe it, they are about to bear the brunt of “Citizens United”. Jusst for openers Jeremiah’s “Anchorage Temple of Hate” teaming with the Koch Brothers should be enough to scare the wits out of any Alaska loving citizen. To Wit:

    “Captain Zero and Minnery want nothing to do with Sharia law, unless it’s their own flavor. All these two lack are the turbans. So they’ll be buying and selling your personal information to try to get you to vote against senators who have risked their political careers to protect the interests of every Alaskan. Inviting the money-changing Koch Brothers right into the temple, doing all they can to ensure that the rich get richer at the expense of the rest of us.”

  9. Beaglemom says:

    Yesterday as i was straightening up the house I was thinking about Christ and the money-changers. He would have no respect for how Mitt Romney made his multi-millions. Can you picture how Christ would have reacted if he had come into the room where Mitt was delivering his 47% pitch to the extremely wealthy?

  10. Mo says:

    Meanwhile, back at Godwin’s law…something to think about vis-a-vis impoverishment and the reactionary mind:

    “It turns that when you throw a proud people who have lived a relatively decent lifestyle with modest provisions for the middle class into the desperate grinder of austerity economics, fascist movements start to develop. … it’s easy to blame immigrants and the dispossessed. Those people start to become scapegoats for the sorts of scoundrels who use jingoistic xenophobia for career advancement in the guise of patriotism.

    It’s no surprise that the ascendance of the far right in the United States tracks alongside the erosion of the middle class. Fortunately, America has been spared the full force of austerity. So far.”

    It’s also easy to blame those who don’t follow the exact same religion that you do. Wow, wouldn’t a world full o’ Jim Minnerys be a swell place?

  11. My husband likes to talk about the pendulum swinging far to one side and then to the other. It’s too bad it never stops in the center. I keep wondering when we are going to finally see a swing away from the religious fever that is gripping politics. It really is scary to think that these people are in power or trying to get in power.

    And I keep wondering if the Koch brothers really are that all that religious or if they have just spotted a new way to steal money from people. I suspect that’s really it. Money changers, indeed. I always liked that story in the Bible too, Shannyn.

    • Lacy Lady says:

      If you are wondering if the Koch brothers are all that religious—-just look at their family history! Whew!

  12. Pinwheel says:

    I surely join you in righteous anger of these abuses. Equally troubling for me in this election round is the vote on a Constitutional Convention. In general I would support a lively debate for this concept. However, I don’t hear or read that debate and we’re 2 weeks from one of the most important elections in Alaska State history. In the current political climate here I cannot support a Convention. Even the possibility of these ignorant and prejudice bullies from pulpits getting a leg up in a State Constitutional process is anathema.

    And we now know the malicious confusion these bullies can generate at the polls, we all must get out to vote and insure our friends and neighbors do too.

  13. Beaglemom says:

    I get extremely nervous whenever the Koch brothers are involved in something. They try to keep their involvement secretive but their dirty hands are everywhere. Why didn’t one or the other ever run for public office so the people could see what they are really all about? I guess I answered my own question.

  14. Mo says:

    And so much for religion inculcating ethics, eh? Minnery knew using the database was wrong, but magically talked himself into buying it anyway.

    I hope they nicked him some serious bucks.