The following is a slightly edited article that appears in my column, “Christianity and Society,” in the “Sacramento Valley Mirror”:
O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths. (Isaiah 3:12)
Such statements as the above verse of Scripture show why very few prophets of God ever died in their sleep! Tradition has it that Isaiah was sawn in two for warning Judah about God’s wrath in the form of the Babylonian takeover and the subsequent exile of the people of Judah. A sociopath has certain characteristics, some of which are glibness/superficial charm; grandiose sense of self-worth; pathological lying; conning/manipulative behavior; lack of remorse or guilt; shallow feelings; callousness/lack of empathy with others; failure to accept responsibility for his or her own actions. Most of our politicians and corporate heads clearly meet most or all of these criteria! We now have a situation in our nation where those who presume to lead cause others to err and destroy their paths; indeed, they even compromise the state of their very souls. Be they Democrats or Republicans, our political leaders are largely sociopathic! They care far more for their short-sighted self-interests than for the good of the country, despite their lofty rhetoric to the contrary. Especially after the Bush debacle, it is inconceivable to me that we would have a Tea Party were it not for the fact that we have a Black President! The Tea Party and the Republicans who mimic its rhetoric seem to care little for the underprivileged and working classes in the U.S., and that mind-set seems to ironically be shared by Obama whose rhetoric belies his tremendous inadequacies and moral cowardice in dealing with issues, such as universal health care, that were central to the campaign that won him election to that lofty office. Just as the Tea Party under the Republican rubric is betraying most of the American people, Obama is also betraying most of the American people by his betrayal of the base that ushered him into office; his acquiescence to the corporate elites that have a vested interest in cushy tax-breaks and deregulation of their activities that largely work against the best interests of most of the American people. “Thus says the Lord: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place.” (Jeremiah 22:3) Those who blame illegal immigrants, Gay people, and unions for their assorted woes, rather than the political and corporate elites, should read this verse of Scripture more than once! We have a far-flung military presence, and we are officially engaged in two wars, and have orchestrated and/or supported, and are supporting, the toppling of governments elsewhere. We were founded by virtual genocide of Native Americans, and have a history of slavery and horrific segregation and treatment of African Americans. Professing Christians and others have brutally maligned God’s LGBT people; bearing false witness against them. We have engaged in torture to the extent that George Bush and Dick Cheney will unlikely ever go to Europe for fear of being arrested for war crimes; Obama might well be following in their footsteps in this regard. We are the only developed country that doesn’t have universal health care, and there are people who remain sick, in pain, and die because of lack of access. Yet, we unashamedly sing, “God Bless America.” As Rev. Jeremiah Wright accurately said, God will not bless America! Indeed, God will damn America for its institutionalized sociopathy (in which it is certainly not alone) that has consigned the promise of America’s founding to the dung heap of naked greed and its sociopathy in dealing with the vulnerable in our society and with those who have stood in the way of its naked capitalism and militarism. And we currently have political and corporate reactionaries that are in league with the Power Elite having spokesmen on talk radio who extol such sociopathy as a virtue! And their falsely conscious listeners greedily lap up this largely sociopathic rhetoric! And this sociopathic behavior is not by any means restricted to most politicians and corporate heads! Most talk radio is filled with hosts who play to the lowest common denominator and engage in class warfare, all the while denying the existence of that class warfare, and blaming the objects of their disapproval of manufacturing the existence of that class warfare that they, themselves, are helping to enhance! And, to add insult to injury, the false consciousness of most of their listeners has them believing that these talk show hosts who make multimillion dollars a year catering to the fears and discontent of their listeners, have their listeners’ economic interests at heart. And these listeners, ironically, often identify with the interests of these hosts and their rhetoric which, objectively speaking, are largely antithetical to the very economic interests of the listeners, but whose rhetoric belies this fact. We have become an increasingly sociopathic society that has seriously coarsened our discourse and our very culture! And a stark tragedy that helps fuel this sociopathy is the active or tacit encouragement of most of the institutional church in the face of such gross injustices, whether it be by its rhetoric or by its silence. In the case of most of the institutional Church’s homophobic rhetoric (or silence amidst homophobic rhetoric) toward LGBT people, most of their clergy have blood on their hands by directly and indirectly having contributed to the suicides, assaults, and murders of Gay people. The consignment of Gay people to pariah status is due in no small part to the role of most clergy in seeking to deny Gay people both civil and sacramental rights; erroneously and sinfully defining them as “immoral” and “disordered” when, in fact, it is these homophobic clergy who are the immoral and disordered ones; who bear false witness (a violation of one of the Ten Commandments) against those whom God created just as God designed from the foundation of the world and whom God loves like crazy. “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink: Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him!” (Isaiah 5:20-23)
Rev. Dr. Jerry S. Maneker, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at California State University, Chico, served as an ordained priest in the Congregational Catholic Church, a division of the Independent Catholic Churches International (ICCI). For many years he published a weekly column in the Sacramento Valley Mirror titled “Christianity and Society,” where he dealt with a variety of social issues from a biblical and sociological perspective. Maneker also published a blog called “A Christian Voice for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Rights” and the website Radical Christianity.