The Indiana Religious Freedom Act has dominated the U.S. news the last two weeks, mainly due to concerns over how it enables discrimination. As a Christian, I think there is something even more troubling about this and similar acts, and that is institutional Christianity’s participation in and support of the acts. When considered in context of Holy Week, I think that institutional Christianity involvement in governmental legislation such as this is highly ironic.
One can make the argument that the penultimate moment of Holy Week occurs on Monday with the event the Bible labels “Jesus cleanses the temple.” (Luke 19:45-48) Jesus enters the Temple and causes a ruckus, overturning tables and chasing animals. The event was witnessed by ordinary people, the religious authorities, and the Roman political authorities, and it was taken by the religious authorities as a challenge to their practices and position. It is the catalyst that leads to Jesus’ arrest, conviction, and execution.
The religious authorities, through their control of temple sacrifice, saw themselves as the gatekeepers of God’s forgiveness. Further, the religious authorities collaborated with the Roman authorities by keeping the people in line and collecting taxes for Rome so that they could retain their positions of power. The religious authorities where expected to prevent the very type of scene Jesus caused on that day, lest they lose their positions and most likely their lives. (John 11:45-53)
During Holy Week Christians remember the outcome of the collaboration between the religious and political authorities with the crucifixion of Jesus on what is called Good Friday. Let me say it again to be very clear, religious and political authorities worked together to execute Jesus, the person who Christians claim to follow. See the irony?
History has shown that collaboration between religious institutions and empire leads to the corruption of the religious institution.
Are you a member of the church of Constantine or the church of Christ?
Members of the church of Christ, those who dare to declare Jesus is Lord and Caesar is not, know that in Jesus’s resurrection on Easter Sunday we gained freedom beyond what any earthly power or principality can provide. Freedom to follow The Way as Jesus taught and we learn in the gospels such as Matthew 25:31-46. Rather than working with the empire of our day to enact laws so that Christian institutions do not have to do something, these institutions ought to be challenging the empire to feed the hungry, heal the sick, clothe the naked, and provide water to those who thirst.