Sunday, 10/16/ 11
Today’s readings tell us that as citizens we may support non-Christian heads of state. In the first reading Isaiah quoted God as calling the Persian king Cyrus “his anointed.” God grasped Cyrus’s hand, opening doors before him.
Then, in the Gospel Jesus tells us to “repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar.”
Now, Cyrus and Caesar were a long way from ruling in a Christian manner. Cyrus followed the religion of Zoroaster which, along with honoring the creator, also honored an evil creator named Ahriman. They felt their allegiance to Ahriman obliged them to do some evil things. Caesar, for his part, ruled an empire that supported itself by enslaving great masses of peoples. He condoned crucifying innocent men.
Months ago we had a similar first reading in which God was quoted as calling the pagan Cyrus “His shepherd.” That day I gave my opinion that the Bible was telling us to be loyal citizens even with leaders who support things against our religion. One of the people in church that day came back, objecting, saying that our obligation to vote Pro Life should keep us from supporting a leader who did not vote Pro-life.
I believe today’s readings tell us we can, and perhaps should, support such leaders. Pardon me for mentioning party names here, but I can’t avoid it. I am a Democrat, and I am Pro-life as are most of my Democrat friends. Thursday this week fifty Democrats joined Republican Representatives in voting for an amendment that bans the use of government money for abortions. (President Obama last year issued a presidential order in support of the Hyde Amendment that bans the use of government funds for abortions.)
I am unhappy that our president describes himself as Pro-choice, but I regard him as an honest man, following his conscience in that. And, in spite of the importance of this one issue, I think we should have other concerns. I vote for protecting the environment, for allowing cities to limit carrying weapons, for not imprisoning immigrants, for not allowing corporations to fund candidates who will vote for their interests. I think our president, when he was a senator, did the right thing in voting against invading Iraq. I highly respect him, and I am pained at the barrage of sneers cast at his name.