Another holiday season plagued with high Covid-19 rates and fears of infecting loved ones has come around, this time amid supply chain shortages and other economic woes. As runaway American capitalism tries to sell us consumerism as the answer to our current crises even now, Pulitzer-prize winning journalist and ordained minister Chris Hedges reminds us that the real meaning of Christmas has nothing to do with purchasable gifts. Hedges joins Robert Scheer on this week’s “Scheer Intelligence” to discuss which personal experiences revealed to him what the Christian holiday is about, as well as what he thinks of American Christianity in its current, most prevalent iteration.
“The Bible has been used by systems of power to perpetuate all sorts of injustices and persecution since the Christian Church was institutionalized in the third century by Constantine, who was a brutal dictator,” says Hedges. “[Once power] essentially captivated this ideology, it was [and] has been used throughout history to carry out all sorts of what I would call heretical [acts]. [And] I’d call the Christian right heretics; they’ve acculturated the worst aspects of American capitalism and imperialism and white supremacy with the Christian religion.
“Jesus, if he lived in contemporary society, would be undocumented, because he was not a Roman citizen; he lived without rights, under Roman occupation,” he adds. “Jesus was a person of color; the Romans were white. The Romans nailed Jesus and other people of color to crosses the same way we finish them off on death row, or gun them down in the streets by militarized police. And the Romans didn’t care about Jesus’ religious importance; they killed him as an insurrectionist, as a revolutionary, because they feared the radicalism of the Christian gospel, which defied so much of Roman culture.
“The Roman state looked at Jesus the same way the American state looked at Malcolm X or Martin Luther King,” he concludes. “And, as is true throughout history, prophets are often killed.”
Listen to the full conversation between Scheer and Hedges as the host asks the reverend how to recognize the misuse of Christianity, as well as how to directly challenge immorality with one’s own actions, culminating in a personal and yet deeply universal Christmas parable of Hedges’ own.