Let's stop the charade

In his blog entry of Aug. 3, Armstrong Williams writes, "The Boston Tea Party, in which colonists dumped the usuriously taxed products of Britain into the Boston Harbor, was an act of defiance inspired by Christ’s repudiation of the money-changers."

This is a stretch or, if true, is a serious misunderstanding — at least on the part of the first Tea Partiers — of the event described in all four Gospels.

The Gospel accounts make it clear that Jesus reacted as he did because the money-changers had profaned part of the temple property, turning it instead into a marketplace. There was evidently always a lot of commerce near the temple, not just because it was a gathering place, but also because some people needed to buy animals for sacrifice. During the crowded Passover season described, the commercial district had evidently encroached onto the temple courtyard itself, which was a travesty to any devout Jew.

Incidentally, since the area was probably the space known as the Court of the Gentiles, a lot of Christian commentators remark on how Jesus was looking out for the interests even of Gentiles. God-fearing Gentiles came to that part of the temple property to worship; they were excluded from the interior courts. In Luke's account, Jesus' quotation from Isaiah includes the assertion that the temple was ultimately to be "a house of prayer for all nations."

Beyond this bit of biblical eisegesis, I fear Mr. Williams's comments reflect a sort of religious-political syncretism that pervades our culture, to the detriment both of our system of government and of the Christian faith. God is not an American; democracy and the free enterprise system, for all their merits, have no special sanction from God, at least as far as I can see in studying the Bible.

While the various freedoms guaranteed in our founding documents may reflect something of the teachings of Christianity, inasmuch as there is to be "neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female" before God, combined with the Jewish understanding of the dignity of mankind as made in God's image, they are more properly the product of the European Enlightenment.

Of course, you could argue that the Enlightenment shares roots with the Protestant Reformation, which was indeed seen by its instigators as an attempt to restore the truth of the Bible. Still, to pretend that the United States was to be, by its Founders' design, some sort of vehicle for the expansion of the Kingdom of God on earth is to subscribe to an illusion we'd all be better shed of.