The Easter Message Most Christians Didn’t Hear … and Should Have

by Rev. WILLIAM E. ALBERTS

Last Sunday most Christians probably heard a traditional Easter message.  Like “Hope is Back!,” sponsored by the National Council of Churches, produced by Marble Collegiate Church in New York City, and televised on ABC stations.  This smoothly orchestrated production featured a hallowed-robed United Methodist minister and pastor of the Church, Rev. Dr. Michael Brown, who presented an eloquently delivered sermon on exclusively individualistic interpretations of oppression and resurrection—his pulpit stage ringing with the inherent purity of white Easter lilies.  And at the end, Marble Collegiate Church’s robust choir and Tony Award-winner Ben Vereen sang Phillip Doddridge’s popular gospel song, “Oh Happy Day . . . when Jesus washed . . . my sins away.”  It was enough to keep away any awareness of sinful war crimes our government has committed in our name—the latest disclosure of which was made public just two days before Easter.

The Easter message most Christians did not hear– and should have– was delivered on Good Friday, April 22.  It, too, was about oppression and crucifixion, however not just of one individual put to death but of hundreds of thousands of people.  Two days before Easter, Mohamed ElBaradei, the U.N. former nuclear inspector, provided plenty of relevant and timely material for any Easter sermon.  The Associated Press reports that in his newly published memoir, The Age of Deception, ElBaradei  indicates “that Bush administration officials should face international criminal investigation for the ‘shame of a needless war’ in Iraq.”  The Nobel Peace Prize-winning Egyptian “accuses U.S. leaders of ‘grotesque distortion’ in the run-up to the 2003 Iraq invasion, when then-President George W. Bush and his lieutenants claimed Iraq possessed doomsday weapons despite contrary evidence collected by ElBaradei’s and other arms inspectors inside the country.” ( “ElBaradei suggests war crimes probe of Bush team,” Apr. 22, 2011)

Mohamed ElBaradei presented considerable relevant sermon ideas for any clergy person desiring to preach a timely Easter sermon.  ElBaradei wrote that he and Hans Blix “led teams of U.N. inspectors looking for signs Saddam Hussein’s government had revived nuclear, chemical or biological weapons programs.”  He reports on “an October 2002 meeting he and Blix had with Secretary of State Colin Powell, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice and others, at which the Americans sought to convert the U.N. mission into a ‘cover for what would be, in essence, a United States-directed inspection process.’”  ElBaradei and Blix “ resisted, and their teams went on to conduct some 700 inspections of scores of potential weapons sites in Iraq, finding no evidence to support the U.S. claims of weapons of mass destruction.”  ElBaradei states that “Bush and his aides have never explained why the U.S. position was not changed as on-the-ground U.N. findings came in before the invasion.” (Ibid)

Mohamed ElBaradei offered sermon material for a real Easter message, information that affects the international reputation and personal security of us Americans far more than any individual “life-changing stories of faith.”  He writes that he “was aghast at . . . the official U.S. attitude before the March 2003 invasion, which he calls ‘aggression where there is no imminent threat,’ a war in which he accepts estimates that hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians were killed” [italics added].  Thus he believes “the World Court should be asked to rule on whether the war was illegal.  And, if so, ‘should not the International Criminal Court investigate whether this constitutes a war crime and determine who is accountable?’” (Ibid)

Not surprisingly, three days after Easter former president George W. Bush, and not Mohamed ElBaradei, was featured on ABC television’s Good Morning America show.  Ironically, standing next to Bush was a U.S. soldier who had lost a leg in Iraq.  The two were taking part in a Wounded Warriors 100 Kilometer bike ride, about which Bush had said days earlier, “I’ll be riding across the deserts of Texas with wounded warriors to show the unbelievable character of our men and women in uniform.  . . . It’s a ride to herald people who were dealt a severe blow and said, ‘I’m not going to let it tear me down.’” (“Fmr President Bush Hosts 100km Bike Ride with Wounded Iraq, Afghanistan Veterans,” abc NEWS, Apr. 18, 2011)  Bush is the one who dealt them the “severe blow.” There would be no such wounded American veterans—nor over 4400 of them needlessly killed in Iraq—and thus no need for Bush’s “Warrior 100k” bike race if he and key members of his administration had not committed the horrible war crimes of invading and occupying non-threatening Iraq.  Sadly, ABC and a fawning George Stephanopoulos, anchor of Good Morning America, allowed the 21st century’s worst international war criminal to continue rehabilitating his public image and hiding in plain sight.—behind the immorality of American exceptionalism.

What kind of an Easter sermon would the historical Jesus have given?  The historical Jesus was a Jewish prophet not a Christian saviour.  Like other Jewish insurgents of his day, he was seeking to liberate his Jewish people from the Roman Empire’s brutal occupation of their country.  His quoted mission was to revive the living, not raise the dead. (Luke 4: 18)  He did not die on a Roman cross for “the sins of the world” but to rid the Jewish world of the imperialistic sins of the Roman Empire.  He provides a model for the present that is powerfully expressed in the hymn,

O Young and Fearless Prophet of ancient Galilee,
thy life is still a summons to serve humanity;
to make our thoughts and actions
less prone to please the crowd,
to stand with humble courage
for truth with hearts un-cowed.

(Text: S. Ralph Harlow; Music: John B. Dyke)

Mohamed ElBaradei offers truth that could help us Americans begin to wash our national sins away.  Sadly, so many Christians are confined to an empty tomb, and Jesus is made a theological prisoner of heaven.  The exits of both are blocked by catchy Easter themes, eloquently delivered sanitized sermons, and uplifting diversionary atmospheric trappings.

Easter is not about “streets of gold” in heaven, but about the Golden Rule on earth.

Rev. WILLIAM E. ALBERTS, Ph.D. is a hospital chaplain and a diplomate in the College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy.  Both a Unitarian Universalist and a United Methodist minister, he has written research reports, essays and articles on racism, war, politics and religion.  He can be reached at william.alberts@bmc.org.

 

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
July 30, 2015
Bill Blunden
The NSA’s 9/11 Cover-Up: General Hayden Told a Lie, and It’s a Whopper
Richard Ward
Sandra Bland, Rebel
Jeffrey St. Clair
How One Safari Nut, the CIA and Neoliberal Environmentalists Plotted to Destroy Mozambique
Martha Rosenberg
Tracking the Lion Killers Back to the Old Oval Office
Binoy Kampmark
Dead Again: the Latest Demise of Mullah Omar
Kathy Kelly – Buddy Bell
No Warlords Need Apply: a Call for Credible Peacemaking in Afghanistan
Ramzy Baroud
Darker Horizons Ahead: Rethinking the War on ‘IS’
Stephen Lendman
The Show Trial of Saif Qaddafi: a Manufactured Death Sentence
John Grant
The United States of Absurdity, Circa 2015
Karl Grossman
The Case of John Peter Zenger and the Fight for a Free Press
Cesar Chelala
Cultural Treasures Are Also Victims of War
Jeff Taylor
Iowa Conference on Presidential Politics
July 29, 2015
Mike Whitney
The Politics of Betrayal: Obama Backstabs Kurds to Appease Turkey
Joshua Frank
The Wheels Fell Off the Bernie Sanders Bandwagon
Conn Hallinan
Ukraine: Close to the Edge
Stephen Lendman
What Happened to Ralkina Jones? Another Jail Cell Death
Rob Wallace
Neoliberal Ebola: the Agroeconomic Origins of the Ebola Outbreak
Dmitry Rodionov
The ‘Ichkerization’ Crime Wave in Ukraine
Joyce Nelson
Scott Walker & Stephen Harper: a New Bromance
Bill Blunden
The Red Herring of Digital Backdoors and Key Escrow Encryption
Thomas Mountain
The Sheepdog Politics of Barack Obama
Farzana Versey
A President and a Yogi: Abdul Kalam’s Symbolism
Norman Pollack
America’s Decline: Internal Structural-Cultural Subversion
Foday Darboe
How Obama Failed Africa
Cesar Chelala
Russia’s Insidious Epidemic
Tom H. Hastings
Defending Democracy
David Macaray
Why Union Contracts are Good for the Country
Virginia Arthur
The High and Dry Sierras
Jon Langford
Mekons Tour Diary, the Season Finale, Mekonception in Redhook
July 28, 2015
Mark Schuller
Humanitarian Occupation of Haiti: 100 Years and Counting
Lawrence Ware
Why the “Black Church” Doesn’t Exist–and Never Has
Peter Makhlouf
Israel and Gaza: the BDS Movement One Year After “Protective Edge”
Carl Finamore
Landlords Behaving Badly: San Francisco Too Valuable for Poor People*
Michael P. Bradley
Educating About Islam: Problems of Selectivity and Imbalance
Binoy Kampmark
Ransacking Malaysia: the Najib Corruption Dossier
Michael Avender - Medea Benjamin
El Salvador’s Draconian Abortion Laws: a Miscarriage of Justice
Jesse Jackson
Sandra Bland’s Only Crime Was Driving While Black
Cesar Chelala
Effect of Greece’s Economic Crisis on Public Health
Mel Gurtov
Netanyahu: An Enemy of Peace
Joseph G. Ramsey
The Limits of Optimism: E.L. Doctorow and the American Left
George Wuerthner
Bark Beetles and Forest Fires: Another Myth Goes Up in Smoke
Paul Craig Roberts - Dave Kranzler
Supply and Demand in the Gold and Silver Futures Markets
Eric Draitser
China’s NGO Law: Countering Western Soft Power and Subversion
Harvey Wasserman
Will Ohio Gov. Kasich’s Anti-Green Resume Kill His Presidential Hopes?
Jon Langford
Mekons Tour Diary, Episode 4, a Bowery Ballroom Blitz