According to the religious left, the hallmark of every non-socialist society is a dualistic framework featuring oppressors and victimizers on the one hand, and oppressed victims on the other. This social arrangement, the religious left contends, is a natural by-product of free-market capitalism, the purported root of all manner of social ills – racism, sexism, alienation, homophobia, imperialism, greed, and economic injustice. That is why according to the religious left, the United States – historically the standard-bearer of all capitalist economies – can only do wrong. Examples of anti-Americanism among the religious left are legion.
The National Council of Churches (NCC), for instance, was a signatory to a document characterizing the 9/11 hijackers not as terrorists, but as people who were engaged chiefly in rebelling against American injustices. The document explained that if the United States wished to attract the goodwill of other countries, it would have to “promote fundamental rights around the world” in a manner in which it had previously failed to do.
For decades the Christian evangelical ministry Sojourners has depicted American as an “imperialist” power seeking to dominate and exploit other nations. Opposing the Reagan administration effort to undercut the Sandinista regime in the 1980s, for example, Sojourners initiated a program called “Witness For Peace,” under whose auspices Americans traveled to Nicaragua and returned with tales of humanitarian disasters wrought by the Reagan-backed anti-Communist forces. Throughout the Cold War, the organization downplayed the threat posed by the Soviet Union, chastising U.S. policy-makers for their tendency “to assume the very worst about their Soviet counterparts.”
Jim Wallis, the founder of Sojourners, has called the U.S. “the great power, the great seducer, the great captor and destroyer of human life, the great master of humanity and history in its totalitarian claims and designs.”
Pax Christi USA (PCUSA) has derided America for its alleged absence of concern for “children who live in poverty within our own borders”; its lack of a universal, taxpayer-funded health care system for all U.S. residents; its culpability for “the increasing threat of global climate change”; its “rampant greed and materialism”; and its shameless “profiteering.” PCUSA’s Brothers and Sisters All program is founded upon the “conviction that personal and systemic racism continues to perpetrate deep spiritual and social brokenness” throughout the United States. And the organization’s People’s Peace Initiative laments the “widening gap between rich and poor” in America, which it characterizes as a nation that perpetrates widespread “economic violence” against black people.
Rabbi Michael Lerner, founder of Tikkun, traces the roots of the 9/11 terrorist attacks to the doorstep of the United States, saying: “We need to ask ourselves, what is it in the way that we are living, organizing our societies, and treating each other that makes violence seem plausible to so many people? And why is it that our immediate response to violence is to use violence ourselves — thus reinforcing the cycle of violence in the world?” Lerner contends that the U.S. has aroused international antipathy by “turn[ing] its back on global agreements to preserve the environment”; “unilaterally cancel[ing] its treaties to not build a missile defense”; “accelerat[ing] the processes by which a global economy has made some people in the third world richer but many poorer”; and “show[ing] that it cares nothing for the fate of refugees who have been homeless for decades, and otherwise turn[ing] its back on ethical norms.” These transgressions, explains Lerner, have made it “far easier for the haters and the fundamentalists to recruit people who are willing to kill themselves in strikes against what they perceive to be an evil American empire represented by the Pentagon and the World Trade Center.” He adds that in the eyes of many across the globe, Americans “are part of a world system which is slowly destroying the life support system of the planet, and quickly transferring the wealth of the world into our own pockets.”
The Catholic priest and liberation theologian Michael Pfleger views America as a nation thoroughly infested with “classism and racism.” Arguing in favor of slavery reparations for blacks, Pfleger in 2008 impugned white Americans for failing to understand the responsibility they themselves bore for the historical and continuing afflictions of the black community. He likened America’s treatment of black people to repeated acts of rape.
Rev. Jeremiah Wright, longtime pastor at Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ, views America as a nation that is evil to its very core. Wright has declared that “racism is how this country was founded, and how this country is still run”; that “America is the #1 killer in the world”; that Americans “believe in white supremacy and black inferiority … more than [they] believe in God”; that American scientists “started the AIDS virus” as an agent by which to kill black people; that Americans maintain their own high standard of living “by making sure that Third World people live in grinding poverty”; that the 9/11 attacks were a sign that “America’s chickens are coming home to roost”; and that America treats black people “as less than human.”
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