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CNN Exchange: Commentary

Martin: What would Jesus really do?

By Roland Martin
CNN Contributor
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Editor's note: Roland Martin is a CNN contributor and talk-show host on WVON-AM in Chicago, Illinois. He is the author of "Listening to the Spirit Within: 50 Perspectives on Faith."

NEW YORK (CNN) -- When did it come to the point that being a Christian meant caring about only two issues,­ abortion and homosexuality?

Ask the nonreligious what being a Christian today means, and based on what we see and read, it's a good bet they will say that followers of Jesus Christ are preoccupied with those two points.

Poverty? Whatever. Homelessness? An afterthought. A widening gap between the have and have-nots? Immaterial. Divorce? The divorce rate of Christians mirrors the national average, so that's no big deal.

The point is that being a Christian should be about more than abortion and homosexuality, and it's high time that those not considered a part of the religious right expose the hypocrisy of our brothers and sisters in Christianity and take back the faith. And those on the left who believe they have a "get out of sin free" card must not be allowed to justify their actions.

Many people believe we are engaged in a holy war. And we are. But it's not with Muslims. The real war -- ­ the silent war ­-- is being engaged among Christians, and that's what we must set our sights on.

As we celebrate Holy Week, our focus is on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But aren't we also to recommit ourselves to live more like Jesus? Did Jesus spend his time focusing on all that he didn't like, or did Jesus raise the consciousness of the people to understand love, compassion and teach them about following the will of God?

As a layman studying to receive a master's in Christian communications, and the husband of an ordained minister, it's troubling to listen to "Christian radio" and hear the kind of hate spewing out of the mouths of my brothers and sisters in the faith.

In fact, I've grown tired of people who pimp God. That's right; we have a litany of individuals today who are holy, holy, holy, sing hallelujah, talk about how they love the Lord, but when it's time to walk the walk, somehow the spirit evaporates.

A couple of years ago I took exception to an e-mail blast from the Concerned Women for America. The group was angry that Democrats were blocking certain judges put up for the federal bench by President Bush. It called on Americans to fight Democrats who wanted to keep Christians off the bench.

So I called and sent an e-mail asking, "So, where were you when President Clinton appointed Christian judges to the bench? Were they truly behind Christian judges, or Republican Christian judges?

Surprise, surprise. There was never a response.

An African-American pastor I know in the Midwest was asked by a group of mostly white clergy to march in an anti-abortion rally. He was fine with that, but then asked the clergy if they would work with him to fight crack houses in predominantly black neighborhoods.

"That's really your problem," he was told.

They saw abortion as a moral imperative, but not a community ravaged by crack.

If abortion and gay marriage are part of the Christian agenda, I have no issue with that. Those are moral issues that should be of importance to people of the faith, but the agenda should be much, much broader.

I'm looking for the day when Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Joyce Meyer, James Dobson, Tony Perkins, James Kennedy, Rod Parsley, " Patriot Pastors" and Rick Warren will sit at the same table as Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Cynthia Hale, Eddie L. Long, James Meek, Fred Price, Emmanuel Cleaver and Floyd Flake to establish a call to arms on racism, AIDS, police brutality, a national health care policy, our sorry education system.

If they all say they love and worship one God, one Jesus, let's see them rally their members behind one agenda.

I stand here today not as a Republican or a liberal. And don't bother calling me a Democrat or a conservative. I am a man,­ an African-American man ­who has professed that Jesus Christ is Lord, and that's to whom I bow down.

If you concur, it's time to stop allowing a chosen few to speak for the masses. Quit letting them define the agenda.

So put on the full armor of God because we have work to do.

What is your take on this commentary? E-mail us

The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the writer. This is part of an occasional series of commentaries on offering a broad range of perspectives, thoughts and points of view.

Your responses asked readers for their thoughts on this commentary. We received a lot of excellent responses. Below you will find a small selection of those e-mails, some of which have been edited for length and spelling.

R. J. Peters, Mena, Arkansas
Roland Martin's attack on Pro-Life Christians was really uncalled for. How can a Christian NOT be concerned while little babies are brutally MURDERED every day by Abortion? Mr. Martin, as long as innocent babies are allowed to be killed, the life issue will be our #1 issue!

Paul Lai, Longwood, Florida
How emphatically can I say "I agree wholeheartedly!" with Roland Martin's comments. The so-called "Religious Right" have indeed hijacked not just "the Christian agenda" but Christianity itself. To me, Christian love is embodied in Micah 6:8: do justice, love mercy, and walk in humility with your Lord. The amount of time the Bible spent talking about homosexuality and abortion is a micro-fraction of what it teaches us about hypocrites and presumptuous, insensitive, judgmental types. The religious right does NOT speak for Jesus; it doesn't look like they even know the language.

B. Olson, Little Falls, Minnesota
This kind of verbal attack against "fellow brothers and sisters in Christ" is really sad. Those who truly love the Lord will devote as much time, energy, money, prayers, and effort to fight for the truth and standards that they believe that God, through the Bible, has commanded. It makes me sick and sad to see Christians who are openly and boldly addressing anti-Christian hot-button topics attacked themselves; being called "narrow minded" or accused of not talking about another moral issue.

Gary Green, Pineville, Kentucky
Bravo! I am a white, conservative, Christian Republican, Southern Baptist who believes that Christians should be concerned with all sorts of issues. Thank you for your open and honest writing. Keep it up!

Raquel Illescas, Miami Beach, Florida
The question is "what would Jesus really do?" He would say to stop talking and start working! The author is right; there are so many Christians that fight with others (both, Christians and non Christians). Stop fighting, start working. What do you do for Jesus as a Christian believer? Be honest.

Zack Clark, Houston, Texas
The Church has adapted to pop-culture. There is no way to take back faith and return to solid Christian roots, when a large percentage of American Churches have adopted services to imitate a secular society. There is no hope as it stands. Once the Churches became nothing more than entertainment all was lost.

Tim Collins, Cumming, Georgia
I am part of the vast right wing conspiracy that President Clinton and his wife have referred to over the years. I am a born again Southern Baptist Christian. I am on the extreme right side of social issues. My response to this article is AMEN!!!! Great points!!!! I couldn't agree more!!! It's time that everyone throw away their political beliefs and "live their faith."

Derek, Honolulu, Hawaii
I agree that the current "Christian Agenda" is far too narrow and excludes the primary teachings of Jesus. But the solution is not to have a bunch of white preachers sit down with a bunch of black preachers and come up with a unanimous agenda for everyone. That's another step down the road to socialism. The solution lies in individual blacks and whites coming up with what they feel is important on their own, with the help of the New Testament, instead of relying on fake Christians like Jerry Falwell to tell them what to think.


CNN contributor Roland Martin says a holy war is going on among Christians.


If Jesus lived today, what do you think would be his top priority?
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