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Interview with Jesus

Gary Sloan

Since President George W. Bush is a born-again Christian and Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry a lifelong Catholic, each presumably deems his political views reconcilable with the teachings of Jesus enunciated in the Gospels. Whether the men are warranted in the assumption, readers may judge for themselves.

Recently, I scored a journalistic coup when Jesus hitched a ride with me on Interstate 20 near Shreveport, Louisiana. After persistent entreaty, the elusive Galilean consented to an interview on political issues. Despite his soiled garb, matted beard, and weary mien, he was refreshingly forthright.

"Should," I asked, "the rich be heavily taxed?"

"Yes--for their own spiritual welfare. Don't lay up treasures here below. One can't serve God and mammon."

"Won't stringent taxation of the wealthy weaken the economy?"

"Possibly. But man doesn't live by bread alone."

"What can the wealthy do to avoid exorbitant taxes?"

"Sell all they have and distribute the proceeds to the poor."

"Should entitlement programs be expanded?"

Jesus tugged at his beard. "Exponentially. Give to everyone who begs from you, and of him who takes away your goods do not ask for them again."

"Should the Pentagon budget be increased?"

"Decreased. To him who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other."

"Should the U.S. have invaded Iraq?"

"Heavens, no. Blessed are the peacemakers, the meek, the merciful."

"Should politicians get tough on criminals?"

"They are too tough already. Let those without sin cast the first stone."

"What about convicted terrorists? How should they be treated?"

"Compassionately. Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you."

"How important are family values?"

Jesus scratched his neck. "Not very. I left my own family early on. Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother, sister, and mother."

"Should Social Security be a concern for the present generation of U.S. citizens?"

Jesus gazed out the passenger window at a field of lilies. "Not at all. Do not be anxious about tomorrow. For tomorrow will be anxious for itself."

"I see. What do you think about abortions and stem-cell research?"

"I don't. Perhaps now I will."

"Do you have an opinion on same-sex marriages?"

"Not really. Although I sometimes travel with twelve guys, I'm basically asexual."

"Do you favor separation of church and state?"

"Certainly. Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and unto God what is God's."

"Do you think U.S. presidents should attend prayer breakfasts?"

Jesus yawned and then vigorously shook his head. "Bad idea. Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them."

"Is military experience an asset to a U.S. president?"

"Usually a debit. As I said, blessed are the meek."

"In presidential elections, should character be an issue?"

"Yes. Woe to him whom all men speak well of."

"What do you think of partisan politics?"

The pale figure rubbed his bloodshot eyes. "I try not to. A politician sees the speck in his opponent's eye, but does not notice the log in his own. A kingdom divided against itself is laid waste."

"Hmm. I take it you would never run for high office?"

Jesus closed his eyes. "Not even if I had supporters."

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