The American Family Association is conducting a “Naughty or Nice” campaign noting which major retailers sound hostile in avoiding Christmas in their seasonal sales. Somehow, on his Monday program, leftist radio host Thom Hartmann yelled that this made him sick and that the AFA is “promoting blasphemy.” He threw the B-word repeatedly.
Citing the Gospel of Matthew, Hartmann also insisted that Christianity and welfare statism are synonymous, and that the House Republicans are terrible Christians because they propose “Oh, we’ve got to cut these social safety net programs – which is the essence of what Jesus Christ said you’ve gotta do to get into Heaven! And instead replace them with tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.” Hartmann began by asserting the AFA thinks Jesus is a liar, but the AFA’s Bryan Fischer drove Hartmann crazy by refusing to take the bait and fight:
HARTMANN: The AFA and you, Bryan, believe that when Jesus said you have to choose between God or Mammon, which is money and the things -- and commerce, that he was what, lying or was he mistaken? Jesus made it very clear that you could choose between getting rich
and choose between [sic] being virtuous and holy... A company that uses Jesus Christ to hustle goods is profaning His name and the work that He did.
Saying you’re having a “Christmas sale” or wishing customers “Merry Christmas” is hardly hustling goods by profaning the name of Christ. It used to be common courtesy. Here’s where Fischer almost glowed with praise for Hartmann:
FISCHER: I am delighted to hear that you are concerned about people profaning the name of Jesus Christ. This is a breakthrough –
HARTMANN: I’m a Christian, and I am horrified, for example, when people, Republicans, stand up and call themselves Christians, and then say, and then completely forget about Matthew 25. The one time in the entire New Testament where the disciples came to Jesus and said ‘How do we get into heaven?’ and he said ‘Feed the hungry. Heal the sick. Clothe the naked. In other words, house the homeless. Visit those in prison.’ And they all freaked out and said, you know, We’re screwed. We’ll never make it into heaven, you know, because we’ve never seen you....we’ve never seen you hungry, we’ve never seen you naked, we’ve never seen you sick. How are we going to get into Heaven? And he said as you’ve done these to the least of my brethren, you’ve done unto me.
The bible-thumpers would quickly direct Hartmann to other places in the New Testament where Jesus and the disciples discussed getting into Heaven (MRC’s Ken Shepherd starts with John, chapter 14). Then Hartmann launched into an anti-Republican rant, insisting Jesus came to Earth to promote "safety net" government programs:
HARTMANN: Then I see Republicans standing up on the floor of the House of Representatives, and people like your organization, the American Family Association, saying ‘Oh, we’ve got to cut these social safety net programs – which is the essence of what Jesus Christ said you’ve gotta do to get into Heaven! And instead replace them with tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires. And by the way, let’s help Macy’s make an extra billion dollars, and let’s make sure Wal-Mart makes an extra billion dollars. Their multi-billionaire owners are really good Christians. And let’s use the name of Jesus to do that. It makes me wanna puke, Bryan! I think that what you are doing is blasphemous!
Fischer repeated very calmly, “Well, Thom, I’ve just gotta tell you I’m so heartened to hear you so worked up over blaspheming the name of Christ. I’ve never heard this coming from you before.”
An angry Hartmann shot back: “I’m astounded you’re not ashamed and humiliated that you have been called out for blaspheming the name of Christ.” Fischer tried to point out Obama wouldn’t make an Easter proclamation from the White House. Hartmann yelled again:
HARTMANN: Bryan, I am astounded that you are trying to change the subject away from the fact that the American Family Association is promoting blasphemy!
FISCHER: Well, Thom, as I say, I think it’s terrific that you’re so concerned about blasphemy.
HARTMANN: Why are you not answering the question! Why is the American Family Association promoting blasphemy?
FISCHER (after a laugh): What’s we’re doing is promoting the day that our nation has set aside to honor the birth of Jesus.
HARTMANN: Not true. If you were doing that, you’d be out buying advertising or putting up signs saying ‘Please honor Jesus Christ.’ What you’re doing is saying we’re going to put a gold star by the name of corporations that make a profit by using the name of Jesus Christ and that is blasphemy.
When Fischer calmly explained that in his view, Matthew 25 is not about government policy and that in the Parable of the Talents, Jesus was encouraging investment, Hartmann concluded the interview by rudely announcing, "I will pray for your soul. I am so sorry to hear that. Bryan Fischer, blasphemer with AFA.net."
It's not easy to have a religious conversation with Hartmann. He once asked me if John the apostle was gay, since he laid close to the breast of Jesus on the night before the crucifixion (John 13:25).
Hartmann was still smarting on Tuesday's show over his interpretation of Jesus-profaning capitalism: "We have created something in the last thirty years that is like the new chalice, the new blood and body of Christ, the new sacred wafer, the new sacred activity, and it's called making money."