initially featured in the Tribune on 24 December 2013John Coulter with a piece on his Christian perspective that
I have been a Christian socialist politically since I became a “born again” Christian in January 1972.
While the Bible has been a core text in my life, it is the inspiration of the New Testament’s Jesus Christ who is my greatest hero.
Unfortunately, over the centuries, especially in Ireland, mention Christianity and politics in the same breath and the stereotype image of the street corner hell-fire preacher, bellowing out extreme Protestant fundamentalism springs to mind.
The Crusades of the Middle Ages do nothing to advance the Christian socialist cause, and the weird ideological concoction of Identity Christianity spewed out by the Ku Klux Klan in America does equal damage to the notion of Christian Socialism.
The biblical Jesus Christ is the central pillar of a new ideology which I have spent the past year working on, and herein lies my hero of Jesus and the relationship to Christian socialism. Jesus Christ has inspired me to compose the ideology of National Republicanism.
A recent opinion poll in Ireland by Millward Brown clearly showed that almost half of Irish voters would like to see a new political party being formed.
Now is the chance for Christian socialism under the banner of my National Republicanism to strike. National Republicanism is seeking a return of biblical Christianity as a central core of republican thinking by getting republicans to focus on the New Testament account of the Sermon on the Mount by Jesus Christ, as told in St Matthew’s Gospel, Chapter Five.
It has been this Sermon by Jesus which has been the foundation stone of my political thinking since 12, and why Christ is my hero.
In this aspect, Christ outlines a series of attributes, commonly known as The Beatitudes. There is a school of ideological thinking – to which I personally belong – which maintains that Marx based Das Capital on The Beatitudes, and his overt criticism of religion was merely a ploy to disguise the fact that he had pinched his ideas from the Bible, and the words of Jesus.
In reality, Jesus Christ was the first real communist – not Karl Marx. National Republicanism’s Christ and state ideology is, therefore, based on St Matthew’s Gospel Chapter Five, verses one to 12. Many of the Beatitudes begin (using the Authorised King James translation): “Blessed are …”
However, when the words of Jesus are taken in a modern context, they make the basis for a realistic political agenda for National Republicanism.
Here are the key points which the Beatitudes highlight. The poor in spirit (verse three) – the need to restore national pride in society; those who mourn (verse four) – the need to remember and help the victims of the conflict in Ireland; the meek (verse five) – the need to help the working class, and for the rich to invest their wealth in helping those less well off in society; they which do hunger (verse six) – the need to combat growing poverty in society, and also provide a sound educational and health system for all; the merciful (verse seven) – the need for a fair and accountable justice system; the pure in heart (verse eight) – the need to restore the moral fabric of society, to encourage family values and implement the concept of society’s conscience; peacemakers (verse nine) – the need for compromise and respect of people’s views based on the concept of accommodation, not capitulation; the persecuted (verse 10) – the need for National Republicans to have the courage to stand up for their beliefs; when men shall revile you (verse 11) – the need for a free press with responsible regulation.
National Republicanism is about the creation of the concept of
Christian citizenship. Under this concept, compulsory voting – as exists in Australia – would be introduced to Ireland.
Tragically, Christian socialism has become bogged down in recent years over theological debates about women clerics, translations of the Bible, abortion, gay marriage, relations with Islam, and even petty issues such as should women wear hats to church, and how “loud’ in colour should men’s ties be before they can enter a church building.
Christians have even “gone to theological war” with each other over the type of worship coming from the pews, with traditionalists favouring the old fashioned hymns and psalms from the 19th century, with modernisers (especially the Pentecostalist factions) opting for the 21st century lively tunes, often referred to as Hill Songs.
Ironically, extreme Christian fundamentalists – particularly from the militant pro-life lobby – have coined the perfect rallying call which can see a rebirth of Christian Socialism.
It is based on the abbreviation WWJD? –What Would Jesus Do? Where Marxism can be accused of trying to remove religion from politics, Christian socialism seeks to put the teachings of Jesus back into political thinking.
The big problem that I have long faced as a Christian socialist, trying to implement the teachings of Jesus Christ, is to find a political vehicle to expound those views.
Being a Christian Socialist in Ireland is a tough challenge, given that the island of Ireland has been at war with itself for the past eight centuries, as two of the largest Christian denominations, Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, battle for supremacy