Remember when Jesus freaks were nuts? I do. Thirty five years ago, they were considered raving lunatics, mostly traumatized former druggies or severe control freaks with a new Jones: Christ. They acted like they had discovered him personally and spoke on his behalf. They’d tell you how they decided to accept Jesus as their personal savior. Nice of them I suppose, but it left a lot of people wondering and asking questions.

Can I get some of that too or are you going to hog him all to yourself? Who exactly were the other candidates you interviewed to be your own personal vessel of salvation? Just where in the Gospels is it written down that you have to eat only bean sprouts and get to sit in judgment of the rest of us?

Everybody knew a Jesus freak back then and mostly studiously avoided them. Even if they were old friends whose company you once enjoyed, once they became Jesus freaks they were somehow rendered incapable of holding ordinary conversations or maintaining normal relationships. Every encounter became a confrontation, even when no one challenged them. No subject was immune from an interjection of off-the-wall preaching. With the vast majority of them it all happened so suddenly that by definition no serious study at all could have been undertaken by them. To hear these very young fools speak so authoritatively on such a complex subject as faith was laughable, only these guys sure didn’t laugh much anymore. They were a dour lot, a bunch of killjoys frowning on just about everything and everybody but themselves and their own “heightened consciousness.”

And it was always all about them, their ideas, their personal piety, their superior habits, their better minds, blah, blah, blah. It was never about you except for the fact that you just didn’t measure up or the other guy, because he too was a woeful sinner bound for eternal hell fire if he didn’t straighten up and pay strict attention to them. The very antithesis of Christ’s message, their bizarre theology bore little resemblance to the actual Scriptures about the life and spiritual message of Jesus Christ.

The only times these Jesus freaks were amusing was when you got two of them together and watched them trying to out-Jesus the other guy. They hated each other because there was no one to openly belittle, but strove mightily to conceal that fact. The harder they tried to mask their animosity the more apparent it became. It was a lot of fun watching them try to insult one another subtly. Subtlety is never the strong suit of a deranged mind and often they’d blow their cover and get quite loud and positively un-Christian with each other over who was more of a Jesus freak. Now that was funny. When it came to blows it was a riot, and also quite illuminating. Their furious aggression showed us exactly who they really are, confirming our suspicions.

Now I’m not talking about religious people here, serious Christians of any sort, or simply students of Christ’s message and ministry, or any other religion for that matter. Nor do I refer to what America has always called its Bible Belt, that stretch of the South and Midwest famous for its humble, hard working and God-fearing Christians of various denominations whose faith was their rock in a stormy world. They were and remain among our finest citizens and one of the backbones of our diverse nation. They never were a bunch bent on self-glorification or the vilification of others. True believers know what a hard world this is and don’t demonize those who fall. Instead they offer their hand in love and compassion, recognizing the weakness and human frailty that we all share. Forgiveness and selfless charity are their calling cards.

I’m talking about a certain breed of clowns back in the day who were rightfully called Jesus freaks, those Johnny-come-lately types whose faith seems to spring from self-interest and whose preaching is riddled with self-justification. Back then there was a war on and a military draft. There was a lot of resistance to the war, not the least of which was among us young males of draft age. The Vietnam War was the first war in America in which a great many young men refused to serve. Every war has had its share of legitimate conscientious objectors but the Vietnam War was widely viewed by a growing segment of the population as an unjust and immoral war.

Many men went to great lengths to avoid being drafted into such a war, dodging the draft, faking insanity at their induction physicals, fleeing to Canada or becoming a bona fide Jesus freak. I myself was lucky enough to have a high number in the draft lottery and so was never called, thankfully spared the whole ordeal (I sure as hell wasn’t going to burn my draft card, that’s the ID that enabled me to buy beer.). Of all the various ways to get out of being drafted the most successful way was mine, having the dumb luck to have the right birthday.

Many Jesus freaks, however, got out of being drafted not because of their brand new religious convictions but because the U.S. Army saw right away these guys were completely nuts. Not exactly what they had in mind but at least they didn’t have to go in the service and maybe get killed or maimed in Vietnam like a lot of other neighborhood guys. They basically just went about their business of being annoying Jesus freaks and faded from the scene. Right?


Not quite. Fast forward to today and these guys are actually trying to run the country.What? Yep, those annoying judgmental jerkoffs who couldn’t even control themselves bided their time and somehow got together politically and are attempting to hijack America. While the rest of us were basically living our lives and being Americans and doing our own thing like our Bill of Rights tells us we can, these clowns saw a nation doing the very thing that annoys them more than anything: enjoying ourselves. They also saw most of their fellow Americans as the most evil sort of people possible: those that don’t agree with them.

Somehow all these lunatics forged out of their disparate oddball creeds a loose sort of theology that they insist reflects Jesus’ wishes. As a person who reads the Gospels and is a big fan of the message of Christ, I wonder exactly where some of their rhetoric and beliefs came from. For instance, they all seem to be war mongers these days, now that their righteous heinies are decades removed from the specter of the Draft and potential carnage done to their own person. My bible must have that page missing where Christ advocates sending others to fight your war.

The Modern Jesus Freak also declares that the righteous will grow rich. What ever happened to the rich man passing into the kingdom of heaven as easily as a camel passes through the eye of the needle? Didn’t Jesus say that? Also consider the passage “Judge Ye Not.” Is that an ambiguous statement? Maybe someone else’s Bible has a page missing. Why else would they buy politicians and try to legislate the morality of the rest of us?

These people are just as seriously nuts as they were back in the day but they’ve got some real power now. Why else would all the candidates for president deign to answer their stupid litmus-test questions? Why do some of them get to sit on nationally televised newscasts and have the anchor people pretend to take them seriously and ask them to comment on events of the day as if they were rational beings? Quite simply because they are afraid of these people, and perhaps with just cause.

No one is more vindictive than a crazy person, especially a crazy person who suspects you know he’s crazy. Now that these lunatics are organized, they’re voting and they’re raising a lot of money for candidates and lobbying groups. They’re invading our schools and running Bible camps for youngsters that resemble nothing so much as the jihadi training grounds, trying to get teenagers to swear off sex (good luck with that one) and mounting massive public relations campaigns to force public schools to teach Creationism as a science (might as well throw in the Flat Earth Theory while you’re at it). All this from people we used to cross the street to avoid.

Who thought we’d see the day when great American institutions would have to answer to lunatics? Didn’t the world suffer enough under religious nuts when the Catholic Church held all the power for centuries? Inquisitions, anyone? Who’s up for a crusade, guys? Shall we burn a scientific book today? Oh yes, and what say we burn the author at the stake while we’re at it? Good idea! Or are you too busy expelling the Jews and torturing heretics at the moment? And there’s always that pocket of non-believers down the road we really ought to smite, oughtn’t we? Absolutely! This is such fun!

Well, the Catholic Church suffered the challenge of a traumatic reformation and the loss of untold members and most of their political clout before it finally got around to doing actual good works. Make no mistake; for all its flaws and its oppressive history, the Catholic Church has done a lot of good in this world and if they can get their rogue priests to leave the altar boys alone they might regain some respect as a force for good and a source of higher moral authority in this world. But they will never again enjoy unchallenged political authority, and that’s as it should be. They have to render unto Caesar just like everyone else.

This is why America’s Founding Fathers mandated a separation of church and state. They saw what it did to Europe for all these centuries. Look at today’s religious states, mostly of the Muslim variety. See many reasonable people running them? Notice a lot of prosperity and contentment there? Does anyone seriously believe their populations like such governments, what with all the public stonings, whippings, chopping off of heads and hands and the indiscriminate issuance of fatwahs (death warrants) against those who disagree even slightly? Is that who the Jesus freaks want America to emulate? I don’t see a dime’s difference between them and the mullahs. Maybe they’re still pissed off that we dismissed them as nuts and crossed the street to avoid their ego-driven tedium all those years ago. Another thing madmen have is long memories.

Whatever candidate has the nerve to tell these creeps to stick it where the sun shineth not, that’s the person I’ll not only vote for, but campaign for too. To me they’re still a bunch of maladjusted control freaks mightily pissed off that the world won’t behave the way they insist it should. I don’t care how much money they have these days, how many voting blocs they control or on how many TV shows they get to showcase their ignorance and venality, to me they’re still nutty Jesus freaks trying to justify themselves and don’t care who they hurt in the process. Screw ‘em.

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