Pope Francis, the 266th and the current Pope of the Catholic Church, who arrived in the United States on September 24, 2015 on a six-day visit, has grabbed the attention of millions of people who are not just Catholics but also by those who represent a wide array of denominations within Christianity and even non-Christian people living in the United States.
Very vaguely familiar with his background, I, like millions of others, watched the arrival of the Pope at the Joint Base Andrews Airport in Washington DC on live television. From the moment Pope Francis stepped his feet on the US ground, I was mesmerized by his simplicity, demeanor, and his eagerness to embrace people. Divinity radiated from him, by his look, by his words, and yes, by his actions.
Appearing weak and frail, likely suffering from jet lag as well, the Pope waved at the large crowd while hugging and touching small children amidst warm welcome by President Barack Obama, his wife and children, and Vice President Joe Biden and his wife.
The more I watched the Pope, the more I thought; "Heck, Christianity is not that bad after all!" (Full Disclosure: I am a Hindu).
Before this epiphany, I mostly saw the blatant hypocrisy among the Christians. They cherry-picked the verses in Bible and interpreted it to suit their selfish interest. Greed was good, helping poor was abomination and utterly socialist; and cheating on your wife or husband, or even murdering people, was perfectly acceptable as long as you asked for forgiveness (rolls eyes!) from the Lord.
With widespread sexual abuse in many churches, my opinion about Christianity was anything but high. Hell (pardon the pun), I absolutely loathed the current version of Christianity. When people put Second Amendment before Bible, there is something wrong with the picture.
All that changed with the arrival of Pope Francis. Not only he acknowledged the weaknesses in Christianity (what religion does not have its own weaknesses?) and the churches, he asked everyone to love and respect our fellow human beings just like it says in the Bible. Sure he talked about climate change and immigration, abortion and gay marriage, but his message was consistent – take care of your planet and 'Love Thy Neighbor'. When he touched a handicapped little girl or put his hand on a little boy during his visit to a homeless shelter in Washington DC, I could not help but felt moved by his actions.
"Our efforts must aim at restoring hope, righting wrongs, maintaining commitments and thus promoting the well-being of individuals and of peoples… We must move forward together, as one, in a renewed spirit of fraternity and solidarity, cooperating generously for the common good," the Pope said at the joint meeting of Congress on Thursday in Washington DC.
So while here I was – a Hindu with deep reservations about Christianity – touched by the simplicity and the universal message of the Pope, there were 'Christians' in the US who accused the Cardinal of being a socialist, a Communist, and even a fake charlatan who was using his bully pulpit to lecture America.
Rush Limbaugh, the talk radio host who claims to be a Christian and is currently on his fourth wife after divorcing the first three and the one who at one time was a drug addict and who was caught smuggling Viagra from his trip to Dominican Republic, gave his 'dittoheads' something to think about with his own version of conspiracy between President Obama and Pope Frances.
"In the last seven years, Obama has successfully recruited or corrupted or hijacked not just Republican leadership and Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, but the Pope himself," Limbaugh said on his radio broadcast on Thursday.
The cult leader of the right wing Bible-thumpers further said how Obama had made the GOP leaders "afraid" of him and how Supreme Court Justice John Roberts was "going out of his way" to support Obama, and how it appeared that the Pope might be "supporting Obama" on certain social issues.
So according to Limbaugh, President Obama has this special magical power to change anyone's mind including the top Republican leadership and the Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts who, on any other day that ends in 'y', would be considered as anything but liberal. Mind it, this is the same Obama who Limbaugh has called sissy, a wuss (as compared to Vladimir Putin) who wears mom jeans and bows to different world leaders!
Not to be outdone by Limbaugh, yet another hero of the 'Right Wing Bullshit Mountain', as John Stewart likes to call them, Mark Levin, a radio host who, in all honesty, belongs in a padded cell with men in white coats, said that both Pope Francis and President Obama had a tendency to "speak down to" the people of America.
Truly, the inmates are now running the asylum!
"I don't think either men (Obama and Pope Francis) appreciate the American people or the nation’s history and heritage or what America’s done for the world," the diminutive whiner hiding behind his microphone said in his most irritating nasal voice.
Levin goes on to say it was easy for Obama to say these things because he’s "contributed zero to American liberty" and it was "easy for a pope to come here… and, quite frankly, lecture us in many respects and talk down to us in many respects about immigration."
The man who believes that anyone slightly left of Attila the Hun is a commie, socialist, tree-hugging liberal who do not deserve to breathe the same air that he or his fellow rightwingers breathe, has obviously forgotten his own history (Levin is a Jew). Going by his constant demonizing of those who do not agree with him, it is obvious that he wants to do the same to the Democrats and the liberals what the Führer did to the Jews in Germany, if Levin has his own ways.
Is it any surprise then that many people, while loving Jesus and his teachings, hate the modern-day Christians?
Mahatma Gandhi once famously said, "I like your Christ; I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."
Pope Francis helps restore faith in Christianity; Limbaugh and Levin don't!