Capitalism is “Anti-Jesus”

01/10/09 | Posted by MattPage

Michael Moore knows a thing or two about grabbing a headlines. Having pestered Charlton Heston over gun control in Bowling for Columbine and flown flown 9/11 fireman let down by US healthcare to Cuba in Sicko, he's made a controversial statement in the lead up to his next movie, Capitalism: A Love Story.

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As the title suggests, the film is Moore’s argument against capitalism, something he claims is “anti-American”, contrary to democracy, and doesn’t even work. But it’s his recent statement that capitalism was “anti-Jesus”, that has really grabbed the headlines. As a Republican-baiting Hollywood filmmaker, Moore’s biggest opponents are conservative Christians, so it’s hard to tell whether the point he’s making is genuine, or just a carefully calculated attempt to stir up a bit of controversy.

Moore backed up his claim in a recent interview with CNN. “I do have very strong beliefs and these beliefs were formed… in the Catholic Church. Priests and nuns taught me these lessons of how we’re to treat each other, how we’re to treat the poor”. He also said that the major difference between this documentary and his previous films is that he talks about his religion, suggesting that the “anti-Jesus” aspect of the movie is an integral part of it.

Whether it’s a genuine outworking of his faith, or simply a an attempt to grab a few headlines, it’s easy to see why Moore made the connection. Jesus talked more about money than abut any other subject. “It’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom”. “You cannot be the slave of two masters… You cannot serve God and money” (Luke 16:13). “Do not store up treasures on Earth where moths and rust destroy and robbers break in and steal, but store up for yourself treasures in Heaven” (Matt 6:19-21). Jesus proposed a radical alternative. He himself had “nowhere to lay his head”, and his model new community demonstrated its equality by eating together and and giving to those in need. Over the years many of Jesus’ followers have sought to follow in his footsteps from the early church who held everything in common, via people like Francis of Assisi, through to modern day figures such as Mother Teresa.

But some will need persuading that Moore’s point is really legitimate. Apart from anything else, given that capitalism is a relatively modern system can anyone really say how Jesus would have viewed it? And as Jesus often used exaggerated language to make a point (for example, has anyone ever cut off their right hand when it caused them to sin?), perhaps some of these passages are further examples.

Either way it will be interesting to see how Moore backs up his headline. It’s not clear at the moment when the film will open over here (it opens in the US on Friday) but whilst we wait why not leave a comment below on whether or not you think Moore is right?

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The words of George Bernard Shaw echo..

“Take no thought, saying What shall we eat? or What shall we drink? or Wherewithal shall we be clothed?” We shall then no longer have a race of men whose hearts are in their pockets and safes and at their bankers. As Jesus said, where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. That was why he recommended that money should cease to be a treasure, and that we should take steps to make ourselves utterly reckless of it, setting our minds free for higher uses. In other words, that we should all be gentlemen and take care of our country because our country takes care of us, instead of the commercialized cads we are, doing everything and anything for money, and selling our souls and bodies by the pound and the inch after wasting half the day haggling over the price. Decidedly, whether you think Jesus was God or not, you must admit that he was a first-rate political economist.”

#1. By Wendy Young on October 03, 2009

Michael Moore raises a huge issue.  How much of the World’s suffering and exploitation (human, animal and environmental) is caused by greed and wanting more and more money.  Imagine what could be acheived if the empasis switched from greed to loving and sharing…

#2. By Jason Owen on October 06, 2009

It is very easy to read the Scriptures through rich, western, capitalist eyes.  It is much more honest to the record if we try to see the text as it is, not as we have sanitized it. 

What then do we do with verses as mentioned above or this one I mention below. It takes a great deal of honest engagement.  Jesus was definately about that!

Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless. What will you do on the day of reckoning, when disaster comes from afar? To whom will you run for help? Where will you leave your riches?
Isaiah 10:1-3

#3. By Br. James Patrick on October 07, 2009

Despite Moore, I think, being somewhat sensationalist in his representations, I believe he is a very brave and good person. He raises issues that are so obvious but are never questioned. This latest issue is so fundamental, moreso for our continued existence as a race than anything. I think it is naive to say we cannot know what Jesus would think about capitalism. I believe he has already said it all: there are profiteers that love money over God. Capitalism is the love of money!

#4. By Niel McGill on October 26, 2009

Erm…species, not race (too early in the morning hahaha).

#5. By NIel McGill on October 26, 2009

I guess Moore was charging people to see his film, rather than giving it away free.  In fact, I reckon he turned a profit.  The wicked capitalist.

Here’s a thought: hasn’t capitalism done more to lift people out of poverty than anything else?

#6. By Philip Walker on October 31, 2009

This is an interesting discussion, but I wonder if anyone has seen the film? I would wonder how it would affect the comments then


Freida Rollins
Inspiring photos of Jesus: http://thejourneysproject.com/gallery.aspx

#7. By Freida Rollins on March 24, 2010

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