The United States versus the Gospels

by Mark Chmiel

The crime of liberation theology was that it takes the Gospels seriously. That’s unacceptable. The Gospels are radical pacifist material, if you take a look at them. When the Roman emperor Constantine adopted Christianity, he shifted it from a radical pacifist religion to the religion of the Roman Empire. So the cross, which was the symbol of the suffering of the poor, was put on the shield of the Roman soldiers. Since that time, the Church has been pretty much the church of the rich and powerful—the opposite of the message of the Gospels. Liberation theology, in Brazil particularly, brought the actual Gospels to peasants. They said, let’s read what the Gospels say, and try to act on the principles they describe. That was the major crime that set off the Reagan wars of terror and Vatican repression. The United States was virtually at war with the Catholic Church in the 1980s. It was a clash of civilization, if you like: the United States versus the Gospels.

–Noam Chomsky, What We Say Goes: Conversations on U.S. Power in a Changing World–Interviews with David Barsamian, pp. 84-85