Empire Remixed: To Hell With Romans 13

I’ve added the Empire Remixed site to my blogroll under the “Christarchy” category. Check it out, there is a lot of good stuff there. Empire Remixed is a project that had its birth in the “Wine Before Breakfast” gatherings in Brian Walsh’s office at the University of Toronto. I’ve written a bit about Walsh and posted links to and excerpts from some of his articles, as well as discussed items from some books he has co-written.

This particular article really struck a chord deep with me. All over the place I go, when I speak of Christianity and radical ideas and engaging the empire and so on and so forth, almost always the question comes, something like the refrain to a bad pop song: “What about Romans 13?”

I have been planning for some time to make another stab at answering that question, since my last attempt on the matter was really more of a prolegomenon to answering the question than an answer to the question itself, in response to a discussion I’ve had on and off over the years with a friend out in California. I hope to get that up sometime this week, since I’m currently unemployed and have all kinds of time to write, so we’ll see. In the meantime, I give you To Hell With Romans 13 by Brian Walsh.

An excerpt:

“Well, how can you use language of subverting the empire when Paul says that we are to submit to the governing authorities?”

And for years I have attempted to be patient in my response. My patience has run out. In the light of Guantanamo Bay, the deceit of the administration in leading America into war in Iraq, the refusal of that state to submit to almost any significant international treaty, and the idolatrous protection of the revered “American Way of Life.”

In the face of undeniable evidence of the human impact on global warming, I’ve lost it. I’ve got no more patience for this appeal to Romans 13 to justify idolatry, deceit, violence, repression and imperialism.

To hell with the Romans 13 of the Religious Right! To hell with the Romans 13 of lackeys of imperialism! To hell with the Romans 13 of those who are comfortable in Babylon!

Indeed, to hell with the Romans 13 of those who somehow think that an American Revolution in 1776 was divinely sanctioned but no such revolution should happen in 2007 because we must submit to the governing authorities…

Or to make my point more biblically clear – to hell with Romans 13 read out of context of Romans 12, the rest of Paul’s letter to the Romans, the life of Jesus, and the whole prophetic testimony of the Hebrew prophets.


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