STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
A Blueprint for Resistance: Jesus Christ vs. the Police State
By John W. Whitehead - March 30, 2018

“In that dramatic scene on Calvary’s hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime — the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps …the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.” —Martin Luther King Jr.

Just as police states have arisen throughout history, there have also been individuals or groups of individuals who have risen up to challenge the injustices of their age.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer risked his life to undermine the tyranny at the heart of Nazi Germany.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn challenged the soul-destroying gulags of the Soviet Union.

Martin Luther King Jr. called America on the carpet for its color-coded system of racial segregation and warmongering.

And then there was Jesus Christ, an itinerant preacher and revolutionary activist, who not only died challenging the police state of his day—namely, the Roman Empire—but provided a blueprint for standing up to tyranny that would be followed by those, religious and otherwise, who came after him.

A radical nonconformist who challenged authority at every turn, Jesus was a far cry from the watered-down, corporatized, simplified, gentrified, sissified vision of a meek creature holding a lamb that most modern churches peddle. In fact, he spent his adult life speaking truth to power, challenging the status quo of his day, and pushing back against the abuses of the Roman Empire.

Those living through this present age of militarized police, SWAT team raids, police shootings of unarmed citizens, roadside strip searches, and invasive surveillance might feel as if these events are unprecedented, the characteristics of a police state and its reasons for being are no different today than they were in Jesus’ lifetime: control, power and money.

Much like the American Empire today, the Roman Empire of Jesus’ day was characterized by secrecy, surveillance, a widespread police presence, a citizenry treated like suspects with little recourse against the police state, perpetual wars, a military empire, martial law, and political retribution against those who dared to challenge the power of the state.

As I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, a police state extends far beyond the actions of law enforcement.  In fact, a police state “is characterized by bureaucracy, secrecy, perpetual wars, a nation of suspects, militarization, surveillance, widespread police presence, and a citizenry with little recourse against police actions.”

Indeed, the police state in which Jesus lived and its striking similarities to modern-day America are beyond troubling.

Secrecy, surveillance and rule by the elite. As the chasm between the wealthy and poor grew wider in the Roman Empire, the ruling class and the wealthy class became synonymous, while the lower classes, increasingly deprived of their political freedoms, grew disinterested in the government and easily distracted by “bread and circuses.” Much like America today, with its lack of government transparency, overt domestic surveillance, and rule by the rich, the inner workings of the Roman Empire were shrouded in secrecy, while its leaders were constantly on the watch for any potential threats to its power. The resulting state-wide surveillance was primarily carried out by the military, which acted as investigators, enforcers, torturers, policemen, executioners and jailers. Today that role is fulfilled by the NSA, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the increasingly militarized police forces across the country.

Widespread police presence. The Roman Empire used its military forces to maintain the “peace,” thereby establishing a police state that reached into all aspects of a citizen’s life. In this way, these military officers, used to address a broad range of routine problems and conflicts, enforced the will of the state. Today SWAT teams, comprised of local police and federal agents, are employed to carry out routine search warrants for minor crimes such as marijuana possession and credit card fraud.

Citizenry with little recourse against the police state. As the Roman Empire expanded, personal freedom and independence nearly vanished, as did any real sense of local governance and national consciousness. Similarly, in America today, citizens largely feel powerless, voiceless and unrepresented in the face of a power-hungry federal government. As states and localities are brought under direct control by federal agencies and regulations, a sense of learned helplessness grips the nation.

Perpetual wars and a military empire. Much like America today with its practice of policing the world, war and an over-arching militarist ethos provided the framework for the Roman Empire, which extended from the Italian peninsula to all over Southern, Western, and Eastern Europe, extending into North Africa and Western Asia as well. In addition to significant foreign threats, wars were waged against inchoate, unstructured and socially inferior foes.

Martial law. Eventually, Rome established a permanent military dictatorship that left the citizens at the mercy of an unreachable and oppressive totalitarian regime. In the absence of resources to establish civic police forces, the Romans relied increasingly on the military to intervene in all matters of conflict or upheaval in provinces, from small-scale scuffles to large-scale revolts. Not unlike police forces today, with their martial law training drills on American soil, militarized weapons and “shoot first, ask questions later” mindset, the Roman soldier had “the exercise of lethal force at his fingertips” with the potential of wreaking havoc on normal citizens’ lives.

A nation of suspects. Just as the American Empire looks upon its citizens as suspects to be tracked, surveilled and controlled, the Roman Empire looked upon all potential insubordinates, from the common thief to a full-fledged insurrectionist, as threats to its power. The insurrectionist was seen as directly challenging the Emperor.  A “bandit,” or revolutionist, was seen as capable of overturning the empire, was always considered guilty and deserving of the most savage penalties, including capital punishment. Bandits were usually punished publicly and cruelly as a means of deterring others from challenging the power of the state.  Jesus’ execution was one such public punishment.

Acts of civil disobedience by insurrectionists. Starting with his act of civil disobedience at the Jewish temple, the site of the administrative headquarters of the Sanhedrin, the supreme Jewish council, Jesus branded himself a political revolutionary. When Jesus “with the help of his disciples, blocks the entrance to the courtyard” and forbids “anyone carrying goods for sale or trade from entering the Temple,” he committed a blatantly criminal and seditious act, an act “that undoubtedly precipitated his arrest and execution.” Because the commercial events were sponsored by the religious hierarchy, which in turn was operated by consent of the Roman government, Jesus’ attack on the money chargers and traders can be seen as an attack on Rome itself, an unmistakable declaration of political and social independence from the Roman oppression.

Military-style arrests in the dead of night. Jesus’ arrest account testifies to the fact that the Romans perceived Him as a revolutionary. Eerily similar to today’s SWAT team raids, Jesus was arrested in the middle of the night, in secret, by a large, heavily armed fleet of soldiers.  Rather than merely asking for Jesus when they came to arrest him, his pursuers collaborated beforehand with Judas. Acting as a government informant, Judas concocted a kiss as a secret identification marker, hinting that a level of deception and trickery must be used to obtain this seemingly “dangerous revolutionist’s” cooperation.

Torture and capital punishment. In Jesus’ day, religious preachers, self-proclaimed prophets and nonviolent protesters were not summarily arrested and executed. Indeed, the high priests and Roman governors normally allowed a protest, particularly a small-scale one, to run its course. However, government authorities were quick to dispose of leaders and movements that appeared to threaten the Roman Empire. The charges leveled against Jesus—that he was a threat to the stability of the nation, opposed paying Roman taxes and claimed to be the rightful King—were purely political, not religious. To the Romans, any one of these charges was enough to merit death by crucifixion, which was usually reserved for slaves, non-Romans, radicals, revolutionaries and the worst criminals.

Jesus was presented to Pontius Pilate “as a disturber of the political peace,” a leader of a rebellion, a political threat, and most gravely—a claimant to kingship, a “king of the revolutionary type.” After Jesus is formally condemned by Pilate, he is sentenced to death by crucifixion, “the Roman means of executing criminals convicted of high treason.”  The purpose of crucifixion was not so much to kill the criminal, as it was an immensely public statement intended to visually warn all those who would challenge the power of the Roman Empire. Hence, it was reserved solely for the most extreme political crimes: treason, rebellion, sedition, and banditry. After being ruthlessly whipped and mocked, Jesus was nailed to a cross.

As Professor Mark Lewis Taylor observed:

The cross within Roman politics and culture was a marker of shame, of being a criminal. If you were put to the cross, you were marked as shameful, as criminal, but especially as subversive. And there were thousands of people put to the cross. The cross was actually positioned at many crossroads, and, as New Testament scholar Paula Fredricksen has reminded us, it served as kind of a public service announcement that said, “Act like this person did, and this is how you will end up.”

Jesus—the revolutionary, the political dissident, and the nonviolent activist—lived and died in a police state. Any reflection on Jesus’ life and death within a police state must take into account several factors: Jesus spoke out strongly against such things as empires, controlling people, state violence and power politics. Jesus challenged the political and religious belief systems of his day. And worldly powers feared Jesus, not because he challenged them for control of thrones or government but because he undercut their claims of supremacy, and he dared to speak truth to power in a time when doing so could—and often did—cost a person his life.

Unfortunately, the radical Jesus, the political dissident who took aim at injustice and oppression, has been largely forgotten today, replaced by a congenial, smiling Jesus trotted out for religious holidays but otherwise rendered mute when it comes to matters of war, power and politics.

Yet for those who truly study the life and teachings of Jesus, the resounding theme is one of outright resistance to war, materialism and empire.

What a marked contrast to the advice being given to Americans by church leaders to “submit to your leaders and those in authority”—which in the American police state translates to complying, conforming, submitting, obeying orders, deferring to authority and generally doing whatever a government official tells you to do.

Telling Americans to march in lockstep and blindly obey the government—or put their faith in politics and vote for a political savior—flies in the face of everything for which Jesus lived and died.

Ultimately, this is the contradiction that must be resolved if the radical Jesus—the one who stood up to the Roman Empire and was crucified as a warning to others not to challenge the powers-that-be—is to be an example for our modern age.

We must decide whether we will follow the path of least resistance—willing to turn a blind eye to what Martin Luther King Jr. referred to as the “evils of segregation and the crippling effects of discrimination, to the moral degeneracy of religious bigotry and the corroding effects of narrow sectarianism, to economic conditions that deprive men of work and food, and to the insanities of militarism and the self-defeating effects of physical violence”—or whether we will be transformed nonconformists “dedicated to justice, peace, and brotherhood.”

As King explained in a powerful sermon delivered in 1954, “This command not to conform comes … [from] Jesus Christ, the world’s most dedicated nonconformist, whose ethical nonconformity still challenges the conscience of mankind.”

We need to recapture the gospel glow of the early Christians, who were nonconformists in the truest sense of the word and refused to shape their witness according to the mundane patterns of the world.  Willingly they sacrificed fame, fortune, and life itself in behalf of a cause they knew to be right.  Quantitatively small, they were qualitatively giants.  Their powerful gospel put an end to such barbaric evils as infanticide and bloody gladiatorial contests.  Finally, they captured the Roman Empire for Jesus Christ… The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists, who are dedicated to justice, peace, and brotherhood.  The trailblazers in human, academic, scientific, and religious freedom have always been nonconformists.  In any cause that concerns the progress of mankind, put your faith in the nonconformist!

…Honesty impels me to admit that transformed nonconformity, which is always costly and never altogether comfortable, may mean walking through the valley of the shadow of suffering, losing a job, or having a six-year-old daughter ask, “Daddy, why do you have to go to jail so much?”  But we are gravely mistaken to think that Christianity protects us from the pain and agony of mortal existence.  Christianity has always insisted that the cross we bear precedes the crown we wear.  To be a Christian, one must take up his cross, with all of its difficulties and agonizing and tragedy-packed content, and carry it until that very cross leaves its marks upon us and redeems us to that more excellent way that comes only through suffering.

In these days of worldwide confusion, there is a dire need for men and women who will courageously do battle for truth.  We must make a choice. Will we continue to march to the drumbeat of conformity and respectability, or will we, listening to the beat of a more distant drum, move to its echoing sounds?  Will we march only to the music of time, or will we, risking criticism and abuse, march to the soul saving music of eternity?

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  • 45clive

    Jesus is quoted as saying that if you have two cloaks and no sword, trade one cloak for a sword. The Dali Lama said if someone with a gun comes to shoot you, you should shoot them with your own gun. In order to live in peace you must first of all live.

    • James HIgginbotham

      and like Jesus advised his men, i also have my SWORD.
      and that’s good enough for me.
      and should also be good enough for OTHER FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST OUR LORD AND KING.

      • VE Seeker

        Yeshua (how his name seems to have been pronounced in Aramaic – not “Jesus”) appears to have been a pure voluntarist.

        Assuming Luke 17:21 has escaped the corruptions of Emperor Constantine’s “Correctors” of the First Council of Nicaea in the 4th century – the text reads:

        “Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you”. (“within” is the correct translation here).

        This tells me that ultimate authority exits equally inside each person, and any person who tries to claim authority over another commits a crime against that which lives inside each of us. Or put another way, we are all equal with regard to natural law and the natural rights that derive from them.

        A bit of history that most “Christians” are unaware of: In the 4th century Constantine’s empire has become hard to control, and it was getting hard to steal much more plunder as all easy lucrative conquests had already been subjugated. Also the empire’s moral authority to demand taxes from it’s victims was running out. Using brute force as your authority only takes you so far, and brute force to collect taxes is not very efficient. So Constantine came up with a great con to increase his power. He took the old Mithraic pagan religion that he practiced and was loved by his army, and gave it a new makeover with an outer appearance to copy the extant and growing “Jesus” movement in his empire.

        Constantine got some corruptible power seeking clergy from this movement to help him fashion a religion to his liking. He needed to establish divine authority on earth to get good compliant suckers to willingly pay taxes to him. A feature of Mithraic sun-worship was a in-the-flesh man-god come to earth. Someone you must worship and obey. And thus the declaration of the Nicene creed of 325 declaring Jesus as divine god-in-flesh as well as Son of God. And the best part for Constantine, anyone who won’t go along with the hoax gets declared “Anathema”, is executed or banished, and all their property is confiscated by the empire.

        Among those declared “Anathema” were the Ebionites and also Gnostics who had some similar teachings. The Ebionites held that Yeshua (Jesus), was the Messiah, who became ONE with the Son of God at his baptism. They claimed that the Son of God -Logos- Word of God – who they referred to as the “True Prophet” lived inside each person . And each person has a responsibility to achieve oneness with this inner authority as Yeshua had. Some of the Ebionite families were direct decedents of those who had lived with, and learned directly from Yeshua. Most of them chose death or banishment rather than obey this mass-murderer Constantine.

        Constantine had their scriptures either destroyed or modified to support his new religion. Naturally Constantine declared himself the rightful heir to the divine authority of “Jesus” upon the Earth. Anyone who today calls themselves “Christian” and who follows this man-god worship of Jesus, as declared in the Nicene Creed, not only commits idolatry, but rejects their true inner authority and places a false human authority in place of that inner authority! Later day discoveries such as the Nag Hammadi Library, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and other documents that escaped the destruction by Constantine and the “authorities” that followed him, they shed further light on this great crime of Constantine.

  • John Whitehead: “[A] police state ‘is characterized by bureaucracy, secrecy, perpetual wars, a nation of suspects, militarization, surveillance, widespread police presence, and a citizenry with little recourse against police actions.’”

    Tragically, perpetuated by John Whitehead and everyone else promoting the Constitution as the supreme law of the land, which is responsible for all of these national atrocities and thousands of others, millions if you count the infants slaughtered in their mothers’ wombs, financed by the Constitutional Republic:

    “[B]ecause they have … trespassed against my law … they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind….” (Hosea 8:1,7)

    Today’s America is merely reaping the inevitable ever-intensifying whirlwind resulting from the wind sown by the constitutional framers, immortalized by the bulk of today’s Christians and Patriots:

    “…3. Every problem America faces today can be traced back to the fact that the framers failed to expressly establish a government upon Yahweh’s immutable morality as codified in His commandments, statutes, and judgments. (Would infanticide and sodomy be tolerated, let alone financed by the government, if Yahweh’s perfect law and altogether righteous judgments were the law of the land? Would Islam be a looming threat to our peace and security if the First Amendment had been replaced with the First Commandment? Would Americans be in nearly as much debt if usury had been outlawed as a form of theft? Would crime be as rampant if “cruel and unusual punishment” had not been outlawed and criminals were instead punished with Yahweh’s altogether righteous judgments? Would we be on the fiscal cliff if we were taxed with a flat increase tax rather than a graduated income tax?)….

    “On February 27, 2009, James Dobson conceded that we have lost the culture wars. This “is the consequence of Christians [including Dr. Dobson] having spent the last two centuries lopping at the rotten branches of our culture’s corrupt tree while watering and fertilizing its roots.

    “We should lop away at the tree’s corrupt branches (infanticide, sodomy, the economy, etc.). However, until the root of these problems is Biblically addressed, we will never shut down the infanticide mills, we will never defeat the sodomites, and we will never fix the economy. In short, we will never win the culture wars. This issue is more than important for anyone concerned about God, our nation, and the future of our posterity, it’s the cutting- edge issue of our day….”

    For more, see our Featured Blog Article “5 Reasons the Constitution is Our Cutting-Edge Issue” at http://www.bibleversusconstitution.org/.

    Then find out how much you really know about the Constitution as compared to the Bible. Take our 10-question Constitution Survey at http://www.bibleversusconstitution.org/ConstitutionSurvey.html and receive a complimentary copy of a book that examines the Constitution by the Bible.

  • Patrick Mahoney

    A lot of “holes” in your otherwise well proposed Essay Whitehead; albeit, your hot erudition comes through.
    Our Lord Jesus, the Christ came before the Sanhedrin twice and was ACQUITTED.
    On the Third go-around, the threatened high priests leaned on the appropriate Roman officials by insisting there’d be some Bad ‘scenes’ in town if They didn’t find *something*- to bring him in on. So the JEWS got the ROMANS to do Their ‘dirty work’ for them.In,and with the orchestrated Crowd.They took care of the rest when the crowd chanted:”Free BAR ABBAS!”and for JESUS: “Crucify him!!”.
    Romans didn’t Care one way, or another.
    Jesus was just another ‘pain In the ass’ Jew. Made little difference to them; just wanted relative peace on a hot day.Just another jew troublemaker.Romans didn’t care.
    Whitehead’s been “educated” by: The FRANKFURT SCHOOL ‘ACADEMICS’ (spit),
    originating out of the University of Chicago.Too bad – so sad.Their Plan has clearly worked,Pro Tempore. It remains to be seen how it all shakes out.
    Antonio Gramsci et al. “Academia” has clearly, forgotten “The Idea Of A University” by John Newman of long ago. Alas.
    Regrets.

    • James Clander

      “——-So the JEWS got the ROMANS to do Their ‘dirty work’ for them.”

      Just like the Jews today get the USA Govt Deep State to do their dirty work for them. The Jews who never let us forget the Holocaust have been abusing & murdering without let up since they arrived in Palestine.

      There are many Jewish people of good intent who speak out against the State – a minority. Just like in the USA where the majority are too dumb & stupid to object OR quite happy to accept the Warmongering of their Governments.

      Total maniacs claiming to be Religious breathe Fire & Brimstone continuously.
      There is NO doubt the Religion is a sickness & America is ill because of it.

    • VE Seeker

      The Version of the New Testament you are allowed today was Mass-Murderer emperor Constantine approved (Council of Nicaea 325). His team of “correctors” scoured scriptures to get things to read the the way he and his accomplices wanted. Naturally they minimize the Roman role in the crucifixion. Texts that supported the Gnostic and Ebionite versions of what happened were destroyed or supressed. Example of some of the texts before Constantine: Early Mt 17:5 (at his baptism) “this is my beloved son, this day I have begotten thee” (After): “…This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.” Thus obscuring that Yeshua (Jesus) was a man who became begotten of God at the baptism and not a divine incarnation of the Son of God at his birth. Constantine needed to establish earthly divine authority for his empire by being the successor to a divine man-god. Thus making his subjects more obedient tax slaves.

      • guard4her

        Fortunately, we have numerical analysis to determine which is the correct text. For quite some time now, there has been no reason to debate what version of a particular text is correct. It can be decisively determined. This information is not widely know, if not suppressed.

      • Indeed all true, but few can or will grasp it because they have been mind effed their entire lives and reuse to know the truth of the matter !

        Jesus faced the police state straight up just as we all need to do today here in USA ! Now it has morphed into the DSA and far more powerful in some ways, yet vulnerable in others.

        All anyone need do to know the truth is to read the Dead Sea scrolls and Nag Hammadhi text and it is all completely revealed what happened and why ! Jesus real messages have been hidden the entire time and replaced by fairy tales and easy bondage for the state apparatus that was created. Should sound very familiar to what we see today for any who understand at all and are not afraid to think ?

        How many times and ways did Jesus say look inside for all the answers and I will meet you in that secret place ? Most have been sold a serious and destructive bill of goods, lies and distortions ! The Gnostics and Essenes were on the right track and were eliminated deliberately by the politico control freaks of that day and time !

        http://www.downtoearththinking.com/religions–prayer-and-meditation.html

    • Clearpoint

      As for “holes” in Whitehead’s essay, I find the biggest one to be his pinning of the blame for Jesus’s crucifixion entirely on the Roman government, while he totally ignores, and thereby absolves, the smaller vested interests, who played a much larger role behind the scenes, for his crucifixion.

      I agree that Jesus was of little worry to the Roman government; and that Judas’s kiss was not out of government deception, as Whitehead writes, but was needed to identify Jesus for arrest, because the Roman authority would not have otherwise known who he was. No doubt Judas’s act was one of betrayal; but who do you think orchestrated and financed that betrayal? Roman government? Or the Jewish high priests whose profits Jesus put at risk?

      Roman government, like US government, was a very powerful, but blunt and sloppily administered instrument. For those skilled at deception and manipulation, the blunt and sloppily administered instrument of government, and the ignorant “bread and circus” loving populace, are easy to deceive, arouse and manipulate. Pontius Pilot knew the score, which is why he washed his hands of it. History repeats; I can’t help but get a “meet the new boss, same as the old boss” feeling when comparing Jesus’s time with ours.

      Whitehead is a libertarian who lays all blame for all wrong on the blunt and sloppily administered instrument of government; and seeks its destruction so that the “free market” may reign supreme without challenge. Consequently, in his retelling of the crucifixion, he leaves out the dominant role that “free market” forces played in Jesus’s crucifixion.

      My favorite part of the essay, and the takeaway I will leave with, is the Martin Luther King quote from his 1954 sermon — “…Christianity has always insisted that the cross we bear precedes the crown we wear. To be a Christian, one must take up his cross, with all of its difficulties and agonizing and tragedy-packed content, and carry it until that very cross leaves its marks upon us and redeems us to that more excellent way that comes only through suffering.”

  • NobodysaysBOO

    great peice, wish photos could post here because today at brietbait news the rabbiis are all over the oval orrifice with trump on his knees before them right out there is the open ON EASTER!!!
    get off your knees trump and crusify these bastards that did 911 and all their kind.

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