Huntington Beach: What Would Jesus Do? (Pt. II of V)

Radiant HB councilwoman Jill Hardy is a devout member of the First Christian Church of Huntington Beach, whom I had the honor of accompanying in a heartfelt rendition of “God Bless America” at a Flag Day event a couple of years ago. She has emerged as the main spokesperson against the proposal to post “In God We Trust” in HB council chambers. As she pithily told the HB Independent: “I want to know about the motivation for this. If it’s a religious motivation then it doesn’t really belong in City Hall. If it’s a political motivation, I personally feel it’s taking the Lord’s name in vain, and I absolutely oppose that.”

Right on, Jill, couldn’t have said it better myself, and I do wonder how Cathy and Joe will answer. We’ll get to them in a future post, but the point many people miss is that the separation of church and state is meant to protect religion from politics at least as much as the converse.

Many of us feel that the high point of Christianity was its first few centuries, before Roman Emperor Constantine converted and made it the state religion. The state and religion should never mix; for one thing it creates too much concentrated power and potential for corruption and abuse. We saw the results in all the horrors that Church critics love to rehash—the Crusades, the Inquisition, all the religious wars and persecutions in Europe (which helped drive our ancestors to these shores) and worst of all the endless Dark Ages of enforced ignorance.

OK Jubal, I know that was all a long time ago. But even this past century shows that religion is at its worst when allied with state power (Pius XII making nice with the Nazis and ignoring the Holocaust) and at its best when removed from and opposed to it (brave religious dissidents in Communist states, Bishop Tutu fighting apartheid, the liberation theology movement in Latin America, and on and on.)

Religious folks should say “No, thank you,” to anything reeking of bringing religion and politics closer together. One remembers Jesus’ rage at the moneychangers desecrating his Father’s temple with their profane commerce; and one feels certain he would have reacted the same way seeing his Father’s name placed in mute approval overlooking the inevitably dirty dealings of the Huntington Beach City Council.

“It is written, `My house shall be called the house of prayer,’
but ye have made it a den of thieves.”

About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official political troubadour of Anaheim and most other OC towns. Regularly makes solo performances, sometimes with his savage-jazz band The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at, or 714-235-VERN.