What would Jesus debate? In a recent interview, author Jacques Berlinerblau discusses Jesus Christ's emergence as a political candidate (as seen on the website jesusin2008.com): "When you ask people, 'Would you want Jesus to be your president?' people would almost always answer yes, but different people have different Jesuses. It's when Jesus enters the public sphere that people start to argue."
I would prefer, if political candidates were going to trot out a piece of literature to quote during stump speeches, that they reference Madame Bovary. Unfortunately, citing the Bible is presently in vogue. In his introduction, Berlinerblau asserts that "the Bible is back!" Many Christian conservatives are ecstatic now that—after years of what they might consider the Bible's "banishment" by the secular judiciary and the liberal media—the Good Book is currently given immense political weight. As Berlinerblau demonstrates in his remarkable study, though, not only do people have "different Jesuses," but they also have different Bibles.
The idea of populations disagreeing on biblical interpretation is nothing new, of course—and Berlinerblau isn't claiming that it is. Thumpin' It (besides boasting an enviable title) is a thorough examination of how politicians manipulate scripture to support their assertions. The author limits his scrutiny to recent politicians, including the last few presidents. Also considered are the 2008 presidential candidates, each of whom—not just Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney—have invoked the Bible in their campaigns.
Thumpin' It is more than just a list of various political entities alongside block quotes of their speeches. Berlinerblau offers clever commentary that, though it illustrates his personal political views, equally skewers candidates on both "sides." The absurdity of quoting Bible verses (especially when different scripture can be cited to substantiate positions on either side of an argument) is evident, but it is also clear that doing so is almost a necessity for today's candidates, Democrats and Republicans alike. Despite his wit, Berlinerblau's tone is not snarky, but hopeful—and realistic. Recognizing that the populace will always have different Jesuses and different Bibles, he anticipates a time when faith will induce voters to think more deeply about their political choices.