From the Desk of Chris Barbera

March 3, 2020

Jesus the Liberator began forming as the 1994 United States Crime Bill was being passed.  One of our lineages and philosophical underpinnings is Liberation Theology. One of its main tenets states that Jesus showed a “preferential option for the poor.”  The crime bill was a legal and philosophical underpinning that greatly expanded and justified incarceration, the war on drugs and policies such as stop and frisk, all of which oppress the poor.  In other words, to support the crime bill and other such “tough on crime” policies is to give a “preferential option” for the suppression of the poor, which benefits the rich.

Pontius Pilate, as an administrator for the empire, was most likely “tough on crime.”  He used the full extent of the law to execute Jesus. In other words, “justice was served.”  Jesus’ compatriots’, Peter and Paul, who served time in prison, also received “justice.”

Did Pontius Pilate ever receive justice for exploiting the land, wealth and people of the foreign lands of the Eastern Mediterranean?   Did financers who crash markets and impoverish multitudes receive justice? What about the C.E.O.’s of fossil fuel industries that create massive environmental catastrophes that kill countless animals, plants, fauna and eco systems that support life? Is the nuclear meltdown at Fukushima a minor oversight or misdemeanor?  Or how about the war criminals that create endless “wars on terror?”

Jesus simultaneously overturned the moneychangers in the temple and “prayed for those who persecute.”  He addressed systemic oppressions and still prayed for the merciful softening of heart of the powerful ignorant. 

Jesus the Liberator addresses the disease of mass incarceration and still prays for the warden.  But mostly we have connected with inmates (the Christians in prison).