India: Was Jesus a Communist?

Was Jesus a communist? In a special India spin on What Would Jesus Do? (WWJD), the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) has run afoul of Catholics in the southern state of Kerala with campaign speeches and a spoof of Leonardo Da Vinci's Last Supper that suggest Christ was the world's first Marxist revolutionary.

The whole tamasha was anti-capitalist propaganda, according to India's Economic Times newspaper. “The 'reworked painting,' printed with the caption 'last supper of capitalism,' showed US president Barack Obama at the centre and Congress and BJP leaders, including Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh and BJP's LK Advani etc, on either sides,” the paper explains. “The reworked poster was displayed at a few places near Thiruvananthapuram by party workers but was removed on the instruction of the party.”

Various Christian outfits took offense, according to FirstPost, marking yet another instance in which an Indian religious group claimed “hurt sentiments” in response to political speech. (Not to mention the kind of thing that, these days, can get you knocked off Google and Facebook, as GlobalPost reported earlier today).  And it was not long before the state's Congress party Chief Minister Oommen Chandy demanded an apology.

But, characteristically of Indian politics, where tragedy nearly always plays as farce, the plot thickens. The CPI-M soon denied any role in the nefarious production of the Last Supper poster, and suggested it was concocted by the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) to damage the CPI-M's efforts in an ongoing bye election, according to Gulf News.

Fortunately, despite those Da Vinci Code type machinations, nobody has started beating ploughshares into swords — which actually happens pretty often in Kerala's rough-and-tumble scramble for votes. But neither has anybody attempted to explain why the idea of Christ fighting for the poor—Che Guevara style—is such an insult to their beliefs.

The guy not only cast the moneylenders out of the temple, he also sowed a revolutionary seed or two of his own, such as when he said:

Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. F or I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.

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