Preferring Herod to Jesus

He has been described as a great moral leader who was “candid, fair and honest…no one was afraid of him and everybody trusted him.” He was “leading his people down new and unfamiliar avenues…His brown eye was exceedingly wise and gentle.  A child would like to sit on his lap and a dog would sidle up to him.” He had a tremendous “capacity for feeling” and was a “good natured man of principle” and “kindly geniality.”

As Paul Johnson, author of Modern Times wrote, the authors of such tributes included writer H.G. Wells; Hewlett Johnson, the Dean of Canterbury; an American ambassador, Joseph El Davis; Emil Ludwig, the famous biographer; physicist J.D. Bernal and the Chilean writer Pablo Neruda.

The man receiving the unctuous accolades was the tyrant Joseph Stalin.

We should not be terribly surprised. 

The Left has always preferred Herod to Jesus.

Leftists also have always preferred to substitute their own messianic figures in place of the Son of Man, leaders whose ideology promises redemption of society and the eradication of societal ills through fundamental transformation that includes eradication of undesirables.

In America during the late 1920’s and 30’s the intelligentsia were repudiating capitalism in favor of collectivism.  They sang the praises of Soviet Russia even while Stalin was starving, murdering and imprisoning millions of his own people in order to effectuate a revolutionary new communist order in Russia and the entire planet. 

Nothing much has changed since then, as has recently been revealed in the loving eulogies given in honor of Fidel Castro, who in life and death has been lauded as a candidate for sainthood by the Main Stream Media and academia, as a recent video collage of comments reveals. 

“What he’s done in Cuba has been a success.” He “dramatically improved health care and literacy.” “They are not celebrating his death in Cuba.”  He was “the original revolutionary and the George Washington of his country.”  “He was a romantic figure.” Geraldo Rivera stated that “Cubans have tremendous sense of pride over his legacy and he will be remembered fondly.”

Castro, Che Guevara, Stalin, Mao Tse Tung, or Pol Pot -- all are remembered fondly for their ideals and the political efficacy of their “reforms.”

Why is it the Left repudiates Jesus in favor of tyrants?  Why, in the face of recorded history and countless testimonials from the oppressed in Soviet Russia, Cuba, North Korea and other tyrannical regimes, do the intelligentsia and followers of the Left persist in their delusional love of evil men?

At least part of the problem is that ardent belief in abstract ideology causes denial of reality.  The ideals sound so plausible.  But the refusal to look into the actual gruesome machinations necessary to bring about ideals such as global collectivism results in a self-induced ignorance. 

As Paul Johnson pointed out:

“At the very moment the American intelligentsia turned to totalitarian Europe [and the Soviet Union] for spiritual sustenance and guidance in orderly planning, it was in fact embarking on two decades of unprecedented ferocity and desolation—moral relativism in monstrous incarnation.  On 21 December 1929 Stalin…was absolute master of an autocracy for which, in concentrated savagery, no parallel in history could be found...[He] had given orders for the forced collectivization of the Russian peasants, an operation involving far greater material loss than anything within the scope of Wall Street, and a human slaughter on a scale no earlier tyranny had possessed the physical means, let alone the wish, to bring about.  By the time John Strachey wrote of fleeing capitalist death to find Soviet birth, this gruesome feat of social engineering had been accomplished.  Five million peasants were dead; twice as many in forced labor camps.  By that time, too, Stalin had acquired a pupil, admirer and rival in the shape of Hitler, controlling a similar autocracy and planning human sacrifices on an even ampler scale…. The devils had taken over.”

Nothing much has changed for the Left since the 1930’s.  The Herodian instinct to utilize death in its many forms is still the preferred modus operandi for achieving ideals.  

Students of history will recall the story of Herod and the infant Jesus, remembering Herod the Great as the murderous tyrant who ordered the slaughter of all babies under the age of two in order the king the magi spoke of would be eliminated from contention for his throne.  Herod believed the death of babies would be politically efficacious.  Rivals to his throne would all be dead. 

Herod’s tactics were and are nothing new.  Like one of the sons of Gideon, who executed seventy of his half- brothers in order to gain power, Herod was driven by dreams of absolute power.  Nothing mattered but the goal.

The innocent and powerless are easy targets. At the time of this writing, some fifty to sixty million unborn babies have been sacrificed in the name of “freedom of choice,” a Herodian ideology is ever there was one.  Radical feminist ideology argued moral criteria did not exist when it came to abortion.  Only the absolute and unquestioned power of individual will mattered.

But there is more than one type of killing.  Not all death is literally Herodian. Some killing comes softly.  There is a killing of faith that happens as the Left seeks to eliminate religion from the public square, seeking by relentless erasure of Christian symbols and expressions of faith to render observances by the faithful null and void, including observances of the highholy day known as Christmas. 

Dean Baquet, the executive editor of the New York Times says his paper’s reporters don’t “get” religion.  He adds he hopes his staff does better coverage of news stories about religion in the future.

America’s Christians should not be holding their breath waiting for the New York Times or any other main stream media outlet to fairly represent any story about religion.

It is common knowledge that the New York Times, along with nearly all of the mainstream media, does not regard much of anything to do with the Christian worldview, including the story of Christmas, as newsworthy.  For the deeply irreligious reporters and opinion makers of the Times, nothing is real news if it comes from a Christian perspective or is about Christians.

For them, Christmas is fake news; fake history and a superstitious, fake rite observed by fake people.  Religion itself is fake as far as the Left is concerned.  Only the mentally challenged or the duped and doped believe in the story of Jesus’ birth as the Messiah, the Son of God.

As Alister McGrath in The Twilight of Atheism notes of the relationship between Postmodernism, atheism, and deconstruction:

Many Postmodern writers are, after all, atheist (at least in the sense of not actively believing in God). The very idea of deconstruction seems to suggest that the idea of God ought to be eliminated from Western culture as a power play on the part of churches and others with vested interests in its survival.

McGrath has pinpointed the main issue.  Like Herod, those with the postmodern mentality wish Christ were dead and earnestly seek to see that the message and symbols of Christmas are suffocated in the manger.  The story of Christ is not to be heard or seen anywhere at any time -- not in government, not in public schools, not in sports arenas; and certainly, not in Knightstown, Indiana, where the ACLU, an ardent proselytizer for atheist secularism has been successful in having a cross removed from the community Christmas tree.

The Left continues to prefer messianic figures who deal out death and destruction, believing it is better that many die in order a few enlightened live really, really well.  Those enlightened believe they are entitled to lead the ignorant masses into a utopian future in which the message of Christmas is rendered irrelevant.

That Christmas message is this: The Son of God was born to bring life and freedom to those who freely believe in him; that it is better that one Man died in order that many live; that Christ is come into the world in order that many are saved from sin and death; that the Messiah has come to bring peace on earth to men of good will.

We can be thankful that though the Herodian instinct for death in its many forms continues its assault on the Christ and Christians, the millions upon millions who believe and embrace their Messiah’s birth will continue to celebrate the sheer joy of Christmas.

Merry Christmas to all!

--Fay Voshell is a frequent contributor to American Thinker.  She holds a M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary, which awarded her its prize for excellence in systematic theology.  Her thoughts have appeared in many online magazines, including RealClearReligion, CNS, Fox News, National Review and Russia Insider.  She may be reached at

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