Religion and politics have gone hand in hand in the western world for as long as one can historically count. Indeed the Religious leaders of Israel were also the political leaders of the time, so it’s not surprise that when Rome fell leaving a political vacuum, the early Christian church took up the role.
What I think is too often missed is that the story of Jesus was as much political as it was religious. Maybe even more so. As an atheist this view makes perfect sense to me since the shrouding of political rhetoric in religious terms was quite common at the time. One could more easily speak aloud religiously when to criticize the politics could get you very dead very quickly. In the middle east at that time speaking out against Rome would make you a galley slave if you were lucky. Much worse if you were not.
I had given up on religion by the time I was 18 or so. But when I first heard Murray Head’s Jesus Christ Superstar my reaction was that this is a very different approach. After I bought the album and listened to it and the lyrics, the message there in seemed more a call to appose Rome and the current Jewish leadership of the time than a purely religious one. No wonder the leadership wanted him out of the way.
Murray Head’s interpretation of this was quite evident.
This message was also not lost on the Roman slaves, where they used the teachings as a call to resist Rome. The early black Christian church rallied for the same reasons.
Which brings up the total irony of this. That the story of Jesus was as much about throwing off the chains of Roman repression and the Jewish leaders who supported them, as it was about religion. But since then the Religious followings that came afterwards were some of the most repressive and horrendously tyrannical the western world has ever known. The Christian Church aligning itself time and again with dictators, despots and oppressors of the worst kind.