Who Would Jesus Bomb?

I’ve seen you in the markets
I’ve seen you in the streets
And at your political convention
Talking of your crusade
Talking of your nation
And other things too terrible to mention
And you proclaim your Christianity
You proclaim your love of God
You talk of apple pie and mom
Well I’ve just got one question
And I want an answer
Tell me, who would Jesus bomb?

Maybe Jesus would bomb the Syrians
‘Cause they’re not Jews like him
Maybe Jesus would bomb the Afghans
On some kind of vengeful whim
Maybe Jesus would drive an M1 tank
And he would shoot Saddam
Tell me, who would Jesus bomb?

I’ve seen you on the TV
And on the battleships
I’ve seen you in the house upon the hill
And I’ve heard you talking
About making the world safer
And about all the men you have to kill
And you speak so glibly
About your civilization
And how you have the moral higher ground
While halfway around the world
Your explosives smash the buildings
Ah, if you could only hear the sound

But maybe Jesus would sell land mines
And turn on his electric chair
Maybe Jesus would show no compassion
For his enemies in the lands way over there
Maybe Jesus would have flown the planes
That killed the kids in Viet Nam
Who would Jesus bomb?

Yes I hear you shout with confidence
As you praise the lord
And you talk about this God you know so well
And you talk of Armageddon
And your final victory
When all the evil forces go to hell
Well you’d best hope you’ve chosen wisely
On the right side of the lord
And when you die your conscience it is clear
You’d best hope that your atom bombs
Are better than the sword
At the time when your reckoning is here

‘Cause I don’t think Jesus would send gunships into Bethlehem
Or jets to raze the towns of Timorese
I don’t think Jesus would lend money to dictators
Or drive those SUV’s
And I don’t think Jesus would ever have dropped
A single ounce of napalm
Who would Jesus bomb?

“Who Would Jesus Bomb?” originally appeared on Behind the Barricades:  the Best of David Rovics (CD, 2003).  Also on Songs for Mahmud (CD, 2004) and the live CD, the Commons (CD, 2007).

The phrase, “who would Jesus bomb” comes out of the Christian evangelical youth who took to wearing bracelets with “WWJD” on them — “what would Jesus do.”  I was familiar with this and had heard of various take-offs on the WWJD theme, but I wrote the song immediately following an experience circa 2003 in the vegetable section of the Whole Foods Market on Kirby in Houston, Texas.

An elderly man walked up to me, shaking with rage, pointing at my t-shirt.  At the time I owned five copies of the same t-shirt, and I wore them almost all the time then — a picture of George W Bush with the words, “international terrorist.”

“He’s a man of God!  He’s a man of God!” the old man rasped at me.

Taken aback, I collected my thoughts for a moment and asked him, earnestly, “who would Jesus bomb?”

The man was completely tongue-tied at that point.  I was hoping it wasn’t because he felt threatened by me — I didn’t mean to come across that way, if indeed I was, but I did probably ask the question with some emphasis.  An older woman who I took to be his wife then came up to me and said, “there are bad people out there, you know.”

Yes, I thought, and of course we therefore have to bomb them.  I sang this song most nights for years after that.