Monday, August 31, 2009

The Dirtier The Pulpits, The Dirtier The Politics

The Religious Right, aka The Christian Right or Evangelical Right has been trying to change its image, by labeling itself "social conservatives." The problem with this sobriquet is that it suggests a kind of bland, almost innocuous ideology. But look around you. Look at your pastor in the pulpit (or on television). He's been anything but innocuous. He's beyond the old "fire and brimstone." He carelessly throws out threats to politicians and blatantly wishes them all ill will.

The buildup to today's firebrand political preacher has been long, but steady. Pat Robertson would proffer his smarmy smile at the thought that he had started it all, but he would be wrong. Father Charles Coughlin broadcast anti-Semitic and anti-Roosevelt rants for years long before Bing Crosby and Barry Fitzgerald buried his kind in a thick gooey syrup of wisdom and loving kindness (Going My Way, 1944).

From wikipedia:
Coughlinites saw Wall Street and Communism as twin faces of a secular Satan.
Sound familiar?

Fast forward:

After another incident of a fanatic bringing a gun to a town hall event, last week, an Arizona man named Chris Broughton brought an assault rifle and a handgun to an event where President Obama himself was in attendence. Broughton had the day before this event attended Faithful Word Baptist Church, where Pastor Steven Anderson delivered an hour-long sermon devoted to nothing but describing in extreme and vitriolic detail the depths to which he hates Barack Obama, appropriately titled "Why I Hate Barack Obama." Further, Anderson went out of his way to explain that he doesn't just hate Obama's values or politics, but everything about him and that, according to Anderson, so does god. Also in the sermon, Anderson repeatedly emphasized how he planned to pray for Obama's death, how Obama was going to burn in Hell, and how he wanted Obama to "melt like a snail."

Yes, this man is exceptionally ignorant even by Southern Baptist standards since he proudly states on the church's website:

Pastor Anderson holds no college degree but has well over 100 chapters of the Bible committed to memory, including almost half of the New Testament.

Whoopee. He's a half-savant. His problem, however (and ours, too) is that he sincerely believes his little flock to be even more ignorant than he is. (Of course, if they are actually supporting his church with donations, they are most definitely mentally challenged). His "doctrinal statement" is, in a sense, scary. His video on "dynamic preaching", however, is a hoot: much of the video's hour (!) consists of him stumbling over the words in the KJB to what seems to be an empty room (complete with echo).

The crassness of today's clergy has recently come to the fore with the passing of Senator Ted Kennedy, for like most funerals, the one for the late Senator brought out the best and the worst in some people:

Meanwhile, Kennedy critics are savaging the Kennedy and the Mass on Twitter. Ken Shepherd's posting, linked to Top Conservatives on Twitter (#TCOT):

Ted Kennedy saw the hungry, thirsty, naked, and imprisoned and raised taxes to have the govt take care of it.

Rev. Russell Moore, a Bapist from Louisville, Ky,. tweets:

What an impoverished, politicized vision of the kingdom of God is being presented at Sen. Kennedy's funeral.

And the pope?
As of yet, unlike some other world leaders, Pope Benedict has not commented or issued an official communiqué in response to Kennedy’s death.
Way to go, Benny! (But of course, he was at one time the Vatican's chief Inquisitor.)

Vitriol and invective from the likes of the Wiley Drake and his "imprecatory prayers" for the death of President Obama, to the haughty silence of the Vatican aimed at an iconic statesman.

These "Lambs of God" have turned into wolves.