Thursday, November 25, 2010

Pushing Us Over The Edge: Holy Evil Lurches Towards Christmas

Can One Act Of Evil Kill The "Season Of Sharing"?
(CNN) -- A [former] Catholic priest, facing criminal charges and a lawsuit alleging that he sexually abused a teenage boy, is now charged with attempting to hire someone to kill the youth, authorities said Tuesday.
It's enough to make you lose all faith in humanity. 

The Christmas Season has settled upon us, feverishly puking its guts out into the aisles of WalMart and Walgreens, Saks and Macy's. The Christian Right is gearing up for its annual "War on Christmas": The Catholic League's Bill Donohue has shipped 50 Holy Nativity scenes to every state capitol with the hopes of snagging at least a dozen or so "atheist states" that might refuse to display them alongside "holiday trees." Retailers are hopeful but nervous: the great economic barometer of Christmass Season ales might not show signs of recovery. 

Elsewhere: the War in Afghanistan drones on; Uganda keeps up its witch-hunting of homosexuals;  cholera snakes its way from Haiti to the U.S.; France and Germany prepare for terrorism; President Obama tries to garner good will from foreign countries, while battling a disgruntled and polarized homeland; the Vatican allows for condoms as use for protection against HIV - twenty years after their use was proved to be effective.

Not a beautiful picture, to be sure, but the glimmer of hope that contains the essence of humanity, that trite-but-necessary, warm-and-fuzzy feeling of comfort the season always manages to bring us will be there, won't it? 

This year, I'm not so sure.
[Rev. John M.] Fiala, 52, of Dallas, was out on bond on other sexual assault charges involving the youth, now 18, when he allegedly attempted to negotiate the boy's murder, said Tom Rhodes, the teen's attorney. He was arrested last week after he offered an undercover agent with the Texas Department of Public Safety $5,000 to kill the teen, according to department spokeswoman Lisa Block.
"This guy," Edwards County Sheriff Don Letsinger said, "is an evil man."
While I've been writing about the extreme hypocrisy of the Christian Right for years, some things never cease to amaze and terrify me: the calumny of clergy like "Bishop" Eddie Long, the stupidity of proselytizers like Lou Engel, or the viciousness of people like the American Family Association's Bryan Fischer. Yet as frustrating as these self-righteous idiots may be, I have always been able to maintain a basic faith in humanity. 

That, however, might change: the machinations of  Reverend John Fiala and his ilk have become so blatant, so intense this past week, that I have trouble seeing any spark of humanity at the end of this dark, dark tunnel. 


Indicted: Pastor Johnny William “Bill” Cabe, of Rock Hill, South Carolina, on felony charges of sexual abuse of an 11-year-old boy. "Pastor Bill" had already served seven years in prison for conning $8 million from his congregation's "investors." (While guarding their money, somebody forgot to guard their kid.) 

Guilty: Pastor Carl  Ekamrank, of a Moravian Church (Alaska) of one count of second-degree sexual abuse of a 12-year-old girl. This plea, however, enabled him to reduce the counts from five down to one. He faces five years in prison with ten years probation. (Is sexual abuse now doled out in degrees?)

Convicted: Former coach of Riverside Christian School (Lost Creek, KY), Dennis Jackson, of nine counts of sexual abuse against a number of boys 11-years-old and older. Jackson, by the way, committed the crimes while he was in his sixties. (Proves he hadn't lost his athletic charm.)

Sentenced: Pastor Marcus Ondiegi of Nyakwatha, Kenya, sentenced to 50 years in prison for repeatedly raping an 11-year-old orphan and infecting her with HIV. Ondiegi had told the girl's grandmother that he needed to pray over the girl to ward off "bad spirits." He raped her for six consecutive days until she escaped. (His conviction, however, put him in "bad spirits.")

Sentenced: Pastor Samuel Salanky of Bethany Mission Center (NYC) to 57 months in prison plus restitution for conning "investors" out of approximately $3 million. Salanky was a televangelist who broadcast a program on a Gospel network. (The program was broadcast in the Far East -  obviously not too far for him to get caught.)

Appeal filed: Pastor Matt Baker of  Crossroads Baptist Church (Waco, TX). Baker was found guilty of murdering his wife (administering sedatives, suffocating her with a pillow) and is currently serving a sentence of 65 years. (What the hell is this guy appealing?)

Convicted: Former Pastor Marvin James Lowe of Arbeka Indian Baptist Church (Weleetka, OK) on six misdemeanor counts of domestic abuse. He was originally charge with six counts of sexual abuse of girls under 14 in his church. (He knew somebody who knew somebody.)

Charged: Former Pastor David Love of New Hope Baptist Church (Independence, MO), with the first-degree murder of his insurance agent Randy Stone, who was the husband of Love's lover,  Teresa Stone.  He topped the crime by giving the eulogy at his victim's funeral. (A rather twisted take on "Double Indemnity," but Teresa Stone doesn't look as good as Barbara Stanwyck.)

Sentenced: Pastor Steven G. Welty of Glory House Fellowship (Sequim, WA) to 26-1/2 years to life. Pastor Welty was convicted of six counts of child rape, six counts of child molestation and six counts of incest occurring with the same girl from the time she was 4-years-old until she was 11. (He may have been sorry during those seven years, but relatives are always the last to know.)

Crawling Back To That Spark Of Humanity
Yes, my asides were flippant: the human mind provides safeguards against acute depression. The fact is the list of crimes was longer than I had ever imagined: besides these cases, dozens more were reported - ALL WITHIN THE LAST TWO WEEKS. So while "Silent Night" was droning on during the morning's grocery shopping, I was dealing with hypocrisy overload. "There must be some good ones out there" was trying to tap into my brain, but it was far too numb. Hours later, I'm still trying to fathom it all. 

Yes, there are good-spirited people out there. But they're not to be found on our screens or heard through our airwaves. They're not to be found attending Values Voter Summits. They're not to be found bloviating over microphones during rallies to "protect" marriage. They're not to be found praying in front of the Capitol, beseeching God to make us a Christian-Only Nation. They're not to be found preaching "love the sinner, hate the sin." 

No, the people with that spark of humanity, that basic goodness, cannot be found even amongst the rabble preaching about it. It can simply be found in the person standing next to you on the bus. In the person in front of you in the check-out line at the grocery. In the person you call brother, sister, son, daughter, husband, wife, lover, partner, or friend. In you.I guess the thing I hate most about the crimes committed by the "Reverend" John Fialas, the Bryan Fischers and the Lou Engles of our world is that they make it harder and harder to discover the spark of humanity in everyone else. They’re piling up, like some godawful pile of hypocritical manure.

Yes, the pile of hypocrisy is getting bigger and bigger and the needle of humanity is getting smaller. It’s there, of course, and there’s the entire Christmas season to find it.

Oh joy.