BY GARY EDMONDSON
God’s Own Party continues to demonstrate its ambivalence toward the Christian principles its members wield against political opponents while pursuing their enrich-the-rich agenda.
Outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan forced House Chaplain Patrick Conroy to resign after mounting pressure from his GOP colleagues, upset because Conroy dared to remind Greed’s Own Party of less fortunate Americans.
During last year’s tax scam debates, Rev. Conroy had the audacity to pray, “May all members be mindful that the institutions and structures of our great nation guarantee the opportunities that have allowed some to achieve great success, while others continue to struggle. … May their efforts these days guarantee that there are not winners and losers under new tax laws, but benefits balanced and shared by all Americans.”
Not liberation theology, but still dangerous talk to Republicans.
So, as if a congregation ganging up on its minister or music director, Republican House members attacked such heresy with a behind-closed-doors, back-biting campaign against the radical priest advocating for the poor. Can’t have that.
But now the good reverend has rescinded his resignation, the public outcry might save his job.
The religious wrong’s continued embrace of the Grifters’ Own Party’s unseemly ways leaves little doubt that members value political power over their religions’ stated morality.
The true hypocrisy of the religious wrong got a full airing when Rev. Robert Jeffress of the First Baptist Church of Dallas told Fox News:
“Evangelicals still believe in the commandment: Thou shalt not have sex with a porn star. However, whether this president violated that commandment or not is totally irrelevant to our support of him.
“Evangelicals knew they weren’t voting for an altar boy when they voted for Donald Trump,” he said. “We supported him because of his policies and his strong leadership.”
As a Jewish teacher observed of similar hypocrites two millennia ago, “They have their reward.”
The modern response to the evangelicals’ situational ethics ranges from outrage to ridicule.
Prior to announcing that he would not seek re-election, Republican Rep. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania told CNN’s Anderson Cooper, “I don’t know how many in the evangelical community can reconcile some of their positions at this moment.”
As reported by the Huffington Post, Cooper asked Dent what he thought would happen if “the shoe were on the other foot” and President Barack Obama was embroiled in a scandal similar to Trump’s alleged affair with porn star Stormy Daniels.
“They’d be waving a bloody shirt,” Dent said. “It’d be a human rights violation had it been the shoe on the other foot.”
Conan O’Brien, just as perceptive with a barb attached, credited hypocritical, public Christians with, “helping to bring porn into the mainstream.”
O’Brien quipped: “Evangelicals say: ‘We’re in favor of any situation that makes people scream, ‘Oh, God.’”
Representing local hypocrites, Oklahoma’s minister/senator – James Lankford – endorsed the Bigot-in-Chief’s 2020 campaign at the end of March and our invisible Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb brought the Adulterer-in-Chief’s adulterous son in to raise money for his goobernatorial campaign.
And then a local woman, representing her church in public, finds out I’m a Democrat and condescendingly promises, “I’ll pray for you.”
I’m sorry. I think I’ll look elsewhere for the moral high ground. Probably not here in Duncan though.
At this year’s May 3 Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast, the venerable Duncan Banner reported, “The theme of this year’s prayer breakfast was unity, with Ephesians 4:3 – “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” – being used as the event’s tag line.”
Then featured speaker, Mona Sabah Earnest, a Christian convert from Islam, spent the first part of her presentation bashing her former religion: “There’s no unity in the Muslim prayer.”
The remainder of the speech was her down-to-the-front testimonial: “I started praying and the Lord brought me straight to Christ and to a church.”
“My family used to call me the black sheep of the Muslims,” Sabah Earnest said, “and I didn’t know that Jesus loved sheep – even black ones – until I became a Christian.”
Her idea of unity, thus, was to encourage those present to go proselytize the Christian message to others in full agreement with the evangelical/fundamentalist idea of unity is to bludgeon everyone else into agreeing with them – or ignoring or silencing opposing viewpoints.
Overt hypocrisies enforced by brute force are nothing new. Seventeenth Century philosopher Benedict Spinoza observed:
“When people declare, as all are ready to do, that the Holy Bible is the Word of God teaching man true blessedness and the way of salvation, they evidently do not mean what they say; for the masses take no pains at all to live according to Scripture, and we see most people endeavoring to hawk about their own commentaries as the word of God, and giving their best efforts, under the guise of religion, to compelling others to think as they do: we generally see, I say, theologians anxious to learn how to wring their inventions and sayings out of the sacred text, and to fortify them with Divine authority …
“But if men really believed what they verbally testify of Scripture, they would adopt quite a different plan of life: their minds would not be agitated by so many contentions, nor so many hatreds.”
The good people of his day did not appreciate much that Spinoza offered. He was thrown out of his synagogue, escaped an assassination attempt and was reviled throughout Europe by the very people stealing his ideas. Still, Matthew Stewart, in Natures’ God, credits him as an underlying, basic influence upon our founding fathers.
The contemporary reaction against Spinoza echoes that accorded to the aforementioned Jewish teacher, who also observed: “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites in these words: ‘This people pays me lip service, but their heart is far from me: their worship of me is in vain, for they teach as doctrines the commandments of men.’”
– Gary Edmondson lives in Dunca, OK and is Stephens County Democratic Party chair